Administration of Vijayanagar Empire

  • Empire was divided into different administrative units called Mandalams, Nadus, Sthalas and finally into gramas.
  • Governor of Mandalam was called Mandaleshwar or Nayak. Nayaks were allotted territory called Nayakatan and Nayaks were frequently transferred from one territory to other.
  • Besides land revenue, tributes and gifts from vassals and feudal chiefs, customs collected at ports, taxes on various professions were other sources of income to the government.
  • Army consisted of cavalry, infantry, artillery & elephants.
  • Top-grade officers of army were known as Nayaks or Poligars. They were granted land in lieu of their services which were called amaram.
  • A body of 12 functionaries known as Ayangars, conducted village affairs.
  • Manyams were tax free lands.
  • Nayankara System: King was the head of the Empire. Empire was divided into provinces, Nadus and villages. Village assemblies functioned in the same way as it did during Chola period. Day-to-day administration of village was done by officers known as ‘Ayyagars’, who inherited the post. Position of Nayaks in village administration was equal to that of Nayaks in Central Administration.

Nayankara System

  • The administration which existed in the provinces was called as ‘Nayankara system’.  According to the system, all the land were owned by the rulers. 
  • Kings distributed the territories among his generals known as sima or sirmai.  They functioned under his control and acted as feudal lords. Nayakas maintained an armed contingent and collected taxes on behalf of the state.
  • Based on the system most of the lands were distributed among the Nayaks (land lords).  They lived with pomp and show and constructed forts for their protection.  They accepted the supremacy of the Vijayanagar rulers and acted as their protectors.
  • Nuniz, in his account mentioned that the Nayaks collected one tenth of the total revenue as land tax that was very high.
  • Nayaks gave half of the revenue to central government.  Rest of the amount was utilised by the Nayaks for administration, military and other charitable works. 
  • During the later part of Vijayanagara empire and after the end of Vijayanagara empire, these Nayaka polities emerged into independent polities. Examples include Ikkeri in northern Karnataka, Odeyars in southern Karnataka, Senji (Gingee), Thanjavur and Madurai in Tamil Nadu and Cholamandalam and Pandiamandalam in southern Tamil Nadu.
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