Krishnadevaraya (kruSNadEvarAya) (ಕೃಷ್ಣದೇವರಾಯ) was one of the most illustrious monarchs who ruled in Karnataka. He belonged to the TuLuva segment among the many dynasties that ruled in Vijayanagar and his rule extended between 1509 A.D. and 1529 A.D. He ascended the throne after the demise of VIra Narasimha and he was responsible for stabilising the affairs of the state which was beset by external enemies and internal strifes. Administrative reforms and enhancement of wealth were his priorities during the early stages. He was appreciated for abolishing many redundant taxes such as wedding tax and encouraged cultivation of land and consequently state revenues soared. Enlistment in to army was encouraged by the king.
After this initial engagement with
administration, Krishndevaraya initiated many military operations. Firstly,
they were focused on reducing the pressures exerted by Bahmani Sultans and the
Shahs of Bijapur. He was successful in subduing the enemies in the North as
well as the South. Gradually self defense was replaced by Imperial designs.
Udayagiri, utkala, konDaveeDu, vijayavAda, rAjamahEndri, simhacala, nalgonDa
and vAramgal were among his conquests. Attack on the fort cities of Raichur (ರಾಯಚೂರು) and
Mudgal (ಮುದ್ಗಲ್ಲು) are
counted among his major victories. His victory over Gajapathi of kaLinga
(Orissa) is another landmark. His power extended in the South right up to
Simhala. Last days of his rule were relatively peaceful but his differences
with his trusted premier mahAmantri timmarasu came to the fore. He had
diplomatic relations with the Portugese who were in control of
The lands ruled by this great king were essentially bi-lingual and he encouraged Telugu people as well as the Kannada speaking segments of his domain. Krishnadevaraya was himself a poet and ‘AmuktamAlyadA’ (ಆಮುಕ್ತಮಾಲ್ಯದಾ), a book on polity in Telugu as well as ‘Jambavati Parinayam’ are written by him. He was a Vaishnava king unlike many of his predecessors. His royal court had eight famous Telugu poets known as ‘aSTa diggajas’. They are Allasani Peddana, Nandi Thimmana, Madayyagari Mallana, Dhurjati, Ayyala-raju Rama-Bhadrudu, Pingali Surana, Rama-raj-bhushanudu and Tenali Rama Krishna. Gubbi Mallanaarya, NanjunDa kavi, purandaradAsa and vyAsarAya were some of the Kannada poets and sages patronized by him. He built an extension called ‘nAgalApura’ to his capital Hampi. A huge mantap as an addition to the famous Virupaksha temple and the Krishnaswamy temple are attributed to him. It is speculated that the world famous Vijaya Vittala temple and the HajAra Rama temple were also built by Krishnadevaraya. He was responsible for building important edifices in far off places such as Tirupati and Madhure.
A major share of the information on Krishnadevaraya that is available to us comes from the accounts of travelers from abroad such as Fernao Nunnez, Domingo Paes and the book ‘Forgotten Empire’ by Robert Sewel. Inscriptions also provide substantial details.
Thus, Krishnadevaraya has secured an iconic status as an able military general, pro-people administrator and a generous patron of art and culture.