Veera Ballala III
Veera Ballala III (r.1291–1343) was the last great king of the Hoysala Empire that ruled over what is now the South Indian state of Karnataka. Veera Ballala's commanders, Harihara (popularly known as Hakka) and Bukkaraya (popularly known as Bukka) are perhaps better known in Kannada folklore as the founders of the Vijayanagar Empire. He ruled during a time of tremendous political and cultural uncertainty, when all other major Hindu kingdoms of the Deccan and South India had fallen to the Muslim invasion from the north.
Ballala III successfully arbitered in the affairs of Tamil country by appointing Sundara Pandya as the Pandya king as opposed to his competitor, Vira Pandya. This was during 1311. However his focus on Tamil affairs laid open the northern boundaries of his territories to the invasion of Malik Kafur, commander of Sultan of Delhi, All-ud-din-Khilji. Halebidu was attacked and plundered. Veera Ballala had to accept defeat to the Delhi Sultan and his son Veera Virupaksha Ballala was sent to Delhi as an act of peace. His son returned in 1313.
Invasion from Delhi
By 1318, the Seuna kingdom had been completely destroyed and Devagiri occupied by the Delhi Sultan. The tiny kingdom of Kampili, on the banks of Tungabhadra with its capital at Kummata (close to present day Hampi) became the focus of South Indian politics. Veera Ballala III fought to bring Kampili under control but with no gains. Ballala III had also withdrawn support to the Delhi Sultan, who with an intent of teaching Ballala III a lesson launched a campaign against Halebidu in 1327. By 1336 all Hindu kingdoms of the south with the exception of the Hoysala Empire had been defeated and large areas annexed by the Sultan of Delhi. The Madurai Sultanate was also formed. With Tiruvannamalai as his new capital, Veera Ballala III summoned his last reserves of strength to launch an offensive against the rule of a foreign power over the Hindu South India. With an intention of meeting the Muslim invasion, Ballala III founded a second capital Hosapattna on the banks of Tungabhadra river, later to be renamed Vijayanagara. Ballala was brutally killed in Madurai attack in 1343 and his dead body was hanged for days- a traveler quotes (ref- Madura Gazetteer)
Veera Ballala was said to have been ably assisted by his chief council, Sangama. Sangama was custodian of parts of the Hoysala empire in the proximity of the town of Hampi on the banks of river Tungabhadra. The eldest of Sangama's sons, Harihara I, was appointed a "Mahamandaleshwara", a chief of several smaller rulers, in the northern part of the Hoysala empire.
In 1336, the Hoysala Empire, under the military leadership of Hakka and Bukka were able to repulse the attacks and encroachments of the Sultan of Delhi, to the north of the kingdom. Veera Ballala himself lead a military expedition to Madhurai to attack the Sultan's assets in that region. After the Hoysala victory over the Sultanate of Delhi, Bukka was appointed Crown Prince of the reunited Kingdom.
The Hoysala empire, along with the new territories conquered during battle in 1336, came to be known as the Vijayanagara Empire. A century later, the Vijayanagara empire would gain prominence for its political, military, musical and literary progress under the reign of King Krishnadevaraya. After the founding of the Empire of Vijayanagar, Veera Ballala III returned to Madhurai to counter attempts of invasion by the Sultan of Delhi. Veera Ballala was killed in one of the series of skirmishes that ensued against the Sultanate in 1343.
- According to Prof. William Coelho, (The Hoysala Vamsa, 1950) and Fr. Henry Heras, (The Aravidu Dynasty of Vijayanagar Empire, 1926), Concise History of Karnataka - Dr. S.U. Kamath
- Ibn Batuta gives a graphic description of the death of Ballala III. According to historian Dr. S.U. Kamath, He was the greatest hero in the dark political atmosphere of the South, A Concise History of Karnataka, Dr. S.U. Kamath.
- Dr. Suryanath U. Kamat, A Concise history of Karnataka from pre-historic times to the present, Jupiter books, MCC, Bangalore, 2001 (Reprinted 2002) OCLC: 7796041