A Forgotten Empire Chapter 8

A Forgotten Empire Chapter 8

A Forgotten Empire Vijayanagar| by Robert Sewell Preface|Chapter 1|Chapter 2|Chapter 3|Chapter 4|Chapter 5|Chapter 6|Chapter 7|Chapter 8|Chapter 9|Chapter 10|Chapter 11|Chapter 12|Chapter 13|Chapter 14|Chapter 15|Chapter 16|Chapter 17

Close of the First Dynasty (A.D. 1449 to 1490)
Mallikarjuna and Virupaksha I. ~~ Rajasekhara and Virupaksha II. ~~ The Dakhan splits up into five independent kingdoms ~~ The Bijapur king captures Goa and Belgaum ~~ Fighting at Rajahmundry, Kondapalle, and other parts of Telingana ~~ Death of Mahmud Gawan ~~ The Russian traveller Nikitin ~~ Chaos at Vijayanagar ~~ Narasimha seizes the throne.

I have already stated that the period following the reign of Deva Raya II. is one very difficult to fill up satisfactorily from any source. It was a period of confusion in Vijayanagar ~~ a fact that is clearly brought out by Nuniz in his chronicle.

A.D. 1449 is the last date in any known inscription containing mention of a Deva Raya, and Dr. Hultzsch[148] allots this to Deva Raya II. It may be, as already suggested, that there was a Deva Raya III. on the throne between A.D. 1444 and 1449, but this remains to be proved. Two sons of Deva Raya II., according to the inscriptions, were named Mallikarjuna and Virupaksha I. respectively. There are inscriptions of the former dated in A.D. 1452 ~~ 53 and 1464 ~~ 65,[149] and one of the latter in 1470.[150] Mallikarjuna appears to have had two sons, Rajasekhara, of whom we have inscriptions in the years A.D. 1479 ~~ 80 and 1486 ~~ 87, and Virupaksha II., mentioned in an inscription dated A.D. 1483 ~~ 84, three years earlier than the last of Rajasekhara.

Dr. Hultzsch, in the third volume of the EPIGRAPHIA INDICA, p. 36, gives these dates, but in the fourth volume of the same work (p. 180) he notes that an inscription of Rajasekhara exists at Ambur in North Arcot, which is dated in the year corresponding to A.D. 1468 ~~ 69. I have also been told of an inscription on stone to be seen at the village of Parnapalle (or Paranapalle) in the Cuddapah district, of which a copy on copper-plate is said to be in the possession of one Narayana Reddi of Goddamari in the Tadpatri Taluq of the Anantapur district. This is reported to bear the date Saka 1398 (A.D. 1476 ~~ 77), and to mention as sovereign "Praudha Deva Raya of Vijayanagar."

Rajasekhara's second inscription must have been engraved very shortly before the final fall of the old royal house, for the first certain date of the usurper Narasimha is A.D. 1450.

Amid this confusion of overlapping dates we turn for help to Nuniz; but though his story, gathered from tradition about the year 1535, is clear and consecutive, it clashes somewhat with the other records. According to him, Deva Raya II. had a son, Pina Raya, who died six months after his attempted assassination; but we have shown that Abdur Razzak conclusively establishes that this unfortunate monarch was Deva Raya II. himself, and that the crime was committed before the month of April 1443. Pina Raya left a son unnamed, who did nothing in particular, and was succeeded by his son "Verupaca," by which name Virupaksha is clearly meant. Virupaksha was murdered by his eldest son, who in turn was slain by his younger brother, "Padea Rao," and this prince lost the kingdom to the usurper Narasimha.

The period was without doubt a troublous one, and all that can be definitely and safely stated at present is that for about forty years prior to the usurpation of Narasimha the kingdom passed from one hand to the other, in the midst of much political agitation, discontent, and widespread antagonism to the representatives of the old royal family, several of whom appear to have met with violent deaths. The usurpation took place at some period between A.D. 1487 and 1490.

Leaving the Hindu and Portuguese records, we must turn to the Muhammadan historians in order to see what were the political relations existing at this time between Vijayanagar and its hereditary enemies to the north. Firishtah tells us of no event occurring between the year 1443 and 1458 A.D. to disturb the peaceful conditions then existing. Kulbarga was itself in too troubled a condition to venture on further national complications. Internal disputes and civil war raged in the Dakhan, and the country was divided against itself. The trouble had begun which ended only with the extinction of the Bahmani monarchy, and the establishment of five rival Muhammadan kingdoms in the place of one.

Ala-ud-din died February 13, A.D. 1458, (?)[151] and was succeeded by his son Humayun, a prince of "cruel and sanguinary temper." In the following year Humayun waged war against the country of the Telugus and besieged Devarakonda, which made so stout a resistance that the Dakhani armies were baffled, and retired. He died on the 5th September 1461,[152] to the great relief of all his subjects. Mallikarjuna appears to have been then king of Vijayanagar.

Nizam Shah succeeded to the throne, being then only eight years old, but his reign was of short duration. He was succeeded by his brother Muhammad on July 30, A D. 1463,[153]

In the middle of the year 1469, while either Rajasekhara or Virupaksha I. was the king of Vijayanagar, Mahmud Gawan, Muhammad's minister, marched towards the west, and after a fairly successful campaign attacked Goa, then in the possession of the Raya of Vijayanagar, both by sea and land. He was completely victorious and captured the place.

The war was probably undertaken in revenge for a cruel massacre of Muhammadans which took place in this Year A.D. 1469, according to Barros.[154] At this period the coast trade was altogether in the hands of the Muhammadans, and they used to import large numbers of horses, principally for the use of the great contending armies in the Dakhan and Vijayanagar. The Hindu king depended on this supply to a large extent. In 1469 the Moors at Batecala (Bhatkal) having sold horses to the "Moors of Decan," the king of Vijayanagar ordered his vassal at Onor (Honawar) "to kill all those Moors as far as possible, and frighten the rest away." The result of this was a terrible massacre, in which 10,000 Musulmans lost their lives. The survivors fled and settled themselves at Goa, thus founding the city that afterwards became the capital of Portuguese India. Nuniz alludes to the loss of "Goa, Chaull, and Dabull" by Vijayanagar in the reign of "Verupaca."[155] (Purchas states that the massacre took place in 1479 A.D.)

Shortly afterwards there arose to power under the Sultan Muhammad one Yusuf Adil Khan, a slave, who before long grew to such power that he overthrew the Bahmani dynasty, and became himself the first independent sovereign of Bijapur ~~ the first "Adil Shah." In 1470, says the BURHAN-I MAASIR, the Sultan took Rajahmundry and Kondavid from the king of Orissa. An inscription at Kondapalle, a fine hill-fort beautifully situated on a range of hills, gives the date as 1470 or 1471; my copy is imperfect.

Firishtah tells us that ~~

"In the year 877 (A.D. 1472 ~~ 73) Perkna, roy of the fortress of Balgoan, at the instigation of the prince of Beejanuggur, marched to retake the island of Goa…. Mahummud Shaw, immediately upon intelligence of this irruption, collected his forces and moved against Balgoan, a fortress of great strength, having round it a deep wet ditch, and near it a pass, the only approach, defended by redoubts."

The attack ended in the reduction of the place, when the Sultan returned to Kulbarga.

The BURHAN-I MAASIR CALLS the chief of Belgaum "Parkatapah," and Major King, the translator of the work, gives a large variety of spellings of the name, viz.: "Birkanah," "Parkatabtah," "Parkatiyah," "Parkitah," "Barkabtah."[156] Briggs gives it as "Birkana." It has been supposed that the real name was Vikrama.

About the year 1475 there was a terrible famine in the Dakhan and the country of the Telugus, which lasted for two years. At its close the Hindu population of Kondapalle revolted, murdered the Muhammadan governor, and invited aid from the king of Orissa. This monarch accordingly advanced and laid siege to Rajahmundry, which was then the governorship of Nizam-ul-Mulkh, but on the Shah marching in person to the relief of the place the army of Orissa retired. In the latter part of the year 882, which corresponds to March 1478 A.D., Muhammad penetrated to the capital of Orissa, "and used no mercy in slaughtering the inhabitants and laying waste the country of the enemy." The Rajah submitted, and purchased his immunity from further interference on the part of the Sultan by a present of some valuable elephants.

Firishtah and the BURHAN-I MAASIR differ considerably as to what followed. The former states that, after his raid into Orissa, Muhammad Shah reduced Kondapalle, where he destroyed a temple, slew the Brahman priests attached to it, and ordered a mosque to be erected on its site. He remained nearly three years at Rajahmundry, secured the Telingana country, expelled some refractory zamindars, and "resolved on the conquest of Nursing Raya."

"Nursing," says Firishtah, "was a powerful raja, possessing the country between Carnatic[157] and Telingana, extending along the sea-coast, to Matchiliputtum,[158] and had added much of the Beejanuggur territory to his own by conquest, with several strong forts."

This was probably the powerful chief Narasimha Raya, a relation of the king of Vijayanagar, who, intrusted with the government of large tracts, was rising rapidly to independence under the weak and feeble monarch whom he finally supplanted. The Sultan went to Kondapalle,[159] and there was told that, at a distance of ten days' journey, "was the temple of Kunchy,[160] the walls and roof of which were plated with gold, ornamented with precious stones;" upon receipt of which intelligence the Sultan is said to have made a forced march thither, taking with him only 6000 cavalry, and to have sacked the place.

The account given by the BURHAN-I MAASIR as to Muhammad Shah's proceedings at this period is that on going to Rajahmundry he found there Narasimha Raya "with 700,000 cursed infantry, and 500 elephants like mountains of iron," who, in spite of all his pomp and power, fled like a craven on the approach of the army of Islam. The Sultan then reduced Rajahmundry, which had been held by a HINDU force ~~ not Muhammadan, as Firishtah declares. In November 1480[161] he marched from Rajahmundry to Kondavid, going "towards the kingdom of Vijayanagar." After reducing that fortress, he proceeded after a while to Malur, which belonged to Narasimha, "who, owing to his numerous army and the extent of his dominions, was the greatest and most powerful of all the rulers of Telingana and Vijayanagar," and who "had established himself in the midst of the countries of Kanara and Telingana, and taken possession of most of the districts of the coast and interior of Vijayanagar."

While at Malur the Sultan was informed that "at a distance of fifty farsakhas from his camp was a city called Ganji," containing temples, &c., to which he promptly marched, arriving before the place on 13th March A.D. 1481.[162] He sacked the city and returned.

After this the Sultan went to Masulipatam, which he reduced, and thence returned to Kondapalle. This was his last success. His cold-blooded murder of the celebrated Mahmud Gawan, his loyal and faithful servant, in 1481, so disgusted the nobles that in a short time the kingdom was dismembered, the chiefs revolted, the dynasty was overthrown, and five independent kingdoms were raised on its ruins.

Muhammad Shah died on 21st March. A.D. 1482. Shortly before his death he planned an expedition to relieve Goa from a Vijayanagar army which "Sewaroy, Prince of Beejanuggur," had sent there (Firishtah); but the Sultan's death put a stop to this (BURHAN-I MAASIR).

We have some further information on the affairs of Kulbarga during the reign of Muhammad Shah in the writings of the Russian traveller Athanasius Nikitin, but it is very difficult to fix the exact date of his sojourn there. Nikitin was a native of Twer, and set out on his wanderings by permission of the Grand Duke Michael Borissovitch, and his own bishop, Gennadius. This fixes the time of his start so far that it must have taken place subsequent to 1462, and the author of the "Bombay Gazetteer," RE Poonah, assigns the period 1468 to 1474 as that of Nikitin's stay in India.

Nikitin first went to Chaul, and thence travelled by land to Junir.

"Here resides Asat, Khan of Indian Jooneer, a tributary of Meliktuchar…. He has been fighting the Kofars for twenty years, being sometimes beaten but mostly beating them."

By "Meliktuchar" is probably meant the celebrated minister Mahmud Gawan, who in 1457 A.D. received the title "Mallik-al-Tijar," a title which was borne by the chief amongst the nobility at the Bahmani court. It meant literally "chief of the merchants." The "Kofars" are, of course, the Kaffirs or Hindus. Firishtah tells us of fighting having taken place in 1469 between the Mallik-al-Tijar and "the roles of Songeer, Khalneh, and rebels in Kokun," when the troops of Junir were under the Mallik's command. During the war he captured Goa, as already stated. There were campaigns also against the Hindus of Rajahmundry, Vinukonda, and other places, and in 1472 one against Belgaum, which has been already described. Firishtah tells us that the Daulatabad and Junir troops were sent against the powerful Hindu Raja Narasimha on the east coast.[163] As to Kulbarga and his experiences there, Nikitin writes as follows: ~~

"The Hindus … are all naked and bare-footed. They carry a shield in one hand and a sword in the other. Some of the servants are armed with straight bows and arrows. Elephants are greatly used in battle…. Large scythes are attached to the trunks and tusks of the elephants, and the animals are clad in ornamental plates of steel. They carry a citadel, and in the citadel twelve men in armour with guns and arrows…. The land is overstocked with people; but those in the country are very miserable, whilst the nobles are extremely opulent and delight in luxury. They are wont to be carried on their silver beds, preceded by some twenty chargers caparisoned in gold, and followed by three hundred men on horseback and five hundred on foot, and by horn-men, ten torch-bearers, and ten musicians.

"There may be seen in the train of the Sultan about a thousand ordinary horses in gold trappings, one hundred carrels with torch-bearers, three hundred trumpeters, three hundred dancers…. The Sultan, riding on a golden saddle, wears a habit embroidered with sapphires, and on his pointed headdress a large diamond; he also carries a suit of gold armour inlaid with sapphires, and three swords mounted in gold…. The brother of the Sultan rides on a golden bed, the canopy of which is covered with velvet and ornamented with precious stones…. Mahmud sits on a golden bed, with a silken canopy to it and a golden top, drawn by four horses in gilt harness. Around him are crowds of people, and before him many singers and dancers….

"Melikh Tuchar took two Indian Towns whose ships pirated on the Indian Sea, captured seven princes with their treasures…. The town had been besieged for two years by an army of two hundred thousand men, a hundred elephants, and three hundred camels.[164] …

"Myza Mylk, Mek-Khan, and Farat Khan took three large cities, and captured an immense quantity of precious stones, the whole of which was brought to Melik Tuchar…. They came to Beder on the day of the Ascension."

The Sultan's brother "when in a campaign is followed by his mother and sister, and 2000 women on horseback or on golden beds;[165] at the head of his train are 300 ordinary horses in gold equipment."

"Melik Tuchar moved from Beder with his army, 50,000 strong, against the Indians…. The Sultan sent 50,000 of his own army…. With this force Melik Tuchar went to fight against the great Indian dominion of CHENUDAR. But the king of BINEDAR[166] possessed 300 elephants, 100,000 men of his own troops, and 50,000 horse."

The writer then gives details as to the rest of the Sultan's forces, and the total comes to the enormous amount of over 900,000 foot, 190,000 horse, and 575 elephants.

"The Sultan moved out with his army … to join Melich Tuchar at Kalbarga. But their campaign was not successful, for they took only one Indian town, and that at the loss of many people and treasures.[167]

"The Hindu Sultan Kadam is a very powerful prince. He possesses a numerous army and resides on a mountain at BICHENEGHER. This vast city is surrounded by three forts and intersected by a river, bordering on one side on a dreadful jungle, and on the other on a dale; a wonderful place and to any purpose convenient. On one side it is quite inaccessible; a road gives right through the town, and as the mountain rises high with a ravine below, the town is impregnable.

"The enemy besieged it for a month and lost many people, owing to the walls of water and food. Plenty of water was in sight but could not be got at.

"This Indian stronghold was ultimately taken by Melikh Khan Khoda, who stormed it, and fought day and night to reduce it. The army that made the siege with heavy guns had neither eaten nor drunk for twenty days. He lost 5000 of his best soldiers. On the capture of the town 20,000 inhabitants men and women, had their heads cut off, 20,000 young and old were made prisoners and sold…. The treasury, however, having been found empty, the town was abandoned."

It is impossible to decide to what this refers, as we have no other information of any capture of Vijayanagar by the Sultan's forces at this period. But the traveller may have confused the place with Rajahmundry or one of the eastern cities of Telingana.

In 1482 A.D., as before stated, Mahmud Shah II. succeeded to the throne of Kulbarga, being then a boy of twelve, but his sovereignty was only nominal. Constant disturbances took place; the nobles in many tracts rose against the sovereign, and amongst others the governor of Goa attempted to assert his independence, seizing many important places on the coast; civil war raged at the capital; and before long the great chiefs threw off all semblance of obedience to the authority of the Bahmanis, and at length divided the kingdom amongst themselves.

At Vijayanagar, too, there seems to have been chaos, and about the time when the Dakhani nobles finally revolted, Narasimha Raya had placed himself on the throne and established a new and powerful dynasty.

The five separate kingdoms which arose in the Dakhan were those of the Adil Shahs of Bijapur, with whom we have most to do; the Barid Shahs of Bidr or Ahmadabad; the Imad Shahs of Birar; the Nizam Shahs of Ahmadnagar; and the Qutb Shahs of Golkonda.

Adil Shah was the first of his line at Bijapur, and he proclaimed his independence in A.D. 1489. The unhappy king Mahmud II. lived in inglorious seclusion till December 18, A.D. 1517, and was nominally succeeded by his eldest son, Ahmad. Ahmad died after two years' reign, and was followed in rapid succession by his two brothers, Ala-ud-din III. (deposed) and Wali (murdered), after whom Kalim Ullah, son of Ahmad II., was nominally placed on the throne but was kept a close prisoner, and with his death the Bahmani dynasty fell for ever.

wA Forgotten Empire Chapter 8  

A Forgotten Empire Vijayanagar


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