Maximum extent of the Reddy Kingdom, 14th Century CE
|Historical era||Medieval India|
The Reddy kingdom (1325–1448 CE) ("Most courageous Kingdom" was established in southern India by Prolaya Vema Reddy. The region that was ruled by the Reddy dynasty is now part of modern day coastal and central Andhra Pradesh. Prolaya Vema Reddy was part of the confederation that started a movement against the invading Muslim armies of the Delhi Sultanate in 1323 CE and succeeded in repulsing them from Warangal. Reddy is a social group or caste of India, predominantly inhabiting Andhra Pradesh.
The first of the Reddy clans came into prominence during the Kakatiya period. The Reddy chiefs were appointed as generals and soldiers under the Kakatiyas. Reddys were among the feudatories of Kakatiya ruler Pratapa Rudra. During this time the Reddys carved out feudal principalities for themselves. The Reddy feudatories fought against the invading Muslim sultans and defended the region from coming under Muslim rule. Eventually, the Muslim army of the Delhi Sultanate invaded Warangal and captured Pratapa Rudra. In 1323 CE, after the death of Pratapa Rudra and the subsequent fall of the Kakatiya empire, the Reddy chiefs became independent. Prolaya Vema Reddy proclaimed independence and established the Reddy kingdom in Addanki.
Extent of rule
They ruled coastal and central Andhra for over a hundred years from 1325 to 1448 CE. At its maximum extent, the Reddy kingdom stretched from Simhachalam to the north, Kanchi to the south and Srisailam to the west. The initial capital of the kingdom was Addanki. Later, it was moved to Kondavidu and subsequently to Rajahmundry. The Reddys were known for their fortifications. Two major hill forts, one at Kondapalli, 20 km north west of Vijayawada and another at Kondavidu about 30 km west of Guntur stand testimony to the fort building skill of the Reddy kings. The forts of Bellamkonda, Vinukonda and Nagarjunakonda in the Palnadu region were also part of the Reddy kingdom. The dynasty remained in power till the middle of the 15th century and was supplanted by the Gajapatis of Odisha, who gained control of coastal Andhra. The Gajapatis eventually lost control of coastal Andhra after Gajapati Prataprudra Deva was defeated by Krishna Deva Raya of Vijaynagar. The territories of the Reddy kingdom eventually came under the control of the Vijayanagara Empire.
Prolaya Vema Reddy
Prolaya Vema Reddy was the first king of the Reddy dynasty. Vema assembled a large army of peasants and herdsmen, and adopted guerrilla warfare. It is said that when he attacked the Muslim army, Vema Reddy had their water supply lines contaminated with sewage leading to dysentery in their ranks. Veera Ballala III of Dwarasamudra helped the coalition of Vema Reddy and Kapaya Nayaka. Vema chased the general of the Tughlaq army, Malik Maqbul to the Warangal fort and Kapaya Nayaka then stormed it and took control. Vema then led a blitzkrieg on the Kondavidu fort and hacked off the head of Maliq Gurjar, the Muslim commander there and liberated Nidudavolu, Vundi, and Pithapuram after pitched battles. Vema then defeated an army of Jalaluddin Shah in a raid on Tondaimandalam, while Veera Ballala engaged the Sultan himself. Veera Ballala was finally defeated and skinned alive, and his dry skin was hung from the walls of Madurai where Ibn Battuta reportedly saw it later. Undaunted, Vema continued his lightning raids on the Muslim-occupied forts of Bellamkonda, Vinukonda and Nagarjunakonda and captured them all. He then declared himself Raja (king) with Kondavidu as his capital. The Kondapalli fort was built by him.
His famous inscriptions from this period state:
|“||I restored all the agraharas of Brahmins, which had been taken away by the evil Muslim kings. I am indeed an Agastya to the ocean which was made of the Muslim.||”|
Prolaya Vema Reddy bestowed a number of agraharas on the Brahmins. He was revered by the title of Apratima-Bhudana-Parasurama. He commissioned major repairs to the Srisailam Mallikarjuna Swami temple, and had a flight of steps built from the Krishna river to the temple. The Narasimha Swamy temple at Ahobilam was built during his reign. He built 108 temples for Lord Shiva. The restoration of peace starting with his reign brought about a revival of literature and the arts. Errana, the translator of the Mahabharata, lived during his period.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (February 2013)|
|Reddy Kings 1325-1448|
|Prolaya Vema Reddy||1325–1335|
|Kataya Vema Reddy||1395–1414|
Anavota Reddy (1335-1364 CE) was the son and successor of Prolaya Vema Reddy. During his reign, he was continuously engaged in wars against the Bahmanis, the Recharla Velamas and the Vijayanagara kings who often encroached on his territories. He changed the capital from Addanki to the more impregnable Kondavidu fort. He led his troops into Kalinga country along with his ally Choda Bhaktiraja. He conquered many small kingdoms like Nirvadyapura (present day Nidadavolu) ruled by Vengi Chalukyas, Vundi ruled by Suryavamsa Kshatriyas, Korukonda ruled by Kondaya Nayakas and Pithapuram ruled by Koppularajus by 1356 CE. He successfully resisted the invasions of the Recherla Velamas who had clashed continuously with Reddy kingdom with a pretext that Anavota had supported their enemies. Bukkaraya I of Vijayanagara took advantage of his preoccupations with the Bahmanis and Recherla Velamas and occupied Srisailam and Markapuram. In spite of constant threats to his kingdom from these invaders, Anavota promoted prosperity. He collected reasonable taxes from the merchants and was an able ruler and protector of Hindu dharma like his father, Prolaya Vema Reddy.
Anavema Reddy (1364-1386 CE) was the younger brother of Anavota Reddy and succeeded the latter as Anavota’s son was quite young at the time of Anavota Reddy’s death. Anavema Reddy was considered the greatest ruler of the Kondavidu line. He avenged his brother's humiliation by defeating the traditional rivals, Recherla Velamas of Rachakonda and Devarakonda in a pitched battle and conquered some of their territory in present day Nalgonda district. He reconquered Srisailam which was lost to Vijayanagara. He occupied the Panara and Kona kingdoms of the Godavari delta. He wrested Rajahmundry from the Muslims and razed down a Muslim Mazar (shrine) which was built on top of a Hindu Temple. He then scaled the Korukonda fort by night with a small force and freed it from Muslim control.The Reddy army went as far north as Simhachalam. He conquered the Simhachalam fort and parts of the Kalinga kingdom. He led successful campaigns under his Brahmin general Chennama Nayaka against the local chiefs like the Manchikonda, Koppula, Chalukya and the Matsya families. Anavema's brother-in-law Choda Bhima was expelled from the Vengi Chalukyan kingdom by his brother Choda Annadeva. Anavema captured the fortress of Divi. He then marched to Nirvadyapura (Nidadavolu), defeated Choda Annadeva and instilled Choda Bhima in Nirvadyapura. He built the Vira Siromandapam at the Srisailam temple. His inscription from Srisailam states that their family belongs to the 'Vellacheri' gotram. He extended the dominion of the kingdom to Rajahmundry on the north, Kanchi on the south and Srisailam on the west.
Kumaragiri Reddy (1386-1402 CE) was the son of Anavota Reddy and nephew of Anavema Reddy. Kumaragiri's accession to the throne was challenged by his cousins Vema and Macha, sons of Pedakomati Vemareddy. There was discord and the kingdom plunged into civil war. Kumaragiri emerged victorious and was supported by his brother-in-law Kataya Vema Reddy. However peace was restored only after Pedakomati Vemareddy was promised that he would become Kumaragiri's successor at Kondavidu. Kumaragiri was an easy going ruler who enjoyed a life of comfort and luxury. The governance of the kingdom was entrusted to his brother-in-law and senapati Kataya Vema Reddy. Kumaragiri Reddy had two daughters, Anitalli and Hariharamba.
Kataya Vema Reddy
Kataya Vema Reddy (1395–1414 CE), the senapati of Kumaragiri Reddy, led a large army against Vijayanagara ruler Harihara II, who had invaded the Reddy kingdom and wrested Tripurantakam and Vinukonda. In the ensuing battle, the Vijayanagara forces suffered a severe defeat. However, both parties reached a compromise and decided to become allies against their common archrivals – the Bahmani sultans and the Recherla Velamas of Rachakonda who had formed an alliance. This political alliance between Vijayanagara and the Reddy kingdom was cemented further by a matrimonial alliance. Harihara II of Vijayanagara gave his daughter in marriage to Kataya Vema Reddy’s son Kataya. An agreement was reached that Harihara II should give up Tripurantakam and Vinukonda, while retaining Srisailam for himself. Kataya Vema successfully halted the Padmanayaka Velama chieftains of Telangana and embarked on an extensive eastern campaign. He was ably assisted by Vema Reddy and Dodda Reddy, the two princes of the Rajahmundry kingdom. He led his forces up to Simhachalam and annexed it to the Reddy kingdom. Thereafter, he constituted the eastern kingdom - the Rajamahendravara ( Rajahmundry) Rajya – and declared it a province of the Reddy kingdom of Kondavidu. Kumaragiri conferred the rank of viceroy to Kataya Vema for the newly formed eastern Reddy Kingdom. This division of the kingdom resulted in widespread discontent. Kataya Vema had a son named Kumaragiri Reddy II.
Pedakomati Vemareddy (1403-1420 CE). Taking advantage of the chaotic state of affairs, Pedakomati Vemareddy challenged the authority of Kumaragiri Reddy in Kondavidu. Kumaragiri Reddy could not withstand the might of Pedakomati. He retired to Rajahmundry in 1402 CE, shortly after which he died. Pedakomati Vemareddy assumed control at Kondavidu. Kumaragiri's deposition by Pedakomati was resented by Kataya Vema Reddy. Kataya Vema defied the central authority of Pedakomati Vemareddy and asserted his independence in Rajahmundry. Pedakomati tried to bring back Rajahmundry into his fold but could not succeed. This internal war between the two factions considerably weakened the Reddy power and made the Reddy kingdom vulnerable to neighbouring rulers. In 1408 CE, with the help of Velama princes of Devarakonda, Choda Annadeva was able to recover his principality which was annexed by Kataya Vema. Devaraya I of Vijayanagara occupied Motupalli, the famous sea port. According to Velugotivari Vamsavali (a Velama chronicle of medieval period), Pedakomati Vemareddy avenged his brother Macha Reddy's death by slaying Kumara Vedagiri, the Recherla Velama chief of Devarakonda in a battle. Pedakomati Vemareddy fought the battle of Gundugolunu with Kataya Vema Reddy in 1414 CE in which Kataya Vema was slain by Pedakomati Vema's able general Gajarao Tipparao. Pedakomati Vemareddy was killed in 1420 CE in the battle of Kondavidu with Lingama Nayaka, the Velama prince of Devarakonda.
Racha Vema Reddy
Pedakomati Vema was succeeded by his son Racha Vema Reddy (1420-1434 CE) at Kondavidu. Racha was a cruel ruler and oppressed his subjects. He was murdered by one of his own subjects. The death of Racha Vema ended the Reddy kingdom of Kondavidu. However the eastern branch of the Reddy kingdom in Rajahmundry was still in power.
Gondesi Allada Reddy (1414-1423 CE), a near relative of Kataya Vema Reddy succeeded to the throne of Rajamahendravara Rajya (Rajahmundry) after the death of Kataya Vema. Allada ruled on behalf of the young Kumaragiri Reddy II - son of Kataya Vema Reddy who was only 10 years old at the time. Allada Reddy defended the Rajahmundry kingdom against his enemies. He killed Choda Annadeva in 1415 CE. He inflicted a humiliating defeat on Pedakomati Vemareddy. He died in 1420 CE.
Veerabhadra Reddy (1423-1448 CE), son of Allada Reddy succeeded to the throne of Rajamahendravaram (Rajahmundry). He and his brother Allaya Vema continued their father's policy of annexation and invasion of Kalinga. However, the suzerainty of Kalinga rulers was to be recognized. In 1443 CE, determined to put an end to the aggressions of the Reddy kingdom, the Gajapati ruler Kapilendra of Kalinga formed an alliance with the Velamas and launched an attack on the Reddy kingdom of Rajahmundry. Veerabhadra Reddy allied himself with Vijayanagara ruler Devaraya II and defeated Kapilendra. After the death of Devaraya II in 1446 CE, he was succeeded by his son, Mallikarjuna Raya. Overwhelmed by difficulties at home, Mallikarjuna Raya recalled the Vijayanagara forces from Rajahmundry. Veerabhadra Reddy died in 1448 CE. Seizing this opportunity, the Gajapati ruler Kapilendra sent an army under the leadership of his son Hamvira into the Reddy kingdom, took Rajahmundry and gained control of the Reddy kingdom. The Gajapatis eventually lost control of coastal Andhra after the death of Gajapati Prataprudra Deva. The territories of the Reddy kingdom eventually came under the control of the Vijayanagara Empire.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (May 2012)|
The Reddy rulers played a prominent part in post-Kakatiya Andhradesa. The Kakatiya empire came to an end in 1323 CE after the Muslim army of the Delhi sultanate invaded Warangal and captured Kakatiya ruler Pratapa Rudra. Warangal fell to the Muslim invaders and Ulugh Khan commanded Warangal and Telangana. During this time of foreign invasion and chaos in Telugu country, seeds of revolt were sown by two patriotic souls, Annaya Mantri and Kolani Rudradeva. They united the Telugu nobles with the singular purpose of rescuing Telugu country from Muslim domination and re-establish Hindu Dharma. Musunuri Prolaya Nayaka, Prolaya Vema Reddy, Recharla Singama Nayaka, Koppula Prolaya Nayaka and Manchikonda Ganapatinayaka were the prominent nobles. Musunuri Prolaya Nayaka was the chosen leader of this confederation of Telugu nobles who united and vowed to put an end to Muslim rule. They succeeded in repulsing the Muslim forces from Warangal and then established independent kingdoms of their own.
It was during this chaotic period in Andhra history that Prolaya Vema Reddy established the Reddy kingdom in 1325 CE as a bulwark of Hinduism against the Islamic invaders. The Reddy rulers patronised and protected Hinduism and its institutions. The Brahmins were given liberal grants by the Reddy kings and the agraharas of Brahmins were restored. Vedic studies were encouraged. The Hindu temples of Srisailam and Ahobilam were provided with more facilities. Prolaya Vema Reddy bestowed a number of agraharas on the Brahmins. He was revered by the title of Apratima-Bhudana-Parasurama. He commissioned major repairs to the Srisailam Mallikarjuna Swami temple, and had a flight of steps built from the Krishna river to the temple. The Narasimha Swamy temple at Ahobilam was built during his reign. He built 108 temples for Lord Shiva.
Telugu literature blossomed during the period of stability under the Reddy kings. The Reddy kings also patronized Sanskrit, the sacred Hindu language. Several of the Reddy kings themselves were distinguished scholars and authors. Kumaragiri Reddy, Kataya Vema Reddy and Pedakomati Vemareddy were the most outstanding among them. Errapragada (Errana), Srinatha and Potana were the remarkable poets of this period. Errapragada, the last of the Kavitraya (Trinity of Poets) was the court poet of Prolaya Vema Reddy. He completed the Telugu translation of the Mahabharata. He completed the rendition of the Aranya Parva of Mahabharata left incomplete by Nannaya Bhattu (Aadi Kavi who started the translation of Mahabharata into Telugu). He wrote Hari Vamsa and Narasimha Purana. Errana's translation of the Ramayana in Chapu form (a style of poetry) has been lost.
Srinatha was considered the most distinguished writer of the Reddy period. He was the court poet of Pedakomati Vemareddy. He wrote 'Palnadu Viracharitra' in 'Dwipada' meter. This story chronicles the 12th century war between two branches of Kalachuri family that ruled from Gurazala and Macherla. This battle changed the course of Andhra history, with political control passing into Kakateeya hands. Other works of Srinatha, include 'Pandita-radhya Charita', 'Sivaratrimahatmya,' 'Haravilasa', 'Bhimakhanda' and 'Kasikhanda'.
Gona Buddha Reddy lived during the 13th century so actually belonged to the Kakatiya period. He is famous for his Ranganatha Ramayanam. His translation of the Ramayana was a pioneering work and is still used during puppet shows.
The administration was carried according to the "Dharmasutras". One sixth of agriculture surplus was levied as tax. Under the reign of Anavota Reddy custom duties and taxes on trade were lifted. As a result trade flourished. Sea trade was carried through the port Motupalli. Large number of merchants settled down near it. Celebrating 'Vasantotsavalu' was revived during the rule of Anavema Reddy. The Brahmins were given liberal grants by the Reddy kings. Caste system was observed. Heavy taxes by Racha Vema Reddy made him highly unpopular.
Notes and references
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