This event threw the Hindus into a panic, and they began to give way. Rama Raya was conducted by the officer who commanded the artillery of Hussain Nizam to his Sultan, who immediately ordered his captive to be decapitated, and the head to be elevated on a long spear, so that it might be visible to the Hindu troops.
On seeing that their chief was dead, the Vijayanagar forces broke and fled "They were pursued by the allies with such successful slaughter that the river which ran near the field was dyed red with their blood. It is computed on the best authorities that above one hundred thousand infidels were slain in fight and during the pursuit."
The Mussulmans were thus completely victorious, and the Hindus fled towards the capital; but so great was the confusion that there was not the slightest attempt made to take up a new and defensive position amongst the hills surrounding the city, or even to defend the walls or the approaches. The rout was complete.
"The plunder was so great that every private man in the allied army became rich in gold, jewels, effects, tents, arms, horses, and slaves, as the sultans left every person in possession of what he had acquired, only taking elephants for their own use."
De Couto, describing the death of Rama Raya, states that Hussain Nizam Shah cut off his enemy's head with his own hand, exclaiming, "Now I am avenged of thee! Let God do what he will to me!" The Adil Shah, on the contrary, was greatly distressed at Rama Raya's death.
The story of this terrible disaster travelled apace to the city of Vijayanagar. The inhabitants, unconscious of danger, were living in utter ignorance that any serious reverse had taken place; for their leaders had marched out with countless numbers in their train, and had been full of confidence as to the result. Suddenly, however, came the bad news. The army was defeated; the chiefs slain; the troops in retreat. But still they did not grasp the magnitude of the reverse; on all previous occasions the enemy had been either driven back, or bought off with presents from the overstocked treasury of the kings. There was little fear, therefore, for the city itself. That surely was safe! But now came the dejected soldiers hurrying back from the fight, and amongst the foremost the panic-stricken princes of the royal house. Within a few hours these craven chiefs hastily left the palace, carrying with them all the treasures on which they could lay their hands. Five hundred and fifty elephants, laden with treasure in gold, diamonds, and precious stones valued at more than a hundred millions sterling, and carrying the state insignia and the celebrated jewelled throne of the kings, left the city under convoy of bodies of soldiers who remained true to the crown. King Sadasiva was carried off by his jailor, Tirumala, now sole regent since the death of his brothers; and in long line the royal family and their followers fled southward towards the fortress of Penukonda.
Then a panic seized the city. The truth became at last apparent. This was not a defeat merely, it was a cataclysm. All hope was gone. The myriad dwellers in the city were left defenceless. No retreat, no flight was possible except to a few, for the pack-oxen and carts had almost all followed the forces to the war, and they had not returned. Nothing could be done but to bury all treasures, to arm the younger men, and to wait. Next day the place became a prey to the robber tribes and jungle people of the neighbourhood. Hordes of Brinjaris, Lambadis, Kurubas, and the like, pounced down on the hapless city and looted the stores and shops, carrying off great quantities of riches. Couto states that there were six concerted attacks by these people during the day.
The third day saw the beginning of the end. The victorious Mussulmans had halted on the field of battle for rest and refreshment, but now they had reached the capital, and from that time forward for a space of five months Vijayanagar knew no rest. The enemy had come to destroy, and they carried out their object relentlessly. They slaughtered the people without mercy, broke down the temples and palaces; and wreaked such savage vengeance on the abode of the kings, that, with the exception of a few great stone-built temples and walls, nothing now remains but a heap of ruins to mark the spot where once the stately buildings stood. They demolished the statues, and even succeeded in breaking the limbs of the huge Narasimha monolith. Nothing seemed to escape them. They broke up the pavilions standing on the huge platform from which the kings used to watch the festivals, and overthrew all the carved work. They lit huge fires in the magnificently decorated buildings forming the temple of Vitthalasvami near the river, and smashed its exquisite stone sculptures. With fire and sword, with crowbars and axes, they carried on day after day their work of destruction. Never perhaps in the history of the world has such havoc been wrought, and wrought so suddenly, on so splendid a city; teeming with a wealthy and industrious population in the full plenitude of prosperity one day, and on the next seized, pillaged, and reduced to ruins, amid scenes of savage massacre and horrors beggaring description.