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Chola Dynasty

Chola Temple

  • The dynasty was among the longest ruling dynasties in southern India. They ruled a considerably bigger area at the peak of their power. For a period of over 2 centuries, the entire area south of the Tungabhadra River was unified as one state
  • During the period 1010–1200, the Chola regions expanded from the Maldives to Andhra Pradesh. Rajaraja Chola occupied parts of Sri Lanka and conquered the islands of the Maldives. At the start of the 13th century, the dynasty began to decline with the rise of the Pandyan Dynasty that eventually caused their downfall.
  • Some great works of Tamil architecture and literature was result of patronage of Tamil literature and their passion in the building of temples. The Chola kings were devoted builders and envisaged the temples in their kingdoms not just as venues of worship but also as hub of economic activity. They set up a centralised type of government and created a closely controlled bureaucracy.

Chola Temple Art


  • The period of Cholas is a main part of the history of South India. Amazing progress was made in nearly all fields of life such as economy, culture and polity. The Cholas overthrew the Pallavas in 9th century. They ruled South India from the 9th to 13th Century. They conquered not just South India but also extended their empire to Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

Early Cholas

  • The early Chola kings were: Ellalan, Ilamcetcenni, Karikalan, Nedunkilli, Killivalavan, Kopperuncholan, Kocengannan and Perunarkilli.
  • Very little is known about the Cholas until the taking over of Vijayalaya in the 2nd quarter of the 9th century.
  • When the power of the Cholas reduced to its lowest and that of the Pallavas and Pandyas rose, Cholas were compelled to request for support and shelter under their rivals. The Cholas continued to rule over a reduced territory in the neighbourhood of Uraiyur. Despite their reduced powers, the Pallavas and Pandayas married Chola princesses because of their reputation. Many inscriptions of Pallavas mention battles against rulers of 'the Chola country'. In spite of loss in power and influence, the Cholas maintained grip of the territory near Uraiyur.

Imperial Chola Empire Medieval Cholas

  • Vijayalaya was the pioneer of the Imperial Chola Dynasty which was the start of one of the most wonderful Empires in Indian history. Vijayalaya, took advantage of a tussle between the Pallava Dynasty and Pandya Dynasty, occupied Thanjavur and established the imperial line of the medieval Chola Dynasty. Thanjavur was made the capital of the Imperial Chola Dynasty. During the medieval period, the dynasty was at the peak of its power and influence. Chola kings expanded their influence and territory through their vision and leadership. The 2nd Chola King, Aditya I, ended of the Pallava dynasty and routed the Pandyan Dynasty of Madurai in 885. He captured large parts of the Kannada country. His son, Parantaka I occupied Sri Lanka in 925. Parantaka Chola II, regained areas from the Rashtrakuta dynasty as well as expanded the Chola territories up to Bhatkal in Kannada country. Rajaraja Chola I and Rajendra Chola I were the best kings of the Dynasty. They extended the Dynasty beyond Tamil kingdom. At its peak, the Chola Empire expanded to Sri Lanka, the Godavari-Krishna basin, the Konkan coast, the whole Malabar Coast and Lakshadweep, Maldives, and huge areas of Chera country.
  • Rajaraja Chola I strengthened local self-government. He built the famous Brihadeeswarar Temple that is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Rajendra Chola I occupied Odisha and reached the Ganges River. To celebrate his victories, he built a new capital. Rajendra Chola I conquered Sri Lanka and arrested the Sinhala king Mahinda V.
  • Due to the Chola influence in the Vengi kingdom, the Western Chalukya kings tried to get out of Chola domination but did not succeed. In many wars Chola emperors routed the armies of the Chalukyas at different location. Somesvara II of the Western Chalukya Empire was defeated by Virarajendra Chola. Eventually the Chalukyas were replaced by the small Kannada kingdoms.
  • From 1150 to1280, Pandya princes were the opponents of the Cholas to get freedom for their traditional territories. This period saw frequent wars between the Pandyas and the Cholas.

Brihadeesawar Chola Temple India

Overseas conquests of the Dynasty

  • During the 11th century Rajaraja Chola I and his successors attacked Sri Lanka, Maldives and Maritime Southeast Asia of the Sri Vijaya Empire. Rajaraja Chola I captured Sri Lanka, Maldives and the Malabar Coast. Rajendra Chola, attacked ports of Srivijaya in maritime Southeast Asia and the Burmese kingdom of Pegu in 1025. In the late 11th century Virarajendra Chola conquered kedah in Malaysia.

Later Cholas (1070–1279)

  • During the rule of Rajaraja, after his attack on Vengi, Marital and political alliances between the Eastern Chalukyas began. Rajaraja Chola's daughter tied knot to Chalukya prince Vimaladitya. In strife in 1070, son of Virarajendra Chola, Athirajendra Chola was murdered as well as Kulothunga Chola ascended the throne.
  • The chariot shaped Airavatesvara Temple built by Cholas in Kumbakonam is part of the World Heritage Sites.
  • The fall of the Chola power commenced after defeat of Kulothunga Chola III by Maravarman Sundara Pandiyan II. After that the Cholas lost Sri Lanka.
  • The fall of the Chola power resulted in the resurgence of the Pandyan Dynasty. The Pandyan Empire had replaced the Chola Empire at the close of Rajendra's reign. Rajendra III was the last Chola emperor. The Chola Empire ceased to exist by the end of the 13th century.

Administration and Culture

  • Chola Dynasty was affluent. It was divided into provinces. The Cholas built numerous temples and many sculptures. Chola rulers patronised dance, music, drama, poetry and arts. They built huge stone temple complexes and sculptures of the Hindu gods.
  • Brahmins and non-Brahmins divided the society. Lord Shiva was worshipped as a symbol of fertility. Many languages like Telugu, Kannada and Tamil were developed from Sanskrit.

Brihadeesawar Chola Temple India