TopicsGeneral TopicsVijayaNagar Empire: Historical City and Empire of India

VijayaNagar Empire: Historical City and Empire of India

VijayaNagar Empire: The VijayaNagar Empire, also known as the Karnataka Kingdom, was a significant Hindu empire in South India. It was founded along the banks of the River Tungabhadra in what is now Karnataka.

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    This empire covered the regions of modern Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Goa, and parts of Telangana and Maharashtra. It came into existence in 1336, thanks to the efforts of the Sangama dynasty’s brothers, Harihara I and Bukka Raya I. This period was a golden era for literature in South India.

    The VijayaNagar Empire holds great significance for the UPSC Prelims Exam. In this article, we will explore key aspects of the empire, including its establishment, finances, legal and military systems, the role of women, notable rulers, and its eventual decline.

    This information is invaluable for UPSC IAS Exam candidates seeking to enhance their understanding of Medieval History.

    VijayaNagar Empire Origin

    The VijayaNagar Empire, also known as the Karnataka Kingdom of Vijaya Nagar Samrajya, came into being in 1336 CE, along the southern banks of the Tungabhadra River in present-day Karnataka, India. Its capital was the city of Hampi, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Geographically, it’s near the Deccan Plateau in South India.

    The empire was founded by two brothers, Harihara and Bukka, who hailed from the Sangama Dynasty and belonged to a pastoralist cowherd community claiming Kuruba lineage. They had previously served under the Hoysala King, Vira Ballala III. The Vijayanagara era marked a significant period for literature in South India.

    VijayaNagar Empire Geographical Spread

    During its zenith, the VijayaNagar Empire held sway over most of South India’s ruling dynasties. Additionally, the rulers of this empire managed to push the Deccan Sultans out of the Tungabhadra-Krishna River Doab region.

    Moreover, the VijayaNagar Empire expanded to include present-day Odisha, which was previously known as Kalinga and ruled by the Gajapati Kingdom of Kalinga. This expansion reached its climax under the leadership of Krishna Deva Raya, as the VijayaNagar armies achieved consistent victories.

    VijayaNagar Empire Important Dynasties

    The significant VijayaNagar dynasties include:

    1. Sangama Dynasty (1336 to 1485)
    2. Saluva Dynasty (1485 to 1505)
    3. Tuluva Dynasty (1491 to 1570)
    4. Aravidu Dynasty (1542 to 1646)

    VijayaNagar Empire Rulers

    The list of Key Rulers of the VijayaNagar Empire is given below:

    Harihara (1336 – 1356 A.D.)

    • Harihara, along with his brother Bukka Raya, founded the VijayaNagar empire.
    • He took control of the Sangama Dynasty in 1336 CE.
    • Harihara I expanded his rule by capturing Mysore and Madurai from Southern Empires.
    • In 1356 CE, he was succeeded by Bukka I.

    Krishnadeva Raya (1509 – 1529 A.D.)

    • Known as ‘Andhra Bhoj,’ he was a part of the Tuluva Dynasty and ruled from 1509 to 1529 CE.
    • Krishnadeva Raya is celebrated as the most famous king of the VijayaNagar Empire.
    • Portuguese traveler Domingo Paes considered him the most formidable and exemplary king.
    • He achieved significant territorial gains, including Sivasamudram in 1510 CE and Raichur in 1512 CE.
    • Krishnadeva Raya expanded his empire to cover the region from the river Krishna in the north to the River Cauvery in the south, and from the Arabian Sea in the west to the Bay of Bengal in the east.

    VijayaNagar Empire Krishna Deva Raya Contributions

    Krishnadeva Raya, a skilled leader, not only efficiently administered the VijayaNagar Empire but also constructed extensive tanks, canals, and naval power, which boosted overseas trade. He maintained friendly relations with Portuguese and Arab traders, ultimately enhancing the empire’s revenue.

    In addition to his administrative prowess, Krishnadeva Raya was a learned scholar and a patron of art and architecture. Under his rule, the VijayaNagar Empire reached its pinnacle of growth. His court included eight notable scholars:

    1. Allasani Peddanna, the author of ‘Manucharitam’ and ‘Andhra Kavitapitamaha.’
    2. Nandi Thimmana, known for ‘Parijatapaharanam.’
    3. Madayyagari Mallana.
    4. Dhurjati.
    5. Ayyalaraju Ramabhadra Kavi.
    6. Pingali Surana.
    7. Ramaraja Bhushana.
    8. Tenali Ramakrishna.

    VijayaNagar Empire Administration

    The VijayaNagar Empire had a well-organized government. The King held the highest authority in the state and made final decisions on all state matters. Supporting the King, there was a Council of Ministers assisting with administrative tasks. The empire was divided into 6 provinces, each governed by a ‘Naik.’

    These provinces were further divided into districts, and these districts were divided into smaller units known as villages. The villages were managed by hereditary officers, such as accountants, watchmen, and weights men, as well as officers overseeing forced labor. To connect the villages with the central government, there was an officer known as the ‘Mahanayakacharya.’ This system efficiently governed the VijayaNagar Empire.

    VijayaNagar Empire Army

    The VijayaNagar Empire had a well-organized army made up of infantry, cavalry, and elephants. They also had a Commander-in-chief who was responsible for leading the entire army.

    VijayaNagar Empire Revenue Administration

    The Vijaynagar Empire mainly relied on income from land taxes. They carefully surveyed the land and determined taxes based on soil fertility. They also emphasized agricultural growth by building numerous dams and canals.

    VijayaNagar Empire Judicial Administration

    In terms of judicial administration, the King served as the highest judge, and severe penalties were in place for wrongdoers. Those who broke the law faced appropriate punishments and were fined accordingly.

    VijayaNagar Empire Women Positions

    In the VijayaNagar Empire, women held significant roles in society. They played vital roles in social, political, and literary matters. Interestingly, women received an education on par with men. They were not just limited to academic pursuits; they also underwent training in wrestling and using various weapons.

    Additionally, they honed their skills in music and fine arts. Some women even had the chance to pursue advanced education. In fact, Nuniz reported that the kings employed women as astrologers, clerks, accountants, guards, and wrestlers, showcasing the diverse roles they played in the empire.

    VijayaNagar Empire Social Life

    The VijayaNagar Empire had a structured society with distinct characteristics. Practices such as child marriage, polygamy, and sati were prevalent. Women enjoyed significant status within the empire, and religious freedom was permitted by the VijayaNagar kings.

    VijayaNagar Empire Economic Conditions

    The VijayaNagar Empire’s economic strategies were primarily influenced by their irrigation policies. They had thriving industries such as textiles, mining, metallurgy, and perfumes.

    Additionally, the VijayaNagar empire maintained trade connections with various regions, including islands in the Indian Ocean, Abyssinia, Arabia, Burma, China, Persia, Portugal, South Africa, and the Malay Archipelago.

    VijayaNagar Empire Architecture and Literature

    Krishnadeva Raya, from the VijayaNagar Empire, built the Ramaswami Temple and Vittalaswami Temple. Additionally, a remarkable Bronze Image of Krishnadeva Raya was created during his rule.

    This era saw the flourishing of vernacular languages like Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada. A scholar named Sayana provided valuable commentaries on the Vedas. Furthermore, Krishnadeva Raya, a member of the Tuluva Dynasty, authored Amuktamalyada in Telugu, as well as Usha Prinayam and Jambavathi Kalyanam in Sanskrit.

    VijayaNagar Empire Decline

    The rulers who came after Krishnadeva Raya were not very strong. During the time when Aliya Rama Raya was in charge, the rulers of Ahmednagar, Bijapur, Golconda, and Bidar joined forces to attack the VijayaNagar Empire.

    Sadly, Aliya Rama Raya and his supporters were defeated and killed in a brutal battle. This marked the beginning of the decline of the VijayaNagar Empire, which eventually fell to the combined forces of the Deccan Sultanates in the Battle of Talikota in 1565.

    VijayaNagar Empire FAQs

    What is the VijayaNagar Empire?

    The VijayaNagar Empire, also known as the Karnata Kingdom, was a significant Hindu empire in South India that existed from 1336 to 1565 CE.

    Where was the VijayaNagar Empire located?

    The empire was primarily located in the region that comprises modern-day Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Goa, and parts of Telangana and Maharashtra.

    Who were the founders of the VijayaNagar Empire?

    The empire was founded by two brothers, Harihara and Bukka, who were part of the Sangama Dynasty. They established the empire in 1336 CE.

    What was the capital of the VijayaNagar Empire?

    The capital of the empire was the city of Hampi, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    Who were some notable rulers of the VijayaNagar Empire?

    Krishnadeva Raya, who ruled from 1509 to 1529 CE, is one of the most celebrated kings of the VijayaNagar Empire. He is known for his significant territorial gains and contributions to the empire's growth.

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