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Medieval Period



The 12th and the 13th centuries saw the emergence of the Kakatiyas. They were at first the feudatories of the Western Chalukyas of Kalyana, ruling over a small territory near Warangal. A ruler of this dynasty, Prola II, who ruled from A.D.1110 to 1158, extended his sway to the south and declared his independence. His successor Rudra (A.D.1158--1195) pushed the kingdom to the north up to the Godavari delta. He built a fort at Warangal to serve as a second capital and faced the invasions of the Yadavas of Devagiri. The next ruler Mahadeva extended the kingdom to the coastal area. In A.D.1199, Ganapati succeeded him. He was the greatest of the Kakatiyas and the first after the Satavahanas to bring the entire Telugu area under one rule. He put an end to the rule of the Velanati Cholas in A.D.1210. He forced the Telugu Cholas of Vikramasimhapura to accept his suzerainty. He established order in his vast dominion and encouraged trade.

As Ganapati Deva had no sons, his daughter Rudramba succeeded him in A.D.1262 and carried on the administration. Some generals, who did not like to be ruled by her, rebelled. She could, however, suppress the internal rebellions and external invasions with the help of loyal subordinates. The Cholas and the Yadavas suffered such set backs at her hands that they did not think of troubling her for the rest of her rule.

Prataparudra succeeded his grandmother Rudramba in A.D.1295 and ruled till A.D.1323. He pushed the western border of his kingdom up to Raichur. He introduced many administrative reforms. He divided the kingdom into 75 Nayakships, which was later adopted and developed by the Rayas of Vijayanagara. In his time the territory constituting Andhra Pradesh had the first experience of a Muslim invasion. In A.D.1303, the Delhi Sultan Ala-ud-din Khilji sent an army to plunder the kingdom. But Prataparudra defeated them at Upparapalli in Karimnagar district. In A.D. 1310, when another army under Malik Kafur invaded Warangal, Prataparudra yielded and agreed to pay a large tribute. In A.D.1318, when Ala-ud-din Khilji died, Prataparudra withheld the tribute. It provoked another invasion of the Muslims. In A.D.1321, Ghiaz-ud-din Tughlaq sent a large army under Ulugh Khan to conquer the Telugu country then called Tilling. He laid siege to Warangal, but owing to internal dissensions he called off the siege and returned to Delhi. Within a short period, he came back with a much bigger army. In spite of unpreparedness, Prataparudra fought bravely. For want of supplies, he surrendered to the enemy who sent him to Delhi as a prisoner, and he died on the way. Thus ended the Kakatiya rule, opening the gates of the Telugu land to anarchy and confusion yielding place to an alien ruler.

The Kakatiya period was rightly called the brightest period of the Telugu history. The entire Telugu speaking area was under the kings who spoke Telugu and encouraged Telugu. They established order throughout the strife torn land and the forts built by them played a dominant role in the defence of the realm. Anumakonda and Gandikota among the `giridurgas', Kandur and Narayanavanam among the `vanadurgas', Divi and Kolanu among the `jaladurgas', and Warangal and Dharanikota among the `sthaladurgas' were reckoned as the most famous strongholds in the Kakatiya period. The administration of the kingdom was organized with accent on the military.

Though Saivism continued to be the religion of the masses, intellectuals favoured revival of Vedic rituals. They sought to reconcile the Vaishnavites and the Saivites through the worship of Harihara. Arts and literature found patrons in the Kakatiyas and their feudatories. Tikkana Somayaji, who adorned the court of the Telugu Chola ruler Manumasiddhi II, wrote the last 15 cantos of the Mahabharata which was lying unfinished. Sanskrit, which could not find a place in the Muslim-occupied north, received encouragement at the hands of the Kakatiyas. Prataparudra was himself a writer and he encouraged other literature.

The Kakatiya dynasty expressed itself best through religious art. Kakatiya art preserved the balance between architecture and sculpture, that is, while valuing sculpture, it laid emphasis on architecture where due. The Kakatiya temples, dedicated mostly to Siva, reveal in their construction a happy blending of the styles of North India and South India which influenced the political life of the Deccan.

The most important of these temples are those at Palampeta, Hanamkonda and the incomplete one in the Warangal fort. The temple at Palampeta, described as the `brightest gem in the galaxy of Medieval Deccan temple architecture', was constructed by Recherla Rudra, a general of Kakatiya Ganapati, in S.1135 (A.D.1213). The figures in the temple are of a heterogeneous character comprising gods, goddesses, warriors, acrobats, musicians, mithuna pairs in abnormal attitudes and dancing girls. The sculptures, especially of the dancing girls, possess the suggestion of movement and pulsating life. A striking peculiarity of this temple is the figure-brackets which spring from the shoulders of the outer pillars of the temple. The figure-brackets are mere ornaments and represent the intermediate stage between their earlier analogues at Sanchi and the later examples at Vijayanagara.

The Thousand-Pillared Temple at Hanamkonda, built by the Kakatiya king Rudra in A.D.1162, is similar in style and workmanship to the Ramappa temple. This temple, dedicated to Siva, Vishnu and Surya, is star-shaped. The Nandi pavilion, in which a huge granite bull still stands, the beautiful entrances to the shrine, the pierced slabs used for screens and windows, and the elegant open work by which the bracket-shafts are attached to the pillars are the other most interesting features of this temple.

The temple in the Warangal fort, believed to have been built by Kakatiya Ganapati, was constructed making use of large slabs. The floor of the shrine is beautifully polished and shines like a mirror. An interesting feature of this temple is the four gateways called `Kirti Stambhas' which face the four cardinal points of the compass. In their design the gateways are reminiscent of the `toranas' of the Great Stupa at Sanchi. The architecture and sculpture of these temples are thus conventional to a degree but no one can deny their magnificence nor can any one fail to see the rich imagination, patient industry and skilful workmanship of the builders of the temples of the Kakatiya period.

After the fall of Kakatiyas, uncertainty prevailed over the region. Several small kingdoms came into existence, Musunuri Nayakas occupied Warangal from Muslims and ruled between A.D.1325--1368. The fall of Kakatiya kingdom and its annexation to the Tughlak empire made the Hindu feudatories to unite themselves to liberate the Andhra country from alien rulers. A movement was started at Rekapalli on the bank of the Godavari under the leadership of Musunuri Prolaya Nayaka and his cousin Kapaya Nayaka and succeeded in driving away the Muslims from the Telugu country in A.D.1328. Kapaya Nayaka became the ruler in A.D.1333, after the demise of Prolaya Nayaka, and Warangal was once again the capital of the Telugu Country. They were dethroned by Recherla Chiefs and ruled the entire Telangana from A.D.1325 to 1474 with Rachakonda as their capital. The coastal area was ruled by the Reddis of Kondavidu between A.D.1325 and 1424. Addanki was their first capital which was later shifted to Kondavidu. There was also another branch of Reddis at Rajahmundry. In due course, Reddi kingdom disappeared in the hands of Vijayanagar kings, and Gajapatis of Orissa in the frequent battles with each other. The Gajapatis of Orissa with Cuttack as their capital extended their territory far into Telugu land by conquering the Reddis of Rajahmundry in A.D.1448. They also occupied some parts of the Bahmani kingdom. But, Vijayanagar king, Krishnadevaraya, occupied the entire Telugu region that was in the possession of Gajapatis.

The Reddis and Recherla chiefs were the patrons of learning. The renowned poet Srinatha, and one of the three great poets who wrote the Mahabharata in Telugu, Errapraggada lived in that age.


The disastrous fall of Warangal in A.D.1323 brought the Andhras, for the first time in their history, under the yoke of an alien ruler, the Muslims. In A.D.1347 an independent Muslim State, the Bahmani kingdom was established in south India by Alla-ud-din Hasan Gangu by revolting against the Delhi Sultanate. To stabilise his position, Hasan waged wars to annexe the two neighbouring Hindu kingdoms, Warangal, under the Musunuri Nayakas, and Vijayanagar, which was under the Rayas. He occupied the area up to the river Tungabhadra in A.D.1358, and shifted his capital from Daulatabad to Gulbarga. The Hindu rulers, however, reoccupied their lost territory during the period between A.D.1358--75. Harihara Raya II of Vijayanagar conquered many areas which were under the Bahmanis during the period of Muhammad Shah II (A.D.1378-1397). The successors of Muhammad Shah II, who were also hostile to Rayas of Vijayanagar, waged wars against them. But they were defeated by the Vijayanagar armies. During the reign of Muhammad III (A.D.1463--82), the Bahmanis, for the first time, extended their empire from sea to sea and thereby got into their possession a large part of the Telugu area, namely, the area north of the Krishna up to the coast and the present Guntur district. By the end of the 15th century the Bahmani rule was plagued with faction fights and there came into existence the five Shahi kingdoms, the Nizamshahis of Ahmadnagar, the Adilshahis of Bijapur, the Imadshahis of Berar, the Qutbshahis of Golconda and the Baridshahis of Bidar. Thereafter, the rule of the Bahmani dynasty came to an end in A.D.1527. Of the five Shahi dynasties, it was the Qutbshahi dynasty that played a significant and notable role in the history of Andhras.


The year A.D.1336 saw the emergence of a new power, the kingdom of Vijayanagar in the south-western part of Andhra on the banks of the Tungabhadra. It was founded by two Sangama brothers, Harihara and Bukka, with the blessings of a great saint patriot of medieval India, Vidyaranya, and Harihara became its first ruler. It was that great kingdom which, by resisting the onslaughts of Muslims, championed the cause of Hindu civilisation and culture in its polity, its learning and arts.

The two brothers took possession of Kampili from Hoyasala ruler of Karnataka, Ballala III. They later established a new city on the southern bank of Tungabhadra, opposite Anegondi, and gave a name to it as Vijayanagar or Vidyanagar. They expanded their territory by occupying the Udayagiri fort in the Nellore region and Penukonda fort from Hoyasalas. Meanwhile the Bahmani Kingdom came into existence in the Deccan. In the conflicts between the Bahmanis and Vijayanagar, Harihara-I lost some territory. After his death in A.D.1355, his brother Bukkaraya succeeded him. On account of frequent wars with Bahmanis, Bukka could not do anything in the initial period, however, he conquered Madhura and extended his territory to the south up to Rameswaram. Harihara II (A.D.1377--1404), who ascended the throne after Bukkaraya, consolidated and its frontiers further extended. During this time coastal Andhra lying between Nellore and Kalinga was under the Reddis of Kondavidu. Harihara II carried on campaign, for gaining control over the territory, against the Reddis and wrested Addanki and Srisailam areas from the Reddis. This led to clashes with the Velamas of Rachakonda in Telangana. To counter attack, Rachakonda sought help from Bahmanis and this checkmated Harihara II from proceeding further into Telangana. The extension of Vijayanagar territory towards northwest gave it control over the ports of Goa, Chaul, and Dabhol and led to an expansion of commerce and ensuing prosperity.

In the dispute between sons, after the death of Harihara II, Devaraya I (A.D.1406--422) emerged victorious and ascended the throne only to wage wars against the Bahmanis, the Velamas of Telangana and the Reddis of Kondavidu. His reign also saw the commencement of hostilities between the Gajapatis of Kalinga and the Rayas of Vijayanagar. Devaraya I passed away in A.D.1422. His sons, Ramachandraraya and Vijayaraya I, who ruled one after the other, did not do anything significant.

The next ruler, Devaraya II (A.D.1426-1446), son of Vijayaraya, was a great monarch. He effected the conquest of Kondavidu and carried his arms into Kerala, subjugating the ruler of Quilon and other chieftains. The writings of Abdul Razzak, the Persian ambassador, who visited south India during the reign of Devaraya II, bear testimony to the supremacy of the king over many ports of south India. According to him, the dominions of Devaraya II extended from Ceylon to Gulbarga and from Orissa to Malbar. The relations between the Vijayanagar and Bahmani kingdoms continued to be hostile during the reign of Devaraya II also. Devaraya was a great builder and a patron of poets. Extensive commerce and revenues from various sources contributed to the prosperity of the Vijayanagar kingdom under him.

But the kings who succeeded Devaraya II were quite incompetent and allowed the empire to disintegrate. To add to this, there was pressure from Bahmani Sultans. The Portuguese were also rapidly trying to establish themselves on the west coast and in the ports along it.

The Vijayanagar minister, Saluva Narasimha, who usurped the throne in A.D.1485 could successfully counter these forces. Thus the Saluva line of kings came to rule Vijayanagar. However, he had to spend a good deal of his time and energy putting down many rebel chieftains. He died in A.D.1490 leaving his two sons to the care of Narasanayaka of the Tuluva family, a trusted general. Narasanayaka assumed himself the power as a regent in A.D.1492 keeping the real rule under tutelage. Narasanayaka died in A.D.1503 and by that time he had established his authority effectively over the whole of his extensive dominion. His son, Vira Narasimha, succeeded him as the regent and proclaimed himself as a ruler in A.D.1506, thus inaugurating the third dynasty. He died in A.D.1509 and his brother, Krishnadevaraya, succeeded him.

The period of Krishnadevaraya was considered as the golden age of the Vijayanagar history. He was a great warrior, statesman, administrator and a patron of arts. His first task was to repulse the Bahmanis. He occupied Raichur doab, carried the war up to Gulbarga and returned successfully. He extended his dominion in the east and north-east by defeating the Gajapatis of Orissa in A.D.1518.

Krishna Devaraya died in A.D.1529. After his death, Vijayanagar kingdom started declining gradually. There was a tussle for power and the rulers spent their time in struggle against internal revolts. The five Muslim rulers in Deccan kingdom, took this opportunity, united and formed a league and marched towards Vijayanagar with combined forces. In a decisive battle fought on the 23rd January, 1565 on the south bank of the Krishna near the village of Rakkasi Tangadi, Vijayanagar was defeated and Ramaraya, who led the Vijayanagar armies, was killed. Tirumalaraya, the younger brother of Ramaraya, along with his puppet ruler, Sadasivaraya fled to Penukonda in Anantapur district with all the treasure. The victorious armies of Muslims then marched towards Vijayanagar. Uninhibited looting of the city by the Muslim rulers as well as the ruthless robbers went on for days together. Never perhaps in the history of the world has such havoc been brought and wrought on such a splendid city teening with a wealthy and industrious population in prosperity one day and on the next seized, pillaged and reduced to ruins amid scenes of savage measures and horrors beggaring description.

Tirumalaraya after reaching Penukonda ruled for some time and tried his best to rebuild the empire but failed. The last ruler of Vijayanagar dynasty was Sriranga (A.D.1642--1681).

The Rayas of Vijayanagar regarded all sects of Hindus alike, built temples to Siva and Vishnu and patronised them by lavish grants. They patronised even Jains and Muslims. The Vijayanagar architecture fused various elements of the Chalukya and Chola art, and produced extremely beautiful gopuras and mantapas. The most typical of them can be found at Tirupati, Tadpatri, Srikalahasti and Penukonda. The Tadpatri and Lepakshi temples are the notable examples of Vijayanagar architecture and sculpture.

Telugu language and literature was given a preferential treatment and Telugu was treated as official language of the empire. Simultaneously, Sanskrit and other languages were encouraged by the Vijayanagar rulers. The renowned Telugu poet Srinatha was honoured with Kanakabhisheka by Proudhadevaraya of the first dynasty of the rulers. Particularly, the reign of Krishnadevaraya marked a new era in the literary history of south India. He was himself a scholar and authored Amuktamalyada, a celebrated Telugu work. His court known as Bhuvanavijayam, was adorned by such eminent poets like Allasani Peddana, Nandi Timmana, Dhurjati, Tenali Ramakrishna, Mallana, Ramarajabhushana, Pingali Surana and Rudra, known as Ashtadiggajas. The greatest of them was Allasani Peddana whose famous work Manucharitra heralded the eminence of the native genius of Telugus.

Qutb Shahis

The Qutb Shahi dynasty held sway over the Andhra country for about two hundred years from the early part of the 16th century to the end of the 17th century. Sultan Quli Qutb Shah, the founder of the dynasty, served the Bahmanis faithfully and was appointed governor of Telangana in A.D.1496. He declared independence after the death of his patron king, Mahmud Shah, in A.D.1518. During his 50-year rule, Sultan Quli extended his kingdom upto Machilipatnam. He was murdered by his third son, Jamsheed, who succeeded Sultan Quli. Jamsheed reigned for seven years till A.D.1550 but remained maligned by all for his patricidal crime. His youngest brother, Ibrahim, who was hardly thirteen at the time of his father's assassination, fled to Vijayanagar and took refuge there. It afforded him a training ground and he learned the art of administration.

After Jamsheed's death in A.D.1550, Ibrahim returned to Golconda and ascended the throne. Ibrahim Qutb Shah, who was known as Malkibharam in the Andhra country, was the real architect of the Golconda kingdom. He ruled the kingdom for 30 years from A.D.1550 to A.D.1580. He organised the central and provincial governments and brought them into close contact. He also introduced an efficient intelligence service which kept him informed on all affairs. The kingdom was made safe for travel and trade. Ibrahim had also many works of public utility to his credit. He dug lakes and tanks and laid out towns and gardens. He also encouraged local language Telugu and patronised Telugu scholars and poets like, Telaganarya and Gangadhara who dedicated their works to him.

Ibrahim took an active part in the battle of Rakkasi Tangadi in A.D.1565. It immensely benefited him in cash and territories, and the kingdom was extended to the south as far as Madras and Gandikota.

The next period of forty years led by Ibrahim's son and grandson was an era of peace and prosperity. Muhammad Quli, son of Ibrahim, was a great writer and a builder. The city of Hyderabad was laid in A.D.1591 with magnificent buildings, straight roads and other civic amenities. For this purpose, he invited many Persians to settle down in Hyderabad and Machilipatnam. He was a scholar and a poet, composed a large number of poems in the Deccani language. Muhammad Quli was succeeded by his nephew and son-in-law Sultan Muhammad in A.D.1612. He was highly religious and a model of virtue and piety. He followed his uncle in promoting learning and architecture. The great mosque known as Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad was designed and its foundation laid by him, though the main structure of the Mosque was completed during the next four generations.

Sultan Muhammad's premature death in A.D.1626 was a sad prelude to the decline and fall of Golconda. He was succeeded by his minor son, Abdullah Qutb Shah, who was indolent. The fall of Ahmadnagar in A.D.1633 to the Mughals exposed Golconda. Abdullah Qutb Shah acknowledged the suzerainty of the Mughals and concluded a treaty in A.D.1636. He was reduced to vassalage and the Mughal Hajib, a resident officer of the Mughals imposed on him, interfered in day-to-day administration and encouraged fissiparous tendencies. The traitors of Golconda found their strength in the Mughals who did not hesitate to invade Golconda.

Abdullah Qutb Shah died in A.D.1672 and was succeeded by his third son-in-law, Abul Hassan Qutb Shah, popularly known as Tana Shah. He had a steady mind, broader vision and administrative experience of a high order. He handled the domestic and foreign affairs deftly and put forth all his efforts against the Mughal tide.

Abul Hassan and his kingdom were misrepresented by false propaganda to justify the interference of the Mughal emperor who contemplated to liquidate the Deccan Sultanates and incorporate it in the Mughal empire. The emperor came to the Deccan in A.D.1682 and launched his campaign against both the Marathas and the Deccan Sultanates. His original plan was to put down the Maratha power, but later on, he suspended the plan and directed his forces against Bijapur and Golconda in A.D.1685. Bijapur fell in after two months' siege. But Golconda held out for a long time. It came to an abrupt end owing to the treachery of an Afghan general, Abdullah Khan, who opened the gate in the dead of night and facilitated the capture of the fort. The equanimity with which Abul Hassan Tana Shah had faced the Mughal captors and the unequalled loyalty of Abdul Razak Lari, who remained faithful to his king, Tana Shah, are of special significance.

The fall of Golconda in A.D.1687 had far reaching consequences. It halted the face of cultural progress for years and relaxed the administrative grip on the English Company at Machilipatnam and Madras. So long as the kingdom was powerful in the south, the king Abul Hassan and his Minister, Madanna, kept their constant vigil on the English merchants.

Qutb Shahi rulers adopted religious tolerance. They treated Hindus equal with Muslims as well and maintained cordial relations between the two throughout. They encouraged the local language Telugu besides the Deccani Urdu. They patronised scholars and awarded them titles and Jagirs. The builder of Hyderabad, Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah was an eminent poet in Persian and was an author of several Persian works. The fourth king, Ibrahim was a great patron of Telugu. His court was crowded with Telugu poets besides many others. The rulers adopted the local customs to a great extent. This tolerance and patronage of the kings were followed by the nobles as well. Ramadas (Goppanna), a great devotee of Sri Rama who lived in the period of Abul Hassan, wrote a number of poetical works and songs in praise of his deity.

The Deccani architecture, is a combination of Persian, Hindu and Pathan styles. They mostly borrowed heavily from Hindu style of architecture. The Bala Hissar gate of the Golconda fort is remarkable for the figures and emblems of Hindu mythology.

The citadel of Hyderabad, the Charminar is the most remarkable of all the Qutb Shahi monuments. It is one of the magnificent structures in India.

The socio-cultural life of the people during the rule of the Qutb Shahis was marked by a spirit of broad-mindedness and catholicity based on sharing and adopting of mutual traditions and customs.

The Mughal Rule

Aurangazeb, the Mughal emperor, invaded Golconda in A.D.1687 and annexed it to the Mughal empire. When this was done, Golconda became part of the Deccan Subha and a Nazim was appointed as an agent of the Mughal emperor. Thus, for about a period of 35 years it was ruled by Nazims, the last one being Mubariz Khan.

The period between A.D.1687 and A.D.1724 saw several sea changes. Aurangazeb died in A.D.1707. The administrative machinery of the Mughal imperial regime began to crumble and the central authority manned by successive feeble rulers gradually lost control over the provinces. In Deccan, situated far away from the capital, the state of affairs was still worse. This anarchy contributed much in giving a new turn to Indian history. It enabled two foreign mercantile companies to consolidate themselves as political powers capable of subsequently playing decisive roles in shaping the destiny of the nation. They were the East India Company of England and the Compagnie de Inde Orientale of France. These trading companies had their headquarters at Madras and Pondicherry respectively and both had trade centres at Machilipatnam. They were waiting for suitable opportunities to expand their areas of control and so, did not hesitate to take sides in the local skirmishes.