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Medieval History

Vijayanagar Empire

When Muhammad Tughlaq was losing his power in Deccan, the two Hindu princes, Harihar and Bukka founded an independent kingdom in the region between the river Krishna and Tungabhadra in 1336. They soon established their sway over the entire territory between the rivers Krishna in the north and Cauveri in the south. The rising powers of the Vijayanagar empire brought it into clash with many powers and they frequently fought wars with the Bahmani kingdom.

The most famous king of the Vijaynagara Empire was Krishnadeva Raya. The Vijayanagar kingdom reached the pinnacle of its glory during his reign. He was successful in all the wars he waged. He defeated the king of Odisha and annexed Vijaywada and Rajmahendri.

Krishnadeva Raya encouraged trade with the western countries. He had a cordial relationship with the Portuguese who had at that time established trade centres on the west coast of India. He was not only a great warrior, but was also a playwright and a great patron of learning. Telegu literature flourished under him. Painting, sculpture, dance and music were greatly encouraged by him and his successors. He endeared himself to the people by his personal charm, kindness, and an ideal administration.

The decline of the Vijayanagar kingdom began with the death of Krishnadeva Raya in 1529. The kingdom came to an end in 1565, when Ramrai was defeated at Talikota by the joint efforts of Adilshahi, Nizamshahi, Qutubshahi and Baridshahi. After this, the kingdom broke into small states.


Bahmani Kingdom

The Muslim kingdom of Bahmani was established by some nobles of the Deccan who revolted against the repressive policies of Sultan Muhammed Tughlaq. In 1347, Hasan became the king under the title Abdul Muzaffar Ala-Ud-Din Bahman Shah and founded the Bahmani dynasty. This dynasty lasted for about 175 years and had 18 rulers. At the height of its glory, the Bahmani kingdom extended from north of Krishna river up to Narmada, and stretched east-west from the coasts of the Bay of Bengal to the Arabian Sea. The rulers of Bahmani were often at war with the neighbouring Hindu kingdom Vijayanagar.

The most distinguished figure of the Bahmani kingdom was Mahmud Gawan, who was the principal minister of the state - Amir-ul-ulmra for over two decades. He fought many wars, subdued many kings and annexed many territories to the Bahmani kingdom. Within the kingdom, he improved the administration, organized finances, encouraged public education, reformed revenue system, disciplined army and removed corruption. A man of character and integrity, he was held in high esteem by the Deccani group of nobles, especially Nizam-ul-Mulk, and their machinations led to his execution. With this, started the decline of the Bahmani empire, which came to an end with the death of its last king Kalimullah in 1527. Thereafter, Bahmani Empire was disintegrated into five regional independent principalities - Ahmadnagar, Bijapur, Berar, Bidar and Golkonda.