Vijaynagar Empire – Dynasties, Art and Architecture, Decline

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Vijayanagar Empire was founded in South India by Harihara and Bukka in the 14th century A.D. against the Muslim rulers. The empire’s capital was Vijayanagara, thus, named Vijayanagara Empire. The kingdom is known for its contribution to art and literature. It had a well-organized administration system and experienced famous rulers like Krishnadeva Raya.

The monuments, buildings, and other structures built by the rulers during the Vijayanagara Empire and the structures near Humpi are listed as the UNESCO world heritage site. You will learn about the Vijayanagar Empire, its important dynasties, the glories of the Vijayanagara Empire, and the reason for its decline in this post.

Vijaynagar Empire

Vijayanagar Empire was established by Harihara I and Bukka Raya I in 1336 A.D. against the Tughluq rule in the Deccan on the southern banks of Tungabhadra. The Vijayanagar Empire administered the disunities and disorders of the 12th and 13th centuries and forested the reconstruction of Hindu life. The empire lasted till 1646. However, the empire’s power declined after it faced a major military defeat in 1565.

Important Dynasties of the Vijayanagara Empire

Vijayanagar experienced four important dynasties, and these are Sanguama, Saluva, Tuluva, and Aravidu. Check here the list of the important dynasties in the Vijayangara Empire.

  • Sanguama Dynasty: It was ruled by Harihara I. He marked the beginning of the Vijayanagara Empire in 1336 A.D. by capturing Mysore and Madurai. He was succeeded by his brother Bukka-I in 1356 A.D.
  • Saluva Dynasty: It was started by Saluva Narasimha in 1486 and ended in 1505. The Saluva Dynasty was ruled by three rulers, i.e., Saluva Narasimha Deva Raya, Thimma Bhupala, and Narasimha Raya II.
  • Tuluva Dynasty: It was started by Tuluva Narasa Nayaka in 1491. One of the most famous rulers of the Tuluva Dynasty was Krishnadeva Raya. He was considered the perfect and most feared ruler of the Vijaynagar Empire, according to Domingo Paes. Another important ruler from the Tuluva Dynasty was Krishnadeva Raya.
  • Aravidu Dynasty: The fourth and last dynasty of the Vijayanagar Empire was the Aravidu Dynasty, founded by Aliya Rama Raya in 1542 and ended in 1646.

Glories of the Vijayanagara Empire

The glories of the Vijayanagar Empire in terms of administration, army, the position of women, social life, Economic development, architecture, literature, judicial, and revenue administration. These are explained below-

Administration of Vijaynagara Empire

Vijayanagara empire experienced a well-organized system of administration where the state was headed by the king. He was assisted by a council of Ministers who work for the administration.

The whole empire was separated into six different provinces, and each of them was administered by a Governor called Naik. The provinces were further separated into districts and further into villages. These villages were administered by officers, weight men, watchmen, accountants, etc.

Judicial Administration

In the Vijayanagara Empire, the king was considered the supreme judge. He was in charge of giving punishments to the guilty.

Revenue Administration And Army of Vijayanagar

During Vijayanagara Empire, the main source of income was the revenue coming from the land. The taxes were collected according to the soil fertility after a careful survey. Along with this, building dams on canals and agriculture were given more importance. The army comprises elephantry, cavalry, and infantry, with the commander-in-chief as in charge.

Condition of Women

Women were given a higher position. They actively participated in the literary, social, and political life of the empire. They were educated and trained in fine arts, music, defence, offence, and wrestling.

Economic Conditions of Vijayanagar Empire

Major industries like metallurgy, perfumery, mining, textiles, etc., existed during the period. The rulers of the Vijaynagara Empire had commercial relations with the Malay Archipelago, South Africa, Portugal, Persia, China, Burma, Arabia, Abyssinia, and islands in the Indian Ocean.

Social life

The Vijayanagar Empire had a systemized society. Evil practices like sati, polygamy, and child marriage didn’t become prevalent in the empire. Also, the freedom of religion was allowed by the kings.

Art and Architecture of Vijayanagara Empire

During the Vijayanagara Empire, the Vittalaswamy temple and Hazara Ramasami temple were built. One of the masterpieces of the period was the bronze image of Krishnadeva Raya. The intellectuals developed literature in Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, and Sanskrit, the major literature being Jambavathi Kalyanam, Usha Parinayam, and Amuktamalyada.

Decline of Vijayanagar Empire

The Vijayanagar Empire ended in 1646 with the decline of the Aravidu dynasty. The rulers of the fourth and the last dynasty were incompetent and weak. During that period, the governors of the provinces became independent. However, the decline of the Vijayanagara Empire was caused by the seizing of areas of Vijaynagar by the rulers of Golconda and Bijapur.

Vijayanagar Empire UPSC

Vijayanagar Empire has been an important part of Indian history because of its rulers, art, architecture, army, the status of women, judicial administration and revenue administration. Several questions have been raised from the Vijaynagar Empire UPSC topic in the UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam. The aspirants can download the PDF with the above-provided link. You can also refer to the Indian History Notes to learn more about the country’s history.

Vijaynagar Empire UPSC Questions

This is an essential segment of the UPSC syllabus. The candidates must be aware of the important dynasties, art, architecture, and the decline of the Vijaynagar Empire. Practicing the questions on a regular basis assists the candidates to develop a knack for evaluating the questions and picking out the right answers. A few sample questions have been provided herewith, the aspirants can practice these for levelling their preparation strategy.

Question: Which dance form from South India was developed during the Vijaynagar Empire? [A] Bharatnatyam, [B] Mohiniattam, [C] Yakshagaan, [D] Krishnattam.

Answer: [Option C] Yakshagaan

Question: The military commanders who were to govern the territories in Vijaynagar Empire were called by what name? [A] Amirs, [B] Rayas, [C] Amara-Nayakas, [D] None of these

Answer: [Option C] Amara Nayakas

Question: Which city was Vijayanagar’s capital? [A] Tanjore [B] Hampi [C] Mysore [D] Belur

Answer: Option [B] Hampi

Question: Which empire was founded by Sangam princes Harihara and Bukka? [A] Bahmani [B] Malwa [C] Bengal [D] Vijaynagar

Answer: Option [D] Vijaynagar

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