This section is from the book "Some Contributions Of South India To Indian Culture", by S. Krishnaswami Aiyangar. Also available from Amazon: Some Contributions of South India to Indian Culture.
When the first struggles for the dislodgment of the Mahammadan garrisons from the south were over and the hostile Mahaminadans from the north had been successfully driven out from their strongholds in South India, chiefly Madura and Trichinopoly (actually Kannanur, 8 miles from Trichinopoly), those that were responsible for it set about organising social and political life with a view to the dominant needs of the new imperial foundation. The first need was a political organisation, which would place in the hands of the Government the necessary resources, material and men, to keep the aggressive Mahammadan efforts confined to the northern side of the Krishna. This involved the organisation of an administration and the development of the military resources, that would assure a successful resistance against the repeated attacks of the Mahammadans to break through the harrier set up by the new Empire. The Empire was organised into great Viceroyalties called Maharajyas of which there were as many as three along the northern frontier. The first from the west coast took into it two Governments, those of the Malerajya and Tulurajya. The former took into it the whole of what is now the Malnad territory of Mysore and the whole of what might be called Karnatic Dakhan, almost as far north as Kolhapur. It went by the name of its capital, the great Viceroyalty of Araga, now a village in the Shimoga district of Mysore. This was probably under the overlordship of Haribare I whose capital must have been at Bankapur or Goa. Next to that, came the headquarters Viceroyalty having for its capitals in the early stages, Dvarasamudra (Halebid in Mysore) and Vijayanagar itself, alternately. Later on the latter became the chief capital and the former suffered comparative neglect. Military necessity however called for other places coming into importance. This region was therefore dominated by the fortified cities of Vijayanagar and Adoni, at the two vulnerable spots along the northern river frontier. At the back of these two and almost midway between, lay the hill fortress of Penukonda which later on became the capital of the empire of Vijayanagar itself. The last of the three vice-royalties was the Maharajya of Udayagiri with its capitals, Nellore and Udayagiri. The three elder of the five brothers were Viceroys of these to begin with. Behind this front line lay another Maharajya with its Viceregal head-quarters, at Mu]bagal in Mysore, and taking into it the territory of the Gangas, the Banas and the whole of what used to be known as Tondamandalam, or the Dravida country. Later on another Viceroyalty was constituted with Madura for its headquarters and the charge "the Lordship, of the Southern Ocean" attached to it. Within this great province the administration was organised on the lines on which it had existed from time immemorial in the country. The civil ad-ministration was so organised over this vast region that the people carried on the administration themselves more or less completely subject to the supervision and control of the great officers of state, who constituted a comparatively small hierarchy touring the country to set matters right, wherever their attention should be called for. This kind of an organisation left the Imperial revenues almost exclusively for the purposes of organising the military resources for the defence of the northern frontier. It was necessary on this frontier to adopt the policy of avoiding war by being ever the most ready for it. Such a policy involved a military expenditure which would have exhausted the resources of any ordinary Empire.
This organisation implied a considerable amount of social reorganisation also, and this took on naturally the form of hardening and more clearly demarcating the rights and duties of the various castes of which Hindu society was then composed. The system was there with an organisation of its own, being the only organisation on which society rested; that had to be made use of even for administrative purposes, perhaps more largely than heretofore. This necessity coupled with the ever present danger of the Mahammadan irruptions from the north, gave this organisation a hardening, some of the worst features of which remain even yet, though several of the best features have gone out of it by desuetude. Such an organisation of society had this advantage that society looked after itself and the civil administration had but comparatively little to do except when called upon to interfere in matters of serious dispute between communities, territorial or social. The imperial resources might then be concentrated upon the organisation for the predominant purpose of defence, and, if occasion called for it,of offence as well, against the northern neighbour who was perpetually on the look-out for regaining lost hold. There was complete devolution of the civil administration except for a certain degree of control exercised by the officers of the Government; the central Government, divested of the ordinary civil power to a very large extent, devoted itself entirely to the needs of defence.
That this was the idea that dominated the rulers of Vijayanagar is clearly in evidence in the policy adopted by successive rulers of which we gain glimpses here and there with the imperfect resources for their history at our disposal.
The greatest monarch of the first dynasty, Devaraya II, who crowned a series of efforts by completing the fortifications of Vijayanagar so as to include in it a bit of country measuring diagonally 13 by 8 miles, providing facilities for irrigation and cultivation to an extent, that the capital city might have food resources to fall back upon within its walls for a considerable period of time. He also adopted, on the advice of the most responsible officers of the State, measures for improving his military resources by removing a vital defect. It was brought to his notice that the Hindu arms proved inferior to those of the Mahammadan in cavalry and archery, and that the Turkish soldiers employed for this purpose in the Mahammadan armies were found to be very efficient. Devaraya at once ordered the enlistment of two thousand of the Mahammadan soldiers; gave them a separate quarter of the city consulted their religious feeling to the extent of providing them with a mosque and a slaughterhouse in their own quarter and got by their means about 60,000 of his soldiers trained in this branch of the art of war. It was not the Maham-madan as Mahammadan that they hated; much rather, it was the destructive work of the first Mahammadan invaders that left an indelible impression of hatred in them. This re-organisation was carried out actually by the Brahman Viceroy of Madura, who was called from his Viceregal headquarters obviously for this purpose at a critical period in the history of Vijayanagar.
The first usurper Saluva Narasimha fully realised what exactly were the needs of the Empire, and his usurpation was with a view to meeting these needs which as it appeared to him, had not received at the hands of his predecessor the attention that they deserved. His last testament which the Portuguese chroniclers record indicate his policy clearly. He had repaired the damages suffered by the Empire during the weak rule of his two predecessors, but had failed to attain to the fulfilment of his wishes, as he had not had the time to take back from the enemies of the empire the fortresses of Mudkal, Raichur and Udayagiri.
Udayagiri happened to be in the hands of the Gajapatis of Katak. Raichur and Mudkal were in the hands of the Bahmani Sultan. His successor Krishna, the great Krishnadeva Raya of Vijayanagar, made it his life-work to fulfil this desideratum of his great predecessor. He could however take up this work only after quelling the internal rebellions which had occurred in the short reign of his elder brother, whom he succeeded. Having taken the fortress of Siva-samudram and destroyed the chief rebel of Ummattur, he set himself seriously to the task of regaining these three fortresses after he had carefully provided himself against a flank attack by entering into a treaty with the Portuguese at Goa. He then undertook a war first against the ruler of Orissa, who was in occupation of Udayagiri. He beat Orissa garrisons from out of all the fortresses beginning with Udayagiri right up to the frontiers of the Ganjam District. Having gone so far, he deliberately adopted the policy of not driving the powerful enemy to desperation; but entered into a definitive treaty with him restoring to him all his conquests up to the river Krishna. He was then able to turn his attention to the recovery of the other two fortresses of Mudkal and Raichur, confident of having secured both his flanks. He succeeded wherever his great predecessor failed and brought under the Empire the two fortresses, the possession of which was to the Mahammadans a source of vital weakness to the Empire.
As he returned from his campaign against the ruler of Kalinga, while he was still on the banks of the Krishna and the region of Bezwada he made a grant of 10,000 gold pieces to the temples of South India and set about the work of restoration and repair to all the temples that had suffered any damage during the Mahammadan invasions. There is one other act of his which exhibits even more clearly than this, the policy that underlay his operations. He made an effort during his reign to provide temples in Vijayanagar to all the gods that had suffered at the hands of the Mahammadans. The great Vittalasvami temple in Vijayanagar, which in many features exhibits Vijayanagar architecture at its best, was projected with a view to providing accommodation at the head-quarters to God Vittala of Pandar-pur, whose temples had suffered at the hands of the Mahammadans. It is with a view to similar reparation that the great temple of Anantasayana on the road from Hospet to Vijayanagar was also projected. His work as a whole indicates clearly the character of the movement that culminated in Vijayanagar and the policy adopted by the Empire when it had established itself permanently is shewn in its efforts to realise this ideal in practice.