Krishnadevaraya (IAST Kṛṣṇadevarāya) was an emperor of the Vijayanagara Empire who reigned from 1509–1529. He is the third ruler of the Tuluva Dynasty. Presiding over the empire at its zenith, he is regarded as an icon by many Indians. Krishna Deva Raya earned the titles Kannada Rajya Rama Ramana (lit, "Lord of the Kannada empire"), Andhra Bhoja (lit, "Bhoja for Telugu Literature") and Mooru Rayara Ganda (lit, "King of Three Kings"). He became the dominant ruler of the peninsula of India by defeating the Sultans of Bijapur, Golconda, the Bahmani Sultanate and the Gajapatis of Odisha, and was one of the most powerful Hindu rulers in India.[4] Indeed, when the Mughal Emperor Babur was taking stock of the potentates of north India, Krishnadevaraya was rated the most powerful and had the most extensive empire in the subcontinent.[5]

Emperor of Vijayanagara Empire
A bronze statue of Emperor Krishnadevaraya
Reign26 July 1509–1529[1]
PredecessorViranarasimha Raya
SuccessorAchyuta Deva Raya
ConsortTirumala Devi
Chinna Devi
  • Thirumalamba
  • Vengalamba
  • Tirumala Raya[2] (Crowned in 1524 at the age of 6 years, but died on 1525[3])
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

Portuguese travellers Domingo Paes and Fernao Nuniz also visited the Vijayanagara Empire during his reign. Travelogues indicate that the king was not only an able administrator but also an excellent general, leading from the front in battle and even attending to the wounded. The south Indian poet Muku Timmana praised him as the destroyer of the Turkics.[6] Krishna Deva Raya benefited from the able prime minister Timmarusu, who was regarded by the emperor as a father figure and was responsible for his coronation.

Early life

Krishna Deva Raya was the son of Tuluva Narasa Nayaka,[7] an army commander under Saluva Narasimha Deva Raya, who later took control of the empire to prevent its disintegration and became the founder of the Tuluva Dynasty, the third Hindu Dynasty to rule Vijayanagara.

Military career

The rule of Krishnadevaraya marks a period of much military success in Vijayanagara history. On occasion, the king was known to change battle plans abruptly and turn a losing battle into victory. [8] The first decade of his rule was one of long sieges, conquests, rebellions and victories. [9] His main enemies were the Bahamani Sultans (who, though divided into five small kingdoms, remained a constant threat), the Gajapatis of Odisha, who had been involved in constant conflict since the rule of Saluva Narasimha Deva Raya and the Portuguese, a rising maritime power which controlled much of the sea trade. [10]

Success in Deccan

The annual affair of the raid and plunder of Vijayanagar towns and villages by the Deccan sultans came to an end during the Raya's rule. In 1509, Krishnadevaraya's armies clashed with the Sultan Samshuddin Zafar Khan of Bijapur at Diwani and the Sultan Mahmud was severely injured and defeated.[11] Yusuf Adil Khan was killed and the Raichur Doab was annexed. Taking advantage of the victory, the Raya reunited Bidar, Gulbarga, and Bijapur into Vijayanagar and earned the title "establisher of the Yavana kingdom" when he released Sultan Mahmud and made him de facto ruler.[12] The Sultan of Golconda Sultan Quli Qutb Shah was defeated by Timmarusu, who was the prime minister of Sri Krishnadevaraya.[13]

War with Feudatories

He defeated many local rulers like the Dharanikota Kammas, who were feudatory rulers of the Gajapathis, and the rebellious Ummatur Chiefs.[14][15] In 1516-1517, Krishnadevaraya pushed beyond the Godavari river.

War with Kalinga

The Gajapatis of Odisha ruled a vast land comprising Andhra region, Odisha. Krishna Deva Raya's success at Ummatur provided the necessary impetus to carry his campaign into Coastal Andhra region which was in control of the Gajapati Raja Prataparudra Deva. The Vijayanagar army laid siege to the Udayagiri fort in 1512.[16] The campaign lasted for a year before the Gajapati army disintegrated due to starvation. [17] Krishna Deva Raya offered prayers at Tirupati thereafter along with his wives Tirumala Devi and Chinnama Devi.[18] The Gajapati army was then met at Kondaveedu, where the armies of Vijayanagara, after establishing a siege for a few months, began to retreat due to heavy casualties. [19] Then, Timmarusu, upon discovering a secret entrance to the unguarded eastern gate of the fort, launched a night attack that culminated with the capture of the fort and the imprisonment of Prince Virabhadra, the son of Gajapati Emperor Prataparudra Deva. [20] Saluva Timmarusu took over as governor of Kondaveedu thereafter.[21]

Krishnadevaraya planned for an invasion of Kalinga, but the Gajapati Emperor, Prataparudra, was made privy to this plan. Prataparudra formulated his own plan to defeat Krishandevaraya and the Vijayanagara Empire. The confrontation was to happen at the fort of Kalinganagar. But the wily Timmarusu secured the information of Prataparudra's plan by bribing a Telugu deserter, who was formerly under the service of Prataparudra. When the Vijayanagara Empire did invade, Prataprudra was driven to Cuttack, the capital of the Gajapati empire.[22] Prataparudra eventually surrendered to Vijayanagara Empire, and he gave his daughter, Princess Jaganmohini, in marriage to Sri Krishnadevaraya. [23] Krishandevaraya returned all the lands that the Vijayanagara Empire captured to the North of the Krishna River; this made the Krishna river boundary between the Vijayanagar and the Gajapati Kingdoms.[24]

Krishnadevaraya established friendly relations with the Portuguese, who set up the Portuguese Dominion of India in Goa in 1510.[25] The Emperor obtained guns and Arabian horses from the Portuguese merchants. [26][27] He also utilized Portuguese expertise in improving water supply to Vijayanagara City.[28]

Final conflict and death

The complicated alliances of the empire and the five Deccan sultanates meant that he was continually at war. In one of these campaigns, he defeated Golconda and captured its commander Madurul-Mulk, crushed Bijapur and its Sultan Ismail Adil Shah,[29] and restored Bahmani sultanate to the son of Muhammad Shah II.[30]

The highlight of his conquests occurred on 19 May 1520 where he secured the fortress of Raichur from Ismail Adil Shah of Bijapur after a difficult siege during which 16,000 Vijayanagara soldiers were killed. The exploits of the military commander, Pemmasani Ramalinga Nayudu of the Pemmasani Nayaks, during the Battle of Raichur were distinguished and lauded by Krishnadevaraya. [31][32][33][34][35] It is said that 700,000-foot soldiers, 32,600 cavalry, and 550 elephants were used in the Battle of Raichur.[36] Finally, in his last battle, he razed to the ground the fortress of Gulburga, the early capital of the Bahmani sultanate. His empire extended over the whole of South India.

In 1524, Krishnadevaraya made his son Tirumala Raya the Yuvaraja (crown prince). The prince did not survive for long: he was poisoned to death. [37] Suspecting the involvement of Timmarusu, Krishna Deva Raya had his trusted commander and adviser blinded.[38] At the same time, Krishnadevaraya was preparing for an attack on Belgaum, which was in the Adil Shah’s possession. Around this time, Krishnadevaraya took seriously ill. He died soon after in 1529. Before his death, he nominated his brother, Achyuta Deva Raya as his successor.

Internal affairs

During his reign he kept a strict control over his ministers, and any minister who committed misdeeds was dealt with severely. [39] He abolished some of the obnoxious taxes such as the marriage fee.[39] To increase revenues, he brought new lands under cultivation by ordering deforestation of some areas.[39] A large-scale work to obtain water for irrigation around Vijayanagar was also undertaken by him.[40][41] Foreign travelers, such as Paes, Nunez and Barbosa, who visited Vijayanagar spoke highly of the efficiency of administration and prosperity of the people during his reign.[39] In spite of his preoccupations with the defense and reorganization of the territories conquered by him, he founded a new town called Nagalapura. Paes summarises the king's attitude to matters of law and order by stating that "The king maintains the law by killing." Offenses against property (designed to maintain stability) and for murder ranged from cutting of a foot and hand for theft and beheading for murder (except for those occurring as a result of the duel). Paes could not estimate the size of Vijaynagar as his view was obscured by the hills but estimated the city to be at least as large as Rome. Furthermore, he considered Vijayanagara to be "the best provided city in the world" with a population of not less than half a million. The empire was divided into a number of provinces often under members of the royal family and into further subdivisions. The administrative languages of the Empire were Kannada and Telugu—the latter was also the Court language.[42] Telugu was a popular literary medium, reaching its peak under the patronage of Krishnadevaraya.

The administration of the empire was carried along the lines indicated in his Amuktamalyada. He was of the opinion that the King should always rule with an eye towards Dharma. His concern for the welfare of the people is amply proved by his extensive annual tours all over the empire, during which he studied everything personally and tried to redress the grievances of the people and to punish the evil doers. With regard to the promotion of the economic progress of his people, Krishnadevaraya says: "the extent of the kingdom is the means for the acquisition of wealth.[43] Therefore even if the land is limited in extent, excavate tanks and canals and increase the prosperity of the poor by leasing him the land for low ari and koru, so that you may obtain wealth as well as religious merit."[43]

The Portuguese Chronicler Domingo Paes praises Krishna Deva Raya as, "the most feared and perfect King… a great ruler and a man of much justice". Though a follower of Vaishnavism he showed respect to all sects, and petty religious prejudices never influenced him, either in granting gifts or in his choice of companions and officers. According to Barbosa, "The King allows such freedom that every man may come and go, live according to his own creed, without suffering any annoyance".

Art and literature

The rule of Krishna Deva Raya was an age of prolific literature in many languages, although it is also known as a golden age of Telugu literature. Many Telugu, Kannada, Sanskrit, and Tamil poets enjoyed the patronage of the emperor. Emperor Krishna Deva Raya was fluent in many languages. There remains a debate whether he was a Kannadiga or Telugu [44] or Tuluva by lineage.[45]

The poet Muku Timmana praised him as a great general and stated: "O Krishnaraya, you Man-Lion. You destroyed the Turks from far away with just your great name`s power. Oh Lord of the elephant king, just from seeing you the multitude of elephants ran away in horror.[6]

Kannada literature

He patronised Kannada poets Mallanarya, who wrote Veera-saivamruta, Bhava-chinta-ratna and Satyendra Chola-kathe, Chatu Vittal-anatha who wrote Bhaga-vatha, Timmanna Kavi who wrote a eulogy of his king in Krishna Raya Bharata.[46][47] Vyasatirtha, the great Dvaita saint from Mysore belonging to the Madhwa order was his Rajaguru.[48] Krishna Deva Rayana Dinachari in Kannada is a recently discovered work.[49] The record highlights the contemporary society during Krishna Deva Raya's time in his personal diary. However, it is not yet clear if the record was written by the king himself.

Telugu literature

The rule of Krishna Deva Raya is known as golden age of Telugu literature. Eight Telugu poets were regarded as eight pillars of his literary assembly and known as Ashtadiggajas. Krishna Dev Raya himself composed an epic Telugu poem Amuktamalyada.

Historians view the prominent influence of the Kammas, who were ministers, governors, and commanders in the Vijayanagara Empire, as the reasonable cause behind why Telugu was held in high-esteem at the Vijayanagara Court.[50]

Tamil literature

Krishna Deva Raya patronised the Tamil poet Haridasa, and Tamil literature soon began to flourish as the years passed by.[51]

Sanskrit literature

In Sanskrit, Vyasatirtha wrote Bhedo-jjivana, Tat-parya-chandrika, Nyaya-mrita (a work directed against Advaita philosophy) and Tarka-tandava. Krishna Deva Raya himself an accomplished scholar wrote Madalasa Charita, Satyavadu Parinaya and Rasamanjari and Jambavati Kalyana.[52][53][54]

Religion and culture

Krishna Deva Raya respected all sects of Hinduism and lavished on the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple, numerous objects of priceless value, ranging from diamond studded crowns to golden swords. For this he is honored with installing his statues along with his two wives at the temple complex.These statues are still visible at the temple at the exit. He also contributed in building parts of Srisailam temple complex.

Krishna Deva Raya was formally initiated into the Vaishnava Sampradaya by Tathacharya. He was also his Rajguru.When Krishnadevaraya became the ruler Tathacharya was his guru. He patronised poets and scholars in Kannada, Telugu, Tamil and Sanskrit.


Chinna Devi

Chinna Devi was the second and younger queen of Krishnadevaraya. She was the daughter of King Jaivarma and Queen Chandikakumari of Koorg Pradesh. Chinna Devi had a daughter named Vengalamba.

Tirumala Devi


  • Smith, Vincent, Oxford History of India, Fourth Edition, pgs. 306-307, and 312-313.
  • Dr. Suryanath U. Kamat, Concise history of Karnataka, 2001, MCC, Bangalore (Reprinted 2002).
  • Prof K.A. Nilakanta Sastri, History of South India, From Prehistoric times to fall of Vijayanagar, 1955, OUP, New Delhi (Reprinted 2002)


  1. Srinivasan, C. R. (1979). Kanchipuram Through the Ages. Agam Kala Prakashan. p. 200. Retrieved 25 July 2014.
  2. Bh Sivasankaranarayana, M. V. Rajagopal, N. Ramesan (1970). Andhra Pradesh District Gazetteers: Anantapur. Director of Print. and Stationery at the Government Secretariat Press, copies can be had from:Government Publication Bureau. p. 63.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. T. K. T. Viraraghavacharya (1997). History of Tirupati: The Thiruvengadam Temple, Volume 2. Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams. p. 469.
  4. Advanced Study in the History of Medieval India by Jl Mehta p.118
  5. Keay, John, India: A History, New York: Harper Collins, 2000, p.302
  6. Vijayanagara Voices: Exploring South Indian History and Hindu Literature  William Joseph Jackson: p.124
  7. Prof K.A.N. Sastri, History of South India, From Prehistoric times to fall of Vijayanagar, 1955, pp 250,258
  8. Maharashtra State Gazetteers: Botany. pt. 1. Medicinal plans. pt. 2. Timbers. pt. 3. Miscellaneous plants. pt. 4. Directorate of Government Print, Stationery and Publications. 1972. p. 37. The advance of the BahamanI army was enough to force Deva Raya to change his mind and agree to the payment of arrears...
  9. Forms of knowledge in early modern Asia : explorations in the intellectual history of India and Tibet, 1500-1800. Pollock, Sheldon I. Durham [NC]: Duke University Press. 2011. p. 81. ISBN 9780822348825. OCLC 658812846.CS1 maint: others (link)
  10. H. V. Sreenivasa Murthy, R. Ramakrishnan (1977). A History of Karnataka, from the Earliest Times to the Present Day. S. Chand. p. 188.
  11. P. Sree Rama Sarma (1992). A History of the Vijayanagar Empire. Prabhakar Publications. p. 135. The invaders were checked at Diwani (Unidentified). In a hotly contested battle fought at Diwani the Sultan himself was thrown off his horse. He sustained serious injuries.
  12. Karnataka State Gazetteer: Dharwad District (including Gadag and Haveri Districts). Office of the Chief Editor, Karnataka Gazetteer. 1993. p. 53.
  13. P. Raghunadha Rao (1993). Ancient and Medieval history of Andhra Pradesh. Sterling Publishers. p. 87. Timmarasu himself took command, defeated the Golconda army and captured its commander Madurl Mulk
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  15. Life and Achievements of Sri Krishnadevaraya. Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, Government of Karnataka. 2010. p. 82.
  16. N. K. Sahu, P. K. Mishra, Jagna Kumar Sahu (1981). History of Orissa. Nalanola. p. 234. Krishnadevaraya started his expedition against Udayagiri early in A. D. 1512.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  17. Life and Achievements of Sri Krishnadevaraya. Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, Government of Karnataka. 2011. p. 48. Starving the defenders into surrender seemed to be the only way open to the Raya.
  18. Life and Achievements of Sri Krishnadevaraya. Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, Government of Karnataka. 2010. p. 48. A relieved Raya left for the capital and on the way visited the temple of Tirupati and gave numerous gifts to the Lord in gratefulness for the victory at Udaygiri.
  19. Life and Achievements of Sri Krishnadevaraya. Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, Government of Karnataka. 2010. p. 47. The Raya's soldiers soldiers had to virtually blast their way through huge boulders to go anywhere near the foot of the fort wall . . . The Gajapati did such a dine job of defending the fort that the siege dragged on for fourteen months .
  20. Achintya Kumar Deb (1984). The Bhakti Movement in Orissa: A Comprehensive History. Kalyani Devi. p. 27. Pratapurdradeva could not protect it [Kondaveedu Fort] and he surrendered several military and civil officers, including Virabhadra, son of Prataparudredeva were taken captives by the king of Vijayanagar.
  21. Government Of Madras Staff, Government of Madras (2004). Gazetteer of the Nellore District: Brought Upto 1938. Asian Educational Services. p. 55. Krishnadeva evidently bestowed the governorship the Kondavidu province on Saluva Timmarasu
  22. Andhra Pradesh (India). Dept. of Archaeology (1962). Andhra Pradesh Government Archaeological Series. Government of Andhra Pradesh. p. 15. Krishnadevaraya went as far as Cuttack
  23. N. Saraswathi Nanaiah (1992). The Position of Women During Vijayanagara Period, 1336-1646. Southern Printers. p. 135. "When Krishnadeva Raya won against Gajapathi, he gave a lot of dowry to Krishnadeva Raya and gave his
  24. K. Jayasree (1991). Agrarian Economy in Andhra under Vijayanagar. Navrang. p. 21. Krishnadevaraya returned all the territory north of the river Krishna to Prataparudra Gajapati.
  25. Bowman, John (2000). Columbia Chronologies of Asian History and Culture. Columbia University Press. p. 272. ISBN 9780231500043. Krishnadevaraya pursues friendly relations with Europeans, granting Portuguese trading rights in exchange for access to trade goods.
  26. Powell, Salem (2001). Magill's Guide to Military History. Salem Press. p. 1609. ISBN 9780893560140. the importation and use of Arabian war horses and guns [by the Vijayanagara Empire].
  27. Directorate of Archaeology and Museums (2010). Life and Achievements of Sri Krishnadevaraya. Government of Karnataka. p. 267. The rulers of Vijayanagara and Bahmanis mainly depended on Portuguese and Arabs for the import of quality horses for military operations.
  28. I. M. Muthanna (1962). Karnataka, History, Administration & Culture. p. 38. He [Krishnadevaraya] erected a huge embankement near Hosept with the assistance of the Portuguese engineers.
  29. PSR (Standard Issue) (2009). Portuguese Studies Review, Vol. 16, No. 2. Baywolf Press. p. 27. In 1520, Ismail Adil Shah recaptured the Raichur Doab from Vijayanagara. In May 1520, Krishnadevaraya sent his forces to Raichur and in the battle that ensued, Adil Shah was defeated and his forces were routed.
  30. Sharma, L.P (1987). History of Medieval India (1000-1740 A.D.). Konark Publishers. However, he [Krishnadevaraya] returned after placing on the throne the eldest son of Muhammad Shah II.
  31. G. Surya Prakash Rao (2004). Krishnadeva Raya: The Great Poet-emperor of Vijayanagara. Potti Sreeramulu Telugu University. p. 36. in this battle, Pemmasani Ramalinga Naidu, the Kamma chief of Gandikota family, distinguished himself from the Vijayanagara side.
  32. Jackson, William (2016). Vijayanagara Voices: Exploring South Indian History and Hindu Literature. Routledge. pp. "Ramalinga Nayadu received a token gift from the king . . . ". ISBN 9781317001935. 124
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  34. "Journal of the Andhra Historical Society". Andhra Historical Research Society, Rajahmundry, Madras, Andhra Historical Research Society. Volume 30: 91 "Ramalingatiayudu, who succeeded his father, was one of the most redoubtable warriors- in the court of Krishnadgvarlya. ... Rachuru (Raichur) and other strong places with his [Pemmasani Ramalinga] own men and prepared to proceed against the city of Golconda. ... Pemmasani Ramalinganayudu entered the thickest of the fight". 1964.
  35. Rajasekhara, Sindigi (2008). The Map Approach to Vijayanagara history. University of Michigan and Sujatha Publications. p. 34.
  36. Reddy, Kittu (2003). History of India: A New Approach. Standard Publishers. p. 184. It is said that his army consisted of about a million men, with over 700,000 fighting men and 550 elephants . . .
  37. Pandurang Bhimarao Desai (1970). A History of Karnataka: From Pre-history to Unification. Kannada Research Institute, Karnataka University. p. 371. Raya crowned his six-years-old son Tirumala as yuvaraja and introduced him to the affairs of the state But within one year the young prince died. It was reported that he was a victim of poison...
  38. P. Raghunadha Rao (1993). Ancient and Medieval history of Andhra Pradesh. Sterling Publishers. p. 88. Krishnadeva Raya learnt that his son was poisoned by Timma, the son of his great minister Timmarasu. Both the son and father were captured and blinded.
  39. A Comprehensive History of India: Comprehensive history of medieval India by B.N. Puri, M.N. Das p.94
  40. Economic History of Medieval India, 1200-1500 p.194
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  42. "Telugu Literature". Retrieved 19 July 2013. Telugu literature flowered in the early 16th century under the Vijayanagar empire, of which Telugu was the court language.
  43. Medieval Indian History by Krishnaji Nageshrao Chitnis p.82
  46. Dr. S.U. Kamat, Concise history of Karnataka, pp 157-189
  47. Prof K.A.N. Sastri, History of South India pp 355-366
  48. . Krishna Deva Raya considered the saint his Kula-devata and highly honored him. A Concise History of Karnataka pp 178, Dr. S.U. Kamath, Haridasas of Karnataka, Madhusudana Rao CR, History of South India, pp 324, Prof. K.A.N. Sastri
  49. A Concise History of Karnataka, Dr. S.U. Kamath, pp 157
  50. B. S. L. Hanumantha Rao (1995). Socio-Cultural History of Ancient and Medieval Andhra. Hyderabad: Telugu University. p. 158. As ministers, generals, and governors of the Rayas, the Kammas rose to heights of political prominence . . . The Vijayanagara Court was dominated by Kamma officers and they entered into matrimonial alliance with the royal family. The honoured position that Telugu language occupied at the Vijayanagara Court and rise of Telugu Colonies in the far south may reasonably be attributed to the influence of Kamma generals.
  51. Dr. S.U. Kamat, Concise history of Karnataka, pp 157-189, History of South India, pp 331-354, Prof. K.A.N. Sastri
  52. Dr. S.U. Kamat, Concise history of Karnataka, pg.157-189
  53. Prof K.A.N. Sastri, History of South India pg.239-280
  54. Prof K.A.N. Sastri, History of South India pg.309-330
Preceded by
Viranarasimha Raya
Vijayanagara empire
Succeeded by
Achyuta Deva Raya
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