King Sri Krishnadevaraya (History)

Sri Krishnadevaraya  (1509 – 1529 A.D.)

King Sri Krishnadevaraya  was the greatest emperor South India has produced. When he ascended the throne in 1509, the political condition of the Vijayanagar Empire was very gloomy. The rulers of Orissa were in possession of coastal Andhra up to Nellore. The Sultan of Bijapur wanted to extend the boundaries of his kingdom at the expense of Vijayanagar.

Sri Krishnadevaraya  first turned his attention towards the Muslim rulers of the Deccan who combined themselves to wage a jihad against Vijaya­nagar. Sri Krishnadevaraya  inflicted a crushing defeat on the combined Muslim army. Raichur was captured in 1512 A.D. and the Doab region of Krishna-Tungabhadra came under the control of Sri Krishnadevaraya . Gulbarga was also captured. Sri Krishnadevaraya  restored the Bahmani kingdom to its legal ruler Muhammad Shah.

Sri Krishnadevaraya  next turned his attention on the local chieftains of Ummattur. After subjugating Ummattur, he conquered Siva­samudram.

Campaign against Orissa

Sri Krishnadevaraya  launched five campaigns against the Oriya rulers. He first turned his attention on Udayagiri in Nellore district which was oc­cupied by the Orissa rulers. The assault on the Udayagiri fort began in 1513 A.D. Udayagiri was regarded as an impregnable fort but Sri Krishnadevaraya  succeeded in causing a breach in the fortress and defeated the large Orissa army of Prataparudra. The Oriyas withdrew to Kondavidu. After the capture of Udayagiri Sri Krishnadevaraya visited Tirupati to pay his homage to Sri Venkateswara. He placed his statue along with those of Chinna Devi and Tirumala Devi at the entrance of the Tirumala shrine.

After rendering his homage to Sri Venkateswara, Sri Krishnadevaraya  launched his second assault against the Oriya rulers. Sri Krishnadevaraya  himself took command and made a vigorous attack on the fort. Finally the Oriyas were forced to surrender. A large number of Gajapati nobles including prince Virabhadra were captured and sent to Vijayanagar.

In the third campaign, Bezwada on the banks of the Krishna River was captured. Kondapalli on the way towards Golconda was also captured. The forts in the districts of Nalgonda and Warangal districts were captured.

In the fourth campaign Vengi was liberated. Rajahmundry was captured without any difficulty. Sri Krishnadevaraya  next proceeded to Simhachalam and paid homage to Narasimha Swamy, the presiding deity of the temple. At Potnuru he erected a pillar of victory to commemorate his victories.

In the fifth and last campaign Sri Krishnadevaraya  marched against Cuttack, the capital of the Gajapati rulers. Prince Virabhadra committed suicide in the Vijayanagar prison. Prataparudradeva was forced to sue for peace. In 1518 a treaty was concluded by which Prataparudradeva gave his daughter in marriage to Sri Krishnadevaraya . In return Sri Krishnadevaraya  returned all the territories north of the Krishna River conquered by him to the Orissa ruler.

Bijapur 

The last important campaign of Sri Krishnadevaraya  was against Ismail Adil Shah of Bijapur. The Bijapur Sultan demanded from Sri Krishnadevaraya  the return of Krishna-Tungabhadra Doab taken by the latter in 1512 A.D. In the battle that followed the Bijapur army was completely routed. The eldest son of Muham­mad Shah was given the Bahmani kingdom.

Relations with the Portuguese

Sri Krishnadevaraya  maintained friendly relations with the Portuguese. In 1510 Goa became the headquarters of the Portuguese possessions in India. As a result trade and commerce developed. The Vijayanagar ruler was able to procure Arabian horses from the Portuguese traders. The Portuguese supplied guns and other war material to the Vijayanagar ruler which was used in the siege of Raichur. Similarly the Portuguese engineers were engaged in improving the water supply to the city of Vijayanagar.

Last Days

The last days of the mighty emperor were not happy. His young son Tirumaladeva who was made the ruler of Vijayanagar in order to guarantee his succession to the throne died after a reign of eight months. Sri Krishnadevaraya  learnt that his son was poisoned by the son of his great minister Timmarasu. Both the son and father were captured and blinded. Sri Krishnadevaraya  became very unhappy at the turn of events. He nominated his half-brother Achyuta Deva Raya as his successor and died towards the end of 1529.

An Estimate of Krishnadevaraya

Sri Krishnadevaraya  occupies a unique place among the rulers of South India. He was a versatile genius and made his mark as a great warrior, able administrator and a liberal patron of art and literature. He had become a legend. Even children and illiterate villagers recall his exploits. The core of his empire, i.e. the five districts in the South-West of Andhra Pradesh is now known as Rayalaseema or the land of Sri Krishnadevaraya.

As a warrior he showed his mettle against the enemies of the empire, namely the Muslim rulers of the Deccan and the Gajapati rulers of Orissa. His wars against the Bahmini rulers revealed his military prowess and dip­lomatic skill. He restored the Bahmani dynasty twice in order to maintain political stability in the Deccan ruled by many Muslim princes. Similarly his friendly relations with the Portuguese reveal his complete grasp of the realities of the Indian political situation of the 16th century A.D. His wars against the Ganapati rulers of Orissa may be regarded as a brilliant achievement in the military history of the time.

As an administrator, he proved to be very efficient. Even the remote villages could have the benefits of effective administration.

As a patron of art and Telugu literature Sri Krishnadevaraya  was unsurpassed. His period was the golden age of the Telugu literature. Eight literary luminaries popularly known as Ashtadiggajas adorned his court. Among them Allasani Peddana, the author of Manu Charitramu was the greatest. He was known as Andhra Kavita Pitamaha.

Sri Krishnadevaraya  was a great builder. The Hazara Rama temple, the Vittalaswami temple at the capital city is attributed to him. In honour of his mother he built a new city called Nagalapuram. In a word Sri Krishnadevaraya  ranks with the greatest emperors of Europe and Asia.