Hamvira Deva

To control the fertile Godavari basin Odisha's Conflict with Vijayanagar was since long. The Gangas of Odisha often fought the Reddis (Vijayanagara’s aegis) with border territories changing hands both ways. Apart from the Vijay Nagara kingdom, Odias were at war from all different directions namely with the Bahmani Sultanate, Velamas, Malwa. Apart from the western and southern conflicts assaults from Bengal Sultanate and more violent counter attack was almost a used to affair.

With The reign of the Suryavamsi Gajapatis Kapilendradeva successfully repelled attacks from Malwa and Bengal, as detailed in inscriptions bequeathed to posterity of the Gajapati’s able General Gopinath Mohapatra.

Gajapati's glory as per his Upadhis goes Vira Shree Gajapati, Gaudesvara, Naba Koti, Karnata, Kalbargesvara.But Kapilendra Dev had mostly fought the battles of north Bengal.

Who fought in the south to conquer half of South India and wash his war burnt bloody sword in the south sea?

Let's spare some time to step back into an era where united Odia force with their marital ability have offered every object from Ganga to Kaveri in the lotus feet of Shree Jagannath.

To solve the southern disputes, Kapilendradeva dispatched his best man and the then considered future Gajapati, Kumara Hamvira Deva to seize Rajahmundry and vassalize the Reddis. After the successful heist to Rajahmundry, Hamvira next marched to Khambhammettu (modern Khammamet in Telangana), where, according to a Telugu catu poem, Gajavaru Tippa, one of Hamvira’s Velama leaders, earned his master’s favour by defeating the Yavanas led by Sanjar Khan (Bahmani Sultan Allaudin Shah II’s officer). According to the Burhan-i-Maasir, Sanjar Khan was quite a notorious general who was infamous for his tyrannical ways of capturing civilians and selling them as slaves. The timely intervention by the forces of Hamvira provided respite to the local population.

After Khambhammettu, by 1453, finally the most strategic Fort of then Southern India, Kondavidu, was captured by the Gajapati forces. Couple of centuries later loss of the same Kodavidu fort was the steping stone into the declination of the mighty Gajapatis. The rocky walls of kondavidu still echoes the bravery of Odia Paikas during its capture by Hamvira Dava and also the capture of Gajapati Prataparudra Deva's eldest Kumara Birabhadra Deva who choose to be captured fighting rather than fleeing away from the war. Balabhadra Deva was known to be the best swordsman of India in that era. The 4 frontal war or the mismanagement caused as the result of the bhakti movement happening in the Odia capital, what made the indomitable Gajapati force to taste defeat is a tale worth reading. But let's just save it for another day.

In 1457 AD, as Sultan Alauddin Shah II died, Humayun Shah, his son, ascended to the Bahmani throne. After successfully crushing the rebellions, he was in thrust of revenge from the Hindu Velama chieftain of Devarakonda, Madaya Linga who helped the rebels in many ways. While marching to Warangal, Humayun dispatched his officers Khwaja-i-Jahan and Nizam-ul-Mulk with a massive army of 20,000 cavalry, 40 elephants, and a vast infantry against Devarakonda. When Madaya Linga realised he was outnumbered, he took refuge in the Devarakonda fort. By the year 1458 Linga realised that the only Samrat who would sympathise with his prayers and had the ability to crush the bahamanis was the Gajapati and without wasting any time, Linga pleaded Kapilendradeva for help. Kapilendradeva dispatched an army under the command of Prince Hamvira Deva. The combined forces of Odisha and Devarakonda hammered the Bahmani troops, who soon had to retreat. Following the battle, Linga became a vassal of Kapilendradeva, and Kapilendradeva took the title Kalabargeswara (Lord of Kalaburaga or Gulbarga region).

Syed Ali Tabataba, in his Burhan-i-Ma’asir wrote about the battle as below:

“The king of Orissa from greed of gain and for the defence of paganism, thought himself bound to assist the infidels of that fortress; so, he sent a countless force with a hundred elephants to the assistance of the defenders of the fortress (of Devarakonda). The Bahmani commander learnt in time of the advance of the Orissan army, but before he could extricate his troops from their unfavourable position, the Orissan army came upon them and the Velamas also sallied out from the fort. Caught between the two forces, the Bahmani army was routed, and the whole of their baggage, elephants and horses looted. The Musulmans were pursued to a distance of 3 jarsakhs; nearly six or seven thousands of their cavalries were killed, and a great number, besides, died of thirst in the deserts.”

With the Sultanate in disarray, in the winter of 1460 Hamvira realized it was perfect to attack Warangal. And such was the terror of Hamvira's name at that time, the bahamani general fled from the assault of the formidable Gajapati army and the Odias easily overcame the Bahmani left over defence.

Inscriptions on the Eastern and Western gates of the Warangal fort in Telangana mention the capture of the fort from the hands of the Bahmani Sultan by the great Suryavamsa king – Gajapati Kapilendradeva of Odisha. The eastern gate’s inscription credits Kumara Hamviradeva Mahapatra, the eldest son of Maharaja Kapilendradeva, with capturing the fort, while the other inscription hails Hamvira’s cousin and Kapilendradeva’s nephew Raghudeva Narendra Mahapatra for routing the enemy forces at Warangal.

Next The Gajapati army, along with the Velamas, raided the Bahmani capital Bidar (then called Bedadakotta) twice in the 1460. In 1464 with the able command of Hamvira Deva the Gajapati's glory further continued first to Udayagiri in Andhra Pradesh and then to parts of Tamil Nadu all the way up to Rameshwaram known once as the Heartland of Vijayanagar.

According to an inscription at Munnur, Tamil Nadu, Hamvira’s son Dakshina Kapilesvara Hamvira Kumara Mahapatra ruled the territory. Hamvira is reported to have cleaned his blood-stained sword in the waters of the southern sea after defeating the Vijayanagara emperor.

Copper plates of Ciruvroli grant made by Hamvira mention his valour and valour. The inscription refers to one of the villages named after the prince as Hamvirakumara Satpura or Hamvirapura.

All this Glorious March and eventful heist come with a cost. Here Hamvira Kumara paid the cost by losing the Gajapati Thrown to his younger brother Ganapati Purushottam Deva who again is a very household name for every Odia due to his Heist of Kanchi.

The last half of Hamvira’s life is shrouded in mystery. According Some sources after getting backstabbed by the Cuttack-Puri politics Hamvira revolted. The Bahmanis took advantage of the civil war and offered himKondapalli (Andhra Pradesh), which he accepted. However, by 1484, he had made peace with his brother and had switched to his side. Another theory holds that Hamvira took over all of his father’s southern lands, prompting Kapilendradeva to crown Purushottamadeva. However, much of the history is shades and yet to be unfolded.

History has its own logic, its own justice, its own theory to justify every eventful incident. The grey in between these fair or dark is where perspective comes in and who are we to raise the ever-fascinating question, what if this forgotten Prince one day would have succeeded his father's throne. But then again, What if?

REFERENCES:Various Sources

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