Harihara and Bukka were the sons of one Sangama of Warrangal. Drenched in poverty due to the Muslim attack in 1323, they had run away from Warrangal and subsequently laid foundations of their own principality Vijayanagara. Having inspired by their Guru Vidhyaranya, they annexed their territories round about Vijayanagara with the intention to protect Hindu religion and culture from the Muslim onslaught.
Harihara - I was a great conqueror, he extended his dominion from Kaveri to Krishna. After his death in 1353, Bukka - I ascended the throne. But he was unfortunate to come into conflict with the neighbour Bahamani kingdom. During his reign, Vijayanagara was besieged by Bahamani King, and he had to sue for peace.
With the title Maharajadiraja, Harihara-II, the Bukka-I's successor reigned the kingdom with prosperity and peace. He was a worshipper of Siva under the form of Virupaksha, but was very tolerant of other religions. He extended his territory as far as Trichy, Kanjeevaram and even conquered Tuluvas, Andhras and Kutkas. His chief minister Sayana's commentary on the Vedas is a noteworthy work of the time.
On Harihara-II's death, son Vijaya-Bukka, the Bukka-II reigned only for few months, but was unsuccessful. Devaraya-I was the next ruler, his mad love for Nihal of Mudgal resulted him in humiliation to the empire. His attack on Bahamani was some how successful and he died in 1428.
Devaraya-II, son of Vijaya-Bukka was one of the important ruler of Vijayanagara kingdom. Constant conflict with a result of victory and defeat affected his reign. Ever then, the grandeur of empire was impressive. Italian traveller Nicolo Conti and the Persian chronicler have left a narrative account of the contemporary social, economical and religion conditions. Nicolo Conti exclaims on the number of wives Devaraya-II had with him of which at least 4000 followed him on foot wherever he had gone, like number on horse and another two to three thousand being carried by men! Abdul Razak mentions that 'ear of intelligence had never been informed that there existed anything equal to Vijayanagara in the world', 'pupil of eye has never seen a place like it'. In fact, the empire extended over the whole of south India, reaching the shores of Ceylon, and attained the zenith of its prosperity during the rule of the first dynasty.
Devaraya-II died in 1446 AD, and was succeeded by his eldest surviving son Mallikarjuna, who repelled a combined attack on his capital by the Bahamani Sultan and the Raja of the Hindu kingdom of Orissa and was able to keep his kingdom intact during his rule, which lasted till about 1465 AD. Mallikarjuna's successor Virupaksha-II, proved and to be an incompetent ruler. Confusion and disorder naturally followed , taking advantage of which some of the provinces raised rebellion, Bahamani Sultan advanced into Doab between Krishna and the Tungabhadra, and Raja Purushottama Gajapati of Orissa advanced as far as Tiruvannamalai. All that can be said is that Kingdom went through forty years of rule of Mallikarjuna and Virupaksha but with lot of political agitation, discontent till the usurpation of Narasimha. Many of the representatives of royal family met with violent death; Goa, Tellingana and other districts were lost to Bahamani Kings.
LAST UPDATED 1st Nov 2001
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