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Harihara I (1336–1356 CE), also called Hakka ಹಕ್ಕ and Vira Harihara I, was the founder of the Vijayanagara empire. He was Bhavana Sangama’s eldest son and was founder of the Sangama dynasty, the first among the four dynasties that ruled Vijayanagara.
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 Hoysala Ballala III, had married a daughter of Harihara the founder of the Empire. 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 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), Bhashegetappuvarayaraganda (punisher of those feudatories who don't keep their promise), Arirayavibhada (fire to enemy kings). Among his brothers, Kampana governed Nellur region, Muddppa administered 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 Hoysalas had lost its last ruler Veera Ballala III who died fighting the Sultan of Madurai, and the vacuum so created facilitated Harihara I to emerge as a sovereign power. The entire Hoysala territories came under his rule directly.
An inscription dated 1346 regarding a grant to the Sringeri matha indicates Harihara I as the ruler of “whole country between the eastern and the western seas, and the inscription describes Vidya Nagara (that is, the city of learning) as his capital. Harihara I is accredited with establishing a centralized administrative setup and an orderly governance which afforded peace, prosperity, and security to his subjects.
Harihara I was succeeded by Bukka I who emerged as the most distinguished amongst the five rulers (Panchasangamas) of the Sangama dynasty.
Veera Ballala III
- 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