The history of Hampi mainly involves the Vijayanagara Empire. Track the rise and fall of this empire and how it affected Hampi till today.
The Hampi we all know stands in ruins. But little did we know Hampi was once a flourishing city and capital of one of the greatest empires in India, the Vijayanagara Empire.
In this post, we will follow the path that led to the fall of the Vijayanagara Empire between 1336 and 1678 and how it affected Hampi to the point of never being fully restored.
The Earliest Record of Hampi
Hampi’s history traces back to the 2nd and 3rd centuries during the Neolithic and Chalcolithic eras. Gone way back? Wait! It gets interesting…
According to a popular tale, two brothers (local chiefs), Hakka and Bukka, on their hunting expedition, saw an unusual sighting – a hare chased by a hound suddenly became brave enough to chase the hound – and reported it to their guru Vidyaranya.
The guru found it extremely special and then and there, dedicated to shifting their local capital to “this” place, which was the start of an empire that came to become one of the richest.
Over a period of 200 years, four dynasties successfully ruled Vijayanagar, also known as the “City of Victory”.
Hampi became one of the world’s biggest trading centers, bringing wealth, fame, and splendor to the empire. Back in the day, markets in Hampi were crowded with buyers and merchants who were not just Indian but people from different parts of the world.
The monuments in Hampi you visit today speak volumes about the history and riches of the Vijayanagara kingdom in the 14th century and how, over the course of time, it all came crashing down.
The Beginning of A New Kingdom
It all started in the 14th century with the rise of Kampili and their kings, who ruled what we now know as Anantapur, Shimoga, Chitadurga, Raichur, Bellary, and Dharwad districts.
These kings were attacked by the Muslim emperors, and as 1326 came by, Muhammed-bin-Tuqlaq captured the kings and the neighboring kingdoms of Devgiri.
Interestingly, Hakka and Bukka were among the prisoners and had allegiance to the Muslim ruler. They were sent back to their kingdom to subdue some rebels, but instead, they called off the deal and set up their own empire.
Hampi was at its highest when Krishna Deva Raya ruled the city between 1509 and 1529. During this period, international trading was thriving and had reached great heights.
Vijayanagara Empire had taken most of South India and beyond. It was their time to showcase what they were capable of!
Rise of One of the Greatest Empires in India
With the Sangama Dynasty’s every successive ruler, the Vijayanagara Empire also grew rapidly. This left a mark and fortunes. Bukka, one of the founders of the empire, was credited for laying the foundation of an irrigation system that can be traced even today.
On the other hand, Bukka’s brother, Harihara or Hakka, laid the foundation for an efficient administrative system, thus growing the empire to its most powerful form, which even foreigners acknowledged. It was enough to overthrow Muslim rulers and establish Hindu rule in South India.
But, as you know, everything has durability, and even the strongest of empires have to end someday, so the downfall of the Vijayanagara Empire began.
The Tables Turned for Vijayanagara Empire
After Krishna Deva Raya, one of the greatest rulers in Indian history, Achyuta Deva Raya, his younger half-brother, ascended the throne in 1529. After his demise, Sadashiva Raya, Achyuta Raya’s young nephew, was named the king.
Despite him being the king and the central figure, Aliya Rama Raya, the son-in-law of Krishna Deva Raya, had actual control of the ongoings of the kingdom. He became known for his savage violence to the people of the lands he invaded, who were mostly Muslims, and also betrayed his Hindu and Muslim friends.
But all came crashing down when he manipulated the Sultans against each other, using their divides to acquire territory.
He aided Ali Adil Shah of the Bijapur Sultanate against the Ahmednagar Republic, headed by Sultan Hussain. And when Sultan Hussain retaliated against Ali Adil Shah, Aliya Rama Raya switched sides.
Realizing that Aliya Rama Raya has manipulated them, the sultans band together against Vijayanagara Empire.
The Battle That Changed Everything
The Battle of Talikota is a much-talked-about event regarding Vijayanagara’s past.
This war was fought between King Aliya Rama Raya and the four Deccan Muslim rulers of Golconda, Bidar, Ahmadnagar, and Bijapur in 1565. It happened about 80 km southeast of Bijapur, now a part of northern Karnataka.
Aliya’s armies comprised 100 combat elephants along with footmen and cavalry. There were fewer foot soldiers in the Deccan Dynasty but more weapons, horse rides, and artillery.
The monarch of the Vijayanagara was still not destroyed in the Battle of Talikota, and the provincial capital, Hampi, was recovered from the damages.
Tirumala, Aliya Rama Raya’s brother, made a new command and improved the army, The Thanjavur, Nayakas, and Jinji proclaimed freedom, and most of the southeast was abandoned.
Nevertheless, the city gave in to the attacks by five Deccan Sultans in 1565. Hampi was looted for about six months to another degree of destruction. Temples were looted, damaged, and markets were robbed.
Tirumala took the sovereign territories of the Nayakas, and kept the loyalties of Mysore and Keladi. He named 3 of his children as his kingdom’s administrators in Telugu, Kannada, and Tamil regions.
In 1570, Tirumala was crowned the king of the fourth and last Vijayanagara dynasty – Aravidu dynasty.
In 1642, Sri Ranga Raya III, great-grandson of Aliya Rama Raya, came to power as the last ruler of the Vijayanagara Empire after the death of his uncle Venkata III. He died in 1678, leaving an empire without an emperor and ending more than three centuries of Vijayanagara rule in India.
Disputes over the throne, the unity of Deccan Sultans, and Aliya Rama Raya’s manipulative games resulted in the fall of the Vijayanagara Empire. The Battle of Talikota goes down as one of the biggest events in India’s history. And with that, Hampi’s golden era came to an end.
Today, Hampi is in ruins, with temples and structures destroyed. UNESCO has taken it over to preserve and restore what has been left behind. And due to the number of temples and palaces, Hampi is a World Heritage Site and a major tourist destination in India.
If you wish to witness the aftermath of once a prosperous empire, book Hampi tour packages. Indian Holiday will organize the entire tour for you, including transportation, meals, hotels, and sightseeing of the historical attractions in Hampi. Connect with us for more details.
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