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Vijayanagara Empire

There are two different theories regarding the origin of Vijayanagara Empire. According to the first theory, the founders of the empire were Telugu Kuruba people related to the Kakatiya kingdom who took control of the declining Hoysala Empire. The second theory states that they were Kannadigas and commanders of the army of Hoysala Empire who were stationed in Tungabhadra region to ward off the Muslim invasion. The only common link between the two theories is that they were inspired to fight against the Muslim invasion of south India by Vidyaranya, a saint of Sringeri monastery. In the early 14th century all the efforts by various Hindu dynasties to rise were repeatedly crushed by the Muslim invaders from the northern parts of India. The Hoysala Empire was the only Hindu kingdom left in the path of Muslim attacks. The Hoyasala Empire merged with the Vijaynagara Empire after the death of its leader. Harihara I controlled the empire for almost two decades and was succeeded by Bukka Raya I in 1374. During his rein, he defeated the Reddy dynasty, Sultan of Madurai, chiefdom of Arcot and took control of Goa in the west and Tungabhadra in the north.

The Vijayanagara Kingdom gained imperial stature over time as Harihara II expanded the kingdom beyond Krishna River and brought whole of south India under the control of the Vijayanagara Empire. The next successor Deva Raya I defeated the Gajapatis of Orrisa. Deva Raya II was one of the most competent rulers of this dynasty. He suppressed all the rebelling feudal lords and he became the overlord of the kings of Burma and Tanasserium after defeated them. During the late 15th century, the empire started declining until General Tuluva Narasa Nakaya and Commander Suluva Narasimha Deva Raya made serious efforts to revive it.

Son of Tuluva Narasa Nakaya, Krishnadevaraya, finally succeeded the throne after two decades of conflict with the mutinous chieflords. The empire reached its zenith under the rulership of Krishnadevaraya as it successfully fought the invasions from the five Deccan Sultanates and ruled almost whole of the South India in the following decades. The Vijayanagra armies were continuously successful in all their endeavors. They sieged the northern and eastern Deccan territories including Kalinga and kept control over its southern subordinates.

Krishnadevaraya was succeeded by Achyuta Raya in 1530 and further by Sadashiva Raya in 1542. But the main control was in the hands of his son-in-law Aliya Rama Raya. In the Battle of Talikota in 1565, Aliya Rama Raja was suddenly killed after the victory of Vijayanagara army. This created confusion and chaos in the Vijayanagara ranks and which then disintegrated into the sense of every man for himself. The empire saw decline when the Deccan Sultanate’s army ransacked Hampi which was never acquired again. The sole survivor, Trimala Raya, of the Vijayanagara Empire fled the region with large amounts of wealth to Penukonda.

Venkata II, grandson of Trimala Raya, fought against the Bahmani Sultanate and save Penukonda from being captured. His successor Ramadeva rules till 1632. Venkata III became the ruler after the death of Ramadeva and ruled for ten years before being conquered by the Sultanates of Golkonda and Bijapur. The feudal chieftains declared their independence after the end of Vijayanagara Empire.

Well developed administrative methods were created by the rulers of Vijayanagara Empire to control and govern their territories. The King was the main authority figure assisted by the prime minister who further had cabinet ministers working beneath him. High ranking military officers and chief secretary were the other important titles. Military training was a pre requisite for all the officers and ministers. A secretariat maintained official records of the empire. There were 72 departments of the palace administration and each department had numerous female attendants who were chosen the basis of their beauty and age. They were trained to serve the noble men and to do simple administrative duties.

Main five provinces made up the Empire. Each province had a commander and was headed by a governor. Most of the time, the governor was a member of the royal family. Each province was further divided into regions and each region was divided into counties. The counties were then subdivided into municipalities. The territories were ruled the hereditary families.

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