History of Hampi
Two brothers, Harihara and Bukka, the treasury officers of Kampila, were taken by Muhammad-bin Tughluq as prisoners to Delhi where they appear to have embraced Islam. The brothers had originally been in the service of the Kakatiya Prataparudra of Warangal and had fled south to Kampili, after the Muslim conquest of Warangal in AD 1323. After Muhammad-bin-Tughluq left for north India in AD 1329 there were many rebellions against the imperial rule and a number of liberation-movements in the south. The Muslim governor of Kampili, unable to maintain order, appealed to Delhi for the help. The Sultan then sent Harihara and Bukka to govern the province. The brothers not only restored order but in a short time gave up Islam, threw off their allegiance to Delhi and set up an independent kingdom. This was the beginning of the mighty and splendid medieval Hindu empire of Vijayanagara.
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Harihara was the eldest of the five sons of Sangama, the other four being Kampana, Bukka, Mārappa and Mudappa. Starting with the conquest of Gutti (modern Gooty) and its neighbourhood, Harihara, ably assisted by Bukka, built up within a few years a kingdom stretching from coast to coast. In this memorable work the great Hindu sage, Vidyaranya of Sringeri-matha, played a significant role and rendered the brothers the necessary moral and spiritual guidance. Acting under the orders of Vidyaranya, their guru, Harihara and Bukka completed their imperial schemes and founded in about AD 1336 the splendid city of Vijayanagara or Vidyanagara as the capital of their newly-established empire.
City of Tunga bhadra
The new city on the southern bank of the Tunga bhadra, opposite the older fortress of Anegondi on the northern bank, was completed by AD 1343. The Vijaya nagara kings had the boar-crest and made use of the sign-manual ‘Virupaksha’, since they considered them selves the deputies of the god Virupaksha. The early Vijayanagara rulers belonged to what was known as the Sangama dynasty.
Harihara I (AD 1336-57) jointly with his brother Bukka, did much to lay the administrative system of the new empire on firm foundations. Bukka I reigned as sole sovereign from AD 1357 to 1377. This period is noted not only for the embassy sent by Bukka to China in AD 1374 but also for the overthrow of the Muslim sultanate of Madura by his son Kumāra Kampana and the restoration of Hindu rule in the far south in about AD 1370. Bukka’s large empire was divided into a number of rajyas mostly ruled over by royal princes and nobles. Bukka’s son Harihara II (AD 1377 1404), set up his own sons as provincial viceroys.
Under Harihara II, the Krishna became the northern boundary of the empire, while a successful expedition was sent even to Ceylon in the south. Some of the earliest monuments of the Vijayanagara period in the capital city may be traced to the time of Harihara II, e.g., the Gänigitti temple. The fortifications and irrigation-works in Vijayanagara owed much to the efforts of Bukka I and Devaraya I, the son of Harihara II. The Italian Nicolo Conti visited Vijayanagara in about AD 1420 during the reign of Devaraya I and has left an interesting description of the city.
Devaraya II (AD 1422-46) was a powerful ruler. He waged wars with the Bahmanis and invaded Orissa. ‘Abdu’r-Razzaq, the Persian Ambassador, who visited Vijayanagara in his reign, states that Devaraya’s empire covered the whole of south India and stretched from Ceylon to Gulbarga and from Orissa to Malabar.
Devaraya is also stated to have levied tribute from Burma and Ceylon. He was not only a great conqueror but also a good scholar and author, a liberal patron of arts and letters and a great builder. Razzaq’s descrip tion of the capital city in AD 1443 illustrates the splen did heights reached by the Vijayanagara architects and sculptors.
The glorious rule
The glorious rule of Devaraya II was followed by a period of decline and disruption when there were weak rulers, foreign inroads, political murders and usurpa tions leading to changes of dynasty. Thus, for a short time the Saluva dynasty was in power. The second usurpation in AD 1492 was by the Tuluva general Narasa Nayaka who imprisoned the boy-king Immadi Narasimha, quelled many rebellions, recovered the Raichur Doab from Bijapur, and firmly established the authority of the empire from the Krishna to Cape Comorin. He was succeeded by his son Immadi Narasa Nayaka alias Vira Narasimha. After the im prisoned boy-king Immadi Narasimha was murdered in AD 1505, Vira Narasimha threw off the mask of regency and became king (AD 1505-09). With him started the third or Tuluva dynasty.
After a short reign Vira Narasimha was succeeded by his step-brother Krishnadeva Raya (AD 1509-29) who was not only the greatest of the Vijayanagara rulers, but also one of the most brilliant medieval rulers. Under him the empire passed through a golden age. His armies were successful everywhere and im perial authority was firmly established all over south India. He inflicted crushing defeats on the Bahmani Sultans, took the coveted Raichur Doab, conquered Telengana and carried on his campaigns as far north as Orissa. He maintained friendly diplomatic rela tions with the Portuguese on the western coast. An accomplished scholar and poet, he wrote many Sans krit and Telugu works. His Telugu poem Amukta malyada contains a character-sketch of an ideal mo narch and the principles of political administration to be followed by him. He was also a liberal patron of arts and letters. The noted Telugu poet Allasäni Peddanna was his poet laureate, while his court is stated to have been graced by eight poets known as the Ashta-diggajas.
A fine life-size portrait group (in copper) of the king and his two consorts was set up in the Tirupati temple by the king himself and is thus of immense value as contemporary portraits of the royal personages.
South Indian architecture owes much to the build ing activities of this ruler who made munificent gifts to innumerable temples. The capital city was lavishly embellished by him. The smaller east gopura and the ranga-mandapa of the Pampapati temple, the huge Narasimha figure and the Krishna temple are just a few of the numerous additions made by him to the imperial city. He also made many improvements to existing structures such as the Vitthala and Hazara Rāma temples. In modern Hospet and its environs he built several new suburban cities and named them in honour of his mother (Nagalapura), queen (Tiru maladeviyara-paṭṭana), and son Tirumala (Sale Tiru mala Mahārājapura). Many irrigation-projects were also undertaken and a big reservoir built near Hospet.
About Duarte Barbosa
Duarte Barbosa, who was a cousin of Magellan, the celebrated world-circumnavigator, and the Portu guese chroniclers, Paes and Nuniz, were among the many foreigners who visited Vijayanagara during Krishnadeva Raya’s reign. They have left glowing and graphic accounts of the magnificence of the capital, the court, the buildings, the festivals, etc.
After Krishnadeva Raya’s death in AD 1529 there followed a period of steady decline. His step brother Achyuta Raya (AD 1529-42) had to struggle against external enemies as well as internal dis sensions and rivals to the throne.
Achyuta was also a great patron of arts and letter. His court poet RajanaGia Dindima wrote a biography of his patron in his poem Achyutarayabhyudaya. Achyuta built the Achyuta Raya temple (Tiruvengalanatha temple of the inscription) at Hampi and made many additions to the Vitthala and other temples. His officer Ramaya matya built a large number of temples and tanks at Timmalapuram and other places. Achyuta was succeeded by his infant son Venkata I (AD 1542) who was soon murdered. Then Achyuta’s nephew Sadasiva (AD 1542-76) became king, though the real power was in the hands of regent Rama Raya, the son-in-law of Krishnadeva Raya, With Rama Raya the fourth or Aravidu dynasty came to power.
Rama Raya interfered in the political affairs of the Deccan sultanates and tried to play off one state against the other, with the result that the Muslim rulers soon closed their ranks and formed a confederacy against Vijayanagara. Rāma Raya also gathered a huge army. The decisive battle was fought in January 1565 near the villages of Rakshasi and Tangdi on the banks of the Krishna. The Vijaya nagara army was at first successful and had almost won the battle, when the tables were turned by the treachery and desertion of two Muslim generals in the Hindu army,
Rama Raya was captured and immediately decapitated by the Sultan of Ahmadnagar. In the absence of proper leadership, great confusion arose in the ranks of the Vijyanagara army which resulted in their complete rout. Rama Raya’s brother Tirumala escaped and fled, carrying with him the imperial treasures, the puppet-emperor Sadasiva and the members of the royal harem. The capital city of Vijayanagara was left to its own fate undefended and lay at the mercy of sporadic plunderers and the soldiers of the victorious enemies. The conquerors carried out the process of destruction in a ruthless fashion.
The city never recovered its former splendour though Tirumala returned to it and attempted a revival. The city ceased to be the capital of the Vijayanagara empire but the ruling dynasty continued, the rulers moving their capitals from one place to another. Rama Raya’s brother Tirumala along with the captive king Sadasiva at first took refuge at Penukonda. The capital was moved to Chandragiri in about AD 1585 and from there to Vellore in about AD 1604. Sriranga III (AD 1642-49) was the last ruler of the dynasty.
After the disaster of Rakshasi-Tangdi the city of Vijayanagara and its environs fell under the sway of the Bijapur and Golkonda sultanates and in about AD 1689 under that of Aurangzeb. After AD 1707 they were annexed to the dominions of the Nizam of Hyderabad from whom Haidar ‘Ali annexed them in about AD 1780. While the medieval imperial city is at present in ruins, the village of Hampi, with its temple of Virupaksha and the holy sites and shrines of the Matanga and Malyavanta hills, still continue as a centre of pilgrimage.