Wars & Campaigns of Prataparudra, Gajapati of Orissa, 1497-1540

v.1.0 March 7, 2005


Started by Ravi Rikhye



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This account is adapted from R.C. Majumdar's History and Culture of the Indian People, Volume 6: The Delhi Sultanate; Bhartiya Vidhya Bhavan, Bombay, 1960.


This entry is under construction; please regard it, at present, as simply an effort to put into historical context Prataparudra, the Oriya opponent of Krishnadeva, Raya of Vijaynagar. 


Prataparudra is better known to Indian history as the patron and close associate of Sri Chaitanya, the famous saint and philosopher, as well as the ruler under whom the glories of the Oriya kingdom faded. What is not widely realized is that regardless of the outcomes of his battles, Prataparudra is one of India's great warrior kings. 


The Gajapatis of Orissa 1434-1540


This dynasty succeeded the Ganga Dynasty of Orissa. Though small in terms of numbers, its rule was remarkably stable, with its 3 members together holding power for 106 years.


1434 - 1467 Kapilendra. Exact dates are uncertain. He may have acceded to power as late as 1435 and died as late as 1470.


Kapilendra was the most powerful Hindu king of his time, and under him Orissa became an empire stretching from the lower Ganga in the north to the Kaveri in the south. But great as his military genius undoubtedly was, it was not matched by his statesmanship. He failed to recognize the need and importance of an alliance with the Hindu ruler of Vijaynagar against the Muslim rulers of Bengal and the Deccan, and instead of measuring arms against them [the Muslim rulers], he exhausted his resources in trying to conquer the outlying provinces of Vijaynagar. He thereby left a legacy of hostility with Vijaynagar [while facing] two formidable Muslim enemies on his other two frontiers, which ultimately led to the downfall of his dynasty.   [Majumdar, page 6:367]


1467 - 1497 Purushottama. The younger son of Kapilendra, he was weakened by the conflict with his older brother Hamvira, who considered himself Kapilendra's rightful heir. The first half of his reign was spent in trying to recover the Tamil districts lost to the Bahmani Sultanate during his father's last years, and then with the complications of Hamvira's revolt.


The death of the Bahmani Sultan Muhammad III in 1482 gave Purushottama the opportunity to at least get back Udaygiri.


The second half of his rule saw peace for his kingdom.


1497 - 1540 Prataparudra. He tried to conquer the south, but failed for unknown reasons. The accession of Krishnadeva of Vijaynagar led to Pratparudra's defensive deployment to the the south in 1510. This move permitted Bengal's Sultan Husain Shah to invade Orissa and to destroy the idols in the famed Jaganath Temple. Though Prataprudra hastily returned north to fight the Bengali Sultan, he ended up accepting terms with Husain Shah.



Krishnadeva, Raya of Vijaynagar






In 1513 Krishnadeva of Vijaynagar declared war against the Gajapati, and after six years of fighting and losses, was forced to sign a treaty of peace with Vijaynagar in 1519.


Though his troubles with Vijaynagar were all but over, he now had to face the Bahmani Sultanate when the Bahmani governor of Golconda - later the independent ruler of Golconda when the power of the Bahmani Sultanate waned - took first Telengana, and then the Krishna-Godavari Doab. (Doab = the fertile land between rivers.) The Doab formed his southern frontier with Vijaynagar, and this region was lost to the Oriya Kingdom for good.


Prataparudra died in 1540, and it is believed he lost to the Golconda before that.