Krishnadevaraya was an emperor, of the Vijayanagara Empire, who reigned from 1509–1529. He was the third ruler of the Tuluva Dynasty and is considered to be its greatest ruler.[citation needed] He possessed the largest empire in India after the decline of the Delhi Sultanate.[6] Presiding over the empire at its zenith, he is regarded as an icon by many Indians. Krishnadevaraya earned the titles Kannada Rajya Rama Ramana (lit, "Lord of the Kannada empire"), Andhra Bhoja (lit, "Andhra Scholar King or King Bhoja of Andhra"), Gaubrahmana Pratipalaka (lit, "Protector of cows and brahmins") and Mooru Rayara Ganda (lit, "King of Three Kings"). He became the dominant ruler of the peninsula of India by defeating the Sultans of Bijapur, Golconda, the Bahmani Sultanate and the Gajapatis of Odisha, and was one of the most powerful Hindu rulers in India.[7] Indeed, when the Mughal Emperor Babur was taking stock of the potentates of north India, Krishnadevaraya was rated the most powerful and had the most extensive empire in the subcontinent.[6]

Kannada Rajya Rama Ramana
Andhra Bhoja
Mooru Rayara Ganda[1]
Abhinava-Bhoja[2](lit: the New bhoja)
Bronze statue of Sri Krishnadevaraya
Reign26 July 1509–1529[3]
PredecessorViranarasimha Raya
SuccessorAchyuta Deva Raya
ConsortTirumala Devi
Chinna Devi
  • Tirumalumba (from Tirumala Devi)
  • Vengalamba (from Chinna Devi)
  • Tirumala Raya (from Tirumala Devi)[4] (Crowned in 1524 at the age of 6 years, but died on 1525[5])
FatherTuluva Narasa Nayaka
MotherNagala Devi
Kannada inscription, dated 1513 CE, of Krishnadevaraya at the Krishna temple in Hampi describes his victories against the Gajapati Kingdom of Odisha.
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

Portuguese travellers Domingo Paes and Fernao Nuniz also visited the Vijayanagara Empire during his reign. Travelogues indicate that the king was not only an able administrator but also an excellent general, leading from the front in battle and even attending to the wounded. On many occasions, the king changed battle plans abruptly, turning a losing battle into victory. The poet Muku Timmana praised him as the destroyer of the Turkics.[8] Krishnadevaraya benefited from the able prime minister Timmarusu, who was regarded by the emperor as a father figure and was responsible for his coronation.

Early lifeEdit

Krishna Deva Raya was the son of Tuluva Narasa Nayaka[9][10] and his concubine Nagamamba.[11][12] Tuluva Narasa Nayaka was an army commander under Saluva Narasimha Deva Raya, who later took control to prevent the disintegration of the empire and established the Tuluva dynasty in Vijayanagara Empire. He was married to Srirangapatna's princess Tirumala Devi and Coorg princess Chinna Devi. He was father to Tirumalumba (from Tirumala Devi), Vengalamba (from Chinna Devi) and Tirumala Raya (from Tirumala Devi). His daughters were married to Prince Aliya Rama Raya of Vijayanagara and his brother Prince Tirumala Deva Raya.

Military careerEdit

His main enemies were the Bahamani Sultans (who, though divided into five small kingdoms, remained a constant threat), the Gajapatis of Odisha, who had been involved in constant conflict since the rule of Saluva Narasimha Deva Raya and the Portuguese, a rising maritime power which controlled much of the sea trade.[13]

Success in DeccanEdit

The annual affair of the raid and plunder of Vijayanagar towns and villages by the Deccan sultans came to an end during the Raya's rule. In 1509, Krishnadevaraya's armies clashed with the Sultan Samshuddin Zafar Khan of Bijapur at Diwani and the Sultan Mahmud was severely injured and defeated.[14] Yusuf Adil Shah was killed and the Raichur Doab was annexed. Taking advantage of the victory, the Raya reunited Bidar, Gulbarga, and Bijapur into Vijayanagar and earned the title "establisher of the Yavana kingdom" when he released Sultan Mahmud and made him de facto ruler.[15] The Sultan of Golconda Sultan Quli Qutb Shah was defeated by Timmarusu, who was the prime minister of Sri Krishnadevaraya.[16]

War with KalingaEdit

The Gajapatis of Odisha ruled a vast land comprising Andhra region, Odisha. Krishna Deva Raya's success at Ummatur provided the necessary impetus to carry his campaign into Coastal Andhra region which was in control of the Gajapati Raja Prataparudra Deva. The Vijayanagar army laid siege to the Udayagiri fort in 1512.[17] The campaign lasted for a year before the Gajapati army disintegrated due to starvation.[18] Krishna Deva Raya offered prayers at Tirupati thereafter along with his wives Tirumala Devi and Chinnama Devi.[19] The Gajapati army was then met at Kondaveedu, where the armies of Vijayanagara, after establishing a siege for a few months, began to retreat due to heavy casualties.[20] Then, Timmarusu, upon discovering a secret entrance to the unguarded eastern gate of the fort, launched a night attack that culminated with the capture of the fort and the imprisonment of Prince Virabhadra, the son of Gajapati Emperor Prataparudra Deva.[21] Vasireddy Mallikharjuna Nayak took over as governor of Kondaveedu thereafter.[22]

Krishnadevaraya planned for an invasion of Kalinga, but the Gajapati Emperor, Prataparudra, was made privy to this plan. Prataparudra formulated his own plan to defeat Krishandevaraya and the Vijayanagara Empire. The confrontation was to happen at the fort of Kalinganagar. But the wily Timmarusu secured the information of Prataparudra's plan by bribing a Telugu deserter, who was formerly under the service of Prataparudra. When the Vijayanagara Empire did invade, Prataprudra was driven to Cuttack, the capital of the Gajapati empire.[23] Prataparudra eventually surrendered to Vijayanagara Empire, and he gave his daughter, Princess Jaganmohini, in marriage to Sri Krishnadevaraya.[24] Krishandevaraya returned all the lands that the Vijayanagara Empire captured to the North of the Krishna River; this made the Krishna river boundary between the Vijayanagar and the Gajapati Kingdoms.[25]

Krishnadevaraya established friendly relations with the Portuguese, who set up the Portuguese Dominion of India in Goa in 1510.[26] The Emperor obtained guns and Arabian horses from the Portuguese merchants.[27][28] He also utilized Portuguese expertise in improving water supply to Vijayanagara City.[29]

Final conflict and deathEdit

Kannada inscription dated 1524 A.D., of Krishnadeva Raya at the Anathasayana temple in Anathasayanagudi near Hampi. The temple was built in memory of his deceased son

The complicated alliances of the empire and the five Deccan sultanates meant that he was continually at war. In one of these campaigns, he defeated Golconda and captured its commander Madurul-Mulk, crushed Bijapur and its Sultan Ismail Adil Shah,[30] and restored Bahmani sultanate to the son of Muhammad Shah II.[31][page needed]

The highlight of his conquests occurred on 19 May 1520 where he secured the fortress of Raichur from Ismail Adil Shah of Bijapur after a difficult siege during which 16,000 Vijayanagara soldiers were killed. The exploits of the military commander, Pemmasani Ramalinga Nayudu of the Pemmasani Nayaks, during the Battle of Raichur were distinguished and lauded by Krishnadevaraya.[32][33][34][35][36] It is said that 700,000-foot soldiers, 32,600 cavalry, and 550 elephants were used in the Battle of Raichur.[37] Finally, in his last battle, he razed to the ground the fortress of Gulburga, the early capital of the Bahmani sultanate. His empire extended over the whole of South India.

In 1524, Krishnadevaraya made his son Tirumala Raya the Yuvaraja (crown prince). The prince did not survive for long: he was poisoned to death.[38] Suspecting the involvement of Timmarusu, Krishna Deva Raya had his trusted commander and adviser blinded.[39] At the same time, Krishnadevaraya was preparing for an attack on Belgaum, which was in the Adil Shah's possession. Around this time, Krishnadevaraya took seriously ill. He died soon after in 1529.[citation needed] Before his death, he nominated his brother, Achyuta Deva Raya as his successor.[citation needed]

Internal affairsEdit

During his reign he kept a strict control over his ministers, and any minister who committed misdeeds was dealt with severely.[40] He abolished some of the obnoxious taxes such as the marriage fee.[40] To increase revenues, he brought new lands under cultivation by ordering deforestation of some areas.[40] A large-scale work to obtain water for irrigation around Vijayanagar was also undertaken by him.[41][42] Foreign travelers, such as Paes, Nunez and Barbosa, who visited Vijayanagar spoke highly of the efficiency of administration and prosperity of the people during his reign.[40]

The administration of the empire was carried along the lines indicated in his Amuktamalyada. He was of the opinion that the King should always rule with an eye towards Dharma. His concern for the welfare of the people is amply proved by his extensive annual tours all over the empire, during which he studied everything personally and tried to redress the grievances of the people and to punish the evil doers. With regard to the promotion of the economic progress of his people, Krishnadevaraya says: "the extent of the kingdom is the means for the acquisition of wealth.[43] Therefore even if the land is limited in extent, excavate tanks and canals and increase the prosperity of the poor by leasing him the land for low ari and koru, so that you may obtain wealth as well as religious merit."[43]

Art and literatureEdit

Vitthala temple with musical pillars, Hoysala style multigonal base Hampi

The rule of Krishna Deva Raya was an age of prolific literature in many languages, although it is also known as a golden age of Kannada literature. Many Telugu, Kannada, Sanskrit, and Tamil poets enjoyed the patronage of the emperor. Emperor Krishna Deva Raya was fluent in many languages. There remains a debate whether he was a Kannadiga or Telugu [44] or Tuluva by lineage.[45]

The poet Mukku Timma praised him as a great general and stated: "O Krishnaraya, you Man-Lion. You destroyed the Turks from far away with just your great name's power. Oh Lord of the elephant king, just from seeing you the multitude of elephants ran away in horror.[8]

Kannada literatureEdit

He patronised Kannada poets Mallanarya, who wrote Veera-saivamruta, Bhava-chinta-ratna and Satyendra Chola-kathe, Chatu Vittal-anatha who wrote Bhaga-vatha, Timmanna Kavi who wrote a eulogy of his king in Krishna Raya Bharata.[46][47] Vyasatirtha, the great Dvaita saint from Mysore belonging to the Madhwa order was his Rajaguru.[48] Krishna Deva Rayana Dinachari in Kannada is a recently discovered work.[49] The record highlights the contemporary society during Krishna Deva Raya's time in his personal diary. However, it is not yet clear if the record was written by the king himself.

Telugu literatureEdit

Sculpture of Krishna Deva Raya

The rule of Krishna Deva Raya is known as golden age of Telugu literature. Eight Telugu poets were regarded as eight pillars of his literary assembly and known as Ashtadiggajas. Krishna Dev Raya himself composed an epic Telugu poem Amuktamalyada.

During the reign of Krishnadevaraya Telugu culture and literature flourished and reached their heyday. The great emperor was himself a celebrated poet having composed Amuktamalyada. In his court, eight Telugu poets were regarded as the eight pillars of the literary assembly. In the olden days, it was believed that eight elephants were holding the earth in eight different directions. The title Ashtadiggajas celebrates this belief and hence the court was also called Bhuvana Vijayam (Conquest of the World). The period of the Empire is known as "Prabandha Period," because of the quality of the prabandha literature produced during this time.

Among these eight poets, Allasani Peddana is considered to be the greatest and is given the title of Andhra Kavita Pitamaha (the father of Telugu poetry). Svarocisha Sambhava or Manucharita is his popular prabandha work and was dedicated to Krishnadevaraya. Nandi Thimmana wrote Parijathapaharanam. Madayyagari Mallana wrote Rajasekhara Charitramu. Dhurjati wrote Kalahasti Mahatyamu and Ayyalaraju Ramabhadrudu wrote Sakalakatha Sangraha and Ramaabhyudayamu. Pingali Surana wrote Raghava Pandaviyamu, Kalapurnodayam, Prabhavate Pradyamana. Raghavapandaveeyamu is a dual work with double meaning built into the text, describing both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Kalapurnodayam(means full bloom of art) has been treated as the first original poetic novel in Telugu literature. Battumurthy alias Ramarajabhushanudu wrote Kavyalankarasangrahamu, Vasucharitra, Narasabhupaliyam and Harischandranalopakhyanamu. Among these works the last one is a dual work which tells simultaneously the story of King Harishchandra and Nala and Damayanti. Tenali Ramakrishna first wrote Udbhataradhya Charitramu, a Shaivite work. However, he converted to Vaishnavism later and wrote Vaishnava devotional texts Panduranga Mahatmyamu, and Ghatikachala Mahatmyamu. Tenali Rama remains one of the most popular folk figures in India today, a quick-witted courtier ready even to outwit the all-powerful emperor.

Other well-known poets were Sankusala Nrisimha Kavi, who wrote KavikarnaRasayana, Chintalapudi Ellaya, who wrote Radhamadhavavilasa and Vishnumayavilasa, Molla, a poet wrote a version of Ramayana, Kamsali Rudraya wrote Nirankusopakhyana, and Addanki Gangadhara wrote Basavapurana. Manumanchi Bhatta wrote a scientific work called Hayalakshana Sastra.

Tamil literatureEdit

Tamil inscription of Krishnadevaraya, Severappoondi

Krishna Deva Raya patronised the Tamil poet Haridasa, and Tamil literature soon began to flourish as the years passed by.[50]

Sanskrit literatureEdit

In Sanskrit, Vyasatirtha wrote Bhedo-jjivana, Tat-parya-chandrika, Nyaya-mrita (a work directed against Advaita philosophy) and Tarka-tandava. Krishna Deva Raya himself an accomplished scholar wrote Madalasa Charita, Satyavadu Parinaya and Rasamanjari and Jambavati Kalyana.[51][52][53]

Religion and cultureEdit

Tirumala Temple and Vaikuntam Queue Complex (semicircular building in the foreground) as seen from Srivari Padalu on Narayanagiri hill

Krishna Deva Raya respected all sects of Hinduism. He is known to have encouraged and supported various sects and their places of worship.[54] He rebuilt the Virupaksha Temple and other Shiva shrines. He gave land grants to the temples of Tirumala, Srisailam, Amaravati, Chidambaram, Ahobilam, and Tiruvannamalai.[54] He lavished on the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple numerous objects of priceless value, ranging from diamond studded crowns to golden swords to nine kinds of precious gems.[55] Krishna Deva Raya made Venkateshwara his patron deity.[56] He visited the temple seven times.[56] Out of the around 1,250 temple epigraphs published by the Tirumala Devasthanam, 229 are attributed to Krishna Deva Raya.[56] A statue of Krishna Deva Raya with two of his wives is found at the temple complex of Tirumala.[57] These statues are still visible at the temple at the exit. He also contributed in building parts of the Srisailam temple complex where he had rows of mandapas built.[58]

Krishna Deva Raya himself was formally initiated into the Sri Vaishnava Sampradaya. He wrote a Telugu work on Andal, a Tamil Sri Vaishnava female saint, called the Amuktamalyada.[56] Venkata Tathacharya of the Sri Vaishnava sect was Krishna Deva Raya's Rajaguru, and he was considered influential.[56] The Madhwa text Vyasayogicarita claims that the Madhwa seer Vyasatirtha was the rajaguru of Krishna Deva Raya. However, given the lack of supporting epigraphical evidence, this claim has been dismissed as "hyperbolic."[56]


  • Smith, Vincent, Oxford History of India, Fourth Edition, pgs. 306-307, and 312-313.
  • Dr. Suryanath U. Kamat, Concise history of Karnataka, 2001, MCC, Bangalore (Reprinted 2002).
  • Prof K.A. Nilakanta Sastri, History of South India, From Prehistoric times to fall of Vijayanagar, 1955, OUP, New Delhi (Reprinted 2002)


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  18. ^ Life and Achievements of Sri Krishnadevaraya. Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, Government of Karnataka. 2011. p. 48. Starving the defenders into surrender seemed to be the only way open to the Raya.
  19. ^ Life and Achievements of Sri Krishnadevaraya. Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, Government of Karnataka. 2010. p. 48. A relieved Raya left for the capital and on the way visited the temple of Tirupati and gave numerous gifts to the Lord in gratefulness for the victory at Udaygiri.
  20. ^ Life and Achievements of Sri Krishnadevaraya. Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, Government of Karnataka. 2010. p. 47. The Raya's soldiers had to virtually blast their way through huge boulders to go anywhere near the foot of the fort wall . . . The Gajapati did such a fine job of defending the fort that the siege dragged on for fourteen months .
  21. ^ Achintya Kumar Deb (1984). The Bhakti Movement in Orissa: A Comprehensive History. Kalyani Devi. p. 27. Pratapurdradeva could not protect it [Kondaveedu Fort] and he surrendered several military and civil officers, including Virabhadra, son of Prataparudredeva were taken captives by the king of Vijayanagar.
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  25. ^ K. Jayasree (1991). Agrarian Economy in Andhra under Vijayanagar. Navrang. p. 21. ISBN 9788170130840. Krishnadevaraya returned all the territory north of the river Krishna to Prataparudra Gajapati.
  26. ^ Bowman, John (2000). Columbia Chronologies of Asian History and Culture. Columbia University Press. p. 272. ISBN 9780231500043. Krishnadevaraya pursues friendly relations with Europeans, granting Portuguese trading rights in exchange for access to trade goods.
  27. ^ Powell, Salem (2001). Magill's Guide to Military History. Salem Press. p. 1609. ISBN 9780893560140. the importation and use of Arabian war horses and guns [by the Vijayanagara Empire].
  28. ^ Directorate of Archaeology and Museums (2010). Life and Achievements of Sri Krishnadevaraya. Government of Karnataka. p. 267. The rulers of Vijayanagara and Bahmanis mainly depended on Portuguese and Arabs for the import of quality horses for military operations.
  29. ^ I. M. Muthanna (1962). Karnataka, History, Administration & Culture. p. 38. He [Krishnadevaraya] erected a huge embankement near Hosept with the assistance of the Portuguese engineers.
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  31. ^ Sharma, L.P (1987). History of Medieval India (1000-1740 A.D.). Konark Publishers. ISBN 9788122000429. However, he [Krishnadevaraya] returned after placing on the throne the eldest son of Muhammad Shah II.
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  37. ^ Reddy, Kittu (2003). History of India: A New Approach. Standard Publishers. p. 184. It is said that his army consisted of about a million men, with over 700,000 fighting men and 550 elephants . . .
  38. ^ Pandurang Bhimarao Desai (1970). A History of Karnataka: From Pre-history to Unification. Kannada Research Institute, Karnataka University. p. 371. Raya crowned his six-years-old son Tirumala as yuvaraja and introduced him to the affairs of the state But within one year the young prince died. It was reported that he was a victim of poison...
  39. ^ P. Raghunadha Rao (1993). Ancient and Medieval history of Andhra Pradesh. Sterling Publishers. p. 88. Krishnadeva Raya learnt that his son was poisoned by Timma, the son of his great minister Timmarasu. Both the son and father were captured and blinded.
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  52. ^ Prof K.A.N. Sastri, History of South India pg.239-280
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External linksEdit

Preceded by
Vijayanagara empire
Succeeded by