Chola dynasty

CholaCholasChola Empire
Rajaraja Chola I and Rajendra Chola I were the greatest rulers of the Chola dynasty, extending it beyond the traditional limits of a Tamil kingdom. At its peak, the Chola Empire stretched from the island of Sri Lanka in the south to the Godavari-Krishna river basin in the north, up to the Konkan coast in Bhatkal, the entire Malabar Coast in addition to Lakshadweep, Maldives, and vast areas of Chera country. Rajaraja Chola I was a ruler with inexhaustible energy, and he applied himself to the task of governance with the same zeal that he had shown in waging wars.

Brihadisvara Temple, Thanjavur

Brihadeeswarar TempleBrihadisvara TempleBrihadeeswara Temple
Kalki Krishnamurthy, a renowned Tamil novelist, has written a historical novel named Ponniyin Selvan, based on the life of Raja Raja Chola I. Balakumaran, another Tamil author has written a novel named Udaiyar themed on the life of Raja Raja Chola I and the construction of the temple. The temple is currently administered and managed by Babaji Bhonsle, the head of the Thanjavur Maratha royal family. He serves as the hereditary trustee of the palace Devasthanam which continues to manage 88 Chola temples including the Brihadeeswara temple. Tamil groups have been unsuccessfully petitioning the Tamil Nadu government to revoke these rights as he is not of Chola or Tamil lineage.

Tamil Nadu

TamilnaduTamil Nadu, IndiaTamil
Rajaraja Chola I and his son Rajendra Chola built temples such as the Brihadeshvara Temple of Thanjavur and Brihadeshvara Temple of Gangaikonda Cholapuram, the Airavatesvara Temple of Darasuram and the Sarabeswara (Shiva) Temple, also called the Kampahareswarar Temple at Thirubhuvanam, the last two temples being located near Kumbakonam. The first three of the above four temples are titled Great Living Chola Temples among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Muslim invasions of southern India triggered the establishment of the Hindu Vijayanagara Empire with Vijayanagara in modern Karnataka as its capital.

Tamil language

Tamil is a Dravidian language predominantly spoken by the Tamil people of India and Sri Lanka, and by the Tamil diaspora, Sri Lankan Moors, Chindians, and Douglas. Tamil is an official language in three countries: India, Sri Lanka and Singapore. In India, it is the official language of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Puducherry. Furthermore, Tamil is used as one of the languages of education in Malaysia, along with English, Malay and Mandarin. Tamil is spoken by significant minorities in the four other South Indian states of Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and the Union Territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Chola Nadu

Cauvery DeltaCauvery delta regionChola country
Cauvery Delta is a region of Tamil Nadu state in southern India. It encompasses the lower reaches of the Kaveri River and its delta, and formed the cultural homeland and political base of the Chola Dynasty which ruled most of South India and parts of Sri Lanka and South-East Asia between the 9th and 13th centuries AD. Uraiyur (now part of Tiruchirapalli city) served as the early Chola capital, then medieval Cholas shifted to Thanjavur and later cholas king Rajendra Chola I moved the capital to Gangaikonda Cholapuram in the 11th century.


This village is the final resting place of the Great Chola dynasty emperor Raja Raja Chola I, though it remains less known than the temples he built far off. As per the 2001 census, Udayalur had a total population of 2995 with 1502 males and 1493 females. The sex ratio was 994. The literacy rate was 72.29 *

Medieval Cholas

Medieval CholaMedievalCholas
Medieval Cholas rose to prominence during the middle of the 9th century CE and established one of the greatest empires of India. They successfully united South India under their rule and through their naval strength extended their influence in Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka. They had trade contacts with the Arabs in the west and with the Chinese in the east.

List of Solesvara temples

SolesvaraChozheeswarar AlayamSolesvara Temples
Choleeswaram temple at Kantalai (Raja Raja Chola I).

Sri Lanka

CeylonCeyloneseDemocratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
In AD 993, the invasion of Chola emperor Rajaraja I forced the then Sinhalese ruler Mahinda V to flee to the southern part of Sri Lanka. Taking advantage of this situation, Rajendra I, son of Rajaraja I, launched a large invasion in 1017. Mahinda V was captured and taken to India, and the Cholas sacked the city of Anuradhapura casing the fall of Anuradhapura Kingdom. Subsequently, they moved the capital to Polonnaruwa. Following a seventeen-year-long campaign, Vijayabahu I successfully drove the Chola out of Sri Lanka in 1070, reuniting the country for the first time in over a century.


TanjoreTanjavurThanjavur City
During the first decade of the eleventh century, the Chola king Raja Raja Chola I (985–1014) constructed the Brihadeeswarar Temple at Thanjavur. The temple is considered to be one of the best specimens of Tamil architecture. When the Chola Empire began to decline in the 13th century, the Pandyas from the south invaded and captured Thanjavur twice, first during 1218–19 and then during 1230. During the second invasion, the Chola king Rajaraja III (1216–56) was exiled and he sought the help of the Hoysala king Vira Narasimha II (1220–35) to regain Thanjavur.


Sundaramoorthy NayanarCuntararThiruthondar Thogai
Raja Raja Chola I (985-1013 CE) embarked on a mission to recover the hymns after hearing short excerpts of Tevaram in his court. He sought the help of Nambiyandar Nambi, who was a priest in a temple. It is believed that by divine intervention Nambi found the presence of scripts, in the form of cadijam leaves half eaten by white ants in a chamber inside the second precinct in Thillai Nataraja Temple, Chidambaram.


Gandaraditya Chola
From the death of Parantaka I, to the accession of Rajaraja I in 985 CE, Chola history is obscure. During this period of 30 years there were five princes who must have occupied the throne. There are several theories surrounding the rapid ascension to the Chola throne. One was that there were internal feuds among the different members of the royal family. The other is that the effects of the Rashtrakuta invasion, under Krishna III and his brother-in-law Ganga Butuga, and the defeat of the Chola army at Takkolam resulting in the death of heir-apparent Rajaditya Chola (the first in line to the throne - "aanai mael thunjiya devar") must have brought large-scale disorder in the kingdom.

Battle of Kandalur Salai

Kandalur WarKandalur-SalaiKandhalur Saalai naval battle
The battle of Kandalur salai (988 AD), also spelled Kanthaloor Shala, was a naval engagement of the Cholas under Rajaraja I (985 - 1014 CE ) against the Brahmin "salai" at Kandalur in south Kerala. The exact location of Kandalur - somewhere south of present-day Trivandrum - and assessment of the term "salai" are subjects of scholarly debate. Nevertheless, the salais were considered prized possessions as they are claimed to have been sacked by many kings of south India. The event is generally assumed to be identical with the "conquest of Vizhinjam", before the wars against Sri Lanka, given in the Tiruvalangadu grant of Rajaraja.

Kundavai Pirāttiyār

She was the daughter of Parantaka Chola II and the elder sister of Rajaraja Chola I. Kuntavai commissioned many temples for Siva, Vishnu and Jaina. She features in Chola inscriptions. ''..vessels and ornaments made of gold, silver and pearl and presented to the temples of Kundavai-Vinnagar-Alvar, Iravikulamanikka-Iswara and Kundavai Jinalaya, built by the princess Parantakan Kundavai Pirattiyar, daughter of Ponmaligaittunjiyadevar(Parantaka Sundara Chola).'' She built at least two Jain temples, one at Rajarajeswaram later known as Darapuram and the other at Tirumalai.


Raja Raja Chola I (ruled 985-1013 CE) embarked on a mission to recover the hymns after hearing short excerpts of Tevaram in his court. He sought the help of Nambi Andar Nambi, who was a priest in a temple. It is believed that by divine intervention Nambi found the presence of scripts, in the form of cadijam leaves half eaten by white ants in a chamber inside the second precinct in Thillai Nataraja Temple, Chidambaram. The brahmanas (Dikshitars) in the temple opposed the mission, but Rajaraja intervened by consecrating the images of the saint-poets through the streets of Chidambaram. Rajaraja thus became to be known as Tirumurai Kanda Cholan meaning one who saved the Tirumurai.


TirugnanasambandarTirugnana SambandarThirugnana Sambanthar
An inscription of Rajaraja Chola I at Tiruvarur mentions Sambandar along with Appar, Sundarar and the latter's wife Nangai Paravaiyar. Paadal Petra Sthalams are 275 temples that are revered in the verses of Tevaram and are amongst the greatest Shiva temples of the continent. Vaippu Sthalangal are places that were mentioned casually in the songs in Tevaram. The focus of the moovars (first three poets) hymns suggests darshan (seeing and being seen by God) within the puja (worship) offering.

Three Crowned Kings

Tamil Triumviratethe three crowned rulers (the mu-ventar)three crowned
They would frequently wage war against one another under a period of instability until the Imperial period of Rajaraja I who united Tamilakam under one leadership. The etymology of the Tamil word for the three kings – Moovendhar (pronounced Mūvēntar) – comes from மூ and வேந்தர், so strictly should be translated as 'Lord' (lesser-king) as opposed to 'King' which in Tamil is கோன் (Kōn). They are mentioned by Megasthenes and the Edicts of Ashoka, and first in Tolkappiyam among Tamil literature who was the first to call them Three Glorified by Heaven. Ptolemy and the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea mention three kingdoms ruling Tamilakam.


The Chudamani Vihara in Nagapattinam constructed by the Srivijayan king Sri Mara Vijayattungavarman of the Sailendra dynasty with the help of Rajaraja Chola I was an important Buddhist structure in those times. Nagapattinam was settled by the Portuguese and, later, the Dutch under whom it served as the capital of Dutch Coromandel from 1660 to 1781. In November 1781, the town was conquered by the British East India Company. It served as the capital of Tanjore district from 1799 to 1845 under Madras Presidency of the British. It continued to be a part of Thanjavur district in Independent India. In 1991, it was made the headquarters of the newly created Nagapattinam District.

Kulottunga I

Kulothunga Chola IKulottunga Chola IKulothunga I
Tailapa II and his son Satyashraya, who were opponents of Raja Raja Chola I and Rajendra Chola I, ended up being defeated at Annigeri and at Kogali respectively, Jayasimha was defeated in Kadambalige, Ahavamalla Someshwara I suffered defeats many a time at the hands of Rajadhiraja Chola, and lost his brother Jayasingan in battle with Rajendra Chola II. After Rajadhiraja Chola I and Rajendra Chola II, their brother Virarajendra Chola defeated Ahavamalla Someshwara I on not less than five occasions. Virarajendra Chola also put to flight the latter's two sons, Vikkalan (Vikramaditya VI) and Singanan (Jayasimha III), multiple times in the battles of Kudala sangama.

Anuradhapura Kingdom

AnuradhapuraKing of AnuradhapuraKingdom of Anuradhapura
Taking advantage of this internal strife Chola Emperor Rajaraja I invaded Anuradhapura sometime in 993 AD and conquered the northern part of the country and incorporated it into his kingdom as a province named "Mummudi-sola-mandalam" after himself. Rajendra Chola I son of Rajaraja I, launched a large invasion in 1017. The Culavamsa says that the capital at Anuradhapura was "utterly destroyed in every way by the Chola army. The capital was at Polonnaruwa which was renamed "Jananathamangalam". A partial consolidation of Chola power in Rajarata had succeeded the initial season of plunder.

Western Chalukya Empire

Western ChalukyaWestern ChalukyasKalyani Chalukyas
The imperial Cholas gained power during the time of the famous king Rajaraja Chola I and the crown prince Rajendra Chola I. The Eastern Chalukyas of Vengi were cousins of the Western Chalukyas but became increasingly influenced by the Cholas through their marital ties with the Tamil kingdom. As this was against the interests of the Western Chalukyas, they wasted no time in involving themselves politically and militarily in Vengi. When King Satyashraya succeeded Tailapa II to the throne, he was able to protect his kingdom from Chola aggression as well as his northern territories in Konkan and Gujarat although his control over Vengi was shaky.

Rajendra Chola I

Rajendra CholaRajendra IChola empire
Raja Raja Chola I conquered the northern half of Sri Lanka during his reign. Rajendra invaded Ceylon in 1017 CE and annexed the entire island. As a result of the campaign, Rajendra captured the regal jewels of the Pandyas, which Parantaka I tried to capture and the crown of the Sinhala king. The Sinhala king Mahinda V was taken prisoner and transported to the Chola country. In 1018 CE, Rajendra marched across the Pandya and Chera kingdoms referred in the Tamil Copper-plate inscriptions. The territories were already conquered during the reign of Raja Raja I. Rajendra appointed one of his sons as viceroy with the title Jatavarman Sundara Chola-Pandya with Madurai as the headquarters.

Chola Navy

Chola naval powerChola's maritime empire
The three decades of conflict with the Sinhalese King Mahinda V came to a swift end, after Raja Raja Chola I's (985-1014) ascent to the throne and his decisive use of the naval flotilla to subdue the Sinhalese. This period also marked the departure in thinking from the age-old traditions. Rajaraja commissioned various foreigners (Prominently, the Arabs and Chinese) in the naval building program. These effort were continued and the benefits were reaped by his successor, Rajendra Chola I. Rajendra led a successful expedition against the Sri Vijaya kingdom (present day Indonesia) and subdued Sailendra.


Ancient City of PolonnaruwaPolannaruwaPollanarrua
Raja Raja Chola I built Vanavan Mahadevisvaram, a Shiva temple at Polonnaruwa named after his queen, which presently is known as Siva Devale. The temple among other contained Ganesa and Parvati statues of bronze. Sri Lanka was under this period ruled under Rajendra Chola I directly as a Chola province. However, following the year 1070 AD ended the Chola rule in the island, and Polonnaruwa was captured by Vijayabahu I. Trade and agriculture flourished under the patronage of the king, who was so adamant that no drop of water falling from the heavens was to be wasted and each was to be used toward the development of the land.

Ay dynasty

Ay KingdomAyAys
The salai was sacked by Chola emperor Rajaraja I (985–1014 CE ) in c. 988 CE. The region to the south of Trivandrum (former Ay territory) came under the control of the Cholas during the 11th century. The Cholas raided cities such as Kodungallur in the early decades of the century, but never tried to annex the proper Chera kingdom. They seem to be satisfied with the submission of the king at Kodungallur. There is a possibility that the Venad chiefs tried to recapture the old Ay region after the raids by Rajaraja I. Chola ruler Rajadhiraja (1044–1054) claims to have "confined the undaunted king of Venadu [back] to the Chera kingdom".