HISTORY OF INDIA
HINDU STATES IN SOUTHERN INDIA.
India, south of the Vindhyas,
always exhibited a tendency politically to fall into two well-marked
divisions, the boundaries of which varied at different periods of
history. About the year AD 1000 this tendency was working
itself out by a new shifting of the powers under two large political
divisions. The kingdom of the Chalukyas, called for distinction the
later Chalukyas or even the Chalukyas of Kalyani, had its capital at
Kalyani in the Nizam's dominions. The Chalukyas may be regarded as a
Deccan power whose original territory comprised the central and southern
divisions of the Bombay Presidency and the western half of the Nizam's
dominions. Along the Arabian Sea coast their territory extended well
past Goa and varied from time to time in regard to its exact
southernmost limit. In the north their territory extended even to
Gujarat. But the simultaneous rise to power of the Paramaras of Malwa
kept them limited on this frontier to the region south of the Narbada,
if not the Vindhya mountains themselves. The really uncertain and
therefore the changing frontier was the eastern and southern. At the
best, this frontier stretched so far as to take into the Chalukyan
territory, the modern State of Mysore, and from there continued along
the Tungabhadra till it joins the Krishna, proceeding north-eastwards
through the middle of the Nizam's dominions across to the east of Nagpur
in the Central Provinces. The most vulnerable part of this frontier was
the part extending along the Krishna from its junction with the
Tungabhadra almost to its source, so that the region between the rivers
Krishna and Tungabhadra constituted the bone of contention between the
rival powers throughout the eleventh century.
The southern power contemporary
with the Chalukyas was the great dynasty of the Cholas, coming into
notice almost a century earlier than their rivals. They slowly forged
their way up despite the crushing weight of the imperial power of the
Rashtrakutas of the Deccan. When these were overthrown by the Chalukyas
about the end of the tenth century the Cholas had put themselves on a
footing of some permanence and power. The advent of Rajaraja, the Great,
who was to have succeeded almost at the same time as the Rashtrakutas
were overthrown, introduced a new spirit into the activities of the
Cholas. They took advantage of the change of dynasties and consequent
neglect of the southern frontier to go forward and occupy the territory
of the Gangas by overthrowing them finally. This gave them the southern
and by far the greatest division of the territory of what is now the
Mysore State, from which, as a salient, they could carry on their war
against the Chalukyas with advantage. This accession to the Chola
territory took place in AD 1000 or 1001.
While the dynastic revolution was
developing in the territory of the Rashtrakutas, the Eastern Chalukyas,
whose territory included the part of the Madras Presidency north of
Madras, had their own domestic troubles, which do not appear to have
Cholas and Chalukyas
These powerful dynasties, the Cholas and the Chalukyas, were well-matched in resources both material and personal; each had a succession of capable rulers, and used its resources with a view to the attainment of a frontier which would put an end to perpetual wars. Further wars therefore resolved themselves into a fight for the possession of the Doab and the State of Mysore. This war was ultimately decided in favour of the Chalukyas under their greatest ruler and his equally great contemporary among the Cholas. These two rulers were both of them usurpers in a sense, and used the power that they acquired to get a final settlement of the longstanding frontier problem. Vikramaditya VI, the second son of Somesvara Ahavamalla, overthrew his brother, also a Somesvara, after a short reign and ascended the throne in 1076. His contemporary, the Chalukya-Chola Kulottunga, ascended the Chola throne in 1070. He was a grandson by the daughter of Rajendra, the Gangaikonda Chola, and was the legitimate ruler of the territory of the Eastern Chalukyas. He seems to have found this too small a patrimony, and would succeed to the imperial Chola throne and not remain content with his own territory. What exactly his title to this was, except through his mother, is not made clear. He seems to have bided his time and taken advantage of the machinations of his contemporary Vikramaditya to place himself on the throne of the Chalukyas.
Somesvara the father died in 1069, and Somesvara II, the elder son, succeeded. Vikramaditya already held the position of viceroy of Banavasi which included in it the wardenship of the southern marches of the Chalukya territory. While still viceroy of this province he concluded a treaty with the contemporary Chola, Vira Rajendra, whose daughter he married.
Vira Rajendra died and was succeeded by his son, the brother-inlaw of Vikramaditya, and Kulottunga found an opportunity of overthrowing this new ruler and of occupying the Chola throne. Vikramaditya was baulked in his ambition by this coup of his contemporary, and had to wait for yet another five years before he could put his own plans into execution. Both of them ruled for about half a century, Kulottunga's reign lasting from 1070 to 1118 at least, and that of Vikramaditya from 1076 to 1128.
During the first decade of their
rule Yikramaditya's efforts were so far successful that a considerable
part of the territory of Mysore passed into his hands, and this progress
continued till Chola rule in Mysore was put an end to by AD 1117, about
the end of the reign of Kulottunga Chola. The chieftain who was
responsible for this was the feudatory of the Chalukya emperor who laid
the foundations of the greatness of the Hoysalas. The eleventh century
for south India may therefore be regarded as the century of struggle for
the fixing of a definitive frontier between the two contending empires.
The recurring frontier wars
notwithstanding, this was a period of very successful administration
both in the territory of the Cholas and that of the Chalukyas. It is the
records of these two dynasties that enable us to see at their best the
highly organized and systematic administration that obtained in the
whole region. The civil administration was carried on largely by local
agency, the central government retaining only oversight and control in
cases of dispute. The ordinary routine of the administration was carried
on by village and town organisations and as far as we can see from this
distance of time, this administration was carried on with great
success. The main duty of the imperial rulers was to assure to the
people protection from external enemies and internal disturbances.
Except on the fighting frontiers the whole country seems to have enjoyed
this peace and protection in a very large measure. Large public works
were undertaken, and considerable stimulus was given to learning and
religion, in regard to the latter of which it was a period of great
ferment. In spite of the fanatical enthusiasm of some of the religious
leaders the movements were kept well under control and proceeded
smoothly to work themselves out. With the passing away of these two
rulers at the end of the first quarter of the twelfth century, the usual
process of disintegration sets in.
The kingdom of the Chalukyas
underwent a dismemberment before the end of the century, and that of the
Cholas continued almost intact until about the middle of the next
century when it was overthrown by the revival of the Pandyan state of
Madura, which had been early reduced to subjection by the Cholas. At the
period of the Muhammadan invasions of south India therefore, the
political division of the country was very different from what it was in
the eleventh century. In the working out of this transformation the
feudatory dynasties of the Chalukyas played a very important part, and
among these the chief distinction must be given to the Hoysalas of
In the recesses of the Western
Ghats there is a small village, called Angadi since the days of
Achyutaraya of Vijayanagar, in the Mudegare taluk of the modern district
of Kadur in Mysore. It apparently derived its importance from its
situation at the point where the two roads from the Mysore State meet
the road over the Ghats from Mangalore. These two roads are of
considerable importance from the point of view of the coffee planting
industry now, and they seem to have enjoyed the same degree of
importance even in those earlier days when the trade was in other
commodities for which the region has always been famous. Before the days
of the Vijayanagar king Achyuta, the place seems to have been generally
known as Vasantikapura, apparently from the temple of the village
goddess now popularly called Vasantamma, or more formally Vasantikadevi.
It had the alternative name Sasakapura (hare-town) with it modern
equivalent Sosevur, and it was herethat the Hoysalas had their origin.
The Hoysalas were a family of petty
hill chiefs of the Western Ghats, and each ruler, even in the days of
their highest prosperity styled himself, "the man among the hill chiefs"
(Malaparol-Ganda). The first reference to the Hoysalas in inscriptions
is found in a Chola record of a.d. 1007. The first member of the family
of any note was Nripakama, who is mentioned in 1022. The highest
achievement of this chief was the assistance that he rendered to the
chief of Banavasi against his enemies, who are described by name. The
origin of his epithet, 'the Base', has not been traced, but it probably
explains the omission of his name from the later genealogies. In a
record of 1026 he is said to have been defeated by the Kongalva
feudatory of the Cholas, Rajendra Chola Prithvi Kongalva. He is himself
given the title 'Rajamalla Perumanadi' in another record, a clear
indication that he was a Ganga feudatory, who bore his overlord's title.
His son was Vinayaditya, the first important member of the family to
figure in the records of the suzerain power, that of the Chalukyas. The
period of Nripakama and his son was a period of wars between the Cholas
and the Chalukyas for the possession of Mysore. It was by distinguished
service in these wars that these chieftains rose to importance.
Vinayaditya's full style is Tribhuvana Hoysala, and later genealogies
generally begin with his name. His headquarters were yet at Sasakapura,
while in the days of his grandson, his successor, the capital was
shifted to Belur. In the records of the great Chalukya ruler Somesvara
Ahavamalla 1044-1069, Vinayaditya's name occurs as the Mahamandalesvara
of Gangavadi, 96,000. This vast province, which included almost the
whole of the modern districts of Mysore, Bangalore and Kolar, was a
province of the Cholas at the time, and was divided by them into three
districts. The appointment of a Chalukya governor over this province at
the time, with a capital far removed from the region itself, means that
the governorship was the wardenship of the southern marches, where there
would be ample opportunity for achieving distinction in war. It was
from this struggle for the possession of what now constitutes the
plateau of Mysore that the Hoysalas emerged into importance and
succeeded ultimately in carving out for themselves from the dismembered
Chalukya kingdom a state which became the most influential power in the
succeeding period of South Indian history.
Reverting to the history of this
struggle between the kingdoms, the Cholas had the upper hand to begin
with, and carried all before them in the days of Rajaraja and his son,
leaving to the Chalukyas the possession of only Banavasi, one of the
three divisions of what is now the State of Mysore. It has already been
stated that Rajendra held possession of important fortresses on this
frontier which are often described as 'the key to the south', or 'the
bolt against the south'. He seems to have inflicted a defeat upon his
contemporary Chalukya Jayasimha, but does not appear to have pressed the
enemy farther. When he died, in the forty-fourth year of his reign, he
was succeeded by three of his sons, one after another. His immediate
successor carried the war into his enemy's country, as far north as
Kolhapur itself. By this time the Chalukya territories were under the
rule of Somesvara Ahavamalla (or 'the Great in War').
Somesvara was able to hold up the
Chola army at Koppa on the Krishna, a few miles south-east of Kolhapur,
and after a strenuous fight the day went against the Cholas, Rajadhiraja
falling in battle. His younger brother, who brought up reinforcements,
retrieved the fortunes of the day, and claims to have set up a pillar of
victory in Kolhapur itself. The war continued between Somesvara and the
next Chola brother who succeeded these two with varying fortunes. In
the course of one of the wars Somesvara seems to have entrusted the
southern division of his kingdom, the most vulnerable at the time, to
his second and most talented son, who afterwards ascended the throne as
Vikramaditya. This Prince did his utmost to maintain his position in the
south and carried the war into the Chola country itself, but was
checked on the banks of the Tungabhadra by the energetic Chola ruler
Vira Rajendra. Vikramaditya tried diplomacy when war failed, and seems
to have created a diversion against Vira Rajendra on the eastern
Chalukya frontier. He ultimately succeeded in coming to an understanding
with Vira Rajendra in regard to the debatable frontier, the treaty
being sealed by the marriage of Prince Vikramaditya with Vira Rajendra's
daughter. While these negotiations were still in progress, the Chalukya
king Somesvara had an attack of a malignant fever and died, in
obedience to religious advice, by drowning himself in the Tungabhadra.
His eldest son Somesvara succeeded to the throne. At the same time the
other enterprising Chalukya prince Kulottunga attempted to seize the
Chola throne. Records bearing on this affair are laconic, merely stating
that Vikramaditya entered the Chola capital Gangaikonda-Solapuram, a
new foundation of Rajendra, the Gangaikonda Chola, and placed on the
throne his brother-in-law, who, however, was immediately deposed by his
subjects. Whether Kulottunga, the Chalukya prince, had any share in this
is not known; but that he actually occupied the throne and succeeded to
the kingdom is undoubted. His father died seven years before this at
Rajahmundry, his ancestral capital. There is nothing to show that
Kulottunga ever occupied his father's throne at Rajamandri. He seems to
have remained in the territory of the Cholas in the region round Kanchi,
and let others govern the Eastern Chalukya territory, perhaps in his
name. Kulottunga occupied the Chola throne from 1070 to 1118 at least,
and his contemporary Vikramaditya ascended the throne six years later
and continued to rule till 1128.
In all these transactions between
the Cholas and the Chalukyas, both diplomatic and warlike, the Governors
of Gangavadi and Nolambavadi have had their share. While inscriptions
of Vira Rajendra claim for him the credit of having granted to
Vikramaditya, the Chalukya prince, the Yauvardjya or the position of
heir-apparent to the Chalukya kingdom, Hoysala inscriptions of 1100
claim for Ereyanga the son of Vinayaditya the Hoysala governor of
Gangavadi, that he caused Tribhuvanamalla's (Vikramaditya's) elder
brother to sheathe his sword. His father-in-law Irukkapala similarly
lays claim to having defeated Bhuvanaikamalla (the Chalukya king
Somesvara), and gave the kingdom to Vikramaditya whose right-hand
Ereyanga, the Hoysala prince, is described to have been. It becomes thus
clear that, notwithstanding the statements in Bilhana's
Vikramanka-devacharitam, Vikramaditya planned and carried out the
usurpation, and, in this enterprise, he had the assistance of the
southern chiefs. Ereyanga seems to have taken part in the distant
northern expeditions of the Chalukyas, as he claims a victory at Dhar in
Malva, then under the successors of the great Bhoja. Ereyanga obviously
died before his father and left three sons by his wife Echaladevi, the
daughter of the Nolamba chief referred to already.
Vinayaditya was succeeded in the governorship of Gangavadi 96,000, by his eldest grandson Ballala I in 1101. His capital was at Belur, with which the Hoysala dynasty was throughout the period of their rule associated, though Dvarasamudra became later on an alternative capital.
The territory under Ballala I is given the same boundaries as that of his grandfather, and he is said to have paid a visit to the family capital Sosevur. In a.d. 1103 he made a re-grant of Sindagere to Mariane Dandanayaka as wages for wet-nursing his three daughters whom Ballala married in the same pavilion at Belur. The next year he led an expedition against the Changalva chiefs whose territory lay in the Hole-Narasipur taluk of the Hassan district of Mysore. He conducted a successful expedition the same year with his younger brother Vishnu into the neighboring Pandya dominions of Nolambavadi, and had to repulse an invader, Jagaddeva, who had penetrated as far as Dvarasamudra. An inscription of Ballala's time is dated in Chalukya Vikramaditya's era.
Conquests of the Hoysalas
Ballala I was succeeded by his
younger brother Bittideva (Vishnudeva), better known by his later title
Vishnuvardhana. He was the founder of Hoysala greatness, and his titles
are carried down in later inscriptions not only to his successors
generally, some of them posthumously to his predecessors. His name is
found mentioned for the first time in a record of 1100, associated with
that of his brother Ballala I. Records of Ballala I do not go beyond
1106, at which date or soon after Vishnu must have ascended the throne.
His real exploits however begin ten years later, according to the
inscriptions, making it possible that Ballala continued his reign even
for some time after 1106. Notwithstanding all previous claims to
conquest, Vishnu's signal achievements consist of the conquest of
Gangavadi and the partial conquest of Nolambavadi, which together
constitute his claim to greatness, as among one of the greatest of
Vikramaditya's Mahdmandalesvaras. A number of generals claim
the conquest of Gangavadi, and inscriptions generally make a great deal
of these conquests. Vishnu even assumes two special titles from this
conquest namely, 'Vira-Ganga' and 'Talakadu-gonda' (taker of Talakad).
This conquest of Gangavadi took place before 1117. Vishnu took the
province after overthrowing the Chola generals Adiyama, Damodara and
Narasimhavarma. This conquest was apparently real, as Vishnu was able to
undertake a tour through the territories of Gangavadi in the course of
which at the Vijayaditya-mangala (mod. Betmangala) his niece, the
daughter of his brother Udayaditya, died. At about the same time he
carried on a successful expedition against Nolambavadi and won a victory
over the Pandya ruler of the country at Dumme, on the borderland
between Shimoga and Chittaldroog districts. By the year 1117, therefore,
Vishnu had become master of Gangavadi 96,000, and had made himself felt
in Nolambavadi also. Inscriptions of Vishnu mark the year as an epoch
in the history of the Hoysala power. A number of inscriptions, chiefly
the one at Belur, inscribed on the occasion of the dedication of the
temple after Vishnu had adopted the teachings of Ramanuja, the Vaishnava
apostle, give an elaborate history of his conquests and sum up his
achievements previous to the date by giving his territory the boundaries
of the lower Ghat of Nangali on the east, Kongu, Cheram and Anaimalai
in the south, Barakantir and other Ghats of Konkana on the west, and
Savimalai in the north. Of these Nangali is the pass through the Eastern
Ghats six miles east of Mulbagal on the Madras-Bangalore road. Kongu
and Cheram are the well-known divisions in the middle across to the west
coast, and Anaimalai is a hill in the Coimbatore district belonging to
the Western Ghats. Barakanur is the Barkalur Ghat in the Western Ghats.
So far the boundary gives him the boundary of the modern State of Mysore
on three sides. The northern boundary of Savimalai has not yet been
satisfactorily identified. If it is a place on the Krishna in its upper
reaches it can only be regarded as an anticipation of the conquests of
his grandson. A record of the year 1118 describes him as in residence at
Talakad, thus indicating full possession of the Gangavadi province by
him. He is said in the year 1121 to be again at his headquarters at
Dvarasamudra, and it was in this year that Ketamalla, probably a
merchant, built the magnificent temple dedicated to Siva under the name
Vishnuvardhana-Hoysalesvara at Halebid. In the same year he made a
grant, with his queen-consort and the council of five ministers, to the
temple of Jayangondesvara, obviously a Siva temple of Chola foundation.
In 1123 Vishnu is again on the banks of the Kaveri while his northern boundary is described as the Perddore, that is, the river Krishna. In 1128 he is in his royal residence at Yadavapura (Melkotte), and makes a grant from there to Marbalatirtha, the Saiva shrine on the Chamundi Hill in Mysore. It was in this year that the Chalukya king Vikramaditya died, and his great contemporary Kulottunga died about a decade earlier andwas succeeded by his son Vikrama Chola. This last seems to have carefully checked Hoysala aggression in the south so that Vishnu had to devote himself to acquiring territory in the north. Vikramaditya was succeeded by his son Somesvara, with the title 'Bhulokamalla'. During the first year of his reign the boundaries of the Hoysala territory are defined exactly as before, with Savimalai for the northern limit. The new succession seems to have stimulated Vishnu's activities afresh, and this renewed activity seems to have frightened Somesvara. Even while Vikramaditya was alive this aggressive activity of the Hoysala chieftain attracted the attention of the king, who deputed a number of his more loyal governors, chief among them the Kadambas of Goa and the Sinda chieftain of Elberga, to check the rising Hoysala.
The Sinda chieftain Achugi II who like the Hoysala Ereyanga, Vishnu's father, laid claim to having rendered valuable services to Vikramaditya in his usurpation, seems to have inflicted a check if not a defeat on Vishnu's general Gangaraja, which constrained him to suspend activities for some time. These were renewed after the death of the great king.
In 1130 we find the Hoysalas supreme over the whole of the present territory of Mysore with some territory in the region of Kongu along the foothills of the Ghats, together with portions of the district of Dharwar, Nolambavadi or Eastern Mysore being in large part still out of the Hoysala territory. Even within the narrow limits of this territory he had enemies yet to overcome, such as the Chengalva and Kongalva chiefs along the Western Ghats.
Gangaraja seems to have been so devoted to the Jain faith that he is given credit for having restored all the Jain shrines destroyed during the repeated invasions of the Cholas, and made Mysore shine like Kopana (Koppal in the Nizam's dominions). For some years Vishnu was chiefly engaged in the north against the chiefs on the frontier for the final acquisition of Banavasi and Nolambavadi. For, in spite of the Mysore records, inscriptions of Somesvara III show a series of governors in charge of Banavasi, and Vira-Pandya is said to have been ruling from Uchangi-durga, the province of Nolambavadi.
Decline of the Chalukyas
Chalukya records of 1137 for the first time show Vishnuvardhana to be the Mahdmandalesvara in
charge of Gangavadi, Nolambavadi and Banavasi, constituting the whole
of the present State of Mysore. This year, therefore, may be regarded as
marking an epoch in the rise of the Hoysalas to independence, and the
ten years between the death of Vikramaditya and this must have been a
period of struggle to reach this assured position. Even so, Bankapur in
Dharwar must be regarded as the northern limit of his conquests, all
Hoysala statements to the contrary notwithstanding.
Vishnuvardhana then must be credited with having succeeded in uniting the whole of the modern Mysore State under his rule; but he did not venture to assume the royal dignity. During the remaining years of his life he devoted himself to securing his position on the northern frontier where things were moving fast towards disruption. He marked his accession to royal power in this year by the performance of the royal act of tula-pursha. He weighed himself against gold and distributed it among Brahmans and other deserving recipients of charitable gifts.
The next year he had to repulse an
invasion of Dvarasamudra by Jagad-deva and himself laid siege to Hangal
in Dharwar thereby making it clear that his position in the north was
far from certain. In this same year, 1138, the Chalukya Somesvara III
died and was succeeded by his son Jagadekamalla in the Chalukya kingdom.
Vishnu renewed his aggressions,
taking advantage of the new succession, but was again baulked by the
activities of the loyal governors of the kingdom. His activity ceased in
1141 or soon after, and though he was virtually independent he never
ventured to assume the royal title. He was succeeded by his son Vijaya
Narasimha, who is generally said to have been crowned at his birth. He
was a child of eight at his accession, and his territory could be
preserved only by the efforts of his father's generals in the struggle
that followed the disruption of the Chalukya kingdom.
Vikramaditya's long reign of fifty-two years was, as has already been remarked, one of peace, except for one invasion of the Chola territory and the occasional checks that had to be administered to the rising ambitions of the Hoysala feudatory in the last years of his reign. Vikramaditya had occasionally to carry on wars across the Narbada; but these wars were not of frequent occurrence. At his death his kingdom extended from Broach to Erode and from Mangalore to the Sitabaldi hills in the Central Provinces. This vast territory was parcelled out into a number of viceroyalties; the Sennas or Yadavas with a capital at Sinnar near Nasik and later at Deogiri; the Silaharas of the northern and southern Konkan and of Kolhapur, and the Kadambas of Goa and Hangal. East of these were the territories of the Sindas at Elberga, of the Guttas of Guttal in Dharwar, and of the Rattas of Saundatti in Belgaum. Then came the royal domain, namely, all the Nizam's dominions except the most easterly part, the Khammamet division, and lastly the viceroyalty in the Central Provinces with its capital at Sitabaldil. This leaves out Banavasi, Nolambavadi and Gangavadi under the Hoysalas, although up to the last years of Vishnuvardhana almost, other viceroys continued to be appointed for the two former.
This great kingdom passed in 1128
to his son Somesvara III, who was succeeded in 1138 by his son Perma
Jagadekamalla who ruled till 1150. In this reign comes to notice a young
man of promise whose father was governor of Tardavadi, a district round
Bijapur, an alternative capital of the Chalukyas. This was Bijjala. He
became governor of the same province as his father, and later was
appointed viceroy of Nolambavadi and Banavasi, governing these provinces
by deputies while he himself remained at the capital like the Sayyid
brothers under the Mughul emperor Farrukhsiyar. This change in the
position of Bijjala is already noticeable under Jagadekamalla; but when
the latter was succeeded by his brother Taila III, his power grew
perceptibly till in 1156 he became virtually ruler, though Taila reigned
nominally till 1163.
Another enterprising ruler about this time was rising on the horizon of history on the eastern frontier. After the accession of Vikrama Chola the Eastern Chalukya dominions fell into disorder, and an enterprising chief between the two Chalukya kingdoms found his opportunity. Just within the frontier of the Eastern Chalukyas is the hamlet of Anamakonda, the ancestral capital of the Kakatiyas, known generally as the Kakatiyas of Warangal, which his son Prola founded and whither he had shifted the capital. This Prola lays claim to having defeated Tailapa some time in his reign, and it was very likely that this took place in 1155. This external shock combined with the loss of hold on the Mahamandalesvaras must have thrown Tailapa into the arms of Bijjala, who for the time proved the savior of the empire. Bijjala having thus acquired power gradually assumed royal state.
His usurpation was opposed alike by the loyal Sindas, in spite of their family alliance with him, and by the Pandyas of Nolambavadi, but Bijjala succeeded, and he and his three sons continued to rule the kingdom for twenty years, from 1163 to 1183 when Bomma or Brahma, son of Bijjala's general Kamadeva or Kavana, restored the son of Taila III under the title Somesvara IV.
Tadavas and Kakatiyas
Somesvara IV ruled till 1189, and
his rule was confined to the southern and south-western parts of his
dominions. A combination of some of his chiefs against him and his loyal
feudatories the Sindas compelled him to retire to the northern frontier
of his dominions, and nothing more was heard of him. In the scramble
for territory that followed two leading powers divided the kingdom, the
Yadavas of Deogir and the Hoysalas of Dvarasamudra, the Kakatiyas of
Warangal taking a humbler share of the spoil.
Narasimha succeeded to the throne
as a boy and ruled for thirtytwo years. His reign was co-eval with the
reigns of Jagadekamalla and Taila III, and ran into a part of the
usurper Bijjala's reign. Though Vishnuvardhana's title to Banavasi and
Nolambavadi had been in a way recognised in 1137 or 1138 under Somesvara
III, other royal officers continued to be appointed for the viceroyalty
of each of these provinces. These were included in the commissionership
of the southern treasury' held by Bijjala himself. As a matter of fact
no Hoysala inscriptions have come from these provinces dated before the
reign of Vira Ballala II. During the reign of Narasimha therefore these
provinces may be taken to have been outside his territory though his
general Bokimayya or Bokana brought under subjection to him the Tulu,
the Changalva, the Kongalva territories, and Bayalnadu (Wainad) in 1155.
The same general marched upon Bankapura, then in the occupation of the
Kadambas, and defeated them. It was during this period that Bijjala was
carrying out his scheme of usurpation, and Narasimha obtained some
successes both against other viceroys and Bijjala himself by means of
the opposition set up to Bijjala's usurpation.
In the course of this struggle Narasimha was gradually able to impose his influence upon both Nolambavadi and Banavasi, leaving his son to complete the conquests of these provinces. Narasimha died in 1173, and was succeeded by his son Vira Ballala II, who ruled for forty-seven years, from 1173 to 1220. Vira Ballala's reign coincided in the earlier part with the reign of Bijjala's sons, extending from 1167 to 1186, and he took advantage of the unpopularity of the usurpation to consolidate his own kingdom. Vira Ballala had already distinguished himself under his father's general Tantrapala Hemmadi in the conquest of the hill territories and those of the Kongalva, Changalva and others. From the date of his accession references to Chalukya overlordship disappear from inscriptions, as in fact it was the period of usurpation by the Kalachuryas. Although Vira Ballala did not assume formal independence and even recognized the overlordship of Sankama, the third son of Bijjala, he was more or less independent. About the year 1178 he brought under subjection the province of Nolambavadi after capturing its capital Ucchangidurga. He restored the capital to Vijaya Pandya on his submission. The loyalist opposition to the usurpers does not appear to have died out, and the Hoysalas seem to have acted against the Pandyas of Nolambavadi with the countenance of the last usurper. This brought on an invasion of the Hoysala territory by the loyalist general Bamma who restored the Chalukya dynasty by setting Somesvara IV on his ancestral throne in 1183.
Somesvara was compelled to retire
to the southwest of his dominions before the rising power of the Yadavas
under Bhillama on the one side, and that of the Kakatiyas under Prola
and his son Prataparudra I on the other. This extension of the Yadava
power brings the Hoysalas and the Yadavas face to face on the banks of
Malprabha, and then the Krishna. It was in this neighborhood that a
battle was fought, at Soratur near Gadag, where Bhillama Yadava was
finally defeated, and the fort of Lokundi in Dharwar was occupied by
Vira Ballala in 1190. He captured besides other fortified places in the
same neighborhood, between the present Mysore frontier and the Krishna.
Somesvara had disappeared before this as a result of a defeat suffered
by him from his feudatories, and this victory gave Vira Ballala the
occasion for assuming formal independence, as no suzerain remained. The
loyal Sindas had already been overpowered, and there was no power
between the Hoysalas and the Yadavas. The Malprabha and the Krishna
formed the boundary between these two contending powers on the western
side of the Chalukya dominions, the eastern territory passed into the
hands of the Kakatiyas. Vira Ballala therefore assumed in 1191-92 the
titles of a paramount power, and signalized the event by starting an era
in his name. The remaining thirty years of his reign were devoted to
the work of settling a definitive northern frontier for the Hoysalas and
consolidating the territory acquired by them.
During this period the Chola kingdom on the south remained intact except for the loss of hold on the northern part of the territory which, during the period of the Kalachurya usurpation, was fast passing into the hands of the rising power of the Kakatiyas.
Vikrama Chola was followed by a succession of three rulers who managed to keep their territory free from disturbance except for the attempt of the Pandyas in the distant south to regain their independence. This was kept well under control on the whole till the Pandyas enlisted on their side the support of the powerful contemporary Ceylon ruler Parakrama Bahu. With this new accession of strength there was a greater effort on the side of the Pandyas to assert their independence, and this brought on a great war between the Cholas and the Ceylonese. The Cholas managed ultimately to turn the Ceylonese back into their island territory, and punished the Pandyas adequately for having thus brought on a protracted war. While the war was still in progress the young prince who distinguished himself in it succeeded to the throne under the name of Kulottunga III, and ruled almost throughout the reign of Vira Ballala II. Severe punishment quelled the Pandyas, but sowed the seeds of future bitterness. During this war Vira Ballala had so strengthened himself as to secure his dominions against attack.
Kulottunga died in 1216 and was
succeeded by his son Rajaraja III and Vira Ballala's reign continued up
to a.d. 1220. The two families seem to have entered into a marriage
alliance, as one of the queens of Vira Ballala bore the name Chola
Mahadevi. The death of these great rulers created a new set of
circumstances and gave the opportunity for a forward advance of the
Kulottunga III was succeeded by his son Rajaraja III who reigned till 1246. Almost simultaneously with him cameto the Pandya throne an enterprising prince Maravarman Sundara Pandya I whose period of reign extended from 1216 to 1239. Almost the first act of this Pandya's reign seems to be the organization of an advance upon the Chola territory with a view to taking vengeance for the disgrace to which Kulottunga had subjected his predecessors. Records of his ninth year claim for him the credit of having captured and burnt the towns of Tanjore and Uraiyur in the course of a successful invasion of the Chola territory. This invasion must have taken place therefore before the year 1225.
From the inscriptional records of Rajaraja III himself it is clear that the first few years of his reign were peaceful. The Pandya invasion therefore must have taken place somewhere about the year 1220.
For the next half-century the
feature of the history of the Tamil country is the effort of the Pandyas
not merely to regain their independence, but to extend their authority
over the Chola kingdom. This Chola-Pandya struggle provided the occasion
for Hoysala intervention in the Tamil country, and resulted in bringing
about the dominance of the Hoysala power in the south under their
greatest ruler Vira Somesvara. He fortified a permanent capital for
himself at Kannanur-Vikramapura, five miles north of the island of
Srirangam in the Chola country, and his authority was acknowledged from
Pandharpur in the Southern Maratha country to the extreme limit
Vira Ballala continued to reign till 1220, and, according to the usual practice, he had his son Narasimha II anointed to the succession about the year 1217-18. With the accession of this ruler begins Hoysala intervention in the Chola country. From inscriptions in the Madura district and other sources we learn that he intervened to protect the dominions of the Cholas from the attacks of Maravarman Sundara Pandya I, but his help profited his ally little, for by 1225 the Pandya had destroyed the Chola cities of Tanjore and Uraiyur and soon afterwards occupied the capital Mudikonda-Solapuram (Gangaikonda-Solapuram) and was anointed in the hall of the great temple at Chidambaram, and it was only by submitting to the conqueror that Rajaraja III regained his kingdom. This must have happened before the year 1236-37, very probably before 1230. The weakening of the Chola power by this successful Pandya invasion made it possible for the Chola feudatory Ko-Perum Singa (Sans. Maharaja Simha) of Sendamangalam in South Arcot, the son and successor of the Pallava chieftain who was responsible for turning the Ceylonese out of the Pandya territory in the war of the Pandya succession to declare his independence of his Chola overlord. He either invaded the Chola country or otherwise involved it in a war, and made Rajaraja III prisoner in his own capital of Sendamangalam. This insolence called for the intervention of Hoysala Narasimha II, who took the Magara or Magadai kingdom, the eastern part of the Salem district, and sent forward two of his generals to attack Sendamangalam itself and release the Chola ruler, who was imprisoned there. They succeeded in this and restored Rajaraja III to his position of authority. It was probably in this war that Narasimha himself marched towards Srirangam with a view to preventing the Pandyas from invading the Chola country, carried the war into the Pandya country, and is said to have set up a pillar of victory at Ramesvaram. In this southern campaign he seems to have associated with himself his young son Somesvara who came to the throne in 1233 and ruled till 1264.
In the course of these southern
campaigns of Narasimha, the Yadavas had been active on the northern
frontier and had gained some success as far south as Balagami in 1213,
but they were easily beaten back during the reign of Narasimha.
Somesvara's accession marks the
beginning of a more vigorous reign both in the south and in the north.
He carried on a successful war against the contemporary Yadava ruler
Krishna Kandara, and extended his boundary northwards to the river
Krishna as an inscription of his in Pandharpur near Sholapur of 1236
indicates. But his activities were chiefly along the Chola-Pandya
frontier which called for his presence so constantly that he erected for
himself a royal city there and ruled his kingdom from that distant
southern capital, except for one short interval in the middle of his
reign when he is said to have been in his ancestral Hoysala territory
proper. As early as 1236 we find him in residence in the Pandyamandala
which is said to have been acquired by his strength and valor. Probably
about this time or earlier, in the reign of his father, the Hoysala
entered into a marriage alliance with the Pandyas, so that, in
inscriptions of Maravarman Sundara Pandya II of about this date, the
Hoysala monarch is called 'uncle Somesvara', and a record of this Pandya
ruler in the Tinnevelli district names a village granted at the request
of Somesvara, Vikrama-Somi-
It was about this time, or a few
years later, that a younger brother of Rajaraja III, afterwards Rajendra
III, became so actively hostile to his elder brother that Somesvara's
intervention was called for as against this new rival. Rajendra had
under his rule all the northern territory of the Cholas, extending from
the coast between Nellore and Kanchi across to the Hoysala frontier, and
was the most important feudatory in the kingdom during the first
twenty-five years of his brother's reign. He appears to have become
hostile some time about 1242 or 1243, perhaps on account of Rajaraja's
subserviency to the Hoysala, who dominated from his central position in
Kannanur both the Pandya and the Chola kingdoms. As a matter of fact,
the Chola power was little more than a feudatory of Somesvara.
Rajendra therefore rose as a rival claimant and had to fight against Somesvara rather than the nominal ruler, his brother. Both sides claim the victory. They seem however to have ultimately come to an understanding as Rajendra is said to have let his brother rule for yet another three years, and at last killed him. With the accession of Rajendra to power there was a change in the political relations between the Chola and the Hoysala, and the accession of another Pandya to the throne in the person of Jatavarman Sundara Pandya I in 1251 brought the Pandyas into hostility to Somesvara. How actually this change of relation came about is not recorded, but soon after his accession the Pandya set out on a campaign which lasted for more than ten years and carried the war successfully through the Chola country as far north as Nellore. According to a full prasasti which details the deeds of this great Pandya, he began by an invasion of the Travancore country and, having compelled the Chera ruler to submit, marched into the Chola country. There he defeated a number of Somesvara's generals, and took Sendamangalam. He expelled from Kanchi the Telugu Choda chieftains and was anointed there. He then invaded the territory of the Telugu Chodas themselves, defeated and killed in battle Gandagopala of Nellore, and placed one of his brothers, who submitted, on the throne instead, thus carrying the war to the frontier of the Kakatiya territory, whence he turned back towards his capital. On the return journey we find him in occupation of the Hoysala capital, Vikramapura, in 1264-65, and it was either in this year, or the end of the previous one, that he defeated and slew Somesvara in battle and brought this victorious campaign to a close by magnificent gifts to the great temple of Srirangam, which according to this record had suffered at the hands of the Hoysalas.
The Hoysala Somesvara is said to have built the front gopura of the Siva temple at Jambukesvaram. He was probably an ardent Saiva
and had neglected the Vishnu temple at Srirangam. That is what is hinted
at in the first verse of the elaborate Sundara Pandya inscription at
Srirangam. He is said to have weighed himself against gold and jewels,
mounting his elephant in full panoply of war, and made a grant of the
money which he himself appropriated for the various works of extension
and restoration to the great Vishnu temple. He was anointed again in the
Vishnu temple and crowned with the crown nagarodaya.
Somesvara had two sons of whom one, Narasimha III, the son of queen Bijjala Rani, was left in charge of the ancestral dominions of the Hoysalas. Nearly ten years before his death he associated with himself his other son Vira Ramanatha, son of his queen Devala Mahadevi. The activities of the Yadavas probably called for this division, and Narasimha III as regent of his father had to resist more than one invasion. In 1276 the Yadava general Saluva Tikkama reached the capital, Dvarasamudra, but was beaten back by the efforts of the prince. Vira Ramanatha continued to rule from Kannanur, and some of his inscriptions are found in Tanjore, Sendalai and Mannargudi, so that the Hoysala Ramanatha may be reckoned among the rulers of the south.
Narasimha reigned till 1292 when
he was succeeded by his son, Ballala III. Ramanatha ruled his extensive
territory with an alternative capital Kundani in the Salem district and
waged war against his own brother in the south of Mysore. He died
shortly after his brother, and was succeeded by his son Visvanatha, who
seems to have ruled for three years after the death of his father. When
Visvanatha died the southern territory also was again united under Vira
Ballala III, the last great Hoysala.
The accession of Vira Ballala marks
a point in South Indian History, when India south of the Vindhyas
assumes, as it were, a new political division and stands divided into
four important kingdoms, two of which were situated in the Deccan and
the other two in the Peninsula. Of these four kingdoms three had formed
part of the Chalukya kingdom, the northernmost being the kingdom of the
Yadavas, with their capital at Deogir. The Yadavas and the Hoysalas
contributed most to the dismemberment of the Chalukya empire, and when
dismemberment came benefited most by occupying compact blocks of
territory. The river Krishna may roughly be regarded as the frontier
between the two, that being the frontier for which the wars of the
previous centuries were waged, whatever were the dynasties actually
ruling to the north and south of it.
The Yadava kingdom occupied the
whole of the western half of the Deccan, and its eastern frontier may be
marked by a line drawn roughly from somewhere east of Bijapur through
Gulbarga, Yadgir, Kalyani, north-east to Mahur proceeding further
north-eastwards; all the territory west of it belonged to the Yadavas of
Deogir. The territory on the eastern side extending to the lower course
of the river Krishna belonged to the Kakatiyas, who as feudatories of
the later Chalukyas had their territory in the Nizam's dominions with a
capital at Anamkonda, which later on they transferred to their own
fortified citadel of Warangal. Therefrom the dynasty extended
During the long reign of Ganapati, perhaps the greatest among this dynasty, the southern frontier was settled for them at the lower course of the river Krishna by the reduction of the Telugu Choda chiefs of Nellore by Jatavarman Sundara Pandya I. His daughter Rudrama or Rudramba, who succeeded, was well able to maintain the territory bequeathed to her and hand it over in fullness of time to her grandson Prataparudra II, who came to the throne about the same time as Vira Ballala III. With the advent of Jatavarman Sundara Pandya the Chola territory had been reduced to subordination to him. With the death of the Hoysala Somesvara, who had practically reduced the Cholas to a position of complete insignificance and held their territory under his own authority, so that under his son Vira Ramanatha what had been the Chola kingdom was generally regarded as the territory of the Hoysala Ramanatha, the Hoysala hold was gradually slackening while yet Vira Ramanatha was alive, chiefly from the pressure of the Pandyas from the south.
When the last great Pandya, Maravarman Kulasekhara, ascended the throne in 1268 he seems to have gradually increased the pressure so much that he is often referred to as being in his capital Jayankonda-Solapuram, which is only about six miles from the regular Chola capital Gangaikonda-Solapuram. Under this great ruler, whose reign lasted till 1311, the Chola territory had definitely become Pandyan, and the Telugu Chodas of Nellore, with their territory taking in the central block of the Nellore district and the Ceded Districts adjoining, constituted a bufier state between the Kakatiyas in the north and the Pandyas in the south along the whole length of the Coromandel coast.
The Hoysala frontier and the Pandya
frontier ran together along the whole length of it. Beginning from
somewhere near Adoni, not far from the banks of the Krishna, this
frontier ran close to the foothills of the Eastern Ghats along the
eastern frontiers of the present day Mysore territory, and proceeding
westwards as far as the Nilgiris through the two Kongus, north and
south. The Hoysalas as the central power remained in touch with the
remaining three powers, and had to maintain their frontier against all
three. While therefore they have had occasionally to go to war against
their northern neighbours, more often against the Yadavas than against
the Kakatiyas, they had to be considerably more active and constantly
vigilant along the total length of their southern and eastern frontier.
The position of these four powers was such and their interests so
divided that when the first Muhammadan invasions deluged the territory
of the Yadavas of Deogir there was no common motive or interest among
the four powers to adopt a concerted policy, or take common action.
Early Muslim Invasions
Such common action was hardly called for from the character of the first invasions under Alauddin Khalji. The first invasion was no more than a plundering raid; and the next one under him was little more. It was the advent of Malik Kafur with more definite instructions from his master to reduce the southern Hindu states to the position of tributaries that aroused these states to the real danger of the Muhammadan invasions. Even then the four kingdoms were so divided and separate in interests that the misfortune which befell one kingdom hardly evoked any active intervention on the part of the others. The Muhammadan conquests at first introduced hardly any sensible change in the political condition of the kingdoms, involving no more than nominal subordination and the payment of tribute annually if it could be enforced. Hence Deogir fell and Warangal fell after two invasions, and a raid was undertaken against the Hoysala capital of Dvarasamudra.
The kings of the three kingdoms were treated almost similarly by Alauddin. They were regarded as feudatories of high rank in the empire liable to tribute and subjected to occasional extortion when they gave cause by failure to send tribute. As often happened in Southern India, a pretext for intervention in the affairs of the Pandya kingdom presented itself to the Muslims. Vira and Sundara, the sons of the great Pandya, Maravarman Kulasekhara, contended for their father's throne, and Sundara, being worsted, appealed to Alauddin Khalji for help. Malik Kafur, then occupied with the Hoysalas, invaded the Tamil kingdom, placed Sundara Pandya on the throne, and took advantage of the occasion to march through the Chola and Pandya country as far south as Ramesvaram, his chief object being to secure the treasure accumulated in the temples of Southern India and gain possession of the elephants in the stables of the South Indian monarchs. Malik Kafur returned to the north after his magnificent march across peninsular India, carrying elephant loads of treasure unheard of before. This success confirmed his position at court.
Alauddin's illness and Malik
Kafur's intrigues gave the south respite from foreign aggression, and
enabled a Malabar ruler to descend from his mountains and carry his arms
successfully across the whole of the Pandya and Chola territory as far
as Nellore. This was Ravivarman Kulasekhara, who, starting from the
Travancore country, defeated the Pandya, and marched northwards
occupying Tiruvadi in South Arcot, then Kanchi and then Poonamalle,
going as far north as Nellore itself. He left inscriptions in all these
places and was anointed in Tiruvadi and Kanchi, and, on his return
journey, in Srirangam. He was however expelled by the officers of
Prataparudra II, who penetrated as far south as Jambukesvaram in the
island of Srirangam, where one of them left an inscription. Thus the
four states of Southern India were left to themselves, and their tribute
naturally fell into arrears.
When Mubarak ascended the throne he had virtually to reconquer India south of the Vindhyas. He showed great energy in the early years of his reign, marched to Deogir and, having extinguished the ruling dynasty, made Deogir the first Muhammadan province in the south, and planted along its southern frontier a number of Muhammadan garrisons in salient points. This seems to have given the first warning to the Hoysala monarch, who adopted the policy of the Indian reed, bending down when the flood runs high, and standing up again when it has passed. The Hoysala replied to this menace by planting garrisons along his northern frontier, but so unobtrusively that his Muhammadan neighbors failed to notice it. Muhammadan invasions under the Tughluqs continued as before.
The overthrow of the Kakatiyas and the accession of Muhammad Tughluq heralded a more aggressive policy in the Deccan. Muhammad's activities in the south have been related in Chapter VI. By 1328 he had occupied both Madura and its outer salient Kannanur, the Hoysala capital in the Chola country north of the island of Srirangam, and the Hoysala Vira Ballala replied by beginning the fortification of Hampi as a substitute for Kampli, which had been destroyed during the rebellion of Bahauddin Gurshasp. He further strengthened the garrisons along the northern frontier, and moved southwards to occupy Tiruvannamalai as a more suitable centre from which to watch Muhammadan garrisons in the south and Muhammadan movements from the north.
This active movement of the Hoysala disconcerted the Muhammadan governor of Mabar, and Muhammad had to send further contingents and other governors. Jalaluddin Ahsan Shah, the last officer sent by him, ruled in the name of his master for about five years, and proclaimed his independence in 1334. This rebellion was followed by others in the north, so that the south was left entirely to itself, and Jalaluddin could enjoy a short period of independence. This interval of difficulty to Muhammad the Hoysala took advantage of to the full and gradually extended his authority southwards into the Chola country, and was even prepared, about 1340, to plan and carry out a sweeping movement as far south as Ramesvaram itself.
As a provision against contingencies in this dangerous enterprise of his he had his son anointed to the throne in the holy place of Hampi under the designation of Vira Virupaksha Ballala, in honor of the god Virupaksha of Hampi, one of the long established holy places of the Hindus. His movements were so far successful that the northern garrisons held their positions efficiently and prevented the Muhammadans from coming into the south, if they ever made an effort at all. On the south he was able to isolate Madura, and even separate Kannanur from it, so that in 1342 the garrison of Madura felt that there was no alternative for them except to make a desperate sally, as Kannanur was so closely besieged that the fall of the place, which was imminent, would mean inevitably the fall of Madura.
Foundation of Vijayanagar
In a battle fought at Trichinopoly in 1342 Vira Ballala was taken prisoner at the moment of victory, and put to deaths. His son apparently succeeded, and perhaps also fell, like his father, in battle two or three years after his succession to the throne. The rulers fell, but the officers who had charge of the various garrisons planted across the northern frontier, continued the good work. Among these, five brothers had charge of important garrisons along the northern frontier. The eldest, Harihara or Hariyana Odiyar, had the southern Maratha territory under his charge with his headquarters at Bankapur or Goa. What was hitherto Banavasi and the coast country over against Mysore on the west were under his authority. Hampi and Dvarasamudra with an alternative at Penukonda were in charge of the third brother Bukka. Nellore and Udayagiri with the dependent territory were in charge of the second brother Kampa. The two youngest of the five brothers were subordinate governors, one at Araga near Tirthalli in Mysore and the other at Penukonda. Behind all these at Mulbagal was placed the young and enterprising son of Bukka, by name Kumara Kampana. He is described in Indian chronicles as having held the position of door-keeper to the Hoysala monarch.
The five brothers and this prince were the officers of the Hoysalas who were primarily responsible for the foundation of Vijayanagar.
Muhammad Tughluq's aggressive
policy in the south menaced the Hindus with the complete destruction of
their civilization and religion. It was with difficulty that
disaffection was suppressed even in the provinces directly under
Muhammadan rule. The Kakatiya ruler had learned prudence by bitter
experience; his young sons had no reason for the same caution. They seem
to have thrown themselves heart and soul into the movement originated
by the Hoysalas. With the death of the Hoysala monarchs, both father and
son, the mantle of leadership fell upon their officers, and the five
brothers and the son of one of them stood out as leaders of this
movement, possibly with the active assistance of the Brahman sage
Vidyaranya, whose association with the movement gives a clear indication
of its character.
Various stories are related of the foundation of Vijayanagar. The fortification of the city that afterwards became Vijayanagar must, however, be regarded as the deliberate work of the last great Hoysala ruler, Vira Ballala III. It was founded soon after the destruction of Kampli by the army of Muhammad and the immediately following invasion of the Hoysala capital of Dvarasamudra. The fortifications were probably completed by about 1336, the traditional date ascribed to its foundation, and the fact that the Ballala prince was anointed about the year 1340 in the holy place of Hampi, confirms this view.
From 1336 onwards the Hoysala power had to face the Muslims in two directions. The northern frontier was put into a state of defence and on the south the Muhammadan kingdom of Madura was attacked. In the early campaigns of Alauddin Bahman Shah, the founder of the Bahmani kingdom, figure the names of three chieftains, Harihara, Bukka and Kampa, disguised as Harib (Hariyappa), Kapras (Bukkapparazu), and Kampras (Kamparazu). Earlier than this we have the statement of Ibn Batuta that the Muhammadan Sultan of Honowar was a subordinate of the Hindu chieftain Horaib (Hariyappa). It is thus clear that the arrangement made by Ballala III continued through the reign of his son, and lasted even longer. The last known date of Hariyappa or Harihara is 1346, the year preceding that in which Bahman Shah assumed independence.
During the next five years the
Bahmani kingdom was open to attack from the north, and was not free for
aggressive action on its southern frontier. When Bahman Shah passed away
Bukka was the sole representative ofthe Hoysala wardens ofthe marches,
and succeeded to the kingdom and the responsibilities of the Hoysalas.
His son Kumara Kampana waged a successful war against the Sambuvaraya
chieftains of the Palar basin and the Sultans of Madura. In the early
years of Muhammad Shah Bahmani I both the Muhammadan and Hindu powers
alike had to keep watch on the movements of Firuz Shah Tughluq, as his
attitude towards the southern rebels, Muhammadan and Hindu, had not yet
become clear. When Firuz definitely declared that he would not interfere
in the affairs of the south, the two powers stood face to face, and
then began the great duel which lasted practically all the time that the
empire of Vijayanagar was in existence.
The earlier wars between the lately
established kingdoms of the Deccan and Vijayanagar are described in
Chapter XV. Muhammad I died in 1377, and Bukka followed him a year
later. After the destruction of the Muhammadan kingdom of Madura in 1377
Vijayanagar was free to employ its whole strength against its northern
neighbor, and, notwithstanding the victories of Mujahid Shah Bahmani in
that year, ventured to describe himself as 'emperor of the south' among
other imperial titles; and claimed to be 'one that established the
Vedas, and maintained the four castes and orders,' and as 'the publisher
of the commentaries on the Vedas.' It was in this work of the founders
of Vijayanagar that the Brahmans, Vidyaranya and his brother Sayana, had
a share. The Hindu kingdom of Vijayanagar stood for all that
constituted Hindu civilization and culture in the south. The five
brothers and prince Kampana continued the policy of the last Hoysalas,
and Harihara II reaped the fruits of their labors. With him, therefore,
the kingdom may be said to begin.
First Dynasty of Vijayanagar
The first dynasty, which lasted up
to the year 1487, a little over a century from the formal assumption of
the royal title by Harihara II, counted six rulers. As before in South
Indian history the Raichur Doab, the land between the river Krishna and
the Tungabhadra, formed the bone of contention between the states to the
north and the south of the former river.
With the accession of Harihara's
successor, Devaraya I, began a period of wars which lasted for forty
years, more or less continuously, and have been already described in
Chapter XV. The accession of Devaraya II marked the zenith of the
prosperity of Vijayanagar under the first dynasty.
When Devaraya II had been on the throne for about ten years a change of rulers took place in Orissa to the north of the territory of Warangal which exercised great influence upon the history of Vijayanagar during the next century. In 1435, the last year of the reign of Ahmad I, Bahmani, the enterprising and ambitious Kapilesvaradeva ascended the throne of Orissa. By that time the territory of Warangal had been annexed by the Bahmani kingdom, but the Telingana coast was as yet unconquered, and was open to the enterprise of the rising power of Orissa.
The Bahmani kingdom had been
involved in wars with the Sultan of Khandesh, the Maratha chieftains on
the western and south-western frontier, and the Gond chieftain Raja
Narsingh of Kherla. Kapilesvara took advantage of these difficulties to
extend his territory gradually along the coast to the Godavari, and
extended his raids as far south as Nellore and Udayagiri. A new danger
thus threatened Vijayanagar. In the years immediately preceding 1440
Vijayanagar took the offensive and attacked the Bahmani kingdom, but was
worsted. An investigation of the causes of the defeat led to the
conclusion that the superiority of the Muhammadan forces lay in their
Turkish force of mounted archers, and Devaraya took steps immediately to
remove the defect by enlisting a special force of 2000 Muhammadan
archers, cantoning them in a special quarter of the city where they had a
mosque and a separate slaughter-house, and respecting their sentiment
so far as to place a copy of the Koran in front of his throne, so that
the obeisance made before the monarch was offered to the Koran. This
force was not the first Muhammadan contingent in the Vijayanagar armies.
The last Hoysala is said to have had a contingent of 20,000 Muhammadans
in the battle at Trichinopoly.
During the absence of the army an abortive attempt on Devaraya's life was made by one of his relatives. It was soon after this incident that Abdur-Razzaq, the ambassador of Shah Rukh from Samarqand, who had been for some time in Calicut, came to Vijayanagar and stayed a few months in the capital. From his account it appears that by 1442 the fortifications, temples, palaces, and public buildings of Vijayanagar had been completed. The city occupied a space of about sixty-four square miles, and had the seven enclosures—the accepted number of circuits for a first class city. The three outermost enclosures contained only fields intended for cultivation, with the huts of those engaged on the land. The four inner enclosures were occupied by houses, the innermost containing the palace and its precincts. A number of channels had been led into the city from the Tungabhadra; one of them yet goes by the name Raya channel. They were intended partly for the purpose of cultivation and partly for the water-supply of the city. Even allowing for exaggeration in Abdur-Razzaq's account, Vijayanagar under Devaraya II must have been a splendid city, and exceedingly well fortified.
Devaraya II lived for six years
after this date and died in February 1449, a brother of the same name
having predeceased him by three years. Devaraya II, by far the greatest
ruler of the first dynasty, was excelled only perhaps by Krishnadevaraya
of all the kings of Vijayanagar. Under him the kingdom as a whole had
been well knit together and brought under an ordered administration,
chiefly through the genius of 'the great Danayak' of 'Abdur-Razzaq, the
Brahman minister Lakkana or Lakshmi-dhara. Lakkana and his brother
Madana were governors of important divisions in the south and passed
from province to province by way of official promotion. There were other
governors besides, each in his own province, and all of them were kept
well in hand by the ruler and his chief ministers. The only frontier
that caused anxiety was the northern frontier, and that through the
activities of the monarch of Orissa. When Devaraya II died, therefore,
the kingdom was in the most satisfactory condition and passed on without
dispute to his eldest living son, Mallikarjuna.
Devaraya II had lost in the course
of his lifetime one or two of his grown up sons in the wars against the
Muslims. It is also said that in the massacre which ended in the attempt
upon his life, one of his grown up sons was killed. It seems probable
therefore that Mallikarjuna succeeded to the throne comparatively young.
The accession of this new ruler was taken advantage of by the two
northern powers, the Bahmani kingdom and the Hindu state of Orissa. They
made a combined attack and laid siege to the capital. Young
Mallikarjuna succeeded in repulsing them about the year 1450, and ruled
for nearly ten years in peace. About the end of this period we hear of
him in residence in Penugonda with his minister Timma on business
connected with the administration of the kingdom of Narasimha. This
could only mean that he moved eastward from the capital and was for some
time on the frontiers of the territory of the rising chieftain Saluva
Narasimha either to protect his own dominions, or, as is more likely, to
be prepared to support Narasimha against the ruler of Orissa and his
It was during his reign that the Saluva chieftain, whose ancestral territory lay around Chandragiri or Narayanavanam in the modern district of Chittur, and whose ancestors for a few generations had been working loyally in behalf of the kingdom, comes into prominent notice. Mangu or Mangiraja of this family bore an honorable share in the southern campaigns of prince Kampana, and his successors, several of them held important positions in the state, and one of them had married into the royal family. Narasimha or Narasingha found an opportunity for signal achievement in the aggressive activities of the monarchs of Orissa who had penetrated certainly as far as Nellore, and either at this time or a little later, as far south as the South Arcot district. He developed his resources early and gradually extended his influence in the neighbouring provinces of the kingdom of Vijayanagar so as to be able to offer effective resistance to these aggressions. He was so far successful that his control was more or less acknowledged over the greater part of the kingdom. Having thus consolidated his position he marched into the southern possessions of Orissa and gradually pushed the invaders back so that when the attention of Muhammad Shah Bahmani III was drawn to the political condition of the Telingana coast about 1476, he found Saluva Narasimha posted in great strength on the banks of the Godavari at Rajahmundry. Muhammad's efforts to dislodge him do not appear to have been attended with success, and he had to content himself merely by carrying a raid across his territory as far south as Kanchi.
While Narasimha was opposing the
Bahmani king, a change had taken place in the kingdom of Vijayanagar;
either Mallikarjuna died, or was put to death by a younger brother, by
name Virupaksha. This latter, whether guilty of his brother's death or
no, put to death all who could dispute his possession of the throne, and
carried on the administration so inefficiently and oppressively that
the eastern and southern provinces transferred their allegiance to
On the west coast his maladministration caused the Arab horsetraders who had settlements on the west coast to transfer their places of business from the ports of the kingdom to those beyond the Vijayanagar frontier. Saluva Narasimha decided that the only way of saving the kingdom was to depose Virupaksha and seize the throne for himself, and in 1487 Narasa, who commanded his troops, deposed the tyrant and assumed the government of the kingdom on behalf of his master. This was the first usurpation in the kingdom, and Narasimha found his justification in the perils which menaced it.
Virupaksha's reign corresponded
with the reign of Purushottama Gajapati of Orissa. Purushottama's
records assert that he penetrated as far south as Kanchi, carried off a
princess of Kanchi, and married her in peculiarly romantic
Narasimha ruled as king for six
years, during which period he recovered most of the revolted provinces,
but failed to conquer the Raichur Doab, which was retained by the
Bahmani kingdom, or to recover Udayagiri, which remained in the
possession of the raja of Orissa. On his death-bed he entrusted the
kingdom and his two sons to Narasa, begging him to carry on the
administration, to enthrone whichever of his two sons should prove the
fitter for rule, and to recover Raichur, Umagal, and Udayagiri. Narasa
placed one of Narasimha's young sons on the throne, but this prince died
as the result of wounds that he received in an expedition into the
Raichur Doab. Narasa circumvented court intrigues, placed the second son
of Narasimha upon the throne, and carried on the administration as
before. He died in 1505, and it was his son, Vira
This second usurpation caused
widespread rebellion and Narasimha was engaged during the four or five
years of his reign in attempting to recover the revolted provinces. He
was successful on the whole, but the enterprising Gangaraja Ummattur
remained in rebellion, in the territory round Kanchi. Vira Narasimha
left some infant sons and three grown up brothers, and charged his
faithful minister Saluva Timma, as Nuniz records, to put out the eyes of
the ablest of his grown-up brothers and place on the throne one of his
sons. The minister proved false to the dying sovereign and remained true
to the interests of the kingdom; and placed the youngest brother,
marked for mutilation, upon the throne in 1509. Thus ascended the throne
the great king Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagar.
Krishna ascended the throne at a critical moment in the history of South India. The Portuguese had landed in India eleven years before, and, just as he was settling himself on the throne at Vijayanagar, had taken possession of Goa, which has remained in their possession since. The entry of this European nautical power created an unsettling factor in the commercial relations of the kingdom with the outer world. The kingdom itself was disturbed, and the very heart of it was in the hands of a rebellious vassal. Although the Bahmani kingdom had broken up into five separate states there was considerable activity on that frontier, chiefly from the direction of Bijapur. The rajas of Orissa still held the east coast as far as Nellore, and were in possession of the most important fortresses in the Telugu country, extending north-westward from Udayagiri in the Nellore District.
Krishna came to the throne between
May and November of the year 1509, and his coronation did not take place
until the following January. The delay seems to have been due to a
circumstance recorded by Nuniz. The young king's elder brother ordered
the Brahman minister, Saluva Timma, to blind him, and the minister was
inclined to obey the order until his pity was moved by his master's
entreaties. Saluva Timma remained in power, treated almost with
deference by Krishnadevaraya, who used to style him Appaji ('reverend
father'), and the relations between the two gave rise to the stories of
Rayar and Appaji which are current in Southern India and resemble those
related of Harun-ur-Rashid and Ghafur, and of Vikramaditya and Bhatti.
Krishna remained at his capital for
a few months after his accession and there received the Portuguese
embassy from Affonso de Albuquerque, who desired to enter into a
commercial treaty and sought aid against the Zamorin of Calicut. Krishna
detained the embassy at the capital while he suppressed the rebellion
in the region about Kanchi. Marching from Penukonda he reduced to
obedience all the petty chieftains whose lands lay on his way, attacked
the Raja of Ummattur, defeated him in the field, and laid siege to his
stronghold, the fortress of Sivasamudram. He drained off the Kaveri,
which flowed round it, and captured it with all the treasure which it
contained. He then marched to Srirangapatam, thence to Ikkeri, and
thence to the frontiers of Bijapur.
These operations were completed by
the year 1512. He then marched along his northern frontier strengthening
the garrisons in the fortresses, particularly in Mudgal, Raichur and
Adoni. Resolving wisely, on the advice of Saluva Timma, to leave the
Muslim Sultans alone for the time, he made preparations for an invasion
of the territories of Orissa with a view to detaching the Gajapati king
from the alliance with the Muhammadans, and coming to terms with him if
possible. He sent Saluva Timma to the capital to make the necessary
preparations, and himself went on a visit to the shrines of Tirupati and
Srisailam. When the minister had completed his preparations Krishna
marched to invade the kingdom of Orissa. He first marched against
Udayagiri, the southernmost fortress in the occupation of the Gajapati
monarch, and took it after a protracted siege. This war occupied the
years 1512 and 1513, and he carried back with him, together with much
treasure and prisoners belonging to the royal family of Orissa, the
image of Balakrishna which he set up in a temple constructed for the
deity, the ward of Vijayanagar in which the temple was built being named
Krishnapuram from this temple of Krishnasvami. This was completed in
Recovery of Eastern Provinces
Krishna next attacked the fortress
of Kondavidu (Kondavir) and a number of fortified places of lesser
importance held for the Raja of Orissa in the neighborhood. These he
reduced in spite of the assistance which they received from the Sultans
of Bidar and Golconda, and he finally carried the fortress of Kondavidu
itself by storm. Here he took prisoner the Gajapati prince Virabhadra
and a number of Orissa noblemen of high rank. All this took place in the
first half of the year 1515. After a raid into the kingdom of Golconda
he broke up his camp at Bezwada and besieged and took Kondapalli,
capturing the officers who held it for the Raja of Orissa. He then
marched north-eastwards as far as Simhachalam in the Vizagapatam
district, taking several fortresses on his way. Here he halted and
opened negotiations with the Raja of Orissa, who gave him a daughter in
marriage and accepted the Krishna as the boundary between the kingdoms
of Orissa and Vijayanagar, the retrocession of the territory to the
south of that river being effected under the form of bestowing it on the
princess as her dowry.
Krishna's achievement was meagre.
He had fulfilled only part of his father's behest, and had but recovered
a province which had formerly belonged to the kingdom which he ruled :
yet he was not ashamed to assume the vainglorious title of Gajapatisaptangdharana, or appropriator of (Orissa's) seven elements of royalty.
On his return journey he was on the
banks of the Krishna in July—August, 1516. After his return from this
war he made large grants to temples in southern India for the repair of
the damages which they had suffered in the Muhammadan invasions and
built the small town of Hospet in memory of his mother Nagaladevi,
giving it the name Nagalapura. At some time between the death of Yusuf
Adil Shah in 1510 and this period Krishna's troops, profiting by the
discussions between the five kingdoms of the Deccan, had invaded and
annexed the Raichur Doab, and in 1520 Ismail Adil Shah attempted to
recover it, but was defeated. The battle, which is mentioned in one of
Krishna's inscriptions, was fought on May 19, 1520, at a place named
Kembhavi ('Red Well') and a Telugu poem exults in the reddening of the
well with the blood of the Yavanas, or Muslims.
The remainder of Krishna's reign was undisturbed by foreign wars, but in his declining years his kingdom was harassed by rebellion. He appears to have fallen sick in 1525, when his brother Achyuta, who afterwards succeeded him, acted for a short time as regent. It was about this time that Tirumala Raya, another of his sons, died, and a rising, connected in some unexplained manner with his death, occurred, but was suppressed. At the end of Krishna's reign, in 1528 or 1529, one of his most trusted officials, Vira Narasimha, who is styled Sellappa, 'the Dear One,' and was governor of the central districts of the kingdom, rebelled, and, fearful of the consequences, fled to the kingdom of Tiruvadi, or Travancore. At the same time Nagama, an old officer of the kingdom who was placed in charge of the Madura district, refused to obey the orders which he received from court, and persisted in his contumacy until his own son, Vishvanath, who was sent against him, defeated him, and was appointed to the government of the district in his father's place.
The central districts of the
kingdom were still disturbed when Krishna died in 1530, and almost the
first act of his successor, Achyuta, was to lead a punitive expedition
against the fugitive governor. Achyuta had marched as far south as
Srirangam when one of his brothers-in-law, Salakam Tirumalarazu,
volunteered to lead the expedition. Achyuta remained in Srirangam while
his brother-in-law reduced to obedience the ruler of Tiruvadi, the rebel
governor, and their Pandya allies. Having
Having begun his reign with so much promise he lapsed immediately into a life of luxury and sloth, and let the administration pass into the hands of his two brothers-in-law, both named Tirumala. This usurpation aroused the opposition of a party led by three brothers, Rama, Tirumala and Venkata of the Araviti family, the first of whom is described as the son-in-law of Krishna or of one of his brothers, Narasimha or Ranga. This party seems to have had the countenance even of the widows of Krishna. The party of the brothers Tirumala had the upper hand to begin with, and the three brothers had to flee from court for safety. When they had gathered together sufficient force in their own districts and prepared to march upon the capital, Tirumala, the elder of the two brothers, who is described as the mad Tirumala (Kanarese Hucchu, corrupted into Hoj, Tirumala), sought the assistance of Ibrahim Adil Shah I of Bijapur. The intervention of Bijapur served only to embitter the strife. When Ibrahim retired the three brothers marched upon the capital and the mad Tirumala destroyed the portable wealth in the treasury, hamstrung the royal horses, blinded the elephants, and committed suicide.
In the course of these events,
which followed the death of Achyuta, his son Venkata was placed upon the
throne. Venkata was killed by the mad Tirumala and the three brothers
now placed on the throne a nephew of Achyuta and Krishna, by name
Sadashiva, son of Ranga, one of the four brothers. The date of the
commencement of Sadashiva's reign is 1542, and with his accession begins
the de facto rule of the three brothers.
Fall of Vijayanagar
The abortive attempt of Ibrahim Adil Shah I to add the fortress and district of Adoni to his dominions has already been described. This act of aggression aroused the enmity of Sadashivaraya, who eagerly embraced the opportunity afforded by an invitation from Burhan Nizam Shah I of Ahmadnagar of attacking Bijapur. The story of the intervention of Sadashivaraya in the quarrels of the Muslim kings of the Deccan, first as the ally of Ahmadnagar against Bijapur, and afterwards as the ally of Bijapur against Ahmadnagar, of the gratuitous insults offered to the Muhammadan religion, of the foolish arrogance which united against him those by whose differences he might long have continued to prosper, of his defeat and death at Talikota, and of the destruction of his great kingdom has been related in Chapter XVII, and little need be added to that account. The evacuation of the strongly fortified city of Vijayanagar has not yet been explained.
It was due, according to Caesar Frederick, who was at Vijayanagar two years after the battle of Talikota, to the mutiny of two corps of Muhammadan mercenaries, each of which is said to have been 70,000 strong, employed in the army of Vijayanagar. The attitude of the Hindus to Islam during the campaigns in the kingdom of Ahmadnagar had been such as to exasperate all Muslims, and it is not surprising that the victory of their co-religionists should have encouraged these mercenaries to turn their arms against their former employers and to transfer their allegiance to the conquerors.