Within a few years after the arrival of Alla Udin-Khilji in the kingdom of Yadavagiri in the year 1296, entire Southern India was ravaged by the invaders. Indian culture and religion were endangered by this foreign invasion. At this juncture people united to protect themselves, their religion and culture. It was in this backdrop that Vijayanagar was founded. It flourished for more than two hundred years.
The Kingdom of Vijayanagar was ruled by four dynasties. The first one was Sangama dynasty which was founded by Harihara the first.
It is said that sangama came from warangal. However, the inscriptions do not lend credence to this belief. Sangama belonged to the yadu dynasty and the yadus were Kannadigas.
Sangama was a petty chieftain who was highly respected. He had five sons, Harihara, Bukka, Kempanna, Marappa and Muddappa. Harihara and Bukka played a vital role in establishing the Vijayanagara Kingdom. Prior to this, Harihara and Bukka served the Hoysalas whose confidence they enjoyed.
According to Shringeri inscription, Harihara founded the Vijayanagara kingdom in the Shalivahana Saka 1258 during the Dhatunama samvatsara, on the seventh day of vaishaka, i.e. on the 18th of April 1336 A.D. He followed the government rules of the Hoysalas. Virupaxa of Hampi and Channakeshava of Belur, the family deities of the Hoysalas, become the family deities of the Sangama dynasty too. There was also a caste relation between the Hoysalas and the Sangama dynasty.
It is fact that shri Vidyaranya, the religiousteacher of the Sangama dynasty, took an active
part in the establishment of the empire and in fact,was the main cause for the establishment of thiskingdom. But the fact that Vijayanagar, formerly known as Vidyanagar, was named after ShriVidyaranya supports the roleplayed by the Shri Vidyaranya. That it was named after shri Vidyaranya is recorded in some inscriptions.
Many inscriptions reveal that the kings of Vijayanagar were devoted to Shri Vidyaranya, the religious preceptor of Shringeri, and had given many gifts in his honour. Hence it could be concluded that Sri Vidyaranya himself the actual founder the Vijayanagar kingdom.