By Chetan Shirasi
The Vijaynagar Empire was born out of ashes of burning Hindu civilization at the beginning of 14th century. It was established by two brothers Hariharaya I and Bukkaraya I. The brothers, horrified by Muslim genocide and barbarism decided to create an empire so powerful that it could ward off the Islamic invaders from the heartland of South India and provide a safe haven for the heritage and culture of the Hindus. The empire was named after its capital city, Vijaynagar, which was arguably one of the most beautiful cities in the world, described to be bigger than Rome by Domingo Paes(a Spanish traveler); this city shadowed the beauty and magnificence of Renaissance cities of Italy from that era.
The empire lasted for more than 250 years until finally it was destroyed at Battle of Talikota, in 1565, where the combined might of the Deccan Sultanates won after a strategic mistake made by the presiding ruler, Ramaraya, proved fatal. Although the empire was lost, it did serve a great purpose in reviving the Hindu culture in the South, which had come under severe strain in the North due to the Muslim invaders. At the zenith of its power, Vijaynagar was one of the most magnificent cities and the centre of Hindu culture. Excavations continue to reveal the little known aspects of this once powerful empire and city. The remains of this city are today the part of UNESCO World Heritage site at Hampi Karnataka, a site which to this day retains the magic and carries the nostalgia of once glorious past.
The series, presented in a dialogue and story form for easy comprehension, covers the origin, rise and then the subsequent fall of Vijayanagar.
The Origins of Vijaynagar
The following part of article is reproduced in form of story form for a better and a more comprehensive understanding of the origins of this Great Empire. The origin is important because unlike any other empire , this empire came in to existence solely, to stop the Muslim invasion of the South India in 13th and 14th century AD. The story highlights the many legends and reasons for the origin of Vijayangar
1335 AD– Hoysaleshwara Temple Premises, Karnataka
‘Harihara’ along with his brother ‘Bukka Raya’ hurriedly entered the temple premises with concerned look, for he was summoned two days ago by Hoysala king Vir Ballal III with great urgency, and was asked to arrive at the temple as soon as possible..What possible debacle could have fallen over the Hoyasala kingdom?
The ancient temple of ‘Hoysaleshwara’…a place most scared to the Royal family and once a revered centre for kingdom was reduced to, plundered and ravaged by the savage attacks of the armies of the Delhi Sultanate
King Vira Ballal III of Hoysala Empire welcomed Harihara with a smile…but his eyes were telling a entirely different story.
Bukka spotted five other men along with the great Hoysala king .Bukka gave his brother a look of concern..The five other men did not bother Harihara. Known faces seldom do, especially when a calamity as big as a collapse of numerous kingdoms strikes…
The three men were commander of the fallen Kakatiya Kingdom of Warangal, Musunuri Prolaneedu, Kaapaneedu and the King of the Cheras and the rules of the vanishing Pandya kingdom Vira Pandyan IV
South India in beginning of 1300 AD
South India in 1325 AD(territory marked in red occupied by Delhi sultanate)
Harihara : Salutation O King ! The Sangam brothers are at your esteemed service.
Vir Ballal: Its not me Harihara - today our culture and people need your service more than my own self.
Musunuri Prolaneedu : And yet, to our misfortune, you serve the Delhi Sultanate.
Kaapaneedu.: Whose service has meant only destruction of our lands, traditions and culture..loot and pillage of our villages, women and temples…Look around you…The very temple that you are in now stands testament to the ruining unleashed by these savages… and yet you wishfully want to ‘serve ‘them?
Harihara: My fellow soldiers, I was forced by circumstances to adopt a prudent course for the safety of my people. After the fall of Kampila, it was necessary for me to secure the region and protect it from further devastation. We did not have much power. The only option left for me was to swore allegiance with Sultanate and convince them to make me their governor. But certainly, my intention is not to emulate them, but to have a certain degree of control on the region and protect my people, even if it meant allegiance to the Sultanate.
Bukka: Brothers, moreover after the death of Warangal king, we escaped to Hoysala and when even the same kingdom was attacked, my brother had no option but to secure the region by pledging allegiance to them.
Vir Ballal III : Well it’s time we fight the Sultan Tughlaq together, The atrocities inflicted by him on the Hindus exceed all powers of description. We cannot just sit and watch, while our people suffer.
Vira Pandyan IV: I heard that the Sultan is planning to shift his capital to Devgiri in the Deccan, and has forced the entire city to move along with him..In all probability, he is still not set in the new city.
Cheras : I have heard that even those who were unwilling to come were dragged all the way to the new city, and for many, only their limbs succeeded in reaching Dev Giri…What a maniac.
Musunuri Prolaneedu: The Delhi Sultanate has been weakened by his errors. His armies have reduced to a fraction of what they were after he sent them to conquer Persia and China! Thousands have perished, without any gains for the empire!
Vir Ballal III : This is a good opportunity for the Hindus to strike back, with a military force representing all of us.
Vira Pandyan IV: A combined military expedition can reduce the armies of the Sultanate.
Vir Ballal III: This is not what I meant. The time of alliances is passé. The need of the hour is powerful kingdom, with the economic, political and military strength of an alliance.
Kaapaneedu: But who would be the king.? Will it be the Pandyas or the Cheras, or your own self who has taken this initiative? The position of the King itself has been at the root of the lingering enmity between the Cheras and the Pandyas for decades.
Vir Ballal III: And this precisely is the reason why the Islamic invaders are defeating Hindu armies and ravaging our lands, without any significant opposition. Our selfish motivations have taken over the instinct for self-preservation.The question is not of power, dynasty or region, it’s the question of cultural values. Do only the Hoyasalas stand to lose when Hoysaleswar temple, was devastated? Did you not feel pain when temple at Madurai was plundered? Our values and religion are stake, without which there is not going to be a bedrock for our existence, much less our valor. For now, lets have the heart of the kings, and not go into the petty infighting for over lordship.
After a long discussion over the army and the strategy to be adopted, the commanders, the princes and the kings decided that it was fitting that the region around the Tungabhadra river, and town of Kampli be fortified and used as a base for their future expeditions, and attacks on the army of Delhi Sultanate. The Sangam brothers, Harihara and Bukka were deemed to be the overlords of the regions, and were given the responsibility of defending the regions against the Islamic invaders from the North….
…To be continued