THE VIJAYANAGAR EMPIRE


In 1336, Vijayanagar kingdom was established by Harihara and Bukka, who were two brothers and served in the army of Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq.

They established an independent state in Karnataka and established the capital city Vijayanagar on the banks of river Tungabhadra in 1336.

Their dynasty was called the Sangama dynasty.

Harihara and Bukka were helped and inspired by contemporary scholar and a saint Vidyaranya for the establishment of their kingdom.

Vijayanagar empire included people from different cultural regions, the Tamil, Telugu and Karnataka region who all spoke different languages and belonged to different cultures.

 

Between 1336 and 1565, Vijayanagar was ruled by three different dynasties- Sangama, who remained in power till 1485; the Saluva who remained in power till 1503 and the Tuluvas.

The last dynasty was the Aravidu dynasty that ruled till seventeenth century.

One of the most important rulers of the Vijayanagar states was Krishnadevaraya, the founder of the Tuluva dynasty.

He completely shattered the Adil Shahi forces of Bijapur first and attacked Gulbarga and set free three Bahamani princes who were imprisoned there.

He helped them in recovering the throne of Gulbarga and Krishna Deva himself took the title of Yavanarajya sthapanacharya.

Krishnadevaraya founded a suburban township near Vijayanagara called Nagalapuram after his mother.

The famous temple of Tirupati developed during his period.

 

After Krishna Deva Raya, his brother Achyuta Deva Raya ascended the throne in 1530 AD, who was also an important ruler.

During his reign the rival groups began to make his appearance.

The struggle for power was mainly between Saluva Vira Narasimha and Aravidu Rama Raya, in which the later emerged victorious.

Although Rama Raya did not assume the throne, yet he placed Sadasiva Raya on the throne and ruled as the defacto ruler.

 

Army and Military Organisation of the Vijayanagar Empire

The Vijayanagar rulers imported high quality horses from across the Arabian Sea from Arabia and other Gulf countries.

The port of Malabar was the centre of this trade and trade in other luxury commodities.

Like the Bahamanis, the Vijayanagar state also was familiar with the use of firearms and employed Turkish and Portuguese experts to train the soldiers in the latest weaponry of warfare.

Deva Raya II enrolled Muslims in his armed services, allotted them jagirs.

 

One of the important characteristics of the Vijayanagar administration was the amaranayaka system.

In this system, the commander of the Vijayanagar army was called the nayaka.

Each nayaka was given an area for administration.

The nayaka was responsible for expanding agricultural activities in his area.

He collected taxes in his area and with this income maintained his army, horses, elephants and weapons of warfare that he had to supply to the raya or the Vijayanagar ruler.

The nayaka was also the commander of the forts.

In the seventeenth century, several of these nayakas became independent and established separate states.