The fate of North India was fixed years before it spread out to the South. When North India was attacked and captured by the Turkic invasion, South India was protected by the Vijaynagar empire. Vijaynagar Empire was one of the largest kingdoms ever to rule in South Asia. It was the elephant of Indian politics, unmatched and unthreatened. But in the battle of Talikota, the elephant was hunted down by a pack of wolves. Small Islamic kingdoms, known as Sultanates joined their forces to take Vijaynagar down.
The Turkic invasion started in the northwest of India. Over the centuries, Islamic kingdoms covered almost the entirety of Northern India. They kept expanding towards the South and successfully captured the Deccan region. As a last measure against the Islamic invasion, the South Indian Hindu kings came together and formed a bigger unified kingdom, named the Vijaynagar Empire.
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The strength of Vijaynagar kept the Islamic rulers in check. Over the years, the Islamic rulers started fighting among themselves and as a result, the Deccan was divided into four major Islamic sultanates. These sultanates were Golkonda, Ahmednagar, Bijapur, and Bidar. The four sultanates were constantly at war with each other and possessed little to no threat to the giant Vijayanagar empire.
But the only thing constant in this world is change.
The Trigger Points of The Battle of Talikota
The change came with the early death of Vijaynagar king Krishna Deva Raya, who left an underage nephew as his heir. Taking the opportunity, Rama Raya Son-in-law of Krishna Deva took over the throne. He was a renowned military general. Unlike his previous kings, he was a visionary. He wanted to expand the Vijaynagar empire by pushing the Islamic Sultanates away. To achieve his vision he started by proposing to act as a mediator among the disputed Sultanates. Then he became an ally of the Bijapur and Golkonda kingdoms against the Nizam of Ahmednagar.
The alliance of Vijaynagar, Golkonda, and Bijapur marched upon Ahmednagar. The victory of the alliance was quick and easy. But after winning the battle, Rama Raya ordered his men to destroy the capital of the Ahmednagar empire. His men destroyed everything on their path including several Mosques. This alarmed the Muslim allies of Rama Raya. And the turning point came when he even destroyed the villages of his ally sultanates on his way back from the war.
What happened during the Battle of Talikota?
Rama Raya was 80 years old when the Sultanates decided to join hands against him. Their forces started marching towards the Vijaynagar capital. Rama Raya positioned his men on the banks of the Krishna river. Crossing the river with a well-positioned enemy was the trickiest part for the Muslim alliance to figure out. Nizam of Ahmednagar came up with a genius plan. The alliance started marching east with the river. Rama Raya followed. But in the midst of dust from the footsteps, a portion of the alliance army took a U-turn.
This part of the army was led by Nizam. While Rama Raya followed the remaining army east, Nizam and his men secured a way to cross the river. Once that was done, the remaining army came back and crossed the river easily. This was a huge blow to the Vijaynagar empire. No enemy had ever crossed the Krishna river before. Rama Raya’s men lost the faith in the 80-year-old leader, who was outwitted. The battle of Talikota did not last long. The Vijayanagar forces were defeated and Rama Raya was beheaded.
The conclusion and aftermath of the Battle of Talikota
The end of Vijaynagar signalled the end of Hindu resistance in Southern India. History would hence remember it as a definitive battle between the Hindus and the Muslims. What followed the battle was centuries-long Islamic rule over India that shaped a major chunk of Indian history. The lesson from Rama Raya’s loss is that extremism, irrespective of religion acts as a poison for any booming kingdom.