South India And the Cholas
- The Cholas were a mighty power to be reckoned with in ancient India is born out by the fact that they are mentioned as an independent kingdom in the edicts of Ashoka.
- The traditional Chola country lay between rivers Pennar and Veller and comprised of modern Madras along with certain adjoining area now forming a part of the Karnataka state. Chola Empire
- In the second century A.D. a Chola prince Elara conquered Ceylon and ruled there for long period.
- Another important king among early Cholas was Karikala (190 A.D.). He defeated the Pandyas and the Cheras and was a benevolent king.
- During the succeding centuries, the Chola power declined owing to the rise of the Pallavas and the agression of the Pandyas and Cheras.
- The capture of Tanjore by Vijayalaya about the middle of 9th century A.D. was the first step in the revival of the Chola power.
- He was perhaps a Pallava feudatory.
- The independent kingdom of the Cholas was created by Aditya I, the son and successor of Vijayalaya.
- He defeated the Pallava ruler. Aparajitavarman and annexed Tondamandalam. He invaded the western Gangas and perhaps occupied their capital Talkad.
- He made Tanjore his capital, beautified it and built several temples of Shiva there.
- At the time of his death, the Chola kingdom extended from Madras city in the north to the Kaveri in the south.
Chronology of Chola Kings
1. Vijayalaya (846-71 A.D.)
2. Aditya (871-907 A.D.)
3. Prantaka I (907-55 A.D.)
4. Rajaraja I (985-1014 A.D.)
5. Rajendra I (1014-44 A.D.)
(i) Rajadhiraja (1044-54 A.D.)
(ii) Rejendra II (1054-64 A.D.)
(iii) Virarajendra (1064-69 A.D.)
(iv) Kulottunga I (1070-1118 A.D.)
(v) Vikramachola (1118-35 A.D.)
(vi) Kulottunga II (1135-50 A.D.)
(vii) Rajaraja II (1150-73 A.D.)
Brihadeeswarar temple at Thanjavur, TamilNadu The accession of Rajaraja I is a turning point in the history of the Cholas.
- He pursued a policy of war and conquest, defeated the western Gangas, the eastern Chalukyas of Vengi, the Pandyas of Madura, the Gangas of Kalinga, and the Cheras of Kerala.
- Rajaraja also laid the foundation of the greatness of the navy of the Cholas.
- He conquered Kurga, the entire Malabar coast and part of Ceylon.
- He also conquered the Maldive islands and attacked the islands of the South-East.
- He be-friend king Tungavamana of Sri-Vijaya empire of South-east Asia.
- The last exploit of Rajaraja was the occupation of Laccadive and Maldive Islands, referred to as 12,000 islands in the inscriptions.
- Rajaraja laid the foundation of the local self-government in the administration of the Cholas.
- He was a Saiva. He constructed the Saiva-temple of Rajarajeshvara which has been regarded as a remarkable specimen of Tamil architecture.
- Rajaraja was succeeded by his son, Rajendra Chola. A mighty son of a father, Rajendra carried forward the Chola armies to the distant lands of Bengal, Orissa and south Kosala.
- His navy attacked the Srivijaya empire which was a great naval power in South-east Asia at that time, and forced it to accept his suzerainty.
- He was the first Indian ruler who established the supremacy of Indian navy in the Arabian sea.
- The Chola empire was extensive and prosperous and the rulers enjoyed high powers and prestige.
- They were hereditary monarchs. The Chola kings assumed high sounding titles.
- The Chola rulers started the practice of electing their successor or Yuvaraja and associating him in administration during their life-time.
- That is why there were no wars of succession among the Cholas.
- The images of kings and their wives were maintained in various temples which indicated that they believed in the divine origin of kingship.Portrait of Rajaraja Chola and his guru karuvurarat Brihadeeshwarar temple
- The power of the monarch was absolute. He gave orders but the issue were well examined by the ministers, heading various departments, before the instructions of the king were obtained.
- There was thus a large set of officials grouped into grades.
- These officials were orgranised into two grades, one upper ‘Perundanam’ and the lower ‘Sirudanam’. There were no rules of recruitment nor the salaries were fixed.
The Cholas maintained powerful armies and navies. The infantry, the cavalry and the war elephants constituted the main parts of the army of the Cholas.
- The Cholas spent huge amounts to maintain an efficient cavalry and imported the best horse from Arab countries to equip their army.
- The kings kept their personal bodyguards called the Velaikkaras and who were sworn to defend the person of the king at the cost of their lives.
- The soldiers and the officers who distinguished themselves in war were given title like Kshatriyasiromani.
- The Cholas did not observe the Hindu morality of warfare, i.e. dharma-yudha.
- The Chola army caused much injury to the civil population, including women.