Saluva Dynasty of Narasimha

Portuguese and other European travelers often call Vijayanagar by the name of Narsinga. In the words of Faria e Sousa and Nuniz, Bukka's dynasty was usurped by Narasimha, from whom the kingdom took its name. Saluva Narasimha Raya (1486-1492) and his son Immadi Narasimha (1493-1505), also known as Narasimha II and Dharma Raya, were the two rulers of the Saluva dynasty of Vijayanagar (1486-1505).

Last Rulers of the Sangama Dynasty: The successors of Deva Raya II were weak rulers. He was succeeded by his son Mallikarjuna (1446-1465), who was also called Immadi Deva Raya or Immadi Praudha Deva Raya. Virupaksha (1465-1485), the next ruler was the son of Pratapa, the younger brother of Deva Raya II.

From the accounts of Ferishta and Sayed Ali, it is clear that since 1480, Saluva Narasimha was the de facto ruler of the empire. Ferishta wrote that "Nursing Ray (Saluva Narasimha) was a powerful raja possessing the country lying between the Carnatic and Telangana, extending along the sea-coast to Machilipatnam; and had added much of the Vijayanagar territory to his own by conquest, together with several strong forts". Sayed Ali says, "Narasimha, owing to his numerous army and the extent of his dominions, was the greatest and most powerful of all the rulers of Telangana and Vijayanagar. This Narasimha had established himself in the midst of the countries of Canara and Telangana, and taken possession of most of the districts of the coast and interior of Vijayanagar".

Saluva Narasimha Raya, founder of Saluva dynasty of Vijayanagar

Usurpation of Vijayanagar By Saluva Narasimha As Given By Fernao Nuniz: 

"As long as Virupaksha reigned, he was given over to vice, caring for nothing but women and to fuddle himself with drink and amuse himself, never showed himself either to his captains or to his people so that in a short time, he lost that which his forefathers had won and left to him, and the nobles of the kingdom seeing the habits and life of this king, rebelled, so that in his time the king lost Goa, Chaul and Dabhol, and other chief lands of the realm. The king's two sons who, seeing the wickedness of their father, determined to kill him. The eldest son killed his father and requested the nobles to place his brother on the throne since he had committed a mortal sin. Thus the younger brother was raised to the throne, whom Nuniz called Padea Row. At the advise of his ministers, Padea Row killed his brother with his own hand. He then followed the habits of his father, thus proved himself a worse king than his father. One of his captains, Narasimha, seeing his mode of life determined to seize the empire. He made great presents to the chiefs of the kingdom and gained their goodwill. Thus he assembled a large army. A general of Narasimha marched with the troops and entered the palace of the king. The king then fled by the gates on the other side. Narasimha was thus raised to the king. From that time the kingdom of Vijayanagar was called the kingdom of Narasimha. Nuniz says that Narasimha regained all the lands which his predecessors had lost except, Raichur, Udayagiri and Kondaveedu. At his death, Narasimha appointed his general Narasa Nayaka regent to his two minor sons. The eldest of these was put to death by an officer so that, Narasa Nayaka may be charged with it, and put to death. Narasa Nayaka then raised the younger brother to the throne. Nuniz calls him Tamarao. After some years, Narasa Nayaka murdered the young king and became the de facto ruler of the kingdom.

History of the Hawks of Vijayanagar:

We have some Hindu records for learning the early history of the Saluvas. Ramabhyudayam is a Sanskrit work attributed to Saluva Narasimha Raya. Saluvabhyudayam written by his court poet Rajanatha Dindima, is a collection of poems on the victories of Saluva Narasimha. Pillalamarri Pina Virabhadra's Jaimini Bharatamu is also dedicated to him.

The descent of the Saluva family is traced from Gunda, who was the chief of Kalyani. His son Mangu sought the service of Kampa Raya, son of Bukka I of Vijayanagar. Mangu was a great warrior; he took a prominent part in the southern campaigns of Vijayanagar. He defeated the southern kings as a falcon seizes its prey. As a result of his glorious achievements he got the title of 'Saluva', meaning hawk. He was appointed governor of Chandragiri. During the reign on Deva Raya II, the Saluvas were so strong and powerful that Deva Raya married his sister Harima to Saluva Tippa, a grandson of Saluva Mangu. Narasimha was the son of Gunda IV, another of Saluva Mangu's grandsons, who succeeded his father as the governor of Chandragiri. Gunda IV and his wife Mallambika, had no issue for many years, and they prayed to God Narasimha at Ahobilam. God Narasimha appeared to Gunda IV in a dream and foretold the birth of a son possessed of all virtues and destined to be a king. Shortly after that a son was born to them, whom they named Narasimha, after the God at Ahobilam.

Narasimha's first expedition was against Kapileswar, the Gajapati ruler of Orissa. After his victory over Kapileswar, Narasimha proceeded towards the Chola and Pandyan kingdoms, and brought them under submission. The king of Ceylon also offered his submission to Narasimha. He was a great donor of gifts to temples, poets and others. He decorated the temples of Kanchi, Tirupathi and Srikalahasti with precious stones from the tribute received from his feaudatories. As the Sangama rulers became weaker and weaker, the Saluvas grew stronger and stronger, till at last Narasimha, rose to supreme power and himself ascended the throne after deposing Virupaksha, last ruler of the Sangama dynasty.

The king was very handsome in appearance and was called Mohana Murari. His queen was Srirangamamba. Mahapradhani Annamarasayya was his chief minister.

Account of Ferishta and Sayed Ali Tabatabai: Muhammad Shah II (1463-1482) was the contemporary Bahmani ruler of Saluva Narasimha. Following are the accounts of Ferishta (Tarikh-i Firishta) and Sayed Ali Tabatabai (Burhani-i-Maasir), between the years 1470 to 1489:

Ferishta mentions that about 1470, Khwaja Mahmud Gawan, the Sultan's minister, moved against Goa and took it 'before the Raya of Vijayanagar could oppose his design'.

About the year 1474, "When the Sultan with his army arrived in the neighborhood of Rajahmundry, they saw an immense city on the farther side of which the infidel Narasimha Raya with 700,000 cursed infantry and 500 elephants like mountains of iron had taken his stand. Yet notwithstanding all this army and pomp and pride and preparation, when Narasimha Raya had heard the arrival of the Sultan's army thinking it advisable to avoid meeting their attack, he elected to take to flight".  (Sayed Ali)

In November 1480, "Muhammad Shah was informed that his subjects in the fort of Kondaveedu had broken out in rebellion, and throwing themselves on the protection of Narasimha Raya had altogether withdrawn from their allegiance to the rule of Islam". He assembled an army and marched towards Vijayanagar, in due time arrived in tho neighborhood of the fortress of Kondaveedu, and completely surrounded it. Afterwards the inhabitants of the fort offered their submission. "As the infidel Narasimha had latterly shown delay and remissness, in proving his sincerity towards the royal court by sending presents and tribute, the Sultan marched with his army and advanced into the country of Narasimha, and on arriving within the sight of the fortress of Malur-which was the greatest of the forts of that country-encamped there. When the cursed Narasimha obtained information of the approach of the royal army, he became uneasy and took to flight without giving battle, and used to pass each day in a house and each night in some jungle or other. One day the Sultan ordered a letter to be written to the impure Narasimha, founded upon threats and intimidation, and reminding him of his hostility both former and recent. When this angry and terror inspiring letter reached that undiscerning infidel, trembling for fear of being attacked by the Sultan's army, and having no other resource, he sent a quantity of valuable presents of jewelry and other valuables, elephants and horses to the Sultan's court, and confessing his weakness, promised obedience and submission".

In March 1481 Muhammad Shah marched to Kanchipuram, a city 'containing temples which were the wonder of the age', situated within the dominions of Narasimha, and plundered it. Such a quantity of jewels, pearls, slaves and lovely maidens, and all kinds of rarities fell into their hands, that they were beyond computation. In 1482, Muhammad Shah again invaded Vijayanagar and seized Konkan. (Sayed Ali & Ferishta)

"Nursing Ray had frequently excited the zamindars on the Bahmani frontier to rebel; and the officers on the borders, unable to control his power, had more than once represented his conduct to court, which had, at length, induced the king to attack him". Muhammad Shah marched against Narasimha and reduced Machilipatnam in 1481. (Ferishta)

Ferishta mentions that, about 1481-82, "intelligence arrived that Shew Ray, Raya of Vijayanagar, had sent a large army against Goa, and Muhammad Shah directed Yusuf Adil Shah to oppose him".

In 1489, Kasim Barid wrote to the Raya of Vijayanagar that Muhammad Shah was willing to cede to him the forts of Mudgal and Raichur, if he would wrest them from Yusuf Adil Shah of Bijapur. The Raya, being a child (was this the eldest son of Saluva Narasimha?), deputed his minister Timraj (might be Tuluva Narasanyaka), with a powerful army against Yusuf Adil Shah, and having committed great devastation obtained possession of the two forts, Mudgal and Raichur. Yusuf Adil Shah made peace with Timraj. After some time, Yusuf Adil Shah, "on learning that dissensions prevailed in Vijayanagar", marched to retake Raichur. Around this time Yusuf Adil Shah became ill. At that time, "Timraj the minister, having composed his disputes with the Raya of Vijayanagar, advanced at the head of an army to Raichur". In 1493, an action took place between both armies. Yusuf Adil Shah achieved victory by adopting a stratagem. Timraj and the young Raya fled to Vijayanagar. "The latter died on the road of wounds received in the action, and Timraj seized the government of the country; but some of the principal nobility opposing his usurpation, dissensions broke out, which gave Yusuf Adil Shah a respite from war in that quarter". (Ferishta)

Early History of the Tuluvas or the Third Dynasty of Vijayanagar: The first historical figure of the Tuluva family is Timma. One of Timma's sons, Iswara was in high favor with Saluva Narasimha Raya and was the chief commander of his forces. Iswara won many conquests for his master. After the death of Iswara, his son Narasa Nayaka occupied the position of his father. At his death, Narasimha appointed Tuluva Narasa Nayaka, regent to his minor son Immadi Narasimha. Narasa Nayaka became the de facto ruler of Vijayanagar, during the reign of Immadi Narasimha. On the death of Narasanayaka in 1503, his son Vira Narasimha also known as Bhujabala Narasimha (1505-1509), takes over as regent, who, after the death (or murder?) of Immadi Narasimha, styled himself as the king of Vijayanagar and established the Tuluva dynasty (It is also said that Narasa Nayaka was the founder of Tuluva dynasty). After the death of Vira Narasimha, his brother, the celebrated Krishnadeva Raya ascended the throne of Vijayanagar in 1509.

Account of Ludovico di Varthema:

Ludovico di Varthema, an Italian traveler, visited Vijayanagar in December 1504. At that time the king of Vijayanagar was, either Immadi Narasimha or Vira Narasimha. He remarks that, Yusuf Adil Shah, with 400 Mamluks, wages a great war with the king of Narsinga. "The city of Vijayanagar belongs to the king of Narsinga, and is very large and strongly walled. It occupies the most beautiful site, and possesses the best air that was ever seen: with certain very beautiful places for hunting and the same for fowling, so that it appears to me to be a second paradise. The king of this city is a pagan, with all his kingdom, that is to say, idolaters. He is a very powerful king, and keeps up constantly 40,000 horsemen. This king of Narsinga is the richest king I have ever heard spoken of. His Brahmins, that is, his priests, say that he possesses a revenue of 12,000 pardai per day. He is constantly at war with several Moorish and pagan kings".

"The king wears a cap of gold brocade two spans long, and when he goes to war he wears a quilted dress of cotton, and over it he puts another garment full of golden piastres, and having all around it jewels of various kinds. His horse is worth more than some of our cities, on account of the ornaments which it wears. When he rides for his pleasure he is always accompanied by three or four kings, and many other lords, and five or six thousand horse. Wherefore he may be considered to be a very powerful lord."

His money consists of a pardao. He also coins a silver money called tare, and others of gold, twenty of which go to a pardao, and are called fanom. And of these small ones of silver, there go sixteen to a fanom. They also have another coin called cas, sixteen of which go to a tare of silver.

With the death of Immadi Narasimha, the Saluva dynasty (1486-1505) came to an end.


Some European writers mentioned that when the Portuguese first arrived in India, the ruler of Vijayanagar was Narasimha, and hence the kingdom got the name of Narsinga. They might be referring to Immadi Narasimha.