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Peek Into History: Capitals of the Vijayanagara Empire

(This article is part 1 of The Better Andhra’s ‘History Series’ on Capitals of Vijayanagara Empire)
 
The fame of the Vijayanagara Empire rests, according to popular belief, on the grandeur of its capital, which foreign travellers have greatly extolled; but there is every reason to believe that something of its greatness originated from and ended in places other than the City of Victory (Vijayanagara).
 
The common conception about this greatest capital of the Empire deserves to be modified to some extent in the light of contemporary history. The beginnings of the Empire were laid, as the reader must have guessed by the remarks about the origin of the kingdom of Harihara I, not in the famous city which has given the Empire its name, but in one or two centres about it which were hallowed by the memories of quasi-historical persons and of the Hoysalas themselves. 
 
It has already been pointed out that in the times of Ballala III, his Mahamandalesvara Hariappa, who was placed over the principality of Kukkalanadu) was the most prominent figure amongst the provincial governors of that Hoysala monarch. 
 
Further, it was also noted that the absence of any political upheaval, or even of a revolt, and the matrimonial alliance between the family of Harihara I and that of the Hoysalas suggest some sort of tacit understanding between the latter, whose influence as a ruling power was dying out, and the sons of Saiigama, whose domain was now assuming definite shape, ay regards the place from where Harihara and his brothers were to continue the rule and tradition of the kings of the Hosyala-vamsa. 
 
It is not unreasonable, therefore, to suppose that the new- comers in order to preserve a semblance of their respect for, and to justify their relationship with, the Hoysalas, would have ruled from the old capitals of the latter rather than from a new one till they had firmly established themselves on the Karnataka soil. 
 
The founders of the Vijayanagara Empire, we may once again note, had limited resources both as regards men and money; and what is worse, they were fully aware of the presence of the Muhammadans in the south. They rightly concentrated their attention more on the question of the southern danger than on the topic of creating a grand capital. 
 
This explains the fact that Hariappa Odeyar, who always styled himself, as was said a while ago, only a Maliahandalesvam, had no capital worth the name, although he wielded considerable influence through his governors Gautarasa, placed at Mahgalur, Gopesa at Kuppattur in Nagarakhanda, and Chrimeya Nayaka at Badami. 
 
But, about the principality of Kukkalanadu, and about the centre from where Harihara exercised his jurisdiction, there is, unfortunately, no record in the inscriptions." This conjecture of ours would take us to the year 1346 AD which may be said to be the date of the foundation of the Vijayanagara Empire. But such an assumption is challenged by the evidence of stone inscriptions and copper-plate grants which ascribe the building of the capital called Vijayanagara to the great sage Vidyaranva and Harihara I in 1336 AD.

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