Chola Dynasty: History, Wars and Rulers |
Introduction to Chola Dynasty
The vast area from the Krishna and Tungabhadra rivers to the Kumari Anteip formed the Tamil region in ancient times. There were three main kingdoms in this region – Cholas, Cheras and Pandyas. All these three kingdoms have been in existence since time immemorial.
Ashoka’s thirteenth inscription mentions these three kingdoms independently, which were located in the far south of his empire. Later on, the Cholas established a vast empire for themselves. The center of their flourishing was Tanjore and it was the capital of the Chola Empire.
Sources of Chola History
To know the history of the Chola dynasty, many literary qualities are used. Among these, the first mention can be made of Sangam literature (100-250 AD). From his study one gets the knowledge of the achievements of the early Chola ruler Karikala. His relations with the Pandya and Chera kings are also known.
Kalingattuparani of Jayangondar gives an introduction to the lineage tradition of Kulotung I and the attack on Kalinga during his time. The Ulayas (Shrundagar-headed biographies) composed in relation to Vikramchola, Kulitunga II and Rajaraja II of Ottakkuttam tell some historical facts about them.
The study of ‘Periyapuranam’ composed by Shekilar, which was written during the period of Kulottunga II, gives knowledge of the religious condition of the time. Knowledge of some historical events of Veerrajendra’s time is available from Budhmitra’s grammar book ‘Veersholiyam’. The details of the Pandya conquest of Parantaka and the conquest of Lanka of Rajendra I are known from the Buddhist text Mahavansh.
The most authentic instruments of Chola history are the records which have been found in large numbers. Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada languages have been used in these. The Chola history after Vijayalaya (859-871 AD) is known mainly from inscriptions. Rajaraja I started the practice of compiling the history of his ancestors through inscriptions and adding the events and victories of his period in writings.
This was followed by the later kings. Among the writings of his time, the Layden donation letter and the inscriptions in the Tanjore temple are noteworthy. The writings of Tanjore throw light on the arrangement of that temple. The main writings of Rajendra I’s time are Tiruvalangadu and Karandai Danpatra which give details of his achievements.
The most important inscription from the historical point of view is the Thiruvendipuram inscription from the time of Rajaraja III. It presents a factual account of the flourishing of the Chola dynasty. It also expresses gratitude to the Hoysala kings, with whose help the revival of the Chola dynasty was possible. The Manimangalam inscription from the time of Rajadhiraja I gives information about his conquest of Lanka and conflict with the Chalukyas. It also throws light on the achievements of Veer Rajendra.
In addition to the inscriptions, a heap of Chola gold coins has been found from Dhavaleswaram. They know about their prosperity. Some coins of Rajadhiraja I have been received from Lanka, which confirms his authority there. Some of his silver coins have been found from South Canara. In general, Chola coins reveal their supremacy over the whole of South India.
iv. Overseas Description:
The diplomatic relations between the Chola and Chinese kings are reported from Chinese sources. According to a legend from China, during the period of Rajaraja I and Kulitung I, an envoy went on a trip to China. From the description of the Chinese traveler Chau-Ju-Kua (1225 AD), some important things related to the Chola country and its governance system become known. The mention of the Chola country is also found in the texts of Periplus and Talmi.
Political History of Chola Dynasty:
The early history of the Chola dynasty is dark. The Cholavasi kings were powerful in the south in the Sangam age (around 100-250 AD). The name of Karikala (about 190 AD) is most notable among the kings of this period. The details of his achievements are found in the Sangam literature.
He was a brave warrior who suppressed the contemporary Chera and Pandya kings. After that the political power of the Cholas waned and by the middle of the ninth century AD their history became dark. This was probably due to the invasions of the Tamil country first by the Kalabharas and then by the Pallavas.
In the middle of the ninth century (around AD 850), there was a revival of the Cholas. At this time we find a powerful Chola king named Vijayalaya ruling as a feudatory of the Pallavas in the region near Uraiyur (Trichanapalli). Uraiyur was the ancient abode of Choli.
At this time there were constant struggles going on between the Pallavas and the Pandyas. Taking advantage of the weak position of the Pandyas, Vijayalaya took control of Tanjore and built a temple of Goddess Durga there. Vijayalaya ruled till about 871 AD.
i. Aditya first:
He was the son and successor of Vijayalaya. In the beginning he was a feudatory of the Pallava king Aparajita and assisted his master in the battle of Sripurambiam against the Pandyas. The power of the Pandyas was destroyed in this war, but the undefeated could not enjoy his victory.
Aditya I killed him and conquered Tondamandalam and annexed it to his kingdom. After this, he snatched the Kongu region from the Pandyas and forced the western Gadgas to remain under his suzerainty. He married his son Parantaka to a princess of the Chera dynasty. Aditya had built Shaivite temples on both the banks of river Kaveri.
ii. Parantaka first:
He was the son of Aditya I and became the ruler after his death. He continued his father’s imperialist policy. He attacked the Pandya ruler Raj Singh II of Madura. The Pandya king enlisted the help of the Sinhala king, but Parantak defeated the combined armies of both in the battle of homelessness.
Parantaka had control over Madura and he assumed the title of ‘Maduraikonda’. He ended the remaining power of the Pallavas, and conquered the Baidumbos and the arrows. Thus by 930 AD, Parantaka established his sole authority over the entire region from northern Pennar to Kumari Anteep except the Chera-state of the Western Ghats.
But Parantaka had to be defeated by the Rashtrakutas towards the end of his reign. Rashtrakuta king Krishna III invaded the Chola kingdom after conquering the kingdom of Gadga. He defeated the Chola army badly in the battle of Takkolam and captured Tondamandalam. Due to this, the reputation of Parantak was deeply damaged.
His empire fell apart because the feudatories of the north and south, taking advantage of this calamity, declared their independence. The period of about thirty years (955-985 AD) after the death of Parantaka was a period of weakness and disorder for the Chola kingdom. His successor Mandraditya was more interested in religious works.
At the time of his death (around AD 957), the Chola kingdom was greatly reduced. After this Parantaka II 957-973 AD) became the king. He made his son Aditya II the crown prince. He defeated Veer Pandya and his army also attacked Sinhala. By the end of the reign of Parantaka II, the Choli conquered Tondamandalam from the Rashtrakutas and captured it.
iii. Rajaraja I:
The real founder of the importance of the Chola Empire was Arimolivarman, son of Parantaka II (Sundar Chola) who ascended the throne in the middle of 985 AD in the name of ‘Rajaraja’. His thirty-year rule (985-1015 AD) is the most glorious era of the Chola kingdom.
In fact, the history of the Chola kingdom from the time of Rajaraja becomes the history of the entire Tamil country. He was an imperialist ruler who, as a result of his numerous conquests, transformed the small Chola kingdom into a vast empire.
After his accession, Rajaraja strengthened his internal position for some years. After that he started his military campaign for Digvijay.
Their details are as follows:
(a) Conquest of Kerala Padayadaya and Sinhala:
Rajaraja campaigned in the south against the Kerala, Pandya and Sinhala kings. First of all he invaded Kerala and defeated the king Ravivarma there at Trivandrum and assumed the title of ‘Kandalur Shalaikalamarutta’ to commemorate this victory.
After this he attacked the Pandya kingdom. The king of this was Amarbhujang. Thiruvalgadu copper plates indicate that Rajaraja defeated Amarabhujang and imprisoned him, conquered his capital Madura and captured the fort of Vilinda.
There is an account of the twentieth year of Rajaraja’s reign, which indicates that he destroyed the city of Madura, defeated the kings of Kollam, Kolladesh and Kondugolur, and had made his service to the ruler of the ocean.
After conquering Kerala and Pandya kingdoms, Rajaraja turned his attention to Sinhala. The ruler here was Mahind (Mahendra) V. He was a friend of the Kerala and Pandya rulers and sided with the Kerala king Bhaskarvarma against Rajaraja.
Neelkanth Shastri estimates that these three states had formed a federation against the Chola king. Therefore, after the conquest of Kerala and Pandya, Rajaraja turned towards Sinhala. He marched on Sinhala with a navy. Sinhalaresh Mahind V was defeated. The Chola army destroyed Anuradhapura and the northern part of the Sinhala island became the possession of Rajaraja.
The poetic description of this success is found in the Thiruvalangadu Copperplates as follows – ‘Rama built a bridge across the ocean with the help of monkeys and with difficulty killed the king of Lanka. But this ruler proved to be more majestic than Rama because his mighty army crossed the sea by ships and fought and burnt the king.
After taking control of Sinhala, Rajaraj established a province there. The Cholas made Polonnaruva their capital in place of Anuradhapura and named it Jananatha Mangalam. Rajaraj also got some temples of Lord Shiva built in Sinhala. Rajaraja probably conquered the above territories between 989-993 AD.
(b) Conquest of the Western Ganges:
After conquering Sinhala, Rajaraja conquered the western Ganges of the Mysore region. An inscription of the sixth year of his rule has been found from Karnataka in which he has been called ‘Chol Narayana’. This shows that he defeated the Nolambs and the Ganges. In this way he got the right over Gangwadi, Tadigaivadi and Nolambwadi.
(c) War of Kalyani with the Western Chalukyas:
There was a rift between the Cholas and the Western Chalukyas from the time of Cholanaresh Uttam Chola. The Chalukya king Tailap II probably also defeated Uttam Chola. Satyasraya sat on the throne of Chalukya dynasty after Tailap. Rajaraja attacked the Chalukyas during his time.
Thiruvalangadu copper plates reveal that Satyasraya could not face Rajaraja’s huge army and fled from the battle field. The Karandai donation sheet reveals that the Chola elephants caused a great commotion on the banks of the Tungabhadra and the Chalukya general Keshava was taken prisoner in the war.
The Kanyakumari inscription of Rajendra also shows that Rajaraja defeated the Chalukyas. The Hottar inscription of Satyashraya (1007 AD) informs that Rajendra Chola, son of Rajaraja, trampled the region up to Donur (Bijapur district) with a huge army of nine lakhs.
He looted the whole region, killed women, children and Brahmins and destroyed many forts. But later Satyashraya drove out the Chola armies and recaptured his kingdom. In this way the Cholas got immense wealth in this campaign. The northern boundary of the Chola kingdom extended up to the Tungabhadra river.
(d) Vengi’s intervention in the Eastern Chalukya kingdom:
During the reign of Rajaraja, the internal condition of the Vengi kingdom was very critical. Around 973 AD, Chodabhima captured the throne after killing Danarnava and expelled his two sons – Shaktivarma and Vimaladitya – from Vengi. He took refuge in the court of Rajaraja.
Rajaraja gave protection to the deposed princes of Vengi (Shaktivarman and Vimaladitya) against Bhima. Bhima, after consolidating his position at Vengi, attacked Tondamandam. Rajaraja defeated him and imprisoned him and made Shaktivarman the king of Vengi.
Now Vengi became his protectorate. Enraged by this success of Rajaraja, the Chalukya king Satyashraya of Kalyani attacked Vengi around 1006 AD. Rajaraja sent two armies against him. The first army was led by his son Rajendra and he attacked the Western Chalukya kingdom.
This army captured Banavasi and destroyed Manyakhet. The second Chola army attacked Vengi. There he captured the fort of Kulpak in the north-west of Hyderabad. Satyashraya was forced to leave Vengi and was able to save his kingdom with great difficulty.
The Chola army returned with Atul property from his kingdom. Thus Shaktivarman continued to rule over Vengi, but he remained completely dependent on the Cholas. Rajaraj married his daughter Kundavan Devi with his younger brother Vimaladitya, which made their relations more friendly.
After making Vengi his protectorate, Rajaraja also conquered the kingdom of Kalinga. At the end of his reign, Rajaraja conquered the Maldives and annexed it to his kingdom. He conquered this island with the help of his powerful navy. As a result of his conquests, Rajaraja built a vast empire.
His empire included the whole of South India up to the Tungabhadra River, the Sinhalese and some parts of the Maldives. Thus he was one of the greatest conquerors and empire builders of his time. To signify his greatness, he assumed high honorable titles like Chola-Martand, Rajasraya, Rajmarttanda, Arimoli, Cholendra Singh.
(e) Cultural Achievements:
Along with a great conqueror, Rajaraja was also an efficient administrator and a great builder. He got all the land measured and fixed the appropriate tax. Eligible officers were appointed in various divisions. He formed a standing army and a large navy.
Many of his feudatories and officers get information from the articles. He got the circulation of various types of coins of gold, silver and copper. Rajaraja made his son Rajendra the crown prince and entrusted some responsibility of governance over him.
Rajendra performed military and administrative duties very efficiently. He was an exclusive devotee of Shiva and had built a grand temple of Rajarajeshwara in his capital. It is the best monument till date in the glorious era of the history of southern India and the best example of the climax of Tamil architecture.
But as a king he was tolerant of all religions. He encouraged the Sailendra ruler of Srivijaya, Srimara Vijayotungavarman, to build a Buddhist vihara at Nagapattam and also built a Vishnu-temple himself. He donated the village to the Buddhist Vihara and also encouraged Jainism.
Thus Rajaraja was a great conqueror, empire builder, efficient administrator, builder and tolerant emperor. His reign represents the climax of the Chola dynasty, both politically and culturally.
iv. Rajendra I:
He was the son and successor of Rajaraja I and after his death in 1014-15 CE ascended the throne of the Chola kingdom. He was an ambitious and imperialist ruler like his father. Information about his military achievements is found from his various articles.
a. Conquest of Sinhalese:
Rajaraj I attacked Sinhala and took control of some of the territories there. But he could not control the entire Sinhala. Ultimately his son Rajendra completed the task of Sinhala conquest. The ruler of that place, Mahinda V, was imprisoned and sent to the Chola kingdom, where he died after twelve years. Rajendra got the right over the entire Sinhala.
A detailed description of his victory is found in the Karandai copper plates, according to which Rajendra had his right over the crown of the king of Lanka, queen, daughter, all property, vehicle, Nirmalhar of Indra (who was kept there by the Pandya king) etc. have done .
This victory is also confirmed by the Mahavansh, according to which Rajendra, after taking complete control over Lanka, destroyed the Buddhist Vihara there and took away the entire treasure with him. The Mahavansh shows that Mahinda’s son Kasap recaptured the southern parts of Sinhala after six months of strong resistance.
b. Conquest of Kerala and Pandya kingdoms:
Rajendra conquered the Pandya and Kerala states and transformed them into a separate state. The copper plates of Thiruvalangadu mention the successes of Rajendra against Kerala and the Pandya kingdoms. His commander Dandnath attacked the Pandya kingdom with a huge army and badly defeated the ruler there. He made one of his sons the Viceroy of both the places and gave him the title of ‘Cholpandya’. The headquarter of this state was at Madura.
c. Conflict with Western Chalukyas:
Around 1020-21 AD, Rajendra paid attention to the Chalukya kingdom of Vengi. There the struggle for the throne was going on between the two sons of Vimaladitya, Vijayaditya VII and Rajaraja. Vijayaditya was supported by the Western Chalukya ruler Jayasimha II of Kalyani and the Eastern Ganga ruler of Kalinga.
Rajendra supported Rajaraj’s side against him. Jai Singh II attacked Dengi and captured Vijayawada. Due to this the condition of Rajaraj became troubled. As a result, Rajendra Chola launched a two-pronged attack on Jai Singh.
In the west, the army of Jai Singh was defeated at Maski and the boundary of both the kingdoms of Tungabhadra was accepted. The Chola army also got success in Vengi. Jai Singh’s candidate was badly defeated in many battles.
d. Conquest of Kalinga:
The Chola army after conquering Vengi entered Kalinga where it punished Madhukamanava (1019-38 AD), the Eastern Ganga ruler of Kalinga, a friend of Vijayaditya. According to Neelkanth Shastri, the purpose of Rajendra’s conquest of Kalinga was to demonstrate his immense power by campaigning towards the Ganges-Valley.
e. Campaign in Ganga Valley:
The Chola soldiers from Kalinga made extensive campaigns in the plains of the Ganges valley. The details of this eastern campaign of Rajendra Chola are also found in the Thiruvalangadu copper plates. This shows that he sent a huge army under the leadership of his son Vikramachola to conquer North-East India.
Vikram Chola conquered the states of Orissa, Bastar, Indraratha and Dakshin Kosala. After this, by attacking Dand-bhukti situated between Orissa and Bengal, he defeated the same ruler Dharmapala. It was a local ruler of Bengal who must have been a relative of Palanresh Mahipal.
After that Vikramachola also conquered the king Ranshur of the southern Rath and Govindchandra of eastern Bengal. Both of them were also feudal rulers. After conquering Govind Chandra, he attacked Mahipala, the Pala ruler of Bengal and defeated him too. The defeated Pala king fled from the battle field.
The purpose of this campaign was to bring the holy water of river Ganga. It is said that the defeated rulers of Bengal carried Gangajal to the Chola kingdom by carrying it on their heads. On the success of the Ganga valley campaign, Rajendra assumed the title of ‘Gangaikonda’ and in its honor he established a new capital named Gangaikondacholapuram (in Trichanapally district). Through this successful military campaign in North-East India, Rajendra demonstrated his power among the kings of North India and the power of the Cholas was established throughout the country.
f. Conquest of Southeast Asia:
Rajendra Chola was not satisfied only by conquering Indian territory. After hoisting his victory in the Indian subcontinent, he made military campaigns in South-East Asia. He sent a powerful navy to conquer the kingdom of Srivijaya (Sailendra).
The Malay Peninsula, Java, Sumatra and other islands were included under this state. His campaign was also a complete success. Sailendra ruler Sangram Vijayotungavarman was defeated and taken prisoner. The Chola army conquered Kadaram and Srivijaya.
The king of Shailendra promised to be under the suzerainty of the Chola ruler and on this assurance his kingdom was returned. The description of this military campaign is found in the Thiruvalangatu copper plate, according to which Rajendra conquered Katah by crossing the sea with a mighty navy (Avajitya karattamunnatairnij-dandairabhilanghitarnayah).
The discussion of this victory is also found in the Karandai copper plates engraved in the eighth year of Rajendra’s reign. This also indicates that the ruler of Kambuj had prayed for a treaty with him. Scholars are not unanimous about what was the purpose of Rajendra Chola attacking and conquering the kingdom of Srivijaya.
KR Recent estimates that this state acted as a link in the trade relations between the Chola kingdom and China. Therefore, Rajendra considered it necessary to win Srivijay. Scholars like Neelkanth Shastri and Ramesh Chandra Majumdar are of the view that at that time the trade relations of the Cholas with the countries of South-East Asia were increasing.
In this regard, the kingdom of Srivijaya was creating obstacles. Therefore, by attacking this state, Rajendra made the trade relations of his kingdom smooth with the south-eastern islands. Along with Srivijaya, the Chola army also conquered the kingdoms of Andaman-Nicobar, Arakan and Pegu (located in Burma).
g. Suppression of Revolts:
Rajendra Chola had to face the rebellion of the Pandya and Kerala states in the last days of his rule. It seems that at the time when Rajendra was engaged in the conquest of the islands of South-East Asia away from his kingdom, at the same time taking advantage of his absence, these states raised the flag of rebellion.
He also got help from many feudatories – Cher, Venad, Kupak etc. These rebels were led by the Pandya king Sundar Pandya. But Rajendra was not going to get upset. Taking a harsh stand, he sent his son Yuvraj Rajadhiraja to suppress them. Rajadhiraja killed many kings and feudatories and successfully suppressed the rebellion.
In 1041 AD, under the leadership of the Sinhala king Vikramabahu, the Sinhalese tried to become independent. Rajendra sent Rajadhiraja with an army to attack Sinhala. It is known that Rajadhiraja beheaded Sinhalanresh in the war and suppressed the rebellion very brutally.
h. Conflict again among the Western Chalukyas:
At the end of his reign, Rajendra had to fight again with the Western Chalukyas on the issue of Vengi. The Chalukya king Someshwara I challenged the Chola power by attacking Vengi. He tried to put his half-brother Vijayaditya on the throne of Vengi against the Vengi king Rajaraja, protected by Rajendra.
Rajendra was quite old by this time. So he sent three of his generals against the Chalukyas. A battle took place in Kalididi between the armies of the Cholas and the Chalukyas, which was not decisive. Meanwhile, Rajendra died. Later, his son and successor Rajadhiraja defeated the Chalukya armies in many battles and re-established his position at Vengi.
Thus the army of Rajendra Chola hoisted his victory from the Vyjayanthi Ganges to the Sinhala Islands and across the Bay of Bengal to Java, Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula. It was his marvelous military success which is absolutely unmatched in ancient history. No doubt he was one of the greatest conquerors of ancient India.
During his time the Chola Empire reached the peak of progress in terms of power and expansion. Apart from being a winner, he was also a great producer. He had dug a grand pond, sixteen miles long, for irrigation. He was also a great pioneer of education and literature.
He had also established a huge school for the study of Vedic literature. As great as he was in the battlefield, he was as diligent in peacetime. Rajendra Chola died around 1044 AD.
The achievements of Rajaraja and his son, successor Rajendra Chola are most important in the history of Chola dynasty. During his reign, the Chola Empire reached the height of progress in both political and cultural terms and became an officer of international fame. In fact, these two rulers were the main builders of the Chola power.
v. Rajadhiraja I:
Rajendra Chola’s son and successor was Rajadhiraja I. He had been assisting his father in the military and administrative work as a crown prince since 1018 AD. When he was the king, he had to face four revolts, but he successfully established peace and order in his kingdom.
Rajadhiraja defeated the rebellious rulers of Pandyas, Kerala and Sinhala. He continued his father’s expansionist policy. At Vengi he defeated the army of the Western Chalukyas under the leadership of Vikramaditya, son of Someshvara. Thereafter the Chola-army attacked the Western Chalukya-kingdom.
First of all he captured the fort of Kulpak and set it on fire. Conquering the Chalukya feudatories and generals, the Cholasena reached the banks of the Krishna river. There, Rajadhiraja defeated the Chalukya army badly in the battle of Poondur. He captured Yadgir and plundered Kalyani, the capital of the Chalukyas.
There he performed his ‘Veerabhishek’ and assumed the title of ‘Vijayrajendra’. He took away a beautiful statue of the gatekeeper from Kalyani as a sign. But by 1050 AD, the Western Chalukya king Someshvara drove the Chola armies out of his kingdom. He forced the Chalukya ruler Rajaraja of Vengi to accept his submission. He also did Kalinga in his sphere of influence.
The Chola king Rajadhiraja, with the help of his younger brother, Yuvraj Rajendra II, undertook a second military campaign against Someshvara. In the battle of Koppam (1052-53 AD) Rajadhiraja was killed while fighting. But his brother Rajendra II badly defeated the army of Someshvara. Rajendra anointed himself in the battlefield itself. He extended up to Kolhapur and after establishing his Vijaystambh there, returned to his capital.
vi. Rajendra II:
He was the younger brother of Rajadhiraja and became the king after his death. The Chola-Chalukya struggle continued even during his reign. Someshvara placed Vijayaditya VII’s son Shaktivarman II on the throne of Vengi and sent a large army under the leadership of Chamundaraja to help him.
He sent two of his sons – Vikramaditya and Jai Singh – to attack the Chola kingdom at Gangwadi. The Chola king Rajendra, along with his son Rajamahendra and brother Veer Rajendra, resisted Someshvara on both fronts.
At Vengi his army defeated Chamundaraja and Shaktivarman and both of them were killed. The Chalukya invaders of Gangavadi were defeated in the battle of Kuddal Sangamam (Kuddali situated at the confluence of Tunga and Bhadra) and had to flee from the Chola kingdom. Thus Someshwar failed miserably on both the fronts.
A few days after this failure, Rajendra II and his son Rajmahendra died (1063-64 AD). He was able to keep his empire safe. He became the king after Rajendra II. The Chola-Chalukya struggle continued even during this period. The Chalukya king Someshvara attacked his kingdom from both the east and the west. Veer Rajendra’s army defeated the Chalukyas at Dengi.
On the banks of Tungabhadra in the west, he defeated Someshvara’s army badly around 1066 AD. Someshvara again organized his army and challenged the Chola ruler to fight at Kuddal-Sangamam. Veer Rajendra went there but Someshwar himself did not appear in the battle field. Veer Rajendra again badly defeated the Chalukya army and established a victory pillar on the banks of the Tungabhadra river.
He then defeated Vijayaditya at Vengi. He crossed the Krishna river and attacked Kalinga. There too he had a fierce battle with the Western Chalukyas and their assistants. Meanwhile, in 1068 AD, Someshwara I committed suicide by drowning in Tungabhadra. Veer Rajendra attacked his kingdom during the reign of his successor Someshvara II.
Someshwara II’s younger brother Vikramaditya joined the Cholanaresh Veer Rajendra. He married his daughter to Vikramaditya and made her the king of the southern part of the Chalukya kingdom of Vengi. Vikramaditya accepted to rule under his suzerainty.
Veer Rajendra conducted a military campaign against the Sinhala king Vijaybahu I. Vijayavahu was defeated and fled and took refuge in Vatagiri. He also sent a navy to conquer Kadaram in Srivijaya. He died around 1070 AD.
Veer Rajendra’s son Adhirajenda became the ruler of the Chola dynasty after him, but within a year he was deposed by Rajendra, the eastern Chalukyas of Vengi. In 1070 AD, Rajendra ascended the throne of the Chola dynasty in the name of Kulontung I.
vii. Kulotung I:
He was the son of the Eastern Chalukya king Rajaraja but had a mixture of Chola blood. His mother was the daughter of Rajendra Chola. He himself was married to the daughter of Rajendra II, the winner of the Koppam battle. Kulitung I consolidated his position by suppressing his rebels.
He proved to be a powerful ruler of his time. He conquered Gangwadi by defeating the Western Chalukya king Vikramaditya VI at Nangili. Meanwhile (1072-73 AD) the Haihaya ruler of Tripuri, Yash Karna, attacked his Vengi kingdom, but it did not yield any results.
But the Sinhala king Vijayvahu declared his independence against Kulotung. He consecrated himself in 1072-73 AD and Kulotung had to accept his independence. Later, a treaty was made between the two and Kulotung married one of his daughters to a Sinhala prince.
Kulottunga also had to face rebellions from the Pandyas and the Kerala kings. He went on a southern campaign with a powerful army where he defeated the Pandyas and the princes of Kerala in several battles and forced them to remain under his suzerainty.
But he left the administration of these regions in the hands of the local rulers. In 1077 AD, a Chola delegation of 72 merchants went to China. A Tamil inscription from Sumatra dated 1088 AD shows that a class of Tamil merchants lived in Srivijaya.
After the death of Vijayaditya VII of Vengi, Kulitunga sent his sons to rule there as viceroys. Around 1110 AD, there was a revolt in the Kalinga kingdom. Kulotung sent an army there under the leadership of his general Karunakar Tondaiman. Kalinga king Ananthavarman was defeated and he escaped to save his life. The Cholasena returned with a huge amount of loot.
Kulotung I was able to keep his empire safe till 1015 AD. Only the kingdom of Sinhala was outside his empire. But towards the end of his reign, rebellions arose in Mysore and Vengi. Around 1018 AD, Vikramaditya VI took control of Vengi and at this time the Hoysalas declared their independence by driving out the Chola army from Mysore. Thus the kingdom of Kulottunga I remained confined only to the Tamil region and some Telugu regions.
Kulottuga I was a great ruler of the Chola dynasty. His long reign was a period of overall prosperity and success. He placed public interest above personal interests and made many reforms for this.
In the Chola writings and traditions, he has been called ‘Shungam Tavirtta’ (the remover of taxes), which indicates his philanthropy. At the end of his reign, he ruled peacefully. He got Chidambaram’s temple and Sriram’s samadhi repaired. He died around 1120 AD.
viii. Vikram Chola:
He was the son and successor of Kulotung who ruled from 1120 AD to 1133 AD. After the death of Vikramaditya VI in 1126 AD, he again took control of Vengi. He defeated the army of Vikramaditya’s successor Someshwar III on the banks of the Godavari river around 1133 AD. By attacking Gangwadi, he captured Kolar district.
ix. Kulotung II:
After Vikram Chola, his son Kulotung II became the king in 1133 AD and ruled peacefully till 1150 AD. He has no political achievements. He continued the work of renovation and promotion of Chidambaram’s temple. Kulotung removed the statue of Govindaraja from the courtyard of this temple and threw it in the sea.
x. Rajaraja II:
He was the son and successor of Kulotung II who ruled from about 1150 AD to 1173 AD. During his time powerful feudal lords emerged all around. His kingdom extended to the entire Telugu region, most parts of Kongoonad and the eastern part of Gangwadi. He didn’t have any son. Therefore, in 1166 AD, he appointed Vikramachola’s grandson (daughter’s son) Rajadhiraja II as his crown prince.
xi. Rajadhiraja II:
It was the successor of Rajaraja who ruled from 1173 AD to 1178 AD. At this time there was a struggle for succession between Kulasekhar and Veer Pandya in the Pandya dynasty. Rajadhiraja took the side of Veer Pandya and Kulasekhar was supported by Parakrambahu, the king of Lanka. Rajadhiraja got success and made Veer the king of Pandyas. But this did not benefit the Cholas.
xii. Kulotung III:
He was the successor of Rajadhiraja but his relation with Rajadhiraja is unknown. He was the last great ruler of the Chola dynasty. In 1182 AD, he defeated Veerapandya and forced him to remain under his suzerainty. Kulotunga also conquered the Hoysalas and Chera kings and made them under his suzerainty.
After some time the Pandyas revolted under the leadership of Jatavarman Kulasekhar. In 1205 AD, Kulotung attacked the Papad kingdom. His army plundered Madura and destroyed the Abhishek Mandal of Pandyas.
But his kingdom was returned to Kulasekhar. Kulotung also kept the Telugu Chodas under his control by suppressing them. He ruled till 1218 AD. His period is also famous for the advancement of art and architecture.
xiii. Rajaraja III:
Kulotung’s successor Rajaraja III was a weak king. Fourteen rebellions and anarchy spread in his kingdom. Pandya king Sundar attacked his kingdom and imprisoned him, but with the help of Hoysala king Narasimha II, he got freedom.
In the battle of Tellaru, he was defeated and imprisoned by the Yadav chieftain Kopperunjing. In 1231 AD, with the help of Hoysala army, he again succeeded in getting his independence and kingdom. Rajaraja somehow continued to rule till 1256 AD, but his authority remained nominal.
xiv. Rajendra III:
He was the last ruler of the Chola dynasty. He tried to revive the Chola power. He attacked the Pandyas and defeated Sundarapandya II. But Chalukya King Someshwara III supported the Pandyas so that Rajendra’s efforts could not be successful. He defeated Rajendra in a battle and later made a treaty with him.
In 1251 AD, the rule of the Pandya dynasty came in the hands of a powerful king named Jatavarman Sundarapandya. He conquered the Chalukya, Hoysala and Kakatiya kingdoms and forced the Chola ruler Rajendra III to remain under his suzerainty.
After this he continued to rule as a feudatory of the Pandya king till 1279 AD. In 1279 AD, he had to be defeated again at the hands of the Pandya ruler Kulasekhar. With this came the end of the Chola kingdom and rule. Pandya king Kulasekhar became the sovereign ruler of the entire Cholamandal.