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Chola Dynasty

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Chola dynasty was a maritime empire in the Southern part of India and is known to be one of the longest-ruling dynasties in world history. Earliest datable references to Cholas are from the inscriptions dated to the 3rd century BCE during the reign of Ashoka of the Mauryan empire. Chola dynasty is one of the”Three Crowned Kings of Tamilakam”, along with Chera and Pandya, the dynasty continued to govern over territories extensively till the 13th century CE. The rise of Cholas as the “Chola Empire” only began in the 9th century CE with medieval Cholas.

Chola Dynasty

The dynasty originated in the rich and fertile Kaveri River valley. Uraiyur was its oldest capital. Legendary king Karikalan was the common ancestor through whom small Deccan and Andhra families called Cholas claimed a connection with the Uraiyur family. The lands of Cholas stretched from the Vaigai River in the south to Todaimandalam in the north. Much of the Classical Tamil literature and architecture belong to the Sangam period mostly. Revenue administration, village self-government, and irrigation were organized highly under the Cholas.


Chola Dynasty

Origin of the Chola Dynasty

The Chola dynasty changed into one of the longest-ruling dynasties in South India, which lasted from the 3rd century BCE to the thirteenth century CE. The foundation of the Chola dynasty is shrouded in legend and delusion, and historians have relied on a mixture of literary and archaeological proof to piece together the story of their rise to electricity.

According to legend, the Cholas were descendants of the Sun God, Surya. The earliest known historic connection with the Cholas comes from the 3rd century BCE, when the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka referred to them as one of the kingdoms of South India.

The Chola dynasty came to prominence below the management of Vijayalaya Chola, who ruled from the metropolis of Thanjavur inside the ninth century CE. He consolidated the Chola strength by using defeating the Pallavas, who had dominated South India for several centuries.

It turned into underneath the reign of Rajaraja Chola (985-1014 CE) that the Chola dynasty reached its zenith. He expanded the Chola empire and made it a dominant energy in South India. His son Rajendra Chola I persisted his father’s expansionist policies and conquered large elements of Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and even parts of Southeast Asia.

The Chola dynasty became regarded for its patronage of the humanities, literature, and architecture. The Cholas constructed some of the most luxurious temples and structures in South India, which include the Brihadeeswarar Temple in Thanjavur, that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

          1.Vijayalaya: Foundation of the Chola dynasty became finished via Vijayalaya. He took manipulate of the Tanjore country in the 8th century and led to the upward thrust of the powerful Cholas by way of defeating the Pallavas. Tanjore have become the primary capital  of the   eminent Chola Empire.
          2.  Aditya I: He succeeded Vijayalaya to come to be the ruler of the empire. He defeated king Aparajita and the empire received large importance under him. He conquered the Pandya Kings along with the Vadumbas and hooked up manipulate over the Pallavas’ power inside the place.
        3.Rajaraja I: He is the maximum celebrated Chola king. He engaged in naval expeditions and emerged positive on West Coast, Sri Lanka, and conquered Maldives and the Indian Ocean. He become additionally successful within the excursion of western and eastern Chalukyas. He finished the development of the Rajarajeshwar temple. His titles were Mummidi Chola, Jayakonda and Sivapadasekara.
         4.Rajendra Chola: He succeeded the effective Rajaraja Chola. Rajendra I became the first to challenge to the banks of the Ganges, popularly known as Victor of the Ganges, his new capital turned into called Gangaikondacholapuram, wherein he received the title “Gangaikonda”. This length is known as the golden age of the Cholas. After his rule, the dominion witnessed a downfall.
         5.Kulathunga Chola I: He abolished many taxes and were given the name of Sungam Tavirtta. He additionally send a exchange embassy to China and united the Vengi country with the Chola empire.
         6.Rajendra III: He changed into the final Chola king who turned into defeated by using Jatavarman Sundarapandya II. On the ruins of the Chola empire, Pandya and Hoysala kingdoms got here into existence.

Administration and Governance

During the Chola governance, the entire southern region was brought under the control of a single governing force. The massive kingdom was divided into provinces which were known as mandalas. Different governors were held in charge of each mandala. These were further divided into districts called nadus which consisted of the tehsils.

In the system of rule, each village acted as a self-governing unit during the time of Cholas. Cholas had been ardent patrons of art, poetry, literature, and drama. The administration was seen as investing in the construction of several temples and complexes which had sculptures and paintings. The king remained the central authority who made most major decisions and carry out governance.


Chola architecture was based on the Dravida style of temple architecture and produced some of the most grandeur temples in medieval India. Important Chola temples like Brihadeshwara temple, and Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple took Dravidian architecture to newer heights. Temple architecture flourish even after the Chola dynasty came to an end.

The temples had garbhagriha, vimana, shikhara, mandap, metal art, and lofty gates. Dvarpalas at the entrance of the mandap became a unique feature. Temples were covered with exquisite well composed sculptures and frescoes. Ganas are the most memorable figures built during the Chola period. The presence of a water tank is a unique feature of Chola architecture.

Brihadeshwara temple

The Grand Temple of Tanjavur, known as Rajarajisvaram and Brihadishvarar Temple is the important archetype of Chola architecture. It was built by Raja Raja Chola and was a shadowless vimana. The sanctum with a vimana of 190 feet is capped with stone which weighs 80 tons. The figures of Lakshmi, Vishnu, Ardhnarisvara, and Bikshadana, a mendicant form of Siva on the outer walls of the sanctum are unique features. Also, the presence of fresco paintings and miniature sculptures of scenes from the epics and Puranas in temple walls reveal the religious ideology of cholas.

Culture and Society

The culture and society reached massive heights in the reign of Cholas. In this era, the temple was the main center of all social and religious meetings. The surrounding of which became a school for the folks where Holy Scriptures and ancient Vedas were taught to students. This was also referred to as a secure place in times of warfare and chaos. Society was divided into Brahmins and Non-Brahmins. Several gods and goddesses were worshipped with Shiva being a popular source of strength.

The Sanskritisation process started during the Chola period and the caste system was widely prevalent during the Chola period. Chola society witnessed the division of caste into “Idangai” and “Vadangai”. A serious clash of opinions also started between vaishnavites and Shaivites. A new social evil in the form of the devadasi system came into practice.

Chola rulers were ardent Saivites. Shiva was the preeminent god for the Cholas and he was represented in two forms. A highly philosophical system called Saiva Siddhanta was founded during this period.


Tamil and Sanskrit languages flourished in the Chola period and the Tamil language witnessed golden age. A few important Tamil literary works include Kamban Ramayan by Kamban, Periyapuranam by Sekkilar, and Kalladam by Kalladanar to name a few. Kesava Swami composed the Sanskrit work of Nannaranava Samkshevam.

FAQs on Chola Dynasty

Who was the founder of the Chola Dynasty?

Vijayalaya was the founder of Chola Dynasty.

When did Chola Dynasty end?

The year 1279 marked the end of the Chola Dynasty. The last Chola King was Rajendra Chola III, was defeated by Maravarman Kulasekara Pandyan I and with this Pandyas established themselves in Tamil Nadu.

Which were the two construction of the Chola Dynasty?

The maturity and grandeur of the Chola architecture found expression in two magnificent temples – Thanjavur and Gangaikondacholapuram.

What was the Chola dynasty known for?

Chola kings were avid builders and envisioned the temples in their kingdoms as not places of worship alone but as the centers for economic activities.

What religion are Cholas?

Cholas were the adherents of Saivism and Hinduism. Throughout their history, they were not swayed away by Buddhism and Jainism.

Last Updated : 15 Nov, 2023
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