Kampila Deva & Kumara Rama: Spirit of Kingdom of Kampili & the crushing defeat of Delhi Sultanate (1327)

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In our previous article, we shed light on the story of Rajput king Hammir Dev Chauhan who declared war on Allauddin Khilji’s Delhi Sultanate in order to protect a Muslim immigrant. Hammir Dev despite being outnumbered defeated the sultanate twice and later fought till his last in order to protect a Mongol immigrant.

Similarly, several decades later history repeated itself this time in the southern portion of the subcontinent. The kingdom of Kampili fought against the wrath of the Tughlaq sultanate the successors of the Khilji’s.

Kumara Rama is believed to have defeated the Tughlqas twice and decimated the Turks in several battles. However, later the Tughlaqs succeeded in subjugating the kingdom of Kampili, and the brave warriors like Kumara Rama and others fought till their last and perished on the battlefield for the sake of their motherland.

Kampili kingdom
Kumara Rama
Kampila Deva
Image of the Kingdom of Kampili

The kingdom of Kampili gave shelter to a rebel named Gurshasp due to which the Tughlaq launched their onslaughts on them. However, Kampili and its warriors fought gallantly under the leadership of their king Kampili(Kampila) Deva and his son Kumara Rama a hero whose exploits to this day fill the heart and soul of every single person with pride whoever hears his tale of valor.

In this article, we will delve into the heroism of Kumara Rama and how the small but dauntless kingdom of Kampili resisted the invasion of the Tughlqa.

Origin of Kampili Kingdom

The kingdom of Kampili rose to prominence around the 14th CE when almost the whole of the Indian subcontinent was suffering from the Turkish invasions. It is believed that a noble named Mummadi Singa who served under King Ramchandra of the Yadava Dynasty of Devagiri laid the foundation of this precious kingdom.

It is also believed that Kampili might have been a feudatory kingdom of Devagiri which later became independent. After the fall of Devagiri, the kingdom of Kampili began to dominate the region of Bellary, Raichur, and Dharwar districts under their new king Kampila Deva.

Kampila Deva
Kumara Rama
Kampili Kingdom
Shiva Temple constructed by Kampila Deva

He declared himself as an independent ruler and made Kampili a prosperous land. Their kingdom later included the territories of Anantapur, Chitaldrug, and Shimoga district. Furthermore, he also destroyed the Palanquin of the imperial state which was demanding tributes, and later provided asylum to rebel Gurshasp.     

Kumara Rama: A Forgotten Warrrior

Kumara Rama was the son of King Kampila Deva and his queen Hariyala Devi. He was an ardent personality who dedicated his career to the service of the kingdom of Kampili. His military exploits further embellish his persona.

He is believed to have defeated the ruler of Gutti Jagadappa when the former was only 12 years old.

Furthermore sometimes later he forged victory over Raja of Mudagala and the Reddi chiefs of Kondapalli.  He also defeated Prataparudra of Warrangal the successor of Queen Rudrama Devi. He also built the fort at Kummata.

It is believed that it was he who adopted a hostile policy towards the Tughlqas.

The rebellion of Bahauddin Gurshasp (Gurshasp)

One of the first military campaigns of Mohammad bin Tughalq was initiated against his own nephew. Bahauddin Gurshasp after gathering the support from his loyal followers declared his independence and attacked the sultan’s troops.

Gurshasp was the governor of Sagar (located at present-day Deccan) and around 1326 he started his war against the newly crowned sultan of Delhi. To finish the rebel governor the sultan sent Malik Ahmed Ayaz the governor of Gujarat and Majir Abu Rija the governor of Devagiri. The small contingent of Bahauddin couldn’t match the firepower of Muhammad bin Tughlaq’s army.

The two governors then defeated the rebelled Gurshasp at the banks of river Godavari. However, Gurshasp was able to save his life along with his wife and children. He took shelter in the kingdom of Kampili whose ruler in order to follow the code of Hindu dharma granted him and his family to live there.

According to the writings of Firishta  Gurshasp from the beginning had friendly ties with the Hindu kingdom of Kampili and this was the reason behind the generosity of Kamipli’s king.

Kingdom of Kampili against Tughlaq’s: A Tale of Heroism

When the news of Gurshasp’s reached Delhi the sultan ordered his army to march against the small yet powerful kingdom of Kampili. The brave hearts of Kampili prepared themselves to face the invading army of Delhi.

Their king had already decided to safeguard the life of Gurshasp and braced his men to stop the advance of the Turks. However, the huge army of the Tughlaq faced defeats at the hands of the Kampili kingdom. It is believed that the war between the Tughlaq and Kampili lasted over a year in which the latter sent three expeditions against the former.

The first expedition which was led by Malik Ruknuddin laid a siege on the Kummata. However, this siege couldn’t bring any success to the Turks and was repulsed by Katanna and Kumara Rama. This was a huge setback for the Tughlqas as their formidable force was utterly defeated by a much smaller army of the Kampili kingdom.

But the Turks did not sit quiet and again marched their hordes against Kampila Deva this time under Qutub Malik. However this attack was also checked by the young Kumara Rama and the Tughlaqs faced another horrific defeat resulting in a huge loss of men, money, and resources.

Although the kingdom of Kampili stood like a mountain in the path of the Delhi Sultanate from these two encounters their kingdom became severely weak. Later Ahmad Ayaz Malik Zada was sent from the region of Devagiri to invade the Kampili kingdom for the third time.

He laid a siege on Kummata and surrounded the stronghold of Kampila Deva and Kumara Rama from all sides. The outnumbered force of Kampila Deva defended their kingdom audaciously and the siege continued for around two months. Later due to the shortage of provision and other resources the Kampila Deva decided to put up a heroic last stand along with his son Kumara Rama and his outnumbered troops.

However, Kampila Deva took full responsibility for the safety of Gurshasp and sent him and his family to the kingdom of Hoysala. The outnumbered army of Kampili then made a gallant last charge against the Tughlaq hordes. Many perished in the battlefield and Kampili who till now had remained independent from the clutches of Turks finally lost its freedom.

Women in order to save their honor committed jauhar when men fight till their last breath. Kampili was annexed by the Tughlaq and Malik Muhammad was appointed its new governor. The spirited resistance put up by Kumara Rama and his father Kampila Deva still generates a sense of pride in the Indian hearts.

They stood against the tyranny of the Tughlqas and even defeated them twice. However, the rule of Tughlaq didn’t last long, and with the rise of Harihara and Bukka the two brothers who were made prisoners of war after the capture of Kampili laid the foundation of the great Vijayanagara Empire which shattered the rule of Tughlaqs and sultanates from south India.


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