This year marks the 500th year of Krishnadeva Raya's coronation. He reigned for 20 years, and in that time he established a vast empire, built many wonderful monuments and enriched Telugu literature

The legends speak in glowing terms about how the witty and clever Tenali Ramakrishna or Tenali Rama, as he is popularly known, often saved the pride of the Vijayanagara Empire. Be it an arrogant poet or a dangerous spy, Tenali Rama outwitted them all. In all his endeavours, legends inform us, he was generously supported with praise and gifts by Krishnadeva Raya, the illustrious king.

Though inscriptions and the traveller accounts do not say much about Tenali Rama, they speak volumes about Krishnadeva Raya and describe him as one of the greatest rulers.

This year is important as it marks the 500th year of Krishnadeva Raya's coronation.

What makes Krishnadeva Raya special?

Inscriptions confirm that he ascended the throne in 1509 C.E. Between then and 1529 C.E, when he died relatively young, in the short reign of 20 years, Krishnadeva Raya established a vast empire, built many wonderful monuments, enriched Telugu literature and created an efficient centralised administration.

This was not an easy task. When he became the king, the Vijayanagara kingdom was faced with many threats. There were fights not only within the kingdom but also constant war at the borders. Krishnadeva Raya through a series of spectacular military campaigns, regained lost territories, expanded the kingdom and provided order that was much needed. Though he bitterly fought the Deccan sultans, he was not anti-Islamic as some try to portray. Muslim soldiers who were excellent archers and cavalry men were part of his army.

Duarte Barbosa, a Portuguese traveller visiting Krishnadeva Raya's court in the 16th century, confirms this. Everyone was permitted to “live according to his own creed”, he recorded. Hampi, now a world heritage site, was the capital city of the Vijayanagara Empire. Its massive fort walls, teeming population, vibrant streets and palaces were impressive.

Domingos Paes, another Portuguese traveller, who visited Hampi compared it with Rome. He was even hesitant to describe it in greater detail because he thought those who would read it later would not believe him. This grand city, spread over 30 sq km, was significantly developed during Krishnadeva Raya's period. Six of its 12 sectors were built in his time.

South Indian temple architecture reached its peak under the Vijayanagara kings. Tall gopuras and sculptural columns are some of the important contributions

Krishnadeva Raya's reign is described as a “glorious epoch of literature”. Legends inform us that in his court were eight talented poets and that he composed Amukta-malayada, a Telugu poem.

Domingos Paes summed it well when he described him as a “perfect king...a great ruler and a man of much justice.” In Karnataka, where Hampi is located, month-long celebrations were held to commemorate the 500th year of Krishnadeva Raya's coronation. However, his legacy is not limited to Karnataka alone, but can also stretches to Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

Quick facts :

The first historical settlements in Hampi dates back to 1 CE.

Hampi formed one of the cores of the capital of the Vijayanagara Empire from 1336 to 1565.

Bounded by the torrential Tungabhadra river on one side and surrounded by defensible hills on the other three sides, Hampi was strategically located.

The Archaeological Survey of India continues to conduct excavations in the area, to discover additional artefacts and temples.

According to legend, Hampi is identified with the historical Kishkindha, the Vanara (monkey) kingdom mentioned in the Ramayana.