If Vijayanagar had survived, India might have entered the modern age looking a great deal different
When Vijayanagar was defeated at the Battle of Talikota in January 1565, what fell with it was the last formidable empire to tower over the Indian peninsula. To be clear, the old kingdom continued to exist for many more decades in a truncated form, but Talikota marked the end of all glories for a power that once boasted of such monarchs as Krishnadeva Raya. Weakened and emasculated, its rulers watched as their authority dissolved, and regional dynasts emerged, inaugurating the so-called Nayaka period in the south. In the northern Deccan, meanwhile, Vijayanagar’s traditional enemies—the sultans who emerged victorious at Talikota—ruled for a century more, till the Mughals swallowed their independence during the reigns of Shah Jahan and his son. With the fall of Golconda in 1687, even their tale was concluded—the next chapter pivoted around the feud between Shivaji the Maratha and Aurangzeb, the last Great Mughal.