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Chola dynasty


             Chola dynasty,The Tamil dynasty originated in the Kaveri valley and ruled South India till the 13th century.Karikala Chola (early period), Rajaraja Chola,  Rajendra Chola, Kulothunga Chola  I (Middle Kingdoms).The Chola rule reached its zenith in the eleventh and twelfth centuries.During the reign  of Rajaraja Chola and Rajendra Chola, they ruled the region from the Maldives to the Godavari River.Rajaraja Chola conquered parts of peninsular India and Sri Lanka.Rajendra Chola invaded North India and Maldives.The rise of the Pandyas and the Hoysalas in the twelfth century increased the power of the Cholas.Chola rule came to an end at the end of the 13th century.

Origin of the Cholas:

                       Vijayalaya, a successor of Srikanta Chola, founded the Chola Empire belonging to the Pottapi Chola family in 848 The Pottapi Cholas were a descendant of the ancient Tamil king Karikala Chola and could have been feudatories of the Pallava dynasty.Vijayalaya captured Thanjavur from the Mutharaiyars during the conflict between the Pandya and Pallava empires and  established the medieval Chola Empire.Thanjavur became the capital of the imperial Chola Empire under Vijayalaya.Aditya I expanded the Chola territory, defeated the Pandya dynasty,  and had matrimonial alliances with the Western Ganga dynasty.In 925, Aditya’s son Parantaka I conquered Sri Lanka (Sri Lanka) and defeated the Rashtrakutas in the Battle of Vallala.

                        Parantaka I later faced defeat by the Rashtrakutas under Krishna III; The heir Rajathitha Chola was killed in the Battle of Thakkolam,  resulting in the loss of the Tondaimandalam region to the Rashtrakutas.The Cholas regained power under Parantaka II with a Chola army led by Athitha Karikala to defeat the Pandyas and extend the kingdom to Tondaimandalam.Athitha Karikalan was killed and Uttama Chola became the Chola emperor after Parantaka II.Raja Raja Chola I succeeded Uttama Chola and is considered the greatest Chola king.

Early Cholas:

                  Sangam literature describes the early Cholas.The Tamil kingdom of the Chola dynasty in the pre- and post-Sangam period  (600BCE-300CE).Initially, the capital was at Uraiyur or Tiruchirappalli and Kaveripattinam.The Cholas were the third largest ruler of Tamil Nadu along with the Pandyas and  the Cheras.The names of Cholas, Pandyas and Cheras  are mentioned in the Ashokan edict.Karikala Chola (120 CE) of the early rulers was  an  important significant ruler.Two Chola rulers believed to have existed in Sangam literature stand out Karikala and Kosenkannan.

Imperial Cholas:

                                The Cholas were one of the three Moovendhars who ruled Tamil Nadu and Kerala during the Sangam Age.Karikalan was an important ruler of the Sangam Age.But after that the Kaveri region of the Cholas came under the Pallavas.Imperial Chola Era with Vijayalaya (D.B 850-871) began, he conquered the Kaveri delta, founded Thanjavur , and created the independent Chola Empire.Rajaraja I and his son Rajendra I were the notable rulers of the Ekatiya Chola dynasty.The Imperial Cholas ruled the entire Tamil country,  northern Sri Lanka and parts of South East Asia, starting from Coromandel.Rajendra Chola I defeated the Chalukyas in the north and extended his  rule up to the Tungabhadra and Godavari River.The Cholas controlled both the Coromandel and Malabar coasts.They conquered northern Sri Lanka. They conquered South Sumatra and Kadaram.

Later Cholas:

                 Matrimonial and political alliances between the Eastern Chalukyas and the Later Cholas began during the reign of Rajaraja.The assassination of Athirajendra Chola in 1070  led to the ascendancy of Kulothunga  Chola I, marking the beginning of the Later Chola dynasty.Later Chola rulers Kulothunga I, Vikrama Chola, Rajaraja II, Rajadhiraja II, and  Kulothunga III  extended territories up to Kalinga, Ilam and Kadaha.Between 1118 and 1215,  the Cholas faced challenges,  losing Vengi to the Western Chalukyas and the Gangavadi districts to the Hoysala Empire.  Vikrama Chola, a successor of Kulothunga Chola I, maintained territorial integrity till 1215 and recovered Vengi and Gangavadi.

                            The decline began under Kulothunga Chola II in 1215–1216, losing to Maravarman Sundara Pandya II.The Cholas lost control of Sri Lanka, faced a revival of Sinhala power, andThe revival of the Pandya dynasty marked the downfall of the Cholas, involving the Cholas and the Sinhalese in the Pandya civil war.The Eastern Chalukya princes, having married into the Chola family, felt a connection, and Rajendra Chalukya  established himself as I Kulottunga on the Chola throne  in 1070.His uncle, who ruled Vengi until his death in 1075, compromised with Vijayaditya VII and made Vengi a province of the Chola Empire.Kulothunga Chola I administered Vengi through his sons and ensured the conquest and prosperity of the empire for the next 100 years,  but lost control of Sri Lanka and the Pandya territories.

Chola rulers:

Name Ruling Years Father Notable achievements
Karikala Chola AD 120 N / A Legend  has it that he built the Grand Dam  (Kallan Dam), a major irrigation system still in use today.

He was known for his conquests and establishment of Chola supremacy in South India.

Vijayalaya Chola 848-881 N / A He established the Chola Empire in 848 CE, captured Thanjavur and established imperialism.

The united Tamil Chola rule, which had been divided for centuries, laid the foundation for future expansion.

Aditya I 881-907 Vijayalaya He expanded the Chola Empire considerably towards the south and west, cementing their dominance in the region.

  He paved the way for future Chola conquests over their long-time rivals by starting and weakening the Pallavas.

Parantaka Chola I 907-955 Aditya I The conquest of Sri Lanka, extended the power of the Cholas southwards and gained control of a strategic island.

He defeated the powerful Rashtrakutas, halted their northward expansion, and consolidated Chola supremacy in South India.

Kandaraditya Chola 956-957 Parantaka I Chidambaram contributed to Tamil literature with eleven poems in praise of Lord Nataraja.

He may have ruled co-operatively with brother Arinjaya and laid the foundation for future Chola emperors such as Parantaka II.

Arinjaya Chola 957-969 Parantaka I Notable for his contributions to the early consolidation and establishment of the Chola dynasty.
Sundara Cholan 969-973 Parantaka I After the fall of the Cholas, it recaptured the territory from the Pandyas and the Hoysalas. He built the Airavatesvara temple to showcase the architectural prowess of the Cholas.
Uttama Chola 973-985 Parantaka I Uttama Chola fostered religious tolerance and encouraged temple renovation through the “Kalpani” scheme.

He retained the power of the Cholas through intelligent administration and decentralization and  granted autonomy to the districts.

Rajaraja Chola I 985-1014 Parantaka I It expanded the Chola empire to its zenith, covering South India, Sri Lanka and parts of Southeast Asia.

He commissioned the magnificent Brihadeeswarar temple in Thanjavur, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a testimony to the craftsmanship of the Cholas.

Rajendra Chola I 1012-1044 Rajaraja I Rajendra Chola I began naval expeditions, conquering Malaysia, Indonesia and parts of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.  This established the Cholas as a dominant maritime power.

  Dedicated to Lord Shiva,  the temple complex showcased the architectural prowess of the Cholas and served as the new capital of the empire.

Rajadhiraja Chola 1018-1054 Rajendra I Continuation of Brihadeeswarar Temple, Tanjore
Rajendra Chola II 1052-1063 Rajadhiraja I The victory in the battle of Koodal-Sangamam preserved the Chola influence in the Krishna river area.

He launched successful naval expeditions against Kedah and Srivijaya,  extending the maritime power of the Cholas.

Virarajendra Chola 1063-1070 Rajendra II He recaptured Vengi and defeated Somesvara II and consolidated the Chola influence.

The expedition led to Kedah (Malaysia) in Southeast Asia, shows the naval prowess of the Cholas.

Athirajendra Chola 1070-1075 Veerarajendran The reign of Aadhirajendra  Chola was unfortunately short due to the massacre, hampering great achievements. However, he was instrumental in placing Kulothunga Chola I, the founder of the later Cholas, on the throne.
Kulothunga Chola I 1070-1122 Rajaraja Narendra of the Chalukyas He united the dynasties and became Kulothunga Chola I.

He recovered Vengi and Gangavadi,  established a century of Chola rule and attained immense prosperity.

Vikrama Chola 1118-1135 Kulottunga I He faced challenges from the Pandyas and the Hoysalas
Kulothunga Chola II 1133-1150 Vikrama Chola Kulothunga II  maintained a vast Chola empire inherited from his predecessors, including the Vengi and Eastern Chalukya territories.

He exploited the internal conflicts in the Karnataka and Chalukya country to further consolidate the Chola control over those areas.

Rajaraja Chola II 1146-1173 Kulottunga II Administrative Reforms, Temple Construction Patron
Rajadhiraja Chola II 1178-1199 Rajaraja II Regaining control of Lanka from the Pandya dynasty after the defeat of his predecessor. Internal conflicts, regional losses
Kulothunga Chola III 1178-1218 Rajaraja II Invasions and internal conflicts weakened the Chola dynasty
Rajaraja Chola III 1216-1256 Kulottunga III He restored the Chola control over Kalinga and Vengi,  territories lost during the reign of his predecessors.

Architectural wonders, such as the Airavatesvara Temple, showcase artistic influence and opulence.

Rajendra Chola III 1246-1279 Rajaraja III The Last Notable Chola Ruler, Civil Strife & Regional Decline

Administration of the Cholas:

Chola dynasty-Government:

                                   It was the first dynasty to bring the entire region under one government.The kings held supreme power. He gave orders to the officers.Temples served as places of worship, economic centres and educational institutions.The Chola Empire was  divided intoà Mandalas,àValanaduand Kottamkal/Kutragal.The traditional nobles were appointed as supreme officials.There were several departments that managed land surveys, valuations, and collections.The villages are self-governing and are overseen by great beauties such as the Koormas countries and Kottayams.Settlement of local disputes and settlement of fines for petty offences were dealt with by the king.

Chola dynasty-Military:

                                  The Emperor was the supreme commander of the cavalry collar regiments and naval units.Infantry, in particular, produced reliable soldiers.The army is spread across the country, stationed in local garrissons or military camps (kodagams). A 13th century Chinese geographer said that the Cholas had 60,000 war elephants  and soldiers built houses on them and fought from them.Historians have marveled at the naval strength of the Cholas as they had innumerable ships. Soldiers were given the right tocreative‘.The outposts formed in the newly added areas are calledstanding forces‘.The leader of a regiment was called ‘Nayakam‘  and  ‘Padamudali.The commander of the army was called ‘Senathipathi‘ and ‘Dandanayakam.

Chola dynasty-Economy:

         Land revenue and commercial taxes were the main sources of income for the Chola empire.They issued coins in gold, silver and copper.Three-tier economy: agricultural settlements, commercial towns (city), and elite merchant groups (religion)  dominated international maritime trade.Silk cloth was an important export item.They gave importance to weaving.Silk weaving, especially in Kanchipuram, reached high levels of skill during the Chola period.Metal art reached its zenith in the 10th to 11th centuries with the patronage of metal  craftsmen by Chola rulers such as Sembian Mahadevi.Woods Steel was the main export item of the Cholas.

                    The peasants were nobles and economicThe ownership of the farmers is vellan-vagai, service ownership and elimosinary lease.Vellan-vagai villages switch to the government or public institutions such as temples and pay a fixed fee.The Chola rulers constructed large stone dams across rivers, dug canals, dug wells and  dug tanks for irrigation.Rajendra Chola I created an artificial lake near his capital and filled it with water from Kolerun and Vellar.Salt production was done in the sea under the supervision of the government

Chola dynasty-Foreign Trade:

                    The Cholas engaged in foreign trade and had influence as far as China and Southeast Asia.By the end of the 9th century, South India had developed extensive maritime and commercial activities.China’s Tang Dynasty, the Srivijaya Empire and the Abbasid Caliphate in Baghdad were important trading partners.The Cholas played an important role in connecting China’s markets with the rest of the world.The embassy was a commercial venture, exchanging copper coins for tributes, including glass and spices,  to Chola visitors  and making a profit.

Art and Architecture:

                                     Chola architecture is associated with the Imperial Cholas who ruled South India from 850 CE to 1250 CE.The Cholas followed the temple building traditions of the Pallava.They built temples in Dravidian style.The notable Shiva temples on the banks of the river Kaveri were built by Aditya I and Large entrances called gopurams were erected in temples.Rajaraja Chola and Rajendra Chola I played an important role in promoting the construction of the temple.The temples at Thanjavur and Gangaikondacholapuram exhibit mature Chola architecture.The Thanjavur Shiva Temple, completed in 1009, is the largest and tallest of its time.The Gangaikondacholeeswarar temple at Gangaikondacholapuram designed by Rajendra Chola was an aspect of the Cholas.Temples declared by UNESCO:

  1. Brihadeeswarar Temple,
  2. Gangaikondacholeeswarar Temple
  3. Airavatesvara Temple in Darasuram

      The Chola period is mentioned for sculptures and bronzes.The images include various forms of Shiva, Vishnu, Lakshmi, and Shaivite Nataraja, a divine dancer, exemplifies the independence and artistic expression of the Chola sculptors.

Chola dynasty-Community:

     During the Chola period, various sanghas including Manigramam, Ayyavol, Anjuvannam and Valanjiar came into existence.The merchants, who played a significant role in South Indian society, organized themselves into ‘guilds’.People belonging to the ‘Vellalarcaste migrated to northern Sri Lanka.Agricultural labourers were calledspies‘.The weavers were calledKaikolas‘.He maintained the army and played an important role in the economy.The imperial Chola rulers (10th-13th centuries) saw changes in temple administration and land ownership.Non-Brahmin people, including skilled classes such as weavers and merchants, were more involved in temple administration.

     Has high literacy and education as indicated by the quality of Chola inscriptions.Court poets wrote the inscriptions, and skilled craftsmen engraved them.Some village councils organized basic reading and writing schools, but there was no evidence of a formal education system.Vocational training through hereditary training, fathers pass skills to sons.Tamil was the language . Mathas (mata or khatika) functioned as government-sponsored learning centers.

Chola dynasty-Religion:

      The Cholas were primarily followers of Hinduism.The largest and most important temple built by the Cholas was dedicated to Shiva, but their particular association with Shaivism was not.Aditya I (871-903) built temples for both Shiva and Vishnu, showing a wide religious patronage.The Ranganatha temple at Srirangapatna was built by AdityaThe Chola kings built temples for both Shiva and Vishnu, as exemplified by Parantaka I and Parantaka CholaRajaraja Chola I supported the Buddhists  and contributed to the construction of the Choodamani Viharaya, a Buddhist monastery at Nagapattinam.

            Especially in the later Cola period when the Vaisnavas  are said to be intolerant.Girimikanta Chola, identified with Kulothunga Chola II, is said to have persecuted Ramanuja.The temple records of Srirangam mention Kulothunga Chola II, son of Krimikanta Chola, who repented and supported Vaishnavism.Ramanuja made Kulothunga II his disciple, and the king gave the administration of the Ranganathaswamy temple to Dasarathi and his descendants.While the Chola kings built large temples to Shiva and held titles such as Sivapadasekaran, their inscriptions did not declare exclusive practice of Saivism or Shaivism as the state religion.

Chola dynasty-Literature:

  • Kambar wrote Ramavatharam, the classic of Tamil literature, during the reign of Kulottunga III.
  • Jayamkondar’s Kalingattupparani describes the events during Kulothunga’s Kalinga War that distinguish between history and fiction.
  • Ottakkuttan, a contemporary of Kulottunga I, wrote Kulothunga Cola Ula  in praise  of the virtues of the Cola king.
  • Nannool, a Chola-period work on Tamil grammar, discusses all the five branches and is relevant in literary Tamil.
  • Poets like Tikkana, Ketana, Marana, Somana contributed to literature through works like Nirvachanottara Ramayana, Andhra Mahabharata and others.
  • Nambi Andar Nambi arranged the canon of Saivism into eleven books at the end of the 10th 

Decline of the Chola Dynasty:

                 The Chola dynasty remained stable from the 9th to the 13th centuries.By the end of the twelfth century, the chiefdom began to rise. This reduced the strength of the centralized state.The Pandyas continued to invade. As a result, the Chola kingdom became so weak that it depended on the Hoysala kingdom, which was weaker than itself.Telugu Cholas captured Kanchipuram.In 1264, the Pandya king Jatavarman Sundara Pandyan I captured the Chola capital Gangaikonda Cholapuram.The last Chola king, Rajendra Chola III, was defeated by Maravarman Kulasekara Pandyan I in 1279 .After that, the rule of the Cholas came to an end and the rule of the Pandyas began.


          The Sambuvarayas were closely associated with the Chola kings Rajadhiraja and Kulottunga III.During their rule, the Sambuvarayas emerged as influential rulers in North Arcot and Chengalpattu regions.They came to power as powerful local rajas, waging wars for and among themselves in support of the empires to which they belonged.From the late thirteenth century until the decline of the Pandya rule, the Sambuvarayas played a significant political role in the Palar region.They established an administrative system known as the Raja Majestic Kingdom, whose capital was located in Batapeta. Inscriptions belonging to the period of Veera Chola Sambuvaraya (1314-1315) have been discovered and  shed light on their activities.

                       The Sambuvarayas adopted distinctive titles to signify their accession to power.Sambuvaraya (1322-1323) of Sakalaloka Chakravarthy and Rajanarayana Sambuvaraya (1337-1338) of Sakalaka Chakravarthy   are examples.Rajanarayana Sambuvaraya, who ruled under the title of Sakalaloka Chakravarthy, ruled for a remarkable 20 years before facing defeat at the hands of Kumara Kampana of Vijayanagara.Following this defeat, Kumara Kambanar extended his influence southwards and reached as far as Madurai. Later, he conquered the Sultan of Madurai, securing a decisive victory in the region.This was a turning point in the political landscape and set the stage for Kumara Kambanar’s further expansion into the South.





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