Nadaprabhu Hiriya Kempe Gowda, also known as Kempe Gowda was a chieftain under the Vijayanagara Empire. The city of Bengaluru, capital of the Indian state of Karnataka, was fortified by Kempe Gowda in 1537. He erected many Kannada inscriptions in the Kannada Country.
Kempe Gowda was one of the well educated and successful rulers of his time. Being a successor of Kempananje Gowda, descendants of Morasu Gowda lineage started as Yelahankanadu Prabhus (ruler of Yelhankanadu). The Yelahankanadu Prabhus were Gowdas or tillers of the land. Fourth in succession from Rana Bhairave Gowda, founder of the dynasty of Avati Nadu Prabhus and great grandson of Jaya Gowda, who established separate dynasty, is the famous Yelahanka Nadu Prabhus, Kempe Gowda I who ruled for 46 years commencing his reign from 1513. Jaya Gowda accepted the sovereignty of the Vijayanagar emperor. He later left Yelankanadu and was successful in planning and building Bengaluru Fort and Bengaluru Pete, the foundation of the current city of Bengaluru. He is also noted for his societal reforms and contribution to building temples and water reservoirs in Bengaluru. His ancestral origin is near Denkanikottai town in Krishnagiri District
Kempegowda’s birth anniversary celebrations are organized by the state government every year across Karnataka from 27 June 2017, and is seen as Kempegowda day or ′Kempegowda Jayanthi′. An award is established and named after the ruler, called Kempegowda Award, which is presented annually at ceremony held by BBMP.
Hiriya Kempe Gowda was born in Yelahanka and was the son of Morasu Vokkaliga Kempananje Gowda, who had ruled Yelhankanadu for more than 70 years. The powerful chiefly family had moved from Kanchi in Tamil Nadu to Karnataka in the early fifteenth century and served the Vijaynagar Empire. They were originally from Karnataka and were a Kannada speaking community, although well versed in Telugu. Kempe Gowda, who is reputed to have shown leadership skills during his childhood, was educated at Gurukula in Aivarukandapura (Aigondapura), a village near Hesaraghatta, for nine years. Kempe Gowda assumed the chieftaincy from his father in 1513.
It is said that Kempe Gowda got the vision of building a big futuristic city during a hunting expedition when he went towards Shivanasamudra (near Hesaraghatta) from Yelahanka with his Minister Veeranna and Advisor Gidde Gowda. He envisioned the city to have a fort, a cantonment, tanks (water reservoirs), temples and people of all trades and professions to live in it. He conquered Sivaganga principality, 48 kilometres (30 mi) from Bangalore on Bangalore-Pune highway. Next he annexed Domlur, which is on the road from Bangalore to the old Bangalore airport. Within this vast forest area, with the necessary Imperial permission of the Vijayanagar Emperor, Achyutharaya (Dasarahalli record dated 1532) he built Bangalore Fort and the town in AD 1537, and moved his capital from Yelahanka to the new Bengaluru Pete.