Deva Raya I (reigned 1406–1422 CE) was a king of the Vijayanagara Empire (of the Sangama Dynasty). After Harihara II died there was a dispute between his sons over the throne in which Deva Raya I eventually emerged victor. He was a very capable ruler noted for his military exploits and his support to irrigation works in his kingdom. He modernized the Vijayanagara army by improving the cavalry, employing Turkic archers, procuring horses from Arabia and Persia. Of Deva Raya I, the Italian traveler Nicolo Conti, who visited Vijayanagara in c.1420, described thus: "In this city, there are 90,000 men fit to bear arms...there king is more powerful than all the kings of India". Conti also noted that the royal city had grown to a circumference of 60 mi. Deva Raya I was a patron of Kannada literature and architecture. Madhura, a noted Jain poet was in his court (and also in the court of his father King Harihara II) and wrote in Kannada the Dharmanathapurana on the life of the fifteenth Jain Tirthankar (Dharmanatha), and a poem in eulogy of Gommateshvara of Shravanabelagola. The noted Hazare Rama temple, an excellent example of Deccan architecture was constructed during his rule. One of Deva Raya's queens Bhima Devi was a disciple of the Jain guru Abhinava Charukirti Panditacharya. She was a devotee of Shantinatha, 16th Jain tirthankara and built a temple at the Mangayi Basti in Shravanabelagola.
The Hazara Rama temple built by Deva Raya I in Hampi
Irrigation works and general administration
The credit for making the capital city of the Vijayanagara Empire one of the biggest cities in the 15th century goes to Deva Raya I. He realized that the scarcity of water supply, both for drinking and for irrigation, was restricting the growth of the royal capital. In c.1410 he had a barrage constructed across the Tungabhadra river and commissioned a 24 km long aqueduct from the Tungabhadra river to the capital. The account provided by Nuniz gives a details of the projects undertaken by Deva Raya I that brought prosperity to the Kingdom. He maintained a secular attitude in administrative matters. He had a Mosque and a slaughter house constructed for the convenience of the Muslim soldiers in his army. In c. 1413, a dispute over property between the Shanka Jainalya of Lakshmeshwara and the Someshvara temple trust of the palace was settled in favor of the Jains. Deva Raya I had a Muslim bodyguard who built a choultry in honor of the king.
Throughout his reign, Deva Raya was continually at war with the Velamas of Telangana, the Bahmani Sultan of Gulbarga, the Reddis of Kondavidu, and the traditional rivals of Vijayanagara, the Gajaptis of Kalinga. Deva Raya I was capable of managing the vast territory that he controlled. Following a confusion in the Reddi kingdom, Deva Raya I entered into an alliance with Warangal for partitioning the Reddi kingdom between them. The split of Warangal changed the balance of power in the Deccan. In c.1420, Firoz Shah invaded Pangal but the two-year siege at Pangal ended in decease and disaster for Firoz Shah's armies. Deva Raya inflicted a shattering defeat on Firoz Shah. The Sultan had to hand over the southern and eastern districts of his kingdom to Deva Raya I. Consequently, by c.1422, Deva Raya I came to control territory up to the Krishna river - Tungabhadra river doab including Pangal In the following days, the distressed Sultan died after leading a life of piety after abdicating power to his brother Ahmad. Unable to accept this turn around, the Gajapati King Bhanudeva of Odisha invaded Rajamahendri. When a war with Vijayanagara seemed imminent, some skilful diplomacy by Vijayanagara chief Dodda Alla averted it. Deva Raya was to be succeeded by his sons Ramachandra Raya and shortly thereafter by Vijaya Raya.
Persian writer Ferishta narrates an interesting story, not repeated or supported by any other contemporary source, of the kings' love for a beautiful girl, a daughter of a goldsmith from Mudugal in the Raichur district. Unable to wed her, a frustrated Deva Raya I attacked Mudgal and laid to waste a few villages. Aroused by this provocation, the Bahamani Sultan Taj ud-Din Firuz Shah invaded Vijayanagara leading to defeat of Deva Raya I. Though injured in the conflict, Firuz Shah sent his able commanders who successfully invaded Vijayanagara territory south of Adoni
According to this account, Deva Raya I had to give as tribute, one of his daughters in marriage to the Sultan's prince, several pearls and cash, Bankapura territory, fifty elephants, and 2000 dancers. The goldsmith's daughter who was the reason for the war was wedded to Hassan Khan, a prince in the Sultan's family.
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Bukka Raya II
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