Vijayanagar and Bahmani Kingdoms

Vijayanagar and Bahmani Kingdoms | History


Political History

  • Vijaya Nagar was founded in 1336 by Harihara and Bukka of the Sangama dynasty.
  • They were originally served under the Kakatiya rulers of Warangal.
  • They went to Kampili where they were imprisoned and converted to Islam.
  • They returned to the Hindu fold at the initiative of the saint Vidyaranya.
  • They also proclaimed their independence and founded a new city on the south bank of the Tungabhadra river.
  • It was called Vijaya Nagar meaning city of victory.
  • The decline of the Hoysala kingdom enabled Harihara and Bukka to expand their newly founded kingdom.
  • By 1346, they brought the whole of the Hoysala kingdom under their control.
  • The struggle between Vijayanagar and Sultanate of Madurai lasted for about four decades.
  • Kumarakampana’s expedition to Madurai was described in the Madura vijayam.
  • He destroyed the Madurai Sultans and as a result, the Vijaya Nagar Empire comprised the whole of South India up to Rameswaram.
  • The conflict between Vijaya Nagar Empire and the Bahmani kingdom lasted for many years.
  • The dispute over Raichur Doab, the region between the rivers Krishna and Tungabhadra and also over the fertile areas of Krishna – Godavari delta led to this long – drawn conflict.
  • The greatest ruler of the Sangama dynasty was Deva Raya II. But he could not win any clear victory over the Bahmani Sultans.

Krishna Deva Raya (1509 – 1530)

  • The Tuluva dynasty was founded by Vira Narasimha.
  • The greatest of the Vijaya Nagar rulers Krishna Deva Raya belonged to the Tuluva dynasty.
  • He possessed the great military ability.
  • His imposing personality was accompanied by high intellectual quality.
  • The Muslim armies were decisively defeated in the battle of Diwani by Krishna Deva Raya.
  • He invaded Raichur Doab which had resulted in the confrontation with the Sultan of Bijapur, Ismail Adil Shah. But Krishna Deva Raya defeated him and captured the city of Raichur in 1520.
  • From there he marched on Bidar and captured it.
  • He defeated the Gajapathi ruler Prataparudra and conquered the whole of Telangana.
  • He maintained friendly relations with the Portuguese.
  • Albuquerque sent his ambassadors to Krishna Deva Raya.
  • A Vaishnavaite he respected all religions.
  • He was a great patron of literature and art and he was known as Andhra Bhoja.
  • Eight eminent scholars known as Ashtadig gajas were at his royal court.
  • Allasani Peddanna was the greatest and he was called Andhrakavita Pitamaga.
  • His important works include Manucharitam and Harikathasaram. Pingali Suranna and Tenali Ramakrishna were other important scholars.
  • Krishna Deva Raya himself authored a Telugu work, Amuktha malyadha and Sanskrit works Jambavati Kalyanam and Usha parinayam.
  • He also built the famous Vittalaswamy and Hazara Ramaswamy temples at Vijaya Nagar.
  • He also built a new city called Nagalapuram in memory of his queen Nagala Devi.
  • After his death, Achuta deva and Venkata succeeded the throne.
  • During the reign of Rama Raya the combined forces of Bijapur, Ahmad Nagar, Golkonda and Bidar defeated him at the Battle of Talaikotta in 1565.
  • This battle is also known as Raksasa Thangadi. Rama Raya was imprisoned and executed.
  • The city of Vijaya Nagar was destroyed.
  • This battle was generally considered to mark the end of the Vijaya Nagar Empire.
  • The Vijaya Nagar kingdom existed under the Aravidu dynasty for about another century.
  • Thirumala, Sri Ranga and Venkata II were the important rulers of this dynasty.
  • The last ruler of Vijaya nagar kingdom was Sri Ranga III.


  • The administration under the Vijaya Nagar Empire was well organized.
  • The king enjoyed absolute authority in executive, judicial and legislative matters.
  • He was the highest court of appeal. The succession to the throne was on the principle of hereditary.
  • The Empire was divided into different administrative units called Mandalams, Nadus, sthalas and finally into gramas. The governor of Mandalam was called Mandaleswara or Nayak.
  • Vijaya Nagar rulers gave full powers to the local authorities in the administration.
  • Land revenue was fixed generally one-sixth of the produce.
  • In the matter of justice, harsh punishments such as mutilation and throwing to elephants were followed. The Vijaya Nagar army was well – organized and efficient. It consisted of the cavalry, infantry, artillery and elephants.
  • The top-grade officers of the army were known as Nayaks or Poligars. Soldiers were usually paid in cash.

Social Life

  • Allasani Peddanna in his Manucharitam refers to the existence of four castes – Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Sudras – in the Vijaya Nagar society.
  • Foreign travellers left vivid accounts on the splendour of buildings and luxurious social life in the city of Vijaya Nagar.
  • Silk and cotton clothes were mainly used for the dress.
  • Perfumes, flowers and ornaments were used by the people.
  • Paes mentions of the beautiful houses of the rich and a large number of their household servants.
  • Nicolo Conti refers to the prevalence of slavery.
  • Dancing, music, wrestling, gambling and cockfighting were some of the amusements.
  • Srivaishnavism of Ramanuja was very popular.
  • Muslims were employed in the administration and they were freely allowed to build mosques and worship. A large number of temples were built during this period and numerous festivals were celebrated.
  • The Epics and the Puranas were popular among the masses. The position of women had not improved.
  • Some of them were learned. Ganga Devi, wife of Kumarakampana authored the famous work Madura vijayam. Hannamma and Thirumalamma were famous poets of this period.
  • According to Nuniz, a large number of women were employed in royal palaces as dancers, domestic servants and palanquin bearers. The attachment of dancing girls to temples was in practice.
  • Paes refers to the flourishing devadasi system.
  • Polygamy was prevalent among the royal families. Sati was honoured and Nuniz gives a description of it.

Cultural Contributions

  • The temple building activity further gained momentum during the Vijaya Nagar rule.
  • The chief characteristics of the Vijaya nagara architecture were the construction of tall Raya Gopurams or gateways and the Kalyana mandapam with carved pillars in the temple premises.
  • The sculptures on the pillars were carved with distinctive features.
  • The horse was the most common animal found in these pillars.
  • Many Amman shrines were added to the already existing temples during this period.
  • The most important temples of the Vijaya Nagar style were found in the Hampi ruins or the city of Vijaya Nagar.
  • Vittalaswamy and Hazara Ramaswamy temples were the best examples of this style.
  • The Varadharaja and Ekamparanatha temples at Kanchipuram stand as examples for the magnificence of the Vijaya nagara style of temple architecture.
  • The Raya Gopurams at Thiruvannamalai and Chidambaram speak the glorious epoch of Vijaya Nagar. They were continued by the Nayak rulers in the later period.
  • The metal images of Krishna Deva Raya and his queens at Tirupati are examples for the casting of metal images.
  • Music and dancing were also patronized by the rulers of Vijaya Nagar.
  • Different languages such as Sanskrit, Telugu, Kannada and Tamil flourished in the regions.
  • There was a great development in Sanskrit and Telugu literature.
  • The peak of literary achievement was reached during the reign of Krishna Deva Raya.
  • He himself was a scholar in Sanskrit and Telugu.
  • His famous court poet Allasani Peddanna was distinguished in Telugu literature.

Bahmani Kingdom

  • The founder of the Bahmani kingdom was Alauddin Bahman Shah also known as Hasan Gangu in 1347. Its capital was Gulbarga. There were a total of fourteen Sultans ruling over this kingdom.
  • Among them, Alauddin Bahman Shah, Muhammad Shah I and Firoz Shah were important.
  • Ahmad Wali Shah shifted the capital from Gulbarga to Bidar.
  • The power of the Bahmani kingdom reached its peak under the rule of Muhammad Shah III.
  • It extended from the Arabian sea to the Bay of Bengal. On the west, it extended from Goat to Bombay.
  • On the east, it extended from Kakinada to the mouth of the river Krishna.
  • The success of Muhammad Shah was due to the advice and services of his minister Mahmud Gawan.

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