Accession & Reign
He ascended the throne in 1509 and developed a strong relationship with the empire’s Prime Minister, Timmarusu, whom he looked upon as a fatherly figure.
He was crowned during the gloomiest period of the Vijayanagara Empire and hence, spent the first few years of his reign battling sieges and conquests to consolidate the kingdom.
Since the Portuguese dominated the sea trade along the Indian coastline, he developed friendly relations with them, following which he traded Arabian horses and guns from the Portuguese merchants.
He engaged Portuguese engineers in improving the supply of water in Vijayanagara City, apart from receiving arms and war materials for invading Raichur.
Following the defeat of the Sultan of Bijapur, Sultan Mahmud, in 1509 at his hands, towns and villages in Vijayanagar saved from annual raids by the Deccan sultans.
He annexed Raichur Doab and subsequently, raided Bidar, Gulbarga and Bijapur, thereby disintegrating the Bahmani Sultans, and took upon the title ‘establisher of the Yavana kingdom’.
By suppressing the local rulers, Reddys of Kondavidu and Velamas of Bhuvanagiri, he managed to conquer lands reaching the Krishna River.
In 1512, he defeated the Ummatur chief, Ganga Raja, to expand his empire – as a result of this defeat, the latter drowned in the waters of Cauvery River. The region was added to the Srirangapatna province.
Following his homage to Sri Venkateswara at Tirupati after his successful invasion of the Udayagiri Fort, he defeated the Gajapati army at Kondavidu and captured the fort after a series of initial routs, compelling the army to surrender.
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While the fort was seized through a secret entrance discovered by Timmarusu, who was then appointed the governor of Kondavidu, the son of Prathapa Rudra, Prince Virabhadra, was captured and imprisoned.
As part of his third campaign in South India, he conquered Bezwada, on the banks of Krishna River, followed by the invasion of Kondapalli and forts in Nalgonda and Warangal.
Prathapa Rudra’s plan of crushing Krishnadevaraya and his army was crushed by his attack on the Gajapati Empire’s capital, Cuttack, forcing the former to surrender.
A treaty was signed in 1518, according to which the territories in the Odisha kingdom on the north of Krishna River were returned to the Gajapati ruler while maintaining complete peace between the two empires.
After completely thrashing the Bijapur army, he destroyed the fort of Gulbarga, the former Bahmani capital, though he reinstated the kingdom to Muhammad Shah.
By invading and conquering the different territories in the Bahmani kingdom, he succeeded in expanding his empire to South India.
Due to his high respect and support for art and Telugu literature, his reigning period came to be known as the golden age of Telugu literature, though Sanskrit, Kannada and Tamil literates were also patronized.
He appointed Ashtadiggajas, or eight poets, in his court – Pingali Surana, Nandi Thimmana, Dhurjati, Ramaraja Bhushanudu, Madayyagari Mallana, Tenali Rama Krishna, Ayyala-raju Rama-Bhadrudu, and most importantly Allasani Peddana.
He attacked the unconquerable Udayagiri Fort, ruled by Gajapati Prathapa Rudra Dev, in 1512 and after a year of continuous battles, the Gajapati army surrendered and escaped to Kondavidu.
The bloody battle of Raichur in 1520 saw over 703,000 foot soldiers, 32, 600 cavalry and 551 elephants fighting Ismail Adil Shah of Bijapur for the capture of its fortress leading to his defeat, amidst the death of 16,000 Vijayanagar soldiers.
Personal Life & Legacy
He was married to Tirumala Devi and Chinnama Devi.
He married Prathapa Rudra’s daughter, Princess Annapurna Devi, who became his third queen, as part of the peace treaty signed by the two rulers to establish peace and harmony on both sides of the Krishna River.
Being highly religious and devout follower of Lord Tirumala of Tirupati, he donated numerous precious objects to the Venkateswara Temple, including a jewel-studded golden sword and diamond-encrusted crowns.
In 1524, he pronounced his son, Tirumala Raya as the Yuvaraja but the crown prince didn’t live long to continue his father’s legacy and died, probably due to poisoning.
With Timmarusu’s son rumored to have poisoned his son, he got both Timmarusu and his son blinded.
He declared his half-brother Achyuta Deva Raya, as his successor and died in 1529, after falling ill critically.