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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Battle of Raichur: Forgotten Valor of Narasimha Krishna Deva Raya

Battles play the most decisive role in deciding the fate of a country, civilization, culture, and common masses. In Bharatiya history, battles won by Invaders are glorified, and that in which Invaders got crushed by native emperors were reduced to a mere footnote.

In other words, the valor of our ancestors was reduced to some lines in our history texts while the persecution of our ancestors comprised the whole syllabus. In many battles, the invading Islamic forces got crushed by proud & brave Bharatiya kings are hidden in some corner of history. The battle of Raichur is one of them.

Raichur was the most important fortress on the Krishna – Tungabhadra Doab. That Doab region is the most prosperous and economically important region and also region of conflict between the Vijayanagara and Bahamani Empires. In a war of supremacy on Doab, sometimes Bahamanis won and at other times, the Vijayanagara empire won.

However, most of the time it was the Vijayanagara empire that established its supremacy on the Doab. The Bahamani forces then used heinous tactics. They frequently raided and pillaged this region in addition to destructing temples and slaughtering Hindus en masse. From the history of Bukka 1 to the early successors of Krishna Deva Raya, Bahamani forces used this tactic.

During the reign of Bukka 1, Bahamanis destroyed hundreds of temples and massacred five lakhs of Hindus. While during Deva Raya 2’s reign, Bahamani kings destructed temples and massacred around thirty thousand Hindus. Local Hindus, who were fed up, once retaliated furiously to such an extent that the Bahamani king had to flee to save his life. This halted the Bahamani raids for some time, but after few years, they started the pillage and destruction once again.

To put an end to this destruction and massacre, Krishna Deva Raya determined to attack Adil Shah. He marched towards the fortress of Raichur with a huge army of 736000 along with 550 elephants that were divided into eleven great divisions. He then laid siege to the fortress of Raichur and received intelligence of Adil Shah’s arrival.

On 19 May 1520, the two forces met on the banks of the Krishna river. Sri Krishna Deva Raya ordered an advance to his two forward divisions which were successful. The valorous Vijayanagara army drove Mohammedan forces back to the trenches. After Adil Shah’s forces started retreating, he used his huge artillery and ordered a relentless barrage of gunfire and cannon. This resulted in the tide turning in favor of Adil Shah. Mass slaughter of the Hindu army took place and they started retreating.

Seeing the great carnage, many abandoned their charge and retreated, others fanned out along the river, and a general confusion set in among the Vijayanagara troops. Adil Shah now took the opportunity to charge. The onslaught was fierce; there was nothing but blood and slaughter for half a league, and Krishnadevaraya’s shattered troops began to flee.

When Sri Krishna Deva Raya, saw his army was running for lives, he yelled, ‘Traitors! Now I see who sides with me!’ He rode out before his ranks and cried, ‘We all die one day, one way or another. Let us meet fate boldly and find death in battle like our heroic fathers! The day has arrived. Adil Shah may boast he has slain the greatest lord in the world, but never that he had vanquished him!’ He took out a ring from his finger and gave it to one of his pages so that it might be shown to the king’s queens as a token of his death, and so they might burn themselves according to custom. Then the king reared his mighty steed and cried out, ‘Now! Who ranges himself with me?!’ With this rallying call, Krishnadevaraya charged into the breach. And all his captains, inspired by their fearless lord, joined his side to do battle.

After he took charge of the forces and led the army from the front by risking his life, the valorous Vijayanagara army started attacking the Bahamani army valiantly. The scattered Bahamani forces started retreating to save their lives.  Terrific slaughter of the Islamic army took place and Adil Shah with his trusted aide fled from the battlefield to save his life. Krishna Deva Raya then crossed the river, seized the Shah’s camp.

First, the troops scoured the battlefield to collect the spoils of battle. From the Bijapuri camp, they claimed 4,000 horses from Hormuz, 100 elephants, 400 heavy and light cannons, 900-gun carriages, and many richly decorated tents. As Nunes adds, ‘I take no account of the sumpter-horses and oxen and other beasts, for they were numberless, nor of the numbers of men and boys, nor yet of some women, whom the king ordered to be released.’

The spoil was great and the result was decisive. For years after this battle, the Muslim army continued to dread Krishna Deva Raya and his valiant troops. The sultan never again dared venture to attack the dominion of Vijayanagara during Krishna Deva Raya’s reign. The bravery of Krishna Deva Raya saved the lives of lakhs of Hindus from Islamic clutches.

The battle of Raichur depicted that the Kshatriya in Hindus wasn’t dead and Hindus have the ability to defeat huge invading forces. But history has been cruel to Krishna Deva Raya’s valor and his valiant troops and that is why we can’t find even a single mention of this battle but we find the glorified description of advances of invading forces everywhere.

Sources:

  1. A forgotten empire by Robert Sewell
  2. A history of Vijayanagara by Suryanarain Row
  3. Advanced history of India by KK Dutta and RC Majumdar
  4. City of victory by Ratnakar Sadasyula
  5. Raya by Srinivas Rao

(Featured Image Source: Wikipedia)


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Akshat Lahane
Pursuing bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering. Interested in Bharatiya History.

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