The Chera Dynasty also called the Keralaputra dynasty, ruled over central Kerala and Tamilnadu. The Cheras were Dravidians. Though they were called Keralaputra, which means sons of Kerala, they were of Tamil origin.
The Cheras ruled in two different periods. We come to know of the first rule through the Sangam texts. Analysis of the texts shows that the first rule of the Cheras may have started in the 5th Century B.C. Most of our known history of the Chera kingdom and the Chera Dynasty is from their second rule between the 9th and the 10th centuries.
The Chera Kingdom
The Cheras ruled Parts of Kerala and Tamilnadu. Their kingdom included Cochin and parts of Malabar and Travancore. Present-day Kerala, Salem, and Dharmapuri were parts of the Chera kingdom.
Their first capital city was Vanchi, and the later rulers moved their capital to Kulasekharapuram. The Cheras constantly warred with the Pandyas and Cholas. These three kingdoms formed the main ruling dynasties of the Iron Age. With the wedding of the Chera king Netum Ceralatan with the Chola princess Illanko Venmal, Thiruvvur and Nagapatman came under their reign.
Most of the population of the Chera Dynasty was agrarian. There is evidence of flourishing trade between the Romans, Greeks, and the Cheras for locally grown spices.
The Chera Dynasty
Sangam texts tell us that two lines of rulers ruled the Chera empire. The founder of the first line of rulers was Uthiyan Cheral Athan. Irumporai founded the second line of rulers.
The Chera Dynasty and its kings belong to one of the two clans, Irumporai and the Vanavaraman. Inscriptions from the Chera period show intermarriages between these two clans.
The Vedic influence started from Brahmanism, and Cheras preceded that period. For this reason, it appears that the Cheras did not follow any specific religion. However, we know that they worshipped their ancestors.
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Famous Chera Rulers
The first known Chera king is mentioned in the Sangam texts. His name was Uthiyan Cheralathan, and he is widely considered the founder of the Chera Dynasty. The most famous Chera rulers were Nedunjeral Adan, Senguttuvan, and Kudakko Ilanjeral Irumporai.
Uthiyan Cheralathan or Perum Chorru Udiyan Cheralathan is the first documented Chera king of the Sangam era. He is known to have ruled during the 2nd Century AD. According to the lore, he took the responsibility of feeding the Pandava and Kaurava armies during the battle of Mahabharata. This may be a symbol to depict the prosperity of his kingdom during his rule.
Uthiyan Cheralathan ruled with Kuzhumur as his capital city and was a contemporary of the Chola ruler Karikala Chola.
The Dynamics Between the Cheras, Cholas, and Pandyas
The Chera, Chola, and Pandya dynasties' dynamics are an important part of south Indian history. For a while, the Cheras and Cholas had friendly relations. They were marriages between both dynasties and regions given to each other as dowries.
The Cheras, Pandyas, and the Cholas were constantly warring for dominance in South India. Later, the Cheras and Pandyas united to fight against Cholas.
The Decline of the Chera Dynasty
The Chera king to rule was Rama Varma Kulakshekhra. After he died in 1102 A.D., the Chera Dynasty ended.
FAQs on Chera Dynasty
Q1: Who is known as the founder of the Chera Dynasty
Uthiyan Cheralathan is known as the founder of the Chera Dynasty.
Q2: How many lines of kings did the Chera Dynasty have?
The Chera Dynasty had two lines of kings.
Q3: Who were the contemporaries of the Chera Dynasty?
The Cholas and Pandyas were the contemporaries of the Chera Dynasty.
Q4: Who was the last king of the Chera Dynasty?
Rama Varma Kulakshekhra was the last king of the Chera Dynasty.