The fall of the Yadavas of Devagiri marks a turning point not only in the history of the Deccan but also in that of the Peninsular India. Their fan facilitated Islam's penetration deep into the South.
The Yadavas dominated the Deccan politics (EHD, p. 515.) in the thirteenth century. They claimed descent from Yadu of Puranic fame. Drdhaprahara was the first member of the family to attain some distinction (EHD, p. 516) in about 860 A. D. His successor founded the city of Seunapur probably modern Sinnar in the Nasik district. Later in the struggle between the Rastrakutas and the Calukyas, the Yadava King Bhillama II took the side of latter. He also participated in the overthrow of the Paramara King Munja (EHD, p.517.). For this help the Rastrakuta King granted Ahmadnagar district to Bhillama. Bhillama assumed the title Vijayabharana Ornament of Victory-for himself.
It was Bhillama V who for the first time assumed imperial titles for his dynasty in about 1187 A. D. (EHD, p. 520). He gained victories after victories but in the end met with a tremendous set-back in the struggle to maintain a hold over the Doab region between the Krsna and the Tungabhadra. In this struggle he was pitched against the Hoyasala King Ballala II on the battlefield of Soratur near Dharvar. The famous Yadava general Jaitrapala lost his life while fighting against the Hoyasala King (EHD, p. 525). This event took place towards the end of 1191 A. D. (EHD, p. 523). It is to the credit of Bhillama V that he consolidated the Yadava rule over Maharastra, carried successful inroads into Malva and Gujarat and occupied the whole of the Raicur Doab (EHD, p. 527).
The sorrowful defeat of Soratur was avenged by Singhana Yadava (C 1210 to 1247). The Yadava empire reached its meridian under this most able ruler. In the struggle for the hegemony of the Deccan Singhana was successful over his rivals the Hoyasalas and Kakatiyas of the south and the Paramaras and the Calukyas to his north. Roughly his territory extended to the south of the line joining Nagpur and Broac and was limited by the line connecting Girisappa and Karnul (EHD, p. 542). According to Hemadri the minister of Mahadeva Yadava and the inventor of the temple architecture known as Hemadpanti style, Singhana’s empire included the Chattisgad area. Some of the inscriptions claim that the kings of Mathura and Kasi felt the power of Singhana and one of his generals defeated a Muslim ruler. They also state that either King Singhana himself or his generals Kholesvara, Rama or Bicana defeated the kings of Sindh, Rohilkhand, Bengal, Bihar, Kerala and Pandya. All these high claims for Singhana appear to be more imaginary than real in the absence of independent and trustworthy evidence (EHD, pp. 540-41). However, it is significant to note that the arm of the Yadava power under Singhana had reached as far as Nagpur in its eastward expansion. Ramacandra Yadava (1271-1311) extended his sway over Vajrakar (probably Vairagad, eighty miles north east of Canda) and Bhandagara i.e., Bhandara, thirty-eight miles east of Nagpur. He then marched northward and took Tripuri near Jubbulpore. From here he proceeded to Benaras and restored it to Hindu rule. This event must have taken place after the death of Balban in A. D. 1286 and prior to the accession of Jalal-ud-din Khilji, when the hold of Islam over the outlying provinces was slack. This is evidenced by the famous Purusottamapuri plates of Ramacandra (EHD, P. 551.).
The eastern border of the Yadava kingdom under Ramacandra extended beyond the Wardha river, the traditional boundary line of Berar. Hemadri, probably took a leading part in the conquest of Nagpur, Bhandara and Canda beyond the Wardha river. Nagpur, Bhandara and Canda comprised the Jhadimandala i.e., the wooded territory. From the Lilacaritra i.e., the biography of the saint Cakradhara it seems that the Jhadimandala where he wandered was not far off from Acalapur i.e., Ellicpur. (Lilacaritra, Ekanka, p. 37-by H. N. Nene. Also see Samsodhana Muktavali, Sarga Dusara by V. V. Mirashi. Madhyaprades Samsodhana Mandala, Nagpur, 1957, pp. 196-97. The inscription of Ramacandra found at Ramtek speaks for the Yadava sway over Nagpur- Epigraphica Indica, Vol. 25, p.7.).
Thus we gather from the Ramtek inscription and the Lilacaritra that the district of Nagpur was at one time under the Yadavas of Devagiri. It formed part of the thickly wooded, country-Jhadimandala. It is quite natural that the region to the east of the Wardha river should be thickly wooded as it has had better rainfall than the region to its west. Nagpur under the Yadavas does not seem to have attained any political importance, like the western wing of the Yadava Kingdom.
By 1292 A. D. the Yadava power was at the height of its glory. It. however, began to decline fast when Devagiri was invaded by Ala-ud-din Khilji in 1294 (EHD, P. 552). Ramacandra Yadava was taken by surprise and completely defeated. He purchased peace by offering vast quantity of gold, the revenue of Ellicpur as annual tribute and one of his daughters to the victor Ala-ud-din. The pride of the Yadavas was humbled.
Sankaradeva, the son of Ramacandra, tried in vain to regain the lost independence. He was easily defeated by Malik Kafur the distinguished general of Alai-ud-din. The last ruler of the Yadavas Harapaladeva was defeated and killed in 1318 A. D. by Qutb-ud-din Mubarak Sah. By this defeat Maharastra passed into the hands of the Muslim rulers and Devagiri became a centre of Islamic culture (EHD, pp. 555-56).