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Emperor of Vijayanagara Empire
A bronze statue of Emperor Krishnadevaraya
Reign26 July 1509–1529[1]
PredecessorViranarasimha Raya
SuccessorAchyuta Deva Raya
ConsortTirumala Devi
Chinna Devi
  • Thirumalamba
  • Vengalamba
  • Tirumala Raya[2] (Crowned in 1524 at the age of 6 years, but died on 1525[3])
Kannada inscription, dated 1513 A.D., of Krishnadeva Raya 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

Krishnadevaraya (IAST Kṛṣṇa Deva Rāya) was an emperor of the Vijayanagara Empire who reigned from 1509–1529. He is the third ruler of the Tuluva Dynasty. Presiding over the empire at its zenith, he is regarded as an icon by many Indians. Krishna Deva Raya earned the titles Kannada Rajya Rama Ramana (lit, "Lord of the Kannada empire"), Andhra Bhoja (lit, "Bhoja for Telugu Literature") 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.[4] 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.[5]

Portuguese travellers Domingo Paes and Fernao Nuniz also visited the Vijayanagara Empire during his reign. Krishna Deva Raya benefited from the able prime minister Timmarusu, who was regarded by the emperor as a father figure and was responsible for his coronation. Krishna Deva Raya was the son of Tuluva Narasa Nayaka,[6] an army commander under Saluva Narasimha Deva Raya, who later took control of the empire to prevent its disintegration and became the founder of the Tuluva Dynasty, the third Hindu Dynasty to rule Vijayanagara. The emperor's coronation took place on the birthday of Hindu God Krishna. He built a beautiful suburb near Vijayanagara called Nagalapura. The king was of medium height, had a cheerful disposition, and was reputed to be respectful to foreign visitors, ruthless in maintaining the law, and prone to fits of anger. He maintained himself to a high level of physical fitness through daily exercises. Travelogues indicate that the king was not only an able the administrator but also an excellent general, leading from the front in battle and even attending to the wounded. The south Indian poet Muku Timmana praised him as the destroyer of the Turkics.[7]

Military career[edit]

The rule of the king Krishna Deva Raya marks a period of much military success in Vijayanagara history. On occasion, the king was known to change battle plans abruptly and turn a losing battle into victory. The first decade of his rule was one of the long sieges, bloody conquests, and victories. 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. The feudal chiefs of Ummattur and Kammas of Dharanikota who rebelled against Vijayanagar rule were conquered and subdued.

Success in Deccan[edit]

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 of Bijapur at Diwani and the Sultan Mahmud was severely injured and defeated. Yusuf Adil Khan was killed and the Raichur Doab was annexed. Taking advantage of the victory and the disunity of the Bahamani Sultans, the Raya invaded Bidar, Gulbarga, and Bijapur and earned the title "establisher of the Yavana kingdom" when he released Sultan Mahmud and made him de facto ruler. The Sultan of Golconda Sultan Quli Qutb Shah was defeated by Timmarusu who was the prime minister of Sri Krishnadevaraya.[citation needed]

War with feudatories[edit]

He defeated many local rulers like Dharanikota Kammas who were the feudatory of Gajapati kings of Odisha and seized lands up to the Krishna river. Ganga Raja, the Ummatur chief, fought Krishna Deva Raya on the banks of the Kaveri and was defeated. The chief later drowned in the Kaveri in 1512. The region was made a part of the Srirangapatna province. In 1516-1517, he pushed beyond the Godavari river.

War with Kalinga[edit]

The Surya Vamsi 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 Gajapati Prataparudra Deva. The Vijayanagar army laid siege to the Udayagiri fort in 1512. The campaign lasted for a year before the Gajapati army disintegrated due to starvation. Krishna Deva Raya offered prayers at Tirupati thereafter along with his wives Tirumala Devi and Chinnama Devi. The Gajapati army was then met at Kondaviduraju where the armies of Vijayanagara, after establishing a siege for a few months and heavy with initial defeats began to retreat, until Timmarusu upon discovering a secret entrance to the unguarded eastern gate of the fort launched a night attack culminating with the capture of the fort and the imprisonment of the greatest swordsman of his time, Prince Virabhadra, the son of Gajapati Emperor of Kalinga-Utkal, Gajapati Prataprudra Deva. Saluva Timmarasa took over as governor of Kondavidu thereafter. The Vijayanagar army then accosted the Adapa Kamma dynasty army allies to Gajapatis at Kondapalli area and laid another siege. Krishnadevaraya then planned for an invasion of mainland Kalinga-Utkal but the Gajapati Emperor, Prataparudra, privy of this plan had built up a strategy to rout the Vijayanagara army and along with it its king, Krishnadevaraya. The confrontation was to happen at the fort of Kalinganagar. But the wily Timmarusu secured the information by bribing a Telugu deserter, formerly under the service of the mighty Prataprudra deva. Prataprudra was driven to Cuttack, the capital of the Gajapati empire and eventually surrendered to Vijaynagar, giving his daughter Princess Annapurna Devi in marriage to Sri Krishna Deva Raya. As per treaty, the Krishna river became boundary of Vijayanagar and Odisha Kingdom.

Krishna Deva Raya established friendly relations with the Portuguese, who set up the Portuguese Dominion of India in Goa in 1510. The Emperor obtained guns and Arabian horses from the Portuguese merchants. He also utilized Portuguese expertise in improving water supply to Vijayanagara City.

Final conflict and death[edit]

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 and restored Bahmani sultanate to Muhammad Shah.

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 Vijaynagar soldiers were killed. The exploits of the chief military commander, Gandikota Kamma king Pemmasani Ramalinga Nayudu, during the battle of Raichur were suitably rewarded by the grateful emperor. During the campaign against Raichur, it is said that 703,000-foot soldiers, 32,600 cavalry, and 551 elephants were used in the battle of Raichur. 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 he made his son Tirumala Raya the Yuvaraja though the crown prince did not survive for long. He was poisoned to death. Suspecting the involvement of Timmarusu, Krishna Deva Raya had his trusted commander and adviser blinded. At the same time, Krishnadevaraya was preparing for an attack on Belgaum that was in the Adil Shah’s possession; Krishnadevaraya took seriously ill. He died soon after in 1529. Before his death, he nominated his brother, Achyuta Deva Raya as his successor.

Internal affairs[edit]

During his reign he kept a strict control over his ministers who were severely punished for any misdeeds.[8] He abolished some of the obnoxious taxes such as the marriage fee.[8] To increase the revenue he brought new lands under cultivation by ordering deforestation of some areas.[8] A large-scale work to obtain water for irrigation around Vijayanagar was also undertaken by him.[9][10] Foreign travelers such as Paes, Nunez and Barbosa who visited Vijayanagar speak highly of the efficiency of administration and prosperity of the people during his reign.[8] In spite of his preoccupations with the defense and reorganization of the territories conquered by him, he founded a new town called Nagalapura. Paes summarises the king's attitude to matters of law and order by the sentence, "The king maintains the law by killing." Offenses against property (designed to maintain stability) and for murder ranged from cutting of a foot and hand for theft and beheading for murder (except for those occurring as a result of the duel). Paes could not estimate the size of Vijaynagar as his view was obscured by the hills but estimated the city to be at least as large as Rome. Furthermore, he considered Vijaynagar to be "the best provided city in the world" with a population of not less than a half a million. The empire was divided into a number of provinces often under members of the royal family and into further subdivisions. The administrative languages of the Empire were Kannada and Telugu—the latter was also the Court language.[11] Telugu was a popular literary medium, reaching its peak under the patronage of Krishnadevaraya.

Sewe I remark that Krishna Deva Raya was not only a monarch de jure, but he was also a de facto sovereign with extensive powers and strong personal influence. With the active cooperation of Prime Minister Timmarusu, he administered the Kingdom well, maintained peace in the land and increased the prosperity of the people

The administration of the empire was carried on 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.[12] 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."[12]

The Portuguese Chronicler Domingo Paes praises Krishna Deva Raya as, “the most feared and perfect King… a great ruler and a man of much justice”. Though a follower of Vaishnavism he showed respect to all sects, and petty religious prejudices never influenced him, either in granting gifts or in his choice of companions and officers. According to Barbosa, “The King allows such freedom that every man may come and go, live according to his own creed, without suffering any annoyance”.

Once, when there was some trouble with construction of a big reservoir, Krishna Deva Raya ordered the sacrifice of some prisoners.[13][14]

Art and literature[edit]

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 Telugu 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 [15] or Tuluva by lineage.[16]

The poet Muku Timmana 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.[7]

Telugu literature[edit]

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.

Kannada literature[edit]

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.[17][18] Vyasatirtha, the great Dvaita saint from Mysore belonging to the Madhwa order was his Rajaguru.[19] Krishna Deva Rayana Dinachari in Kannada is a recently discovered work.[20] 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.

Tamil literature[edit]

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.[21]

Sanskrit literature[edit]

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.[22][23][24]

Religion and culture[edit]

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 and lavished on the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple, numerous objects of priceless value, ranging from diamond studded crowns to golden swords. For this he is honored with installing his statues along with his two wives at the temple complex.These statues are still visible at the temple at the exit. He also contributed in building parts of Srisailam temple complex.

Krishna Deva Raya was formally initiated into the Vaishnava Sampradaya by Tathacharya.[25] Vyasatirtha, a saint of Madhva Sampradaya was his Rajguru.[26] He patronised poets and scholars in Kannada, Telugu, Tamil and Sanskrit.


Tirumala Devi[edit]

Chinna Devi[edit]


  • 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)


  1. ^ Srinivasan, C. R. (1979). Kanchipuram Through the Ages. Agam Kala Prakashan. p. 200. Retrieved 25 July 2014.
  2. ^ Bh Sivasankaranarayana, M. V. Rajagopal, N. Ramesan (1970). Andhra Pradesh District Gazetteers: Anantapur. Director of Print. and Stationery at the Government Secretariat Press, copies can be had from:Government Publication Bureau. p. 63.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ T. K. T. Viraraghavacharya (1997). History of Tirupati: The Thiruvengadam Temple, Volume 2. Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams. p. 469.
  4. ^ Advanced Study in the History of Medieval India by Jl Mehta p.118
  5. ^ Keay, John, India: A History, New York: Harper Collins, 2000, p.302
  6. ^ Prof K.A.N. Sastri, History of South India, From Prehistoric times to fall of Vijayanagar, 1955, pp 250,258
  7. ^ a b Vijayanagara Voices: Exploring South Indian History and Hindu Literature  William Joseph Jackson: p.124
  8. ^ a b c d A Comprehensive History of India: Comprehensive history of medieval India by B.N. Puri, M.N. Das p.94
  9. ^ Economic History of Medieval India, 1200-1500 p.194
  10. ^ History of Medieval India: From 1000 A.D. to 1707 A.D. by Radhey Shyam Chaurasia p.111
  11. ^ "Telugu Literature". Retrieved 19 July 2013. Telugu literature flowered in the early 16th century under the Vijayanagar empire, of which Telugu was the court language.
  12. ^ a b Medieval Indian History by Krishnaji Nageshrao Chitnis p.82
  13. ^ "India: A wounded Civilisation by V S Naipaul".
  14. ^ "Vicissitudes of the Goddess: Reconstructions of the Gramadevata in India's ... by Sree Padma p.250".
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ Dr. S.U. Kamat, Concise history of Karnataka, pp 157-189
  18. ^ Prof K.A.N. Sastri, History of South India pp 355-366
  19. ^ . Krishna Deva Raya considered the saint his Kula-devata and highly honored him. A Concise History of Karnataka pp 178, Dr. S.U. Kamath, [1] Haridasas of Karnataka, Madhusudana Rao CR, History of South India, pp 324, Prof. K.A.N. Sastri
  20. ^ A Concise History of Karnataka, Dr. S.U. Kamath, pp 157
  21. ^ Dr. S.U. Kamat, Concise history of Karnataka, pp 157-189, History of South India, pp 331-354, Prof. K.A.N. Sastri
  22. ^ Dr. S.U. Kamat, Concise history of Karnataka, pg.157-189
  23. ^ Prof K.A.N. Sastri, History of South India pg.239-280
  24. ^ Prof K.A.N. Sastri, History of South India pg.309-330
  25. ^ Haridasas of Karnataka, Narahari S. Pujar, Shrisha Rao and H.P. Raghunandan [2]
  26. ^ William J. Jackson. Vijaynagar Visions: Religious Experience and Cultural Creativity in a South Indian Empire. Oxford University Press India. p. 219. Retrieved 26 July 2007. When Krishnadevaraya became the ruler Vyasa Tirtha was his guru

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Viranarasimha Raya
Vijayanagara empire
Succeeded by
Achyuta Deva Raya