VIJAYANAGAR, or BIJANAGAR ("the city of victory"), an ancient Hindu kingdom and ruined city of southern India. The kingdom lasted from about 1336 to 1565, forming during all that period a bulwark against Mahommedan invasion from the north. Its foundation, and even great part of its history, is obscure; but its power and wealth are attested by more than one European traveller, and also by the character of the existing ruins. At the beginning of the 14th century Mahommedan raiders had effectually destroyed every Hindu principality throughout southern India, but did not attempt to occupy the country permanently. In this state of desolation Hindu nationality rose again under two brothers, named Harihara and Bukka, of whom little more can be said than that they were Kanarese by race. Hence their kingdom was afterwards known as the Carnatic. At its widest extent, it stretched across the peninsula from sea to sea, from Masulipatam to Goa; and every Hindu prince in the south acknowledged its supremacy. The site of the capital was chosen, with strategic skill, on the right bank of the river Tungabhadra, which here runs through a rocky gorge. Within thirty years the Hindu Rayas of Vijayanagar were able to hold their own against the Bahmani sultans, who had now established their independence of Delhi in the Deccan proper. Warfare with the Mahommedans across the border in the Raichur doab was carried on almost unceasingly, and with varying result. Two, or possibly three, different dynasties are believed to have occupied the throne of Vijayanagar as time went on; and its final downfall may be ascribed to the domestic dissensions thus produced. This occurred in 1565, when the confederate sultans of Bijapur, Ahmednagar and Golconda, who had divided amongst themselves the Bahmani dominions, overwhelmed the Vijayanagar army in the plain of Talikota, and sacked the defenceless city. The Raya fled south to Penukonda, and later to Chandragiri, where one of his descendants granted to the English the site of Fort St George or Madras. The city has ever since remained a wilderness of immense ruins, which are now conserved by the British government.
See R. Sewell, A Forgotten Empire (1900) ; and B. S. Row, History of Vijayanagar (Madras, 1906).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)