History of Vijayanagar, The 31st District of Karnataka

History of Vijayanagar, The 31st District of Karnataka

Karnataka CM, B.S. Yediyurappa has announced the creation of Vijayanagar as the 31st district of Karnataka. It will be carved out from the Ballari district. You must have heard of Tenali Rama! He belonged to Vijaynagar’s king Krishna Devaraya’s court. Let us dive deep into the rich history of this ancient land.

Crux of the Matter

History of Vijayanagar – Rise
Vijayanagara Empire was a South Indian empire that covered modern-day Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and parts of Maharashtra. It was established in 1336 by Harihara I and Bukka Raya I.

The empire started to decline in 1565 after the Battle of Talikota. The army of Aliya Rama Raya was defeated by the combined forces of Deccan Sultanates – Ahmadnagar, Berar, Bidar, Bijapur, and Golconda – located to the north of Vijaynagar. The loss led to the slow decline and eventual collapse of the empire in 1646.

Hampi, also known as Hampe, was the capital of the Empire in the 14th century. It was the world’s second-largest medieval-era city after Beijing, and probably India’s richest at that time. It houses the Virupaksha Temple, an active Adi Shankara-linked monastery, and various monuments.

Krishna Devaraya
Krishna Devaraya is known to be the ablest and potent Vijayanagara king, under whom the kingdom rose to its highest peak. His reign is recognized as the golden age of Telugu literature.

He built the famous Vithalswami and Hazara temple in Hampi. His empire extended from Cuttack in eastern India to Goa in the west and Raichur Dobe in the north to the Indian Ocean in the south. 

Rise of Shivaji During That Period
Along with Vijayanagara, existed 5 Deccan Sultanates – Bijapur, Golkonda, Ahmadnagar, Bidar, and Berar. Shivaji killed Afzal Khan, the army general of Bijapur Army in 1659 and overnight, became a formidable warlord. He further won the Torna fort and established the Maratha Kingdom with Raigad at its capital.

Kishkindha which is located near Hampi was considered to be the kingdom of the Vanara King Sugriva in Ramayana. The whole region was within the dense Dandaka Forest. In Mahabharata, the Pandava Sahadeva visited this kingdom to collect tribute for Yudhishthira’s Rajasuya sacrifice.

  • The name “Hampi” comes from Kannada Hampe (derived from Pampa, the ancient name for the Tungabhadra river).
  • Hampi or the “The City of Ruins” has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
  • Tenali Ramakrishna or Tenali Rama, known for his brilliant wit, was one of the Ashtadiggajas or the eight scholars at King Krishna Devaraya’s court. His great work Panduranga Mahatmyam is a Kāvya (poem) of high merit, remarkable for its sonorous dignity of phrasing, and is counted as one of the Pañcha Mahā Kāvyas (the Five Great Poems) of Telugu literature.