top of page
Gradient Background

Dynasties and Major Rulers of the Vijayanagara Empire | Gurugrah

Vijayanagara Empire –

The Vijayanagara Empire, also known as the Carnatic Empire, was a Hindu kingdom based in the region of South India, which included parts of Karnataka, Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Goa, and Maharashtra. It was founded in 1336 by brothers Harihara I and Bukka Raya I of the Sangam dynasty, who were members of a pastoral community claiming the Yadavas.

The empire rose to prominence by the end of the 13th century as the culmination of efforts by the southern powers to fend off Perso-Turkic Islamic invasions. At its height, it subjugated almost all of South India's ruling families and pushed the Deccan sultans beyond the Tungabhadra–Krishna River Doab region, further separating modern-day Odisha (ancient Kalinga) from the Gajapati Empire and Thus became a notable force.

The empire's wealth and fame inspired the visits and writings of medieval European travelers such as Domingo Paes, Fernão Nunes, and Niccolò de' Conti. These travelogues, contemporary literature and epigraphy in local languages and modern archaeological excavations at Vijayanagara have provided substantial information about the empire's history and power.

The empire's legacy includes monuments spread across South India, the most famous of which is the Hampi group. Various temple building traditions in South and Central India were amalgamated into the Vijayanagara architectural style. This synthesis inspired architectural innovations in the construction of Hindu temples. Efficient administration and vigorous foreign trade brought new technologies such as water management systems for irrigation to the region. The empire's legacy includes monuments spread across South India, the most famous of which is the Hampi group. Various temple-building traditions in South and Central India were amalgamated into the Vijayanagara architectural style. This synthesis inspired architectural innovations in the construction of Hindu temples. Efficient administration and vigorous foreign trade brought new technologies such as water management systems for irrigation to the region.

Alternative name

The Kingdom of Karnataka (Karnataka Kingdom) was another name for the Vijayanagara Empire, used in some inscriptions and literary works of the Vijayanagara period, including the Sanskrit work Jambavati Kalyanam by King Krishnadevaraya and the Telugu work Vasu Charitamu. According to historians including Vasundhara Kavali-Philiozat, BA Saletor, PB Desai,temple-building, and Ram Sharma, "Although Robert Sewell noted in the body of the text that the kingdom was called Carnatic, He chose Vijayanagara in the title because he knew Kannada and the Telugu groups would fight if he called it Karnataka.” According to the historical records obtained from the inscriptions available in the historical ruins of the empire it was called the Carnatic Kingdom (translated to the Karnataka Kingdom in English).

History of the Vijayanagara Empire

Background and Basic Principles

Before the early 14th-century rise of the Vijayanagara Empire, the Hindu kingdoms of the Deccan – the Yadava kingdom of Devagiri, the Kakatiya dynasty of Warangal, and the Pandyan kingdom of Madurai – were repeatedly invaded and invaded by Muslims from the north. By 1336, the Upper Deccan region (today's Maharashtra and Telangana) was lost to the armies of Sultan Alauddin Khalji and Muhammad bin Tughlaq of the Delhi Sultanate.

Further south in the Deccan region, the Hoysala commander Singya Nayaka-III declared independence after defeating the Muslim forces of the Delhi Sultanate and annexing the territories of the Yadava kingdom in 1294 CE. He established the Kampili kingdom near Gulbarga and the Tungabhadra river in the northeastern parts of present-day Karnataka state. The kingdom collapsed following defeat by the forces of the Delhi Sultanate and following their defeat, the population committed a Jauhar (ritual mass suicide) in c. 1327–28. The Vijayanagara Empire was founded in 1336 CE as a successor to the earlier prosperous Hindu kingdoms of the Hoysalas, Kakatiyas, and Yadavas, adding a new dimension to South India's resistance to the Muslim invasion.

Early Years

In the first two decades after the establishment of the empire, Harihara I gained control of most of the territory south of the Tungabhadra River and earned the title "lord of the eastern and western seas" (Purpaschima Samudradhishvara). By 1374, Harihara I's successor Bukka Raya I defeated the chieftains of Arcot, the Reddys of Kondavidu, and the Sultan of Madurai, and gained control of Goa in the west and the Tungabhadra-Krishna river doab in the north. The original capital of the empire was in the princely state of Anegondi on the northern bank of the Tungabhadra River in present-day Karnataka. It was moved to Vijayanagara during the reign of Bukka Raya I as it was easier to defend against the Muslim armies, which were constantly attacking from the northern lands.

Pinnacle of Empire

The empire reached its zenith during the reign of Krishnadeva Raya when the Vijayanagara army was consistently victorious. The empire formerly gained territory under sultanates in the northern Deccan, such as Raichur and Gulbarga from the Bahmani Sultanate, wars with the Sultan Quli Qutb Shahi of Golconda in eastern Deccan, and the Kalinga region from the Gajapatis of Odisha. This was in addition to the already established presence in Southern Deccan. Many important monuments were either completed or commissioned during the time of King Krishnadevaraya.

Defeat and Decline

Eventually, the Deccan sultanates to the north of Vijayanagar united and attacked Aliya Rama Raya's army in January 1565 at the Battle of Talikota. Regarding Vijayanagara's defeat in the battle, Kamath observes that the Sultanate's forces, though numerically disadvantaged, were better equipped and trained. Their artillery was manned by expert Turkish gunners, while the Vijayanagara army relied on European mercenaries using older artillery.


The rulers of the Vijayanagara Empire maintained the administrative methods developed by their predecessors, the Hoysala, Kakatiya, and Pandya kingdoms. The king, ministry, territory, fort, treasury, military, and allies constitute the seven important elements that affect every aspect of governance. The king was the ultimate authority, assisted by a cabinet of ministers (pradhan) headed by the prime minister (mahapradhan).

Other important titles recorded were the chief secretary (karyakarta or raiswami) and royal officer (Adhikari). All high-ranking ministers and officials were required to receive military training. A secretariat near the king's palace employed scribes and officials to maintain official records using a wax seal inscribed with the king's ring. At the lower administrative levels, wealthy feudal lords (zamindars) supervised accountants (karanika or karnam) and guards (kavalu).


The economy of the empire was largely dependent on agriculture. Sorghum (jowar), cotton, and pulse beans grow in the semi-arid regions, while sugarcane, rice, and wheat flourish in the rainy regions. Betel leaves, betel leaves (for chewing), and coconuts were the major cash crops, and large-scale cotton production supplied the weaving centers of the empire's vibrant textile industry.

Spices such as turmeric, black pepper, cardamom, and ginger were grown in the remote Malnad hill region and taken to the city for trade. The empire's capital city was a thriving trade center containing large quantities of precious gems and a growing market for gold. The prolific temple-building provided employment to thousands of masons, sculptors, and other skilled artisans.


Social life

The Hindu social order prevailed and influenced daily life in the empire. The rulers who occupied the top of this hierarchy assumed the honorific Varnashramadharma (i.e., "helpers of the four classes and the four stages"). According to Talbot, caste was more importantly determined by the people in the business or professional community, However family lineage (gotra) and the wider distinctions described in sacred Hindu texts were also factors. The structure also included sub-castes and caste groups ("jatis"). According to Vanina, caste as a social identity was not fixed and changed constantly for reasons including politics, trade, and commerce, and was usually determined by context.


The Vijayanagara kings were tolerant of all religions and sects, as evidenced by the writings of foreign visitors. The kings used titles such as go brahmana pratipalanacharya (literally, "protector of cows and brahmins"), testifying to their intention to protect Hinduism, and yet at the same time adopting Islamic court ceremonies, dress, and political language. adopted, as reflected in In the title Hindu-raya-suratran (lit., "Sultans among Hindu kings"). The founders of the empire, the Sangama brothers (Harihara I and Bukka Raya I) came from a pastoral background, probably the Kurubas, who claimed Yadava descent.

The Epigraph, Sources, and Monetization

Stone inscriptions were the most common form of document used on temple walls, boundaries of properties, and open spaces for public display. Another form of documentation was on copper plates which were meant for record keeping. Typically rhetorical inscriptions include information such as a salutation, a citation from a king or local ruler, the name of the donor, the nature of the endowment (usually either cash or produce), obligations as to the manner in which the grant will be used. The donee, the share received by the donor, and a closing statement detailing the entire donation and its obligations. Some inscriptions record examples of retribution or curses on those who do not honor and grant victory in war or religious festivities.


During the rule of the Vijayanagara Empire, poets, scholars and philosophers wrote mainly in Kannada, Telugu and Sanskrit, and other regional languages ​​such as Tamil, and covered subjects such as religion, biography, prabandha (narrative), music, grammar, poetry . , Medicine and Mathematics. The administrative and court languages ​​of the empire were Kannada and Telugu, the latter gaining even greater cultural and literary prominence during the reign of the last Vijayanagara kings, especially Krishnadevaraya.


Vijayanagara architecture is, according to art critic Percy Brown, a vibrant fusion and emanation of Chalukya, Hoysala, Pandya and Chola styles, idioms that flourished in the preceding centuries. Its legacy of sculpture, architecture and painting influenced the development of the arts long after the end of the empire.

Its stylistic hallmarks are the ornate pillared kalyanamantapa (marriage hall), vasantamantapa (open pillared hall) and rayagopura (tower). The artisans used locally available hard granite because of its durability as the kingdom was under constant threat of invasion. An open-air theater of monuments in its capital at Vijayanagara is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

list of rulers

Sangam Dynasty (1336 – 1485 CE)

edit Main article: Sangam dynasty

Harihara I (1336–1356 CE),

Founder of Empire and Dynasty

Bukka Raya I (1356-1377 AD),

founder of the empire

Harihara II (1377-1404 AD)

Virupaksha Raya (1404-1405 AD)

Bukka Raya II (1405-1406 AD)

Deva Raya I (1406–1422 CE)

Ramchandra Rai (1422 AD)

Vira Vijaya Bukka Raya (1422-1424)

Deva Raya II (1424-1446 AD)

Mallikarjuna Raya (1446-1465 AD)

Virupaksha Raya II (1465-1485 AD)

Proudha Raya (1485 CE),

last ruler

Saluva dynasty (1485 – 1505 AD)

edit Main

article: Saluva dynasty

Saluva Narasimha

Deva Raya (1485-1491 AD),

first ruler

Thimma Bhupala (1491 AD)

Narasimha Raya II (1491–1505 CE),

last ruler

Tuluva dynasty (1491 – 1570 CE) edit

Main article: Tuluva dynasty

Tuluva Narsa Nayaka (1491-1503 AD),

first ruler

Viranarasimha Raya (1503-1509 AD)

Krishnadevaraya (1509–1529 CE),

greatest ruler of the empire

Achyuta Deva Raya (1529-1542 AD)

Sadashiv Rai (1542–1570 CE),

last ruler

Aravidu dynasty (1542 – 1646 AD)

edit Main article: Aravidu dynasty

Aliya Ram Rai (1542-1565 AD),

first ruler

Tirumala Deva Raya (1565–1572 CE)

Shrirang Deva Raya (1572-1586 AD)

Venkatapati Deva Raya (1586-1614 AD)

Sriranga II (1614–1617 CE)

Ramdev Rai (1617-1632 AD)

Peda Venkata Raya (1632-1642 AD)

Sriranga III (1642–1646/1652 CE),

last ruler of the dynasty and empire



By Chanchal Sailani | January 21, 2023, | Editor at Gurugrah_Blogs.



Related Posts :

bottom of page