Of all the kingdoms of the South in the 10th century A.D. the Imperial Cholas occupy a prominent place. Vijayalaya was the first king of the Imperial Cholas. They had their capital at Tanjore. The most powerful Chola kings were Raja Raja I and his son Rajendra I. Raja Raja ruled from A.D. 985 to A.D 1012. He had conquered the neighboring Pandya kingdoms and extended his conquest up to the Northern part of Ceylon.

Rajendra I

Rajdendra I ruled from AD. 1012 A.D. 1044. He had conquered the whole of Ceylon. Then he had sent an expedition to Eastern India. He crossed Orissa and the Godavari River. He had also crossed the Ganges and defeated Mahipala I who ruled Bengal. Therefore he was known as Gangai Konda Cholan. He is also referred to as Kadaram Kondan. It means that he invaded some of the South East Asian countries which include Sumatra and Malaya. The rise of the Pandyan imperialism in the 13th century A.D. ruined the Chola Empire.

The Chola Administration

The Chola administration served as a model for all the other kingdoms of the South. The king had a council of ministers. The kingdom was divided into a number of provinces known as mandalams, The mandalams in turn were divided into valanadu and nadus. The next administrative sub divisions were kurrams and kottams.
The special feature of the Chola administration was the Local Self Government or the autonomous administration. The villagers themselves carried out village administration. It was more or less like the modern Panchayat Raj. Each village had a village assembly known as the ur or the sabha. The members of the sabha were elected by lot, known as kudavolai system. There was a committee to look after the specified departments, such as justice, law and order, irrigation etc., which were called as variyams.

Art and Architecture

The kings as well as the rich were the patrons of art and architecture. They gave huge donations of money and land for the building and maintenance of the temples. The Chola kings built magnificent temples. Raja Raja Chola built the famous Brahadeeswara temple at Tanjore. It is also known as the big temple. This temple is built with Sikara style. It consists of 14 successive stores rising to a height of 190 feet. A massive dome consisting of a single stone block, weighing about 80 tons, crowns it. Its construction began some time about AD. 1003 and was completed in A.D 1010.
Rajendra Chola founded a new capital at Gangaikonda Cholapuram in A.D 1025. He also built a temple at this place. The bronze images of the Chola period are very famous. The Nataraja idol in the Nageswara temple at Kumbakonam is one of the largest and finest images known. The bronze image of Arthanareeswara is also another important specimen.


The best paintings of the Chola period are found in the interior walls of the Sactum Sanctorum of the Tanjore temple.

Education and Literature

There was educational development during the Chola period. Mostly religious literature was learnt. Periyapuranam or Thiruthondapuranam of Sekkizhar belongs to this period. It is known as 12th Thirumurai. Nandi wrote Thiruvilaiyadal Puranam Seevagasindamani written by Thiruthakkadevar also belonged to the Chola period. Kambar wrote the great Kamba Ramayanam. Kalingattupparani was written by Jayangondar.

Thus the Chola period witnessed developments in local self- government, art, religion and literature.




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