History of Bellary

About Bellary

Bellary district takes its name from the word Balari which refers to goddess Durugamma as this goddess had manifested herself in the town. Some of the events in the great epic Ramayana are related to this historical place. It is said that Rama while searching for Sita met Sugreeva and Hanuman at a place which is very near to Hampi, the celebrated capital of Vijayanagara kingdom. The history speaks volumes about significant role it acquired during Satavahanas, Kadambas, Chalukyas of Kalyana, Kalachuryas, Sevunas and Hoysalas period. There upon the Vijayanagara rulers built the " City of Victory " on the bank of Tungabhadra river at Hampi in Hospet Taluk. This area which had witnessed the prosperity to its peak fell into political turmoil after the fall of Vijayanagara in 1565. This district was transferred to the erstwhile Mysore State on 1st October 1953 from Madras State. With the re-organisation of the districts during 1997, the number of taluks is reduced to 7. The Harapanahalli taluk has been transferred to Davanagere district.

Vijayanagara Empire

The Vijayanagara empire was based in the Deccan, in peninsular and southern India, from 1336 onwards. It was founded by Harihara, also known as Hakka, and his brother Bukka Raya. It is named after its capital city (now ruined) of Vijayanagara, in modern Karnataka, India. It lasted from about 1336 to perhaps about 1660, though throughout its last century it was in a slow decline due to a massive and catastrophic defeat at the hands of an alliance of the sultanates, and the capital was taken and brutally razed and looted.

Founding

The founding of the original kingdom was based on the principality of Anegondi, based on a fortified town on the Tungabhadra river in the Deccan. In the century preceding the founding of the empire, the old kingdoms of the Deccan had been overrun by Muslim invaders from the north. From 1309, Malik Kafur reached and captured Warangal, later on reaching the Malabar kingdoms. Mubarak of Delhi reached Warangal again in 1323. Between 1334 and 1336, Muhammad Tughlaq of Delhi again overran the region, capturing Anegondi. There are several theories regarding the origin of this empire. Scholars like Prof. K. A. Nilakanta Sastry, Dr. N. Venkataramanayya and B. Surya Narayana Rao have supported the Telugu or Warrangal origin theory (Ref. Arthikage, Mangalore, India - History of Karnataka) Hakka and Bukka were brothers of the Kuruba clan and were commanders in the army of the King of Warangal. Muhammad bin Tughlaq after defeating the king of Warangal took Hakka and Bukka as prisoners of war to Delhi, where they were converted to Islam by force. However, the brothers escaped from Delhi vowed to preserve the Hindu culture and heritage. Under the guidance of Brahmin sage Madhvacharya Vidyaranya founded the Vijayanagara Kingdom. The Emblem of the Kingdom was Varaha {pig} the incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The Kuruba descendents of the Kingdom still live in Hampi. But scholars like Fr. Heras, B. A. Saletore and Dr. P. B. Desai have ably rejected this theory. They hold the view that the Sangama brothers were closely connected with the Hoysalas. Dr. Desai is of the opinion that the founders of Vijayanagara never belonged to the Telugu region and the story of their captivity and conversion by the Sultan of Delhi is false. The testimony of epigraphs establishes the fact that the ancestral territory of the Sangama brothers was Karnataka and that the area round about Hampi constituted their homeland. That Harihara and his brothers hailed from the Kannada region and were legitimate successors to Hoysala sovereignty by natural process is supported by evidence. For example, they became over lords of the entire communions formerly ruled by the Hoysalas without any clash for the transfer of power. In keeping with the old tradition, they implicitly followed the Hoysala framework in all political and administrative matters. Lord Virupaksha of Hampi and Chennakeshava of Belur were worshipped. As pointed out by G. S. Gai almost half of the inscriptions of Vijayanagara are in Kannada. Many of their titles like "Bhashegetappuva - rayara - ganda" and "Rayamoovara - ganda" were in Kannada and were used in the same form even in Sanskrit. According to Dr. P. B. Desai, "the adoption of the pontiffs of Shringeri as their revered teachers and spiritual guides and the pasupata Kriyasaktis as their family priests by the Sangama is yet another testimony of their unquestionable identity with the Hoysala country and Karnataka" (Ref. Arthikage, Mangalore, India - History of Karnataka) According to another account,Muhammad bin Tughlaq made Harihara, son of Sangama, who was previously a notable or a minister of Anegondi, his governor there. Harihara, who may also be called Deva Raya, was the first emperor of the Vijayanagara empire. Another story avers that the hermit Vidyarnya himself founded the city after the discovery of a hidden treasure, ruled over it himself, and left it after his death to a Kuruba family who established the first regular dynasty. A fourth account states that while Vidyaranya was living his ascetic life amongst the mountains he was supported by meals brought to him by a shepherd of Kuruba caste called Bukka, "and one day the Brahmin said to him, 'You shall be king and emperor of all Bharata.' The other shepherds learned this, and began to treat this shepherd with veneration and made him their head; and he acquired the name of 'king,' and began to conquer his neighbours. Bukka established a city "and called it Vijaya Nagar - the city of victory . As Muhammud Tughlaq's rule ended amidst revolts against him by his Muslim subjects in the Deccan, the area ruled by Harihara expanded greatly and quickly. The city of Vijayanagara was established by about 1340 on the bank of the Tungabhadra opposite Anegondi. Harihara was succeeded, probably around 1343, by his brother, Bukka Raya, who ruled till about 1379. By the end of Bukka's reign, most of southern India to the south of the Tungabhadra had accepted his suzerainity.

The empire at its peak

In the following two centuries, the Vijayanagar empire dominated all of southern India, and was probably stronger than any other power in the Indian subcontinent. The empire during that period served as a bulwark against invasion from the Turkic Sultanates of the Indo-Gangetic Plain; and remained in constant competition and conflict with the five Deccan Sultanates that established themselves in the Deccan to the north of it. It remained a land power. In about 1510, Goa, which had been under the rule of the Sultan of Bijapur, was captured by the Portuguese, possibly with the approval or connivance of Vijayanagara. Commerce between the Portuguese and Vijayanagara became very important to both sides. The empire is generally considered to have reached its peak during the rule of Krishna Deva Raya. Krishna conquered or subjugated territories on the east of the Deccan that belonged previously to Orissa. Many of the great monuments of the empire date from his time. Among these are the Hazara Rama temple, the Krishna temple and the Ugra Narasimha idol, all at Vijayanagara. He was followed by Achyuta Raya in 1530. In 1542, Achyuta was succeeded by Sada Siva Raya. But the real power lay with Rama (of the third dynasty), who seems to have made a point of unnecessarily provoking the Deccan sultanates, so that eventually they allied against him. In 1565, at the Battle of Talikota, the army of Vijayanagara was routed by an alliance of the Deccan sultanates. Rama Raya was killed in the Battle of Tallikot and his head (the real head) annually covered with oil and red pigment has been exhibited to the pious Mahomedans of Ahmudnuggur till 1829. With this, the last significant Hindu kingdom in the Deccan came to an end. Tirumala Raya the sole survivor left Vijayanagar with treasure on back of 550 elephants to Penukonda.

Vijayanagara is considered by many today, especially in the state of Andhra Pradesh, to have been a golden age of culture and learning.

The decline

While the empire still continued to have some power, and commanded respect, it went into a considerable decline. The rulers of this period are difficult to place clearly. It is known however that they continued to trade with the Portuguese, and that they gave the British the land grant that enabled the establishment of Madras.

Dynasties and rulers

This list is based on the book by Robert Sewell (A Forgotten Empire).

Sangama Dynasty

  • Harihara I (Deva Raya) 1336-1343
  • Bukka I 1343-1379
  • Harihara II 1379-1399
  • Bukka II 1399-1406
  • Deva Raya I 1406-1412
  • Vira Vijaya 1412-1419
  • Deva Raya II 1419-1444
  • (unknown) 1444-1449
  • Mallikarjuna 1452-1465 (Dates uncertain)
  • Rajasekhara 1468-1469 (Dates uncertain)
  • Virupaksha I 1470-1471 (Dates uncertain)
  • Praudha Deva Raya 1476-? (Dates uncertain)
  • Rajasekhara 1479-1480 (Dates uncertain)
  • Virupaksha II 1483-1484 (Dates uncertain)
  • Rajasekhara 1486-1487 (Dates uncertain)

Saluva Dynasty

  • Narasimha 1490-?
  • Narasa (Vira Narasimha) ?-1509
  • Krishna Deva 1509-1530
  • Achyuta 1530-1542
  • Sadasiva (in name only) 1542-1567

Tuluva dynasty

  • Rama (ruled in practice) 1542-1565
  • Tirumala (ruled in practice) 1565-1567
  • Tirumala (crowned ruler) 1567-1575
  • Ranga II 1575-1586
  • Venkata I 1586-1614
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