Aliya Rama Raya

Rama Raya (died January 23, 1565 CE), known as "Aliya" (son-in-law in Kannada) and "Mahamandalesvara Alludu" (Telugu), was a Telugu statesman of the Vijayanagara Empire, the son-in-law of Emperor Krishna Deva Raya and the progenitor of the Aravidu dynasty of Vijayanagar Empire, the fourth and last dynasty of the empire.

Aliaya Rama Raya
SuccessorTirumala Deva Raya
BornRama Raya
HouseAravidu Dynasty
OccupationGeneral, regent, statesman
Vijayanagara Empire
Sangama dynasty
Harihara I 1336–1356
Bukka Raya I 1356–1377
Harihara Raya II 1377–1404
Virupaksha Raya 1404–1405
Bukka Raya II 1405–1406
Deva Raya I 1406–1422
Ramachandra Raya 1422
Vira Vijaya Bukka Raya 1422–1424
Deva Raya II 1424–1446
Mallikarjuna Raya 1446–1465
Virupaksha Raya II 1465–1485
Praudha Raya 1485
Saluva dynasty
Saluva Narasimha Deva Raya 1485–1491
Thimma Bhupala 1491
Narasimha Raya II 1491–1505
Tuluva dynasty
Tuluva Narasa Nayaka 1491–1503
Vira Narasimha Raya 1503–1509
Krishna Deva Raya 1509–1529
Achyuta Deva Raya 1529–1542
Venkata I 1542
Sadasiva Raya 1542–1570
Aravidu dynasty
Aliya Rama Raya 1542–1565
Tirumala Deva Raya 1565–1572
Sriranga I 1572–1586
Venkata II 1586–1614
Sriranga II 1614
Rama Deva Raya 1617–1632
Venkata III 1632–1642
Sriranga III 1642–1646

Aliya Rama Raya rose to power following a civil war with the help of Pemmasani Erra Timmanayudu of the Pemmasani Nayaks.[1] As regent, he was the de facto ruler of the empire from 1542 to 1565, although legally the emperor during this period was Sadasiva Raya, who was merely a puppet ruler.

Rama Raya was killed at the Battle of Talikota, after which the Vijayanagara Empire went into a long period of decline and eventual collapse.

Early Life and Career

Rama Raya was born in a Telugu family. His mother was Abbaladevi, and she was the daughter of a chieftain in Nandyala.[2] The Aravidu family of Rama Raya was native to South Andhra.[3]

"Aliya" Rama Raya and his younger brother Tirumala Deva Raya were sons-in-law of the great Vijayanagara emperor Krishna Deva Raya. The word "Aliya" means "son-in-law" in the Kannada language. Along with another brother Venkatadri, the Aravidu brothers rose to prominence during the rule of Krishna Deva Raya. Rama Raya was a successful army general, able administerator, and tactful diplomat who conducted many victorious campaigns during the rule of Krishnadevaraya. After the demise of his illustrious father-in-law, as a member of the family, Rama Raya, began to wield great influence over the affairs of the state. Krishna Deva Raya was succeeded in 1529 by his younger brother Achyuta Deva Raya, upon whose demise in 1542, the throne devolved upon his nephew Sadashiva Raya, then a minor. Rama Raya appointed himself regent during the minority of Sadashiva Raya. After Sadashiva Raya came of age to rule, Rama Raya kept him a virtual prisoner.

During this time he became virtual ruler, having confined Sadashiva Raya. Rama Raya removed many loyal servants of the kingdom and replaced them with officers who were loyal to him. He also appointed two Muslim commanders, the Gilani brothers who were earlier in the service of the Sultan Adil Shah as commanders in his army, a mistake that would cost the empire the final Battle of Talikota. Rama Raya lacked royal blood of his own and to legitimize his rule he claimed vicarious connection with two of the most powerful Empires of medieval India, the Western Chalukya Empire and the Chola empire.[4]

Sultanate affairs

During his rule, the Deccan Sultanates were constantly involved in internal fights and requested Rama Raya on more than one occasion to act as a mediator, enabling Rama Raya to push north of the Krishna river and expand his domains utilizing the disunity of the Deccan Sultans. He also suppressed revolts of the chieftains of Travancore and Chandragiri. Some scholars have criticised Rama Raya for interfering in the affairs of the Sultans too much, but scholars like Dr. P.B. Desai have ably defended his political affairs, indicating that Rama Raya did whatever he could to increase the prestige and importance of the Vijayanagar empire, ensuring no single Sultanate would rise above the others in power, hence preventing a difficult situation for Vijayanagar empire. In fact Rama Raya had interfered in Sultanate affairs only upon the insistence of one Sultan or the other, just the way the Sultans had acted as parelys between Rama Raya and Achyuta Raya in earlier years. When the Nizam of Ahmednagar and Qutbshah of Golconda sought Rama Raya's help against Bijapur, Rama Raya secured the Raichur doab for his benefactors. Later in 1549 when the Adilshah of Bijapur and Baridshah of Bidar declared war on Nizamshah of Ahmednagar, Ramaraya fought on behalf of the Ahamednagar ruler and secured the fort of Kalyana. In 1557 Ramaraya allied himself with Ali Adilshah of Bijapur and Baridshah of Bidar when the Sultan of Bijapur invaded Ahmednagar. The combined armies of the three kingdoms defeated the partnership between Nizamshah of Ahmednagar and the Qutbshah of Golconda.

The Vijayanagar ruler's constantly changing sides to improve his own position eventually prompted the Sultanates to form an alliance. Intermarriage between Sultanate families helped resolve internal differences between Muslim rulers. The Battle of Talikota resulted from this consolidation of Muslim power in the northern Deccan.

Battle of Talikota

Aliya Rama Raya remained loyal to the legitimate dynasty until it was finally extinguished by war, with the notable exception of imprisoning the appointed ruler Sadashiva Raya and ruling in his stead. In 1565, it was Aliya Rama Raya, as the pre-eminent general of the Vijayanagar army, who led the defense against the invading army of Deccan Sultans (i.e. Husain Nizam Shah, Ali Adil Shah and Ibrahim Qutb Shah) in the battle of Talikota.

This battle, which had seemed an easy victory for the large Vijayanagar army, instead became a disaster as two Muslim commanders (Gilani brothers) of the Vijayanagara army switched sides and turned their loyalty to the united Sultanates during critical point of battle[5]. It led to the surprise capture and death of Aliya Rama Raya who led the army, a blow from which it never recovered. His severed head was on display at Ahmednagar at the anniversary of the battle of Talikota and would be covered in oil and red pigment by the descendant of his executioner.[6]

The city of Vijayanagara was thoroughly sacked by the invaders and the inhabitants were massacred. The royal family was largely exterminated. Vijayanagara, once a city of fabled splendour, the seat of a vast empire, became a desolate ruin,[7] now known by the name of a sacred inner suburb within it, Hampi.

Aravidu Dynasty

In the wake of this disaster, Rama Raya was killed in the battlefield and his brother Tirumala Deva Raya fled from the battle to Vijayanagar. He carried the major portion of the wealth of the Empire along with the puppet king Sadashiva Raya to Penugonda and tried to re-establish order in the empire. Later he shifted his capital to Chandragiri. With the massacre of nearly all other prominent members of the royal family, and given the prestige that Rama Raya had long enjoyed at court and among the nobility, it soon came to pass that his family inherited by default the position held hitherto by the royal family. Thus was the "Aravidu" dynasty of emperors born.

The position of emperor however was an empty one, as the Vijayanagara Empire had de facto ceased to exist. The major feudatories of Vijayanagara, such as Mysore and Madurai, Keladi Nayaka, soon began to exert their independence in the period of anarchy that followed the rout of 1565, while various Muslim adventurers carved out their own fiefs under the nominal suzerainty of the Muslim overlords, being at first the Bahmani Sultans and later the Mughals.

While the later Aravidu dynasty rulers never actually wielded power over the erstwhile empire, they nevertheless enjoyed immense prestige in the land, and often received homage from the great satraps of the empire. They were always treated with much honour and ceremony even by major rulers, such as the Kings of Mysore and Madurai. Even to this day, the "Raya of Anegundi" who belongs to the "Aravidu" dynasty enjoys honour among the princes of India.


  1. Murthy, N. S. Ramachandra (1 January 1996). Forts of Āndhra Pradesh: From the Earliest Times Upto 16th C. A.D. Bharatiya Kala Prakashan. p. 202. ISBN 9788186050033.
  2. Sri Venkateswara University Oriental Journal. 1971. p. 39.
  3. Talbot, Cynthia (20 September 2001). Precolonial India in Practice: Society, Region, and Identity in Medieval Andhra. Oxford University Press. p. 27. ISBN 9780198031239.
  4. A Social History of the Deccan, 1300-1761: Eight Indian Lives by Richard M. Eaton p.99
  5. "Girish Karnad's last play Crossing to Talikota engrosses". Firstpost. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  6. Firishtah, Muḥammad Qāsim Hindū Shāh Astarābādī (1829). History of the Rise of the Mahomedan Power in India: Till the Year A. Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green. p. 130. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  7. Sen, Sailendra (2013). A Textbook of Medieval Indian History. Primus Books. pp. 109–110. ISBN 978-9-38060-734-4.
  • Dr. Suryanath U. Kamat, Concise History of Karnataka, 2001, MCC, Bangalore (Reprinted 2002)
Preceded by
Achyuta Raya
Vijayanagar empire
Succeeded by
Tirumala Deva Raya
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