Harihara I

Harihara I, also called Hakka and Vira Harihara I, was the founder of the Vijayanagara Empire, which he ruled from 1336 to 1356 CE.[1] He and his successors formed the Sangama dynasty, the first of four dynasties to rule the empire. He was the eldest son of Bhavana Sangama,[1] the chieftain of a shepherd pastoralist community, which claimed descent from the Gadaria race.[2][3]

Harihara I
Founder of Vijayanagara Empire
PredecessorHoysala emperor Veera Ballala III
SuccessorBukka Raya I
FatherBhavana Sangama
Vijayanagara Empire
Sangama dynasty
Harihara I 1336–1356
Bukka Raya I 1356–1377
Harihara Raya II 1377–1404
Virupaksha Raya 1404–1405
Bukka Raya II 1405–1406
Deva Raya I 1406–1422
Ramachandra Raya 1422
Vira Vijaya Bukka Raya 1422–1424
Deva Raya II 1424–1446
Mallikarjuna Raya 1446–1465
Virupaksha Raya II 1465–1485
Praudha Raya 1485
Saluva dynasty
Saluva Narasimha Deva Raya 1485–1491
Thimma Bhupala 1491
Narasimha Raya II 1491–1505
Tuluva dynasty
Tuluva Narasa Nayaka 1491–1503
Vira Narasimha Raya 1503–1509
Krishna Deva Raya 1509–1529
Achyuta Deva Raya 1529–1542
Venkata I 1542
Sadasiva Raya 1542–1570
Aravidu dynasty
Aliya Rama Raya 1542–1565
Tirumala Deva Raya 1565–1572
Sriranga I 1572–1586
Venkata II 1586–1614
Sriranga II 1614
Rama Deva Raya 1617–1632
Venkata III 1632–1642
Sriranga III 1642–1646

The early life of Hakka and his brother Bukka is relatively unknown and most accounts are based on various theories. Ballappa Dandanayaka, a nephew of the Hoysala emperor Veera Ballala III, had married a daughter of Harihara.[4] This shows that Harihara was associated with the Hoysala Court. Immediately after coming to power, he built a fort at Barkuru, on the west coast of present-day Karnataka. It appears from inscriptions that he was administering the northern parts of present-day Karnataka from his seat at Gooty (Gutti), Ananthpur district in 1339. He initially controlled the northern portions of the Hoysala Empire before taking full control over its entire range after the death of Hoysala Veera Ballala III in 1343. Kannada inscriptions of his time call him Karnataka Vidya Vilas ("master of great knowledge and skills"), Bhashege tappuva rayara ganda ("punisher of those feudatories who don't keep their promise"), and Arirayavibhada ("fire to enemy kings"). Among his brothers, Kampana governed the Nellur region, Muddppa administered the Mulabagalu region, Marappa oversaw Chandragutti and Bukka Raya was his second in command.

His initial military exploits established his control over the valley of Tungabhadra River, and gradually he expanded his control to certain regions of Konkan and Malabar Coast. By that time, the Hoysala ruler Veera Ballala III had died fighting the Sultan of Madurai, and the vacuum thus created allowed Harihara to emerge as a sovereign power with all the Hoysala territories under his rule.

An inscription dated 1346 regarding a grant to the Sringeri matha describes Harihara I as the ruler of "whole country between the eastern and the western seas" and describes Vidya Nagara (that is, the city of learning) as his capital.

Harihara I was succeeded by his brother Bukka I who emerged as the most distinguished amongst the five rulers (Panchasangamas) of the Sangama dynasty.


Harihara was a very able administrator. Vijayanagar was the first southern Indian state to have encompassed three major linguistic and cultural regions and to have established a high degree of political unity among them. The administration of the kingdom sporadically achieved a relatively high degree of centralization, although centrifugal tendencies regularly appeared. To the original five rajyas (provinces) held by the Sangama brothers, new ones were added as territories were acquired. Within and among these regions, a complex mosaic of great chiefly houses exercised power to varying degrees, though not with the virtual autonomy that some historians have suggested. The central administration had both a revenue and a military side, but the actual business of raising taxes and troops was mostly the responsibility of the provincial governors and their subordinates. The central government maintained a relatively small body of troops, but it assigned a value to the lands held by the provincial governors and determined the number of troops that were to be supplied from the revenues of each province.[5]

Harihara was fully conscious of the dangers which the infant state faced both from its neighbours and the Delhi sultans. He strengthened the old fort of Badami as a protection against invasions from Delhi rulers. He fortified Gooty in Anantpur District as a safeguard against Hoysala kings.

He also converted Udayagiri into a strong fort and placed his younger brother Kampana in charge of it. With the help of his able minister Anantarasa Chikka Udaiya, he reorganized the civil administration that survived for more than two hundred years. Under the nayankara system, military commanders were appointed 'nayaka' (local governor) and granted income from estates for the purpose of raising troops and maintain control over local chiefs.[6]

In order to increase the resources of the state, he encouraged the farmers to cut down forests and bring this land under cultivation. The kingdom was divided into sthalas, nadus and simas. A number of officers were appointed to run the administration and collect the revenues.[7]


  1. ^ a b Sen, Sailendra (2013). A Textbook of Medieval Indian History. Primus Books. pp. 103–106. ISBN 978-9-38060-734-4.
  2. ^ "Short biography of Harihara-I (A.D. 1336—A.D. 1355)".
  3. ^ Dhere, Ramchandra (2011). Rise of a Folk God: Vitthal of Pandharpur South Asia Research. Oxford University Press, 2011. p. 243. ISBN 9780199777648.
  4. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 31 May 2011. Retrieved 29 October 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ "The Vijayanagara Empire - Administration of the Empire". Encyclopaedia Brittanica.
  6. ^ John S. Bowman (2000). Columbia Chronologies of Asian History and Culture. Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-50004-3.
  7. ^ "Short biography of Harihara-I (A.D. 1336—A.D. 1355)".


  • Dr. Suryanath U. Kamat, Concise history of Karnataka, MCC, Bangalore, 2001 (Reprinted 2002)
  • Chopra, P.N. T.K. Ravindran and N. Subrahmaniam.History of South India. S. Chand, 2003. ISBN 81-219-0153-7

Preceded by
Veera Ballala III
ruler of the Vijayanagar Empire
Succeeded by
Bukka Raya