The provinical administration was not much altered from that existing in earlier times. The empire was divided into provinces which were known as rayyas and sometimes as mandalas. When the area of a particular rayya was large, it was called maharayya. They were further divided into districts, talukas and villages.

In the Tamil region, the districts were known as kottams or kurrams. The kottams were divided into nads or modern talukas. The nadus were divided into aimbadin melagarams or units of fifty villages. Below this were the agarams or mangalams which were smaller administrative units of a few villages.

In the Karnataka region, the rayyas (provinces) also called pithikas were divided into districts known as Venthe, Visya or nirvritti. These districts were divided into simes which were further divided into sthala comprising a few villages. There were no fixed numbers of villages in a sthala. There were certain variations in names and divisions in some parts of the region.

Each province was put under the charge of a governor who was usually a member of the royal family. The governor, generally known as dandanayaka had vast powers. They maintained their own armies, held courts and ruled the territories under their jurisdiction without interference from the Centre as long as they enjoyed the trust and confidence of the sovereign.


They could, however, be transferred from one province to another depending on the will of the emperor. These provinicial governors were even permitted to issue their own coins. They were held responsible for the maintenance of law and order. They had to pay a fixed sum of money annually to the King out of revenues.

They were also to maintain a fixed number of horsemen, foot soldiers and elephants. Some of them held office at the headquarters also and, therefore, appointed deputies to run the administration in the provinces. These governors maintained an agent called nuniz at the capital to keep them informed of the happenings at the court.

A brief reference here be made to the nayankara system. Vijayanagar was predominantly a military state. A huge army had to be maintained for defence against the Bahmanis. The king being the owner of the soil granted lands to some persons as a reward. They were called nayaks and ruled over the territory under their charge with great freedom.

In return they had to pay a fixed amount as tribute to the king besides maintaining a prescribed number of troops for the service of the sovereign during war. The position of nayaka was quite different from that of the governor.


He was merely a military vassal who had been assigned a district in lieu of certain military and financial obligations. He was not transferable and his office was personal but later on became hereditary, when the kings at the centre became weak. The nayaks, on their part, gave their lands to other tenants on the same terms on which they had received them from the king.