(Last Updated on : 18-10-2013)
Vijayanagar Empire was a South Indian empire based in the Deccan
. This empire lasted for three centuries and successfully prevented the extension of Muslim sultanates in south. The history of Vijayanagar
is perhaps the last magnificent chapter in the history of independent India. Founded by Harihara I and his sibling Bukka Raya
in 1336, the empire prolonged until 1646. The authority of the kingdom declined in the 1565 after a key military defeat by the Deccan Sultanates.
Vijayanagar Empire is appropriately named after its capital city of Vijayanagar, the remarkable ruins of which surround modern Hampi
, a World Heritage site in modern Karnataka
, India, till date. The literature in the local dialects accompanied by the inscriptions of medieval European travellers such as Domingo Paes, Fernao Nuniz and Niccol-Da-Conti endow with significant information regarding the region's history.
The empire's support facilitated fine arts and literature in order to attain new-fangled pinnacles in Kannada, Telugu, Tamil and Sanskrit languages, while Carnatic Music
advanced into its existing structure. The Vijayanagar Empire shaped an era in South Indian history thereby surpassing regionalism with the promotion of Hinduism
as a coalescing feature.
History of Vijayanagar Empire
Several theories have been projected claiming the basis of the Vijayanagar Empire. A few assert that Harihara I and Bukka Raya I, the originators of the kingdom, were the ones primarily allied to the Kakatiya dynasty
who acquired power of the northern regions of the Hoysala Empire through its decline. Further historians put forth that they were Kannadigas and the commanders in the army of the Hoysala Empire
posted in the Tungabhadra River
region to charge off Muslim incursions commencing from Northern India. Irrespective of their derivation, historians concur that the initiators were backed and enthused by Vidyaranya
, a saint at the Sringeri monastery to wrestle the Muslim incursion of South India. Inscriptions by foreign travellers during the late medieval era pooled with topical excavations in the Vijayanagar region have revealed the required details concerning the empire?s history, ramparts, scientific expansions and architectural advancements.
Governance of Vijayanagar Empire
In Vijayanagar the king was the ultimate authority and he was assisted by a cabinet of pradhanas headed by a Mahapradhana. The palace administration was divided into 72 departments each of them having several female attendants who were trained to handle minor administrative matters. The whole empire was divided into five main rajyas each of which was further divided into regions. The regions were divided into counties with the subdivision of municipalities. The capital city of this empire was totally dependent upon the water supply system. Contemporary inscription of that time brought the fact that huge tanks were constructed by the labours.
Economy of Vijayanagar Empire
The economy of this empire was largely dependent upon agriculture. Coconut was the principal cash crop. Spices such as turmeric
, pepper, cardamom and ginger
grew in the remote Malnad hill region and were transported to the city for business. The main imports on the east coast were non-ferrous metals, camphor, porcelain, silk
and luxury goods.
Culture of Vijayanagar Empire
In Vijayanagar Empire, the Hindu caste system was prevalent and strictly followed. Each community in the caste system was represented by an elderly local body. These elders set the rules and regulations that were implemented with the help of royal decrees.
Untouchability was a part of the caste system. Brahmin
s enjoyed higher class reputation. Sati
was common in use. Wrestling was an important male preoccupation for sport and entertainment. The Bhakti Movement
was active during this time.
The rulers of the Vijaynagar Empire patronages art and culture and the region influenced a development in the streams of music, literature and architecture. There were many temples that are representative of style of Vijaynagar Empire. The empire ruined in the year 1638 with the rise of the Sultan of Bijapur
. The empire is an indispensable part of the medieval history of Pondicherry