The Vijayanagara empire was based in the Deccan, in peninsular and southern India, from 1336 onwards. It was founded by Harihara, also known as Hakka, and his brother Bukka Raya. It is named after its capital city (now ruined) of Vijayanagara, in modern Karnataka, India. It lasted from about 1336 to perhaps about 1660, though throughout its last century it was in a slow decline due to a massive and catastrophic defeat at the hands of an alliance of the sultanates, and the capital was taken and brutally razed and looted.
In the following two centuries, the Vijayanagar empire dominated all of southern India, and was probably stronger than any other power in the Indian subcontinent. The empire during that period served as a bulwark against invasion from the Turkic Sultanates of the Indo-Gangetic Plain; and remained in constant competition and conflict with the five Deccan Sultanates that established themselves in the Deccan to the north of it. It remained a land power. In about 1510, Goa, which had been under the rule of the Sultan of Bijapur, was captured by the Portuguese, possibly with the approval or connivance of Vijayanagara. Commerce between the Portuguese and Vijayanagara became very important to both sides. The empire is generally considered to have reached its peak during the rule of Krishna Deva Raya. Krishna conquered or subjugated territories on the east of the Deccan that belonged previously to Orissa. Many of the great monuments of the empire date from his time. Among these are the Hazara Rama temple, the Krishna temple and the Ugra Narasimha idol, all at Vijayanagara. He was followed by Achyuta Raya in 1530. In 1542, Achyuta was succeeded by Sada Siva Raya. But the real power lay with Rama (of the third dynasty), who seems to have made a point of unnecessarily provoking the Deccan sultanates, so that eventually they allied against him. In 1565, at the Battle of Talikota, the army of Vijayanagara was routed by an alliance of the Deccan sultanates. Rama Raya was killed in the Battle of Tallikot and his head (the real head) annually covered with oil and red pigment has been exhibited to the pious Mahomedans of Ahmudnuggur till 1829. With this, the last significant Hindu kingdom in the Deccan came to an end. Tirumala Raya the sole survivor left Vijayanagar with treasure on back of 550 elephants to Penukonda.
Vijayanagara is considered by many today, especially in the state of Andhra Pradesh, to have been a golden age of culture and learning.
Dynasties and Rulers
This list is based on the book by Robert Sewell (A Forgotten Empire).
- Harihara I (Deva Raya) 1336-1343
- Bukka I 1343-1379
- Harihara II 1379-1399
- Bukka II 1399-1406
- Deva Raya I 1406-1412
- Vira Vijaya 1412-1419
- Deva Raya II 1419-1444
- (unknown) 1444-1449
- Mallikarjuna 1452-1465 (Dates uncertain)
- Rajasekhara 1468-1469 (Dates uncertain)
- Virupaksha I 1470-1471 (Dates uncertain)
- Praudha Deva Raya 1476-? (Dates uncertain)
- Rajasekhara 1479-1480 (Dates uncertain)
- Virupaksha II 1483-1484 (Dates uncertain)
- Rajasekhara 1486-1487 (Dates uncertain)
- Narasimha 1490-?
- Narasa (Vira Narasimha) ?-1509
- Krishna Deva 1509-1530
- Achyuta 1530-1542
- Sadasiva (in name only) 1542-1567
- Rama (ruled in practice) 1542-1565
- Tirumala (ruled in practice) 1565-1567
- Tirumala (crowned ruler) 1567-1575
- Ranga II 1575-1586
- Venkata I 1586-1614