Tuesday, 11 January 2022


 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 out witted 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. 

Inscriptions confirm that he ascended the throne in 1509 A.D. between then and 1529 A.D, when he died relatively young, in the short reign of 20 years, Krishna deva 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 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. Every one was permitted to "live according to his own creed", he recorded. Hampi, now a world heritage site, was the capital city of Vijayanagar 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 his its 12 sectors were built in his time.

South Indian temple architecture reached its peak under the Vijayanagar Kings. Tall gopurams and sculptural columns are some of the important contributions. Krishnadeva raya's reign is as  a "Glorious epoch of literature." Legends inform us that in his court were  eight talented poets and that he composed Amuktamalyada, 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." 

on the 500th year of Krishnadeva Raya's coronation, a month long celebration was held in Karnataka. His legacy is not limited  to Karnataka alone, but also  stretches to Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

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