Wars & Campaigns of Krishnadevaraya, Emperor of Vijaynagar, 1509-1529

v.1.0 March 7, 2005


Started by Ravi Rikhye



Possibly the greatest warrior king of the legendary South Indian empire of Vijaynagar, Krishnadeva ascended the Diamond Throne in 1509. Our use of the title "Emperor" is redundant because technically he was the Raya of Vijaynagar. We have attempted, however, to put his importance in a modern context by styling him "Emperor".


Krishnadeva succeeded his half-brother, assuming rule at a time Vijaynagar was beset with perils. He faced four strategic threats:

  • The western rebel chieftains that Krishnadeva’s half brother had fought still defied central authority.

  • The eastern [Karnatak] districts of the empire, which Krishnadeva's half-brother had without success tried to cleanse of rebellion were not in Krishnadeva's hands.

  • Though the Bahmani Kingdom had all but ceased to exist, its Sultan decreed an annual jihad against Vijaynagar; his feudatories, independent in all but name, would join together for the yearly expedition.

  • Yusuf Adil Shahi, founder of the Adil Shahi dynasty of Bijapur, nominally part of the Bahmani Kingdom, was knocking mightily on Vijayanagar’s northern doors.

 Yusuf Adil Shahi


1509 Dony Defensive


The Bahamani Sultan declared a jihad against the new emperor of Vijaynagar, and marched at the head of a great coalition army against the empire. Krishnadev met the invaders at the border, wounding the Bahmani Sultan and defeating his army.


1510 Kovelaconda Counteroffensive


Krishnadev launched a counteroffensive, forcing the Sultan to make a stand at Kovelaconda. In this battle, according to R.C. Majumdar an even more important one that Dony, Yusuf Adil Shahi of Bijapur was killed, and so ended one of the 4 strategic threats to Vijaynagar.


1512 Gulbarga Offensive


Bijapur fell into chaos on Yusuf Adil Shahi's death, giving Krishnadeva the opening he needed to weaken the Bahmani coalition. He realized that as long as the coalition was unified, at least vis-à-vis Vijaynagar, his nation's security was in danger.


Krishnadev first captured Raichur, then Gulbarga, defeating Barid-i-Mamalik, the titular head of the Bahmani Sultanate. Barid managed to get away to Bidar, pursued by Krishnadev.


Barid was defeated a second time, as Bidar, the Bahmani capital, fell. In a master-stroke of divide-and-rule diplomacy, Krishnadev cunningly restored the Bahmani Sultan to his throne, creating discord and suspicion in the ranks of the coalition.


Thus ended the second strategic threat to Vijaynagar. Krishnadeva was now free to deal with the internal rebellions.


1512-1514 Resubjugating Ummattur


The Palaigar of Ummattur had rebelled against Krishnadeva's brother and was ruling the upper Kaveri Valley on his own. This district lay in central Vijaynagar; the Palaigar controlled two forts, Seringapatam and Sivansamudram, which were considered impregnable.


Because of the difficulties of taking the forts, the campaign had to rely on investing the forts and wearing them down, and took the better part of two years.  The siege of Sivansamudram alone took more than a year.


As siege warfare is both static and time consuming, Krishnadeva had the opportunity to absent himself as necessary for extended periods, leaving the campaign in the hands of his expeditionary commanders. Thus, Krishnadeva was able to initiate his war against Orissa even as the Ummattur campaign was underway.


1513-1518 The Orissa War


The Kingdom of Orissa abutted Vijaynagar in the northeast of the empire. Though Golcunda, part of the Bahmani Sultanate, lay north of the Kirshna River, the Gajapati of Orissa had broken through the extreme east of Golcunda, attacked Vijanagar, and captured and occupied two northeast provinces, Udayagiri and Kondavidu.


In  January 1513 Krishnadeva began his offensive to recover Udaygiri, the southern province in Oriya hands, and thus launched his longest war, which was one of the longer wars South Asia has seen.


At this time, the Gajapati of Orissa was Prataparudra.