Krishna Deva Raya: The real temple builder of South India

The name has a rich history of temple building. The greatest of all the Vijayanagara rulers, Krishna Deva Raya, was the second ruler of the Tuluvas dynasty (1505- 1570 CE) which was a part of the Sangama dynasty founded by Harihara and Bukka in 1336 CE.

Also known as Abhinava Bhoja, Andhra Pitamah, and Andhra Bhoja, Krishna Deva Raya was a great patron of art and literature. He had an imposing personality accompanied by high intellectual qualities. He ascended the throne in 1509 CE and is often regarded as the real temple builder of South India.

Krishna Deva Raya was not only a good administrator but also an efficient commander. He fought against numerous independent kingdoms which developed on the ruins of the Bahamani Kingdom. In the decisive battle of Diwani, the Muslim armies were defeated and then he invaded Raichur Doab thereby, completely shattering the Adil Shahi forces of Bijapur first, attacked Gulbarga, and then captured the city of Raichur in 1520 CE. The king set free the three Bahamani princes who were kept as prisoners. Thus, by restoring the Bahamani Sultanate to Muhammad Shah, Krishna Deva Raya took the title of Yavanarajyasthanpanacharya. His campaigns in Orissa were successful too. There, he defeated the Gajapathi ruler Prataparudra and then conquered Telangana.

Krishna Deva Raya compelled the Orissa Ruler to restore all the territories up to the river Krishna to Vijayanagara. He maintained law and order and also dealt with the Portuguese influence in the Deccan. He maintained friendly relations with the Portuguese. Barbosa and Dominigo Paes, the famous Portuguese travellers, visited India during the reign of Krishna Deva Raya.

The Tuluva king was a Vaishnavite but respected all religions. Ashta Diggajas ( the eight eminent scholars of Telugu) adorned the court. Some of these were

  1. Allasani Peddanna: The greatest of all the scholars who wrote Manucharitam and Harikathasaram. He was also called Andhrakavita Pitamaga.
  2. Pingali Suranna: He is the author of Garuda Puranam, Kalapurnodayamu, Raghava Pandaveeyam, and Prabhavatee Pradyumnamu.
  3. Tenali Ramakrishna: He is a well-known scholar on whom serials and animes have been made. He wrote Panduranga Mahamatyam.

Krishna Deva Raya himself was a prolific writer who wrote Amukthamalyada in Telugu and Jambavati Kalyanam and Ushaparinayam in Sanskrit.

Some of the finest stone temples built by Krishna Deva Raya are the Vittalaswamy Temple and Hazare Ramaswamy Temple at Vijayanagar. He also repaired many temples and added impressive gateways known as Gopurams to them. The great Tirupati Temple was greatly developed during his reign. He founded a suburban township near Vijayanagar known as Nagalapuram named after his mother. Also, most of the detailed descriptions of the Vijayanagara Empire come during the period of Krishna Deva Raya.

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