History of the Vijayanagara Kingdom

Vijayanagara empire was one of the most famous dynasties to have ruled South India. The ruins of this empire can be seen at Hampi in its full glory. The architecture of this land has been studied by archeologists all over the world and is praised for its different and unqiue style not found in other Indian regions. Bellary, Hospet and a few other places around here show influence of the Vijayanagar kingdom.

Hakka - Bukka

The Vijayanagar Empire was a South Indian empire based in the Deccan. Established in 1336 by Harihara I and his brother Bukka Raya I, it lasted until 1646. Hampi was its capital and is now a World Heritage Site in modern Karnataka. The writings of medieval European travelers such as Domingo Paes, Fernao Nuniz and Niccolò Da Conti and the literature in local languages provide crucial information about its history. Archaeological excavations at Vijayanagar have revealed the empire's power and wealth.

Vijayanagar's Architecture and Culture

The empire's legacy includes many monuments spread over South India, the best known being the group at Hampi (link to Hampi). The temple building traditions in South India got revived in the Vijayanagar Architecture style.  Secular royal structures show the influence of the Islamic architecture of the North.

Efficient administration and vigorous overseas trade brought new technologies like water management systems for irrigation. The empire's patronage enabled fine arts and literature to reach new heights in the languages of Kannada, Telugu, Tamil and Sanskrit, while Carnatic music evolved into its current form. The Vijayanagar Empire created an epoch in South Indian history that transcended regionalism by promoting Hinduism as a unifying factor.

Hoysalas merged with Vijayanagar empire to fight the Mughals

Before the rise of Vijayanagar Empire in the early 14th century, many Hindu kingdoms had been defeated by Alla-ud-din Khilji and Muhammad bin Tughluq, the Sultans of Delhi. The Hoysala Empire was the sole remaining Hindu kingdom against the Muslim invaders.  After the death of Hoysala Veera Ballala III, the Hoysala Empire merged with Vijayanagar Empire.  The original capital was in the territory of Anegondi on the northern banks of the Tungabhadra River (in Karnataka). It was later moved to nearby Vijayanagar on the river's southern banks during the reign of Bukka Raya I.

Domination in South India

The Vijayanagar Empire dominated all of South India and fought off invasions from the five established Deccan Sultanates for several decades. The empire reached its peak during the rule of Sri Krishnadevaraya when Vijayanagar armies were consistently victorious. The empire annexed areas formerly under the Sultanates in the northern Deccan and the territories in the eastern Deccan, including Kalinga.  Many important monuments were either completed or commissioned during the time of Krishnadevaraya.

Destruction of Hampi

The sudden capture and killing of Aliya Rama Raya, successor to Krishnadevaraya in 1565, at the Battle of Talikota, created mayhem and confusion in the Vijayanagara. The Sultanates' army later plundered Hampi and reduced it to the ruinous state in which it remains; it was never re-occupied. Tirumala Raya, the sole surviving commander, left Vijayanagar for Penukonda with vast amounts of treasure on the back of 550 elephants. The empire was finally conquered by the Sultanates of Bijapur and Golkonda.  The festival of Vijayanagar organised by the government of Karnataka is worth seeing.

Now that you have learnt the history of Vijayanagar, why don't you explore Bellary or visit Hampi travel guide