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Chola Dynasty

The Chola Dynasty began in the ninth century when they demolished the Pallavas. This Chola Dynasty lasted for five centuries until the 13th century. Sangam literature initially developed during the early years of the Chola Dynasty. Kantaman was a famous ruler during this period.

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    During the Middle Ages, the Chola Dynasty rose to new heights of power. Kings like Aditya I and Parantaka I ruled during this period. After this, Rajaraj and Rajendra Chola continued to expand their rule into the Tamil region. Later, Kulothunga Chola took control of Kalinga and imposed a severe regime. This article contains complete details about the Chola Dynasty, Chola Dynasty Family Tree, Chola Dynasty Founder, etc.

    Introduction of Chola Dynasty

    The Chola Dynasty governed mainly in southern India until the 13th century. The dynasty began in the verdant valley of the Kaveri River. Karikala Chola is the most well-known of the early Chola kings, while Rajendra Chola, Rajaraja Chola, and Kulothunga Chola I were also significant medieval Chola emperors.

    The Chola Dynasty achieved its height of dominance in the 10th, 11th, and 12th centuries. Rajaraja Chola I and his son Rajendra Chola established the dynasty as a military, economic, and cultural powerhouse in Asia. The Chola holdings extended from the southern Maldives to the northern banks of the Godavari River in Andhra Pradesh.

    Rajaraja Chola invaded peninsular South India, annexed sections of Sri Lanka, and occupied the Maldives. Rajendra Chola led a successful expedition to North India, reaching the Ganga and defeating the Pala monarch of Pataliputra, Mahipala. He also successfully raided Malay kingdoms. The Cholas’ dominance decreased in the twelfth century with the rise of the Pandyas and Hoysalas.

    Chola Dynasty Founder

    The founder of Chola Dynasty was Vijayalaya Chola. His ascendancy marked the establishment of Chola Dynasty dominance in South India. It was facilitated by strategic military campaigns that secured territorial control. Vijayalaya’s military understanding and strategic foresight were instrumental in expanding Chola’s influence.

    He successfully destroyed regions previously under the governance of other dynasties and laid the foundation for the Chola Dynasty. Beyond his military accomplishments, Vijayalaya Chola is important for his custom of art and culture. His support for constructing temples and cultural institutions promoted a rich cultural environment that flourished under successive Chola rulers.

    chola dynasty

    Chola Dynasty Family Tree

    The Chola Dynasty Family Tree was a detailed family structure with different branches. The complete list of Chola Dynasty Rulers is given below in the table.

    Chola Dynasty Rulers

    Chola Dynasty Rulers Period of Rule Contributions
    Vijayalaya Chola 848–891 AD He established the Chola Empire and built temples like Narttamalai and Solesvara.
    Aditya I 870–907 AD He expanded Chola territory, defeating enemies, and constructed 108 Shiva temples along the Kaveri River.
    Parantaka Chola I 907–950 AD He conquered Sri Lanka and Madurai and led to a prosperous period marked by success and wealth.
    Gandaraditya Chola 950–957 AD He was known for religious activities and composed a Tamil hymn about Chidambaram Temple.
    Arinjaya Chola 956–957 AD Controversial rule; limited historical information available.
    Sundara Chola 957–970 AD He promoted literature and Buddhism and earned praise as a patron of letters.
    Uttama Chola 970–985 AD He built the Brihadeeswarar Temple and edited the Thirumurai compilation of Tamil poets’ writings.
    Rajaraja Chola I 985–1014 AD He constructed the grand Brihadeeswarar Temple and edited the Thirumurai compilation.
    Rajendra Chola I 1012–1044 AD He established a new capital, Gangaikonda Cholapuram, and created a large man-made lake that triumphed over Mahipala.
    Rajadhiraja Chola 1044–1054 AD He maintained Chola sovereignty and performed religious rituals, and earned the title Jayamkonda Cholan.
    Rajendra Chola II 1054–1063 AD He was involved in the Battle of Koppam and shifted allegiance to Chalukyan King Someshvara I.
    Virarajendra Chola 1063–1070 AD He was an underappreciated ruler. He served as an underling to other Chola rulers.
    Athirajendra Chola 1070–1070 AD Rule marked by civic instability, possibly due to religious reasons.
    Kulothunga Chola I 1070–1122 AD He expanded Chola’s rule into the Sri Vijaya province of Kedah, known for its military successes.
    Vikrama Chola 1118–1135 AD He was a devoted follower of Siva; and made generous contributions to the Chidambaram temple.
    Kulothunga Chola II 1133–1150 AD He ruled with peace and sound administration, also known as Tirunirruchola.
    Rajaraja Chola II 1146–1173 AD He initiated the Airavateswarar Temple and maintained Chola naval supremacy in the eastern and western seas.
    Rajadhiraja Chola II 1166–1178 AD He was known for raising flower beds and overseeing local chieftains during his reign.
    Kulothunga Chola III 1178–1218 AD He defeated various kingdoms, commissioned the Tribhuvanam temple, and constructed structures in Chidambaram Siva Temple.
    Rajaraja Chola III 1216–1256 AD He lost control of territories south of Kaveri and faced declining influence in the Vengi territories.
    Rajendra Chola III 1246–1279 AD He faced challenges with Pandyas demolishing structures in Gangaikonda Cholapuram and witnessed a decline in Chola influence.

    Chola Dynasty Time Period

    After winning over the Pallavas, the Cholas started their rule in the 9th century. Their authoritative rule stayed for an impressive five centuries until the 13th century. They established themselves as one of the longest-ruling empires in Southern India.

    Records about the Cholas before the 7th century BC are scant, and our primary source of information is the ancient Tamil literature of the Sangam Period. The prevailing understanding is that “Chola,” akin to “Pandya” and “Chera,” denotes the ruling family. Additionally, references to the Cholas are found in the Ashokan Edict, signifying a harmonious relationship with Ashoka.

    Chola Dynasty Capital

    The Chola Dynasty Capital was Thanjavur (Tanjore). Vijayalaya founded the Chola Dynasty. He defeated the Pallavas, took over the Tanjore kingdom in the eighth century, and established the formidable Chola Dynasty. Tanjore was, therefore, designated as the major capital of the powerful Chola Empire. Tanjore is in the Cauvery Delta in Tamil Nadu. It was then renamed Thanjavur. It is a popular destination for South Indian art, religion, & architecture.

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    Territorial Expansion of Chola Dynasty

    During the 9th to 13th centuries, the Chola dynasty, especially under the Medieval Cholas, expanded their territory and ruled over various areas. Their main region was along the Kaveri River, and at their strongest, they controlled most of southern India from around 907 to 1215 CE. Famous rulers like Raja Raja Chola and Rajendra Chola led them to power. With a strong navy, they even attacked places like Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Indonesia. The empire reached its height under Rajaraja I and Rajendra I, covering a vast area from northern Sri Lanka to the Godavari–Krishna river area and extending to parts of the Konkan coast, the Malabar Coast, as well as the Lakshadweep and Maldives islands. They also ventured beyond India, making expeditions to the Ganges, attacking cities of the Srivijaya Empire in Sumatra, and sending ambassadors to China. However, by 1279, the Cholas were defeated by the Pandyan Empire, bringing an end to their rule.

    Administration and Governance

    During their reign, the Cholas established a single governing body for the southern region. The Cholas maintained a stable monarchy. The Chola Empire included Tamil Nadu’s districts of Tiruchirapalli, Tiruvarur, Perambalur, Pudukkottai, Ariyalur, Nagapattinam, Pichvaram, Vridhachalam, and Thanjavur. Here, the vast kingdom was split into mandalams, or regions.

    Each mandala was overseen by its governor. These were then divided into tehsil-based districts known as nadus. During the Chola dynasty, each hamlet functioned as a separate political unit. The Cholas strongly advocated poetry, literature, drama, and art; the government supported the construction of various temples and complexes with sculptures and paintings.

    Chola Dynasty Roots and Culture

    In the Chola era, significant progress occurred in society and culture, with temples as central hubs for social and religious activities. These sites also functioned as educational centers and imparting knowledge of the Holy Scriptures and Vedas. The societal structure was categorized into Brahmins and Non-Brahmins, and worshiping various gods, particularly Shiva, was widespread.

    The Chola Empire’s religious origins are associated with the Trimula god at the Sri Venkateshwara temple. This period witnessed notable advancements in art, religion, and literature, including the construction of impressive Shiva temples along the Kaveri River, such as the Brihadeeswara temple in Thanjavur. Both devotional and non-religious sculptures and literature flourished and left a lasting cultural impact.

    FAQs on Chola Dynasty

    Who is the founder of the Chola Dynasty?

    Vijayalaya established the Imperial Chola dynasty and initiated a remarkable Indian empire.

    Who is the famous king of the Chola Dynasty?

    Rajaraja Chola (985-1014 AD) is considered one of the greatest Chola rulers.

    What caste is associated with the Cholas?

    The Chola emperors claimed Kshatriya status, while the rest of society was classified into Sat Sudras and Asat Sudras.

    Who destroyed the Chola Dynasty?

    The Chola Dynasty was weakened by internal strife, battles with nearby kingdoms like the Pandyas and Hoysalas, and eventually faded in the late 13th century. The last Chola king was defeated by the Pandyas.

    Which Chola king killed his son?

    There's no record of a Chola king killing his son. The dynasty is more known for its contributions to culture, not internal violence of this nature.

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