of South India:The
medieval period in southern part of India saw
the rise and fall of numerous kings and their
dominions. However mention must be made of
the three outstanding ones.
This dynasty which overthrew the Chalukyas of Kalyani in the
early part of the 12th
century, had a relatively short but stormy rule. According to a record pertaining
to the year 1174 , the founder of the family was a person by the name of Soma,
who was a disciple of Ashwathama (the heroic character of
the Mahabharata).According to legends, he grew a beard and
a moustache to conceal his visage, in a bid to escape the wrath of the fiery Parashurama (another
famous character of the Mahabharata).
Relics of Chalukyas
his family and kinsmen came to be known as Kalachuris (Kalli
meaning a long moustache and churi meaning a
sharp knife). However, the later records of the
dynasty claim that they descended from Brahma,
the Creator of the universe.
The Kalachuris were also related to the early Chalukyas and
the Rashtrakutas by matrimonial alliances. Some scholars believe
that they migrated to the south and made Mangalavedhe (Mangalavada)
their headquarters. They called themselves Kalanjarapuravaradhisvara, which
indicates their central Indian origin. Their emblem was a golden bull. It is
they had started out as feudatories of the Chalukyas of Kalyani.
The first prominent ruler of the Kalachuris was Uchita,
who was followed by Asaga, Kannam and Kiriyasaga.
However under Bijjala I and his son Kannama, the Kalachuris began
to wield considerable political power.
However Kannama's son Jogama became an
influential feudatory of the Chalukya Vikramaditya VI,
who was matrimonially connected to the Kalachuri chief.
This trend continued right upto the reign of Jogama's son
and successor, Permadi.
Even though he was a Mahamandalesvara (feudal lord) he enjoyed
considerable clout in the royal circles.
of the universe
Permadi’s son Bijjala
II (1130-1167 A.D) succeeded his father
as the Mahamandalesvara. He realised that under Vikramaditya's successors
the Chalukya empire was growing
weaker. This encouraged him to declare his
independence. The Chikkalagi inscription refers
to Bijjala II as "Mahabhujabalachakravarti
(literally: the sovereign with tremendous power
in his arms).
Some historians identify several Kalachuri ruling families in Tripuri,
Gorakhpur, Ratnapur, Rajpur (eastern
Gujarat) regions of central India. Dr. P. B. Desai, the renowned historian opines
that the Kalachuris did not originally belong to Karnataka.
On the contrary they had migrated from central India. There they were known as Katachuris,
and they ruled over an empire spanning Malwa, Gujarat, Konkan and Maharashtra.
However, one of its rulers, Buddharaja, experienced a crushing
defeat at hands of the Chalukya king Mangalesa, which
pushed this dynasty into oblivion.
The most outstanding figure that emerged during
the reign of the Kalachuris was Shree
Basava (also known as Basaveshwara or Basavanna)
who was the founder
of the Lingayat ( linga = the phallic symbol of Shiva) religious
sect in India. He ushered in a massive social transformation by inspiring and
encouraging the people belonging to the lower castes to bring about changes
and thougts by concentrating on and sincerely worshipping Lord Shiva.
Basaveshwara is believed
to have been a mystic, an idealist and a
statesman. He was also an erudite and scholarly
person, overflowing with kindness
and compassion for the oppressed and the
downtrodden masses. He preached his ideas about
a new approach
towards God and life by means of Vachanas
or the sacred hymns composed by him.
Vasava spearheaded the Virasaiva movement, which sought to simplify
religion and create a harmonious social order. Throughout his life Basava led
a relentless crusade against the caste hierarchy, social inequality, and the
heinous practice of untouchability. In the teeth of opposition from orthodox,
high-caste Hindus, he endeavoured to stamp out all manner of social evils from
This was the most famous empire in the
history of southern India. The Vijayanagara empire lasted
for three centuries, thus indirectly checking
of Islamic powers in the region. According to legends as well as historical
sources, two brothers named Harihara and Bukka (Sons
of Sangama,a chieftain at the court of the
founded city of Vijayanagara on the southern bank of the river Tungabhadra
in the state
sages Madhav Vidyaranya and his brother Sayana became
the main source of inspiration for the foundation of a Hindu empire in the region.
the first kingdom of the newly founded empire.
After his death Bukka succeded
him. Bukka sent an emissary
to China in 1374 as a diplomatic move. After Bukka's death, Harihara
II (son of Harihar) ascended the throne.
He expanded his domains by conquering almost
the whole of southern India, including Mysore,
Kanara, Chingalpet, Trichinopally and Kanchivaram (modern
Kanchipuram). A staunch worshipper of Lord Shiva.
Harihara II was fairly tolerant towards the followers
of other faiths too. He became the first king
of the Vijayanagara empire to assume the title
of Maharajadhiraj Rajaparmeshwara (the
mighty, sovereign, king of kings).
In 1486, Vir Narasimha of Chandragiri, (who belonged to theTuluva dynasty)
took over the reigns of the Vijaynagar empire.
His son Krishanadev Raya has been acclaimed the greatest ruler
of Vijayanagara and one of the most famous kings in the history of India. A great
warrior, he almost invariably won the wars which he waged throughout his period
of kingship. He was known to have treated even his vanquished foes with honour.
Image of Krishanadev
the period 1511-1514, he captured southern Mysore, Shivasamudram
fortress and Raichur (karnataka),
defeated Gajapati, the erstwhile
king of Orissa and captured Udaigiri (Orissa),
in that order. Still later, he captured Vishakapatnam and
abolished the authority of the rulers of Orissa.
His most outstanding achievement was the defeat
inflicted on one of the Bahamani rulers, Ismail
Adil Shah on 19th March 1520.This landmark
event put an end to the Muslim dominance in the
southern part of the country.
During his later years, Krishnadeva Raya strongly focused on
the organization of his empire and improving its administration. In order to
maintain friendly relations with foreign powers (who were beginning to gain a
foothold in India) particularly the Portuguese, he granted some concessions to
the Portuguese governor Alphonsde de Albuquerque.
The reign of Krishanadev Raya also witnessed tremendous growth and development
in the spheres of literature, music, art and culture. Raya himself was an accomplished
poet, musician, scholar and extremely well-versed in Sanskrit, Telugu and Kannada.
He patronized many poets and authors notably the Ashtadiggajas (literally:
poets of a gigantic stature) of Telugu language.
famous scholar and wit Tenali Rama adorned
his court. During this period there was also
a spurt in art and architecture. The famous Vithalswami temple
and the Hazara temple ( literally
a thousand) both at Hampi built
during his reign are magnificent specimens of
Hindu Temple architecture, executed in the Vijaynagar
style of architecture.
The Vijayanagar empire witnessed
the arrival of European traders (especially
the Portuguese) in India. Krishnadeva Raya
trade which necessitated the use of currency. The coins of the Vijayanagara
Empire were chiefly made with gold and copper. Most of the gold
coins carried a sacred image
on one side and the royal legend on the reverse. Some gold coins bore the
images of Lord Tirupati (a.k.a Balaji Venkateshwara).
A gold coin
of Vijayanagara Empire
According to historical records, a rebel chieftain of Daulatabad, near Ellora,
Maharashtra, which was under Muhammad Bin Tughalaq, founded
the Bahamani kingdom. This chieftain, Allauddin Hassan, who
was a man of humble origins, assumed the name of Gangu Bahamani, in memory of
Brahmin mentor. His kingdom comprised parts of present day Karnataka, Maharashtra,
and Andhra Pradesh. South of his kingdom lay the Vijayanagara Empire against
it had to fight continuous wars for political reasons.
The most remarkable ruler of the Bahamani kingdom was Firuz
Shah Bahamani (1397-1422 AD), who fought three major battles against
Empire without any tangible results. He was a great scholar, well-versed
in religious and natural sciences. He wanted to make the Deccan the cultural
centre of India.
to his court poet Ferhishta, Firuz
Shah was a true Muslim his spirit,
notwithstanding his vices - fondness for wine
and music, both strictly forbidden by Islam. Firuz
Shah was compelled to abdicate in
favour of his brother Ahmad Shah I,
who successfully invaded Warangal and annexed
most part of it to his empire. The conquest
of Warangal proved to be a
shot in the arm of the Bahamanis. The kingdom
gradually expanded and reached its zenith under
the prime ministership of Mahmud Gawan (1466-1481
Mahmud Gawan arrived
and settled down in Bidar from Persia in the
year 1453. A great scholar of Islamic cultural
traditions, he established and funded a Madarassa
( college) which was modeled along the lines
of the universities of Samarkhand and Khorasan (both
in Central Asia)
One of the major problems
faced by Gawan was the unending dispute among
the Bahamani nobles, who were
divided into Deccanis (old timers) and Afaqis or Gharibs (newcomers).
Since Gawan himself was a newcomer (of Persian origin), he failed to win the
confidence of the Deccanis. His policy of conciliation failed to stem the ongoing
strife amongst the noblemen.In 1482, Gawan,a septugenarian was executed by
Sultan Muhammad Shah,the last ruler of the undivided Bahamani Empire.
Gol Gumbaz at Bijapur
the raging internal factions grew more intense
and various governors declared their independence.
The kingdom finally got fragmented into five
parts--- the Adil Shahis of
Bijapur, the Qutub Shahis of
Golconda, the Nizam Shahis of
Ahmednagar, the Barid Shahi of
Bidar and lastly the Imad Shahis of
The five kingdoms came together to wage a war against the mighty Vijayanagara Empire and
inflicted a death-blow to it in 1565. A few years down the line, the Imad Shahi
kingdom was conquered by Nizamshahis in 1574 AD; the Barid
Shahi kingdom was annexed by Adil Shahis in1619 AD.
Tomb of one of the Qutub
kingdoms continued to play a dominant role in
the politics of the region till they were eventually
merged in the Mughal empire in the 17th century.
After the death of Shivaji, Aurangzeb, the Mughal
emperor, marched southwards, finally annexing
Bijapur in 1686 A.D and Golconda 1689
A. D; this sounded the death knell of the Bahamani kingdom.
The Bahamani period witnessed the upsurge of secularism and
communal harmony. Hazrat Banda Nawaz (1321-1422 A.D) the great Sufi saint
was patronized by the Bahamani kings and his Dargah located
at Gulbarga in Karnataka, is a famous pilgrimage for both Hindus
and Muslims alike.
Ruins of the Golconda Fort
the field of architecture, the Bahamani rulers
evolved a distinct style by drawing heavily
from Persian, Turkey, and Arabic architectural
styles and blending it with local styles. One
of the largest and most famous domes in the
world, the Gol Gumbaz at Bijapur and
the majestic gateway Charminar (four
minarets, char = four) at Hyderabad and
the Golconda Fort, near Hyderabad
are the hallmarks of Bahamani architecture.
The main source of income of the Bahamanis was
the cultivated land, with the administration
revolving around the assessment and collection
of land revenue.
The Bahmanis of the Deccan ultimately left behind a rich, composite
cultural heritage of Indo-Islamic art, language, besides Islamic faith and traditions.