Gajapati Kapilendra Deva: The invincible Hindu King who defeated 5 Sultanates

Today is the coronation anniversary of Samrat #Kapilendradeva Routray , a Suryavanshi Khandayat Emperor and a great warrior of Hinduism. He was a son of Odisha who demolished the Islamic sultanates of Bengal, Jaunpur, Malwa, Bahamani and Delhi, and established a sovereign Hindu empire. Kapil Rout was born to Jageshwar Rout and his wife Velamma. We know about his Suryavanshi heritage from Madala Panji, Mallikarjun temple inscription, an inscription of Ganadeva Routray, who was a powerful commander under him and Gopinathpur inscription of Gopinath Mahapatra, a Brahmin minister in his court. Other details about his family can be found in the Warangal inscription of his nephew Raghudeva Narendra Mahapatra. According to this inscription, Kapilendradeva’s grandfather Shree Kapileshwar held the position of Nayak, a distinguished military officer under the Eastern Gangas. His son Jageshwar had 3 sons – Balaram, Kapil and Parshuram Harichandan. Jageshwar and his oldest son Balaram lost their lives in the battlefield. This contributed to Kapilendradeva’s childhood being a tragic and impoverished one. Owning to his Kshatriya heritage and his inherent calibre, Kapil was able to become a commander in the army and a Samant (feudal lord) under the Ganga emperor Bhanudeva Rout IV, after whose death he ascended to the throne on 29th June, 1435 AD.

Kapilendradeva’s suppression of rebels:

Kapilendradeva abolished the salt tax and reduced overall rates of taxation in other areas which gained him much popularity among the masses. After his ascension to the throne, many of the loyal vassals of Gangas revolted against him, fuelled by their greed for power. Kapilendradeva handled their volatility by crushing their revolts with force. They were defeated humiliatingly, silencing their rebellion for good. Those rebel vassals were Vishnuvardhan Chakravarty of Panchdharal, Matsyas of Odadi, Shilavanshis of Nandapur and Gangas of Khemundi. We know their names from the inscription of Lingaraj temple which was commissioned in his 7th year of rule.

Kapilendradeva’s expansionism:

When Kapilendradeva ascended to the throne, all of India had fallen to the hands of Islamist power. He anticipated the threat to his empire posed especially by the sultanates of Bengal, Jaunpur, Malwa and Bahamani. Ilyas Shahis of Bengal were his contemporary. He launched his Bengal campaign and defeated Malik Pariksha (Malik Padsha), which was an alias of his contemporary Sultan Nasiruddin Mahmud Shah of Bengal. As he overpowered the region of Gouda and became it’s ruler, he assumed the title of Goudeshwara. His empire extended upto Bhagirathi river. His Brahmin minister Gopinath Mahapatra had led this battle. The details of this battle can be found in the 1447 AD inscription of Gopinathpur. According to Madala Panji, he suppressed the rebellion of the Khemundi royal house in his 10th regnal year. The states comprising the Khemundi royal house are Badakhemundi, Sanakhemundi and Parlakhemundi. These events probably took place in the year 1443 AD . At this time, the Surki Sultan of Jaunpur was advancing towards Kapilendradeva’s empire. He defeated the Sultan of Jaunpur in a retaliatory confrontation in the year 1444 AD . Along with defeating the Islamic forces of North, Jaunpur and Bengal, he’s also known to have defeated the then Emperor of Delhi.

Kapilendradeva’s campaign of South:

The charge of managing the campaigns of South was given to Kapilendradeva’s able son Kumar Hamvira Deva Routray Mahapatra. Apart from him, Senapati Ganadeva Routray and Raghudeva Narendra Mahapatra played a major role in this campaign.

1. Reddys were ruling Rajamahendry as vassals of the powerful king of Vijaynagar, Devaraya II . Kapilendradeva’s 1st attempt at overpowering them in 1444 AD failed because the combined forces of Devaraya II and the Reddys was formidable, and at the time of the campaign, the Northern border of his empire was being attacked by the sultan of Jaunpur.

2. After Devaraya II died in 1446 AD , his son Mallikarjun Ray succeeded him. Unlike his father, he was a weak ruler. Taking advantage of the situation, Kumar Hamvira Mahapatra launched an attack and promptly defeated the combined forces of Vijaynagar and Reddys. Veerabhadra Reddy was dethroned from Rajamahendry in 1448 and Raghudeva Narendra Mahapatra was appointed as its governor. He had captured the Kondaveedu fort, which was quite an advantageous location strategically. He appointed Senapati Ganadeva Routray as the governor of the forts of Kondaveedu, Binukonda and Adanki in April 12 , 1454 AD.

Following this feat, he set his eyes on all of southern and western India. He marched towards Dhar, the capital of Malwa in 1457 AD in his campaign to west. He delivered a crushing defeat to Mahmud Khalji, the contemporary Sultan of Malwa. It was during this event that he captured the forts of Mahur in Maharashtra and Bidar in Karnataka. Details of this campaign are mentioned in Kapilendradeva’s Velligalani copper plate of 1458 AD and Hamviradeva’s Chibroli inscription . The Velligalani plate also states him terrorising Hampi, Delhi, Dhar and Bidar in battle.

After annexing Rajamahendry, Kapilendradeva steered his attention towards the Telenga region as it housed many important forts like Rachkonda, Devrakonda and Warangal. Bahamani sultan Alauddin Shah Bahamani had just appointed Ibrahim Sanjar Khan as the governor after defeating the Velamas. He used to carry out unthinkable atrocities on the local Hindus, capture them and sell them in the slave market. According to Chatu Verses, Hamviradeva Routray Mahapatra, with the assistance of Velamas, defeated Sanjar Khan in a humiliating manner. He took control of the Khammam Peta fort of Telengana and appointed Raghudeva Narendra Mahapatra as it’s governor. With the help of Velama chief Tamma Bhupal, Kapilendradeva’s army, led by Hamviradeva, defeated the Vijayanagar Empire in a massive pitched Battle. According to Chatu Varta, Tamma Bhupal occupied the fortresses of Vellamkonda, Badpalli and Ramagarajukonda on the south side of the Krishna River.

After the death of the Bahamani Sultan, his son Humayun Shah and his commanders Khwaja-i-Jahan & Nizam -ul – Mulk attacked Devrakonda with an army of 20k cavalry, 40 elephantry and uncountable foot soldiers. The Hindu Velama chief Madaya Linga pleaded with Kapilendradeva for assistance. Hamvira Deva along with his Khandayat forces were sent to assist him. They wiped the floor with the Bahamani forces and Kapilendradeva made Madaya Linga his vassal. These events took place in the year 1459 AD. On 2nd February, 1460, Khandayat forces defeated Mohammad Gawan and took control of the Warangal fort, which was previously under him.

After the death of Humayun Shah, his minor son of 8 years, Nizam Shah became the ruler. Taking note of this stratergic advantage, Khandayat forces attacked Bidar. But the campaign stagnated as the Sultan of Jaunpur had launched another attack from the North. According to Tabaqat-i-Akbari, Kapilendradeva had gifted 32 war elephants to Hussain Shah as an offering of peace but there’s no historical base to it. After defeating Hussain Shah, Kapilendradeva shifted his focus to the stagnated campaign in south. Khandayats reduced the Bahamani capital Bidar to rubbles. They played the sport of destruction and loot. Following this victory, they conquered Dhar, the capital of Malwa.

Kapilendradeva’s Vijayanagar campaign:

According to Prataparudradev’s Anantavaram inscription, Hambiradev is the hero of many battles. He had defeated the Vijayanagar Empire on many occasions. Despite Mallikarjun Raya’s strong resistance, Hamvira Deva managed to capture many areas of Vijaynagar. According to Kapilendradeva’s Velligalani plate dated 1458 AD, he terrorized Hampi, Delhi, Dhar and Bidar. With the help of Velama chief Tamma Bhupal, Kapilendradeva’s army, led by Hamviradeva, defeated Vijayanagar Empire in a bloody pitched Battle. According to the Chatu verses, Tamma Bhupal occupied the fortresses of Vellamkonda, Badpalli and Ramgarajukonda on the south side of the Krishna River.

Conquest of Udayagiri :

Kapilendradeva’s army took over Udayagiri under Tamba Bhupal. According to an inscription dated 1460 AD in Udayagiri, Gajapati Kapilendradeva Routray made many donations and commissioned the construction of various temples. Kapilendradeva appointed Basaba Bhupal, son of Tamma Bhupal, as a feudal ruler. He was awarded the title of “Ranarang Bhairav Rasik Sikhamani.” After the conquest of Udayagiri, Kapilendradeva defeated many small kings. According to an inscription from Sri Sailam, he made a number of donations there on the occasion of the lunar eclipse. According to another inscription in Karnul district, Narasimha Patrudu (Patra ) had donated and build a Jayastamba (Victory Pillar ) in Kurnool for the Merit of Kapilendradeva . The modern Karnool district was under his control. Despite the resistance of Mallikarjun Raya, the Khandayats led by Hamviradeva Mohapatra invaded the Vijayanagar Empire and took over much of its territory. According to many inscriptions in Tamil Nadu, Gajapati’s forces, led by Hamvira Deva, conquered many areas. There they are referred to as Odiyan Galabai or Odia Gajapati.

Gajapati Kapilendra Deva
Gajapati Kapilendra Deva’s Empire at it’s peak

The most notable of these inscriptions are Thirukkoilur, Arconda Nallur, Idayur, Nerkundaram, Siddhachalingadam, Thiruppadaipandal, Marangiyur and Abur (Thirunvenmalli). After the conquest of the Udayagiri kingdom, Dakshina Kapileswar Kumar Mohapatra, son of Hamviradeva and grandson of Kapilendradeva conquered Chandrigiri kingdom in 1464 AD with the help of Pashupati Tamma Bhupathi, also known as Tamma Bhupal. This Chadragiri Kingdom was an important victory as it was the headquarters of the Vijayanagar Empire. Following this victory, Kapilendradeva appointed his grandson Dakshin Kapileshwar Kumar Mohapatra as the governor of Kondapalli, Adanki, Venukonda, Dandapat, Padaiveedu, Titubaru, Valudulalamapattu Sadavi, Thiruchirapalli and Chandragiri. These details are mentioned in the Munnur Inscription of South Arcot. It also mentions the conquest of Thiruchirapalli (South Tamilnadu). The governorship of Thrichurapalli also appears in the inscription of the Srirangam temple. According to the inscription, on Tuesday, March 25, 1464, Dakshina Kapileshwar Kumar Mohapatra gifted a number of cows to local Brahmins after completing a special Puja. According to Munnur inscriptions, the entire Coromandel Coast came under Gajapati Kapilendradeva. According to HK Sashtri, the decipherer of this inscription, Gajapati’s empire extended to Thiruvarrur in Tanjore and Thiruchirapalli (Trichy). RD Bannerji also corroborates this.

Gajapati Kapilendradeva Routray conquered many parts of India and built a colossal Hindu empire, earning him the title of ” Goudeswar Navakoti Karnata Kalabargeswar Gajapati.” He was not only a great warrior, but also a wise man, connoisseur of literature, art lover, and philanthropist. He wrote a poem called Parshuram Vijay. He gave Oriya the status of state language. Sarla Das’ Sarla Mahabharata and the Ramayana Prabhuti, written in Oriya during his time. He built many forts , many temples , including the Meghanada Wall of Jagannath Dham , to ward off possible enemy attacks. His name was enough to terrorize the Sultans of North & South. His life story is full of feats and legends. According to eminent historians like Herman Kulke and RC Majumdar, he was the greatest Hindu emperor of Mediaeval India. During his time, the Khandayats, also known as the Kshatriyas of eastern India, reached the peak of their military might . Born to the soil of Odisha, this Khandayat Hero is now the Pride of India as well as the entire Hindu community.

References : 
- Journal of The Asiatic Society , Volume LXIII , No 4, 2021 
- The Empire of Orissa , The Indian Antiquary , Dec 1928 
- Kapilendradeva and His Times (1435 -1467 AD) by Annapurna Bhuyan 
- The Suryavamsi Gajapatis of Orissa  by R. Subramanyam 
- Kapilendradeva by Godabarisha Mohapatra 
- Odia Jnyanakosha , Volume -2 
- Epigraphica  of India Volume 33 & 34 
- South Asia , 2004 
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-  The Volume of Bihar Research  Journal Society , Vol - 31-32 
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- Manorama by Satyanarayan Rajguru 
- The Journal of  the Bihar Research Society  Volumes 32 -33 
- A Comprehensive History of India : The Delhi Sultanat (A.D. 1206 -  1526 ) ed by Mohammed Habib and Khaliq Ahmad Nizami 
- The State of India 1000 - 1700 by Herman Kulke

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