Battle of Talikota

Orfeas Katsoulis | Apr 20, 2023

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The Battle of Talikota (in Caranese, ತಾಳಿಕೋಟೆ or Tellikota) took place on January 26, 1565 between the Vijayanagara Empire and the Deccan Sultanates, and was resolved with the latter's complete victory.

Talikota is located in the north of the present-day Indian state of Karnataka, about 80 km southeast of the city of Bijapur.

The Vijayanagara throne, upon the death of Achyuta Deva Raya, had passed into the hands of Aliya Rama Raya or Ramarâya, who interfered in the internal affairs of the neighboring Muslim sultanates. Although this tactic seemed to be achieving its purposes initially, it proved to be counterproductive, provoking the joining of the forces of the sultanates for the destruction of the Hindu kingdom. Some ruling families of the sultanates entered into matrimonial alliances, settling their internal conflicts, in the conviction that the Vijayanagara empire had become the common enemy to be fought. In addition, they were also joined by some small Hindu kingdoms that had a grudge against the empire for previous confrontations.

On January 26, 1565 the armies of the Deccan sultanates (Ahmednagar, Bidar, Bijapur and Golconda), which had formed a grand alliance, met the Vijayanagara army at Talikota, between two towns called Rakkasa and Tangadi, on the banks of the Krishna River. Altogether the forces of the sultanates totaled 80,000 infantry and 30,000 cavalry. The forces of the Vijayanagara army totaled 140,000 infantry and 10,000 cavalry, plus a large number of war elephants. The unbalancing factor was the use of artillery by the sultanates. It was not the first time that artillery was used in India, as it had already been used in the Battle of Panipat (1526).

The battle, which was known to be decisive, was fiercely fought. At first the invaders shelled Vijayanagara's front line, inflicting heavy damage. Then a massive frontal attack was launched. It was soon concluded with a complete victory for the sultanates. The Rajah of Vijayanagara was captured and beheaded, his head being displayed as a trophy. Vijayanagara, the capital, was immediately taken and sacked.

Historians have vehemently debated the causes of the defeat of Vijayanagara. Among the sources available for the reconstruction of the events, in addition to epigraphic analysis, there are testimonies of western travelers present in the region. It has been suggested that one of the causes was their smaller cavalry force and that this depended on commanders mounted on elephants, making them slower on the battlefield, while that of the sultanate, besides being more numerous, was much faster, and in its key sectors, composed of Persian horses. In terms of infantry weapons, there were also advantages for the sultanates, who had metal crossbows as opposed to their opponents' bamboo bows, less effective in accuracy and distance, and 15-foot long spears as opposed to the 7-foot spears and darts of the Vijayanagra.

Beyond the technical aspects, the main cause of the defeat was perhaps the treachery of the two main Muslim commanders of Vijayanagara, the Gilani brothers, who had thousands of soldiers under their command and who at the key moment of the battle withdrew from the field. The Gilani had deserted from the army of the Bijapur sultanate before being recruited by Aliya Rama Raya.

The battle effectively put an end to the great Hindu kingdom, with the inexorable decline of the last great empire of southern India. The victorious army sacked the great cities, burning them and killing their inhabitants. The city of Vijayanagara was razed to the ground and was not rebuilt (today the site is the small town of Hampi, with a population of about two thousand inhabitants, and the monumental ensemble it preserves has been declared a World Heritage Site). Rama Raya's brother, Tirumala Deva Raya, who had been second in command during the battle, managed to flee with the royal family and the treasure, re-establishing a territory under Vijayanagra control in Penukonda (present-day state of Andhra Pradesh).


  1. Battle of Talikota
  2. Batalla de Talikota
  3. ^ Kalyana was the capital of the Chalukyas. Rama Raya sought to control the territory in his bid to gain popular legitimacy by establishing himself as the true heir to Chalukya sovereignty and glory. Other examples included retrofitting of decayed Chalukya complexes and bringing back Chalukya festivals.
  4. Chaurasia, 2002: 111
  5. a b c d e Mikaberidze, Alexander (2011). Conflict and Conquest in the Islamic World: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO, pp. 874. ISBN 9781598843378.
  6. Chaurasia, Radhey Shyam (2002). History of Medieval India: From 1000 A.D. to 1707 A.D.. Atlantic Publishers & Dist, pp. 111-112. ISBN 9788126901234.
  7. a b Rao, P. Raghunadha (1993). Ancient and medieval history of Andhra Pradesh. Sterling Publishers, pp. 92. ISBN 9788120714953.
  8. ^ India Today Collector's edition of History
  9. Radhey Shyam Chaurasia. History of Medieval India: From 1000 A.D. to 1707 A.D.. — Atlantic Publishers & Dist, 2002-01-01. — P. 111. — 356 p. — ISBN 9788126901234.

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