The Cholas are among the longest-ruling dynasties in the southern regions of India. The Cholas formed one out of three ruling families in Tamil-speaking South India during the first two centuries CE. In the mid-ninth century, the Chola family came to rule the region and build an empire that would last more than four hundred years. Based in the fertile Kaveri River delta in the present-day Indian state of Tamil Nadu, the Chola Dynasty at its highest point in the eleventh century governed the majority of South India and Sri Lanka, and the Maldives Islands. This segment of the timeline witnesses the inception of a new culture and flourishing of art like never before. The temples and literature of this time stand as a testimony to this delighted period of history.
Origins of the Chola Dynasty
The Cholas supremacy began in the 9th century when they conquered the Pallavas to come into power. This rule extended for over five long centuries until the 13th century. However, around the 2nd century, the state Andhra had a Chola kingdom that succeeded far and wide. In the early periods of the Chola rule, the beginning of the Sangam literature was seen. Kintamani was one of the well-known rulers of this era. The medieval period was the era of outright power and growth for the Cholas. This was the time of kings like Aditya I and Parantaka I. From that point, Rajaraj Chola and Rajendra Chola further extended the kingdom into the Tamil region. Later, Kulothunga Chola acquired Kalinga to establish a solid rule. This glory lasted until the appearance of the Pandyas in the early 13th century.
Prominent Pillars of the Chola Dynasty
Vijayalaya founded the Chola Empire. He acquired the Tanjore kingdom in the 8th century and headed to the rise of the mighty Chola dynasty by conquering the Pallavas. Tanjore was made the first capital of the renowned Chola Empire.
Aditya, I was the successor of Vijayalaya to become the empire's ruler. He conquered king Aparajita, and then his empire gained enormous power under his reign. He defeated the Pandya Kings and the Vadumbas and formed control over the Pallavas' influence in the region.
Rajendra Chola was the successor of the mighty Rajaraja Chola. He was the one who first ventured to the banks of the Ganges. Gangaikondacholapuram was declared as his empire capital, where he was honoured with the title of 'Gangaikonda.' This era is mentioned as the Golden Age of the Cholas. After his rule, the kingdom saw an extensive downfall.
Roots and Culture of Chola Dynasty
In this era, the temples were the prominent location for all social and religious meetings. The surroundings of this region became a school for the folks where the ancient Vedas and Holy Scriptures were taught to students. At that time, the societal structure was divided amongst Brahmins and Non-Brahmins. Various Gods and Goddesses were worshipped, with Shiva being a principal source of strength for the faithful. There are many links of the significance of the Chola Empire with the Primula deity at Sri Venkateshwara temple. The Srirangam temple stands to be a highlight from this period. It was submerged in water for centuries and later restored to its former glory.
Many Shiva temples were built across the banks of the Kaveri River. The Thanjavur temple still stands to be the tallest and the biggest amongst all the temples in India of its time. The Tanjore Brihadeeswara temple is decorated with natural colour paintings that are a treat for the eyes even today. UNESCO has classified many of these sites as World Heritage Sites. These include the Gangaikondacholisvaram, Brihadisvara temple, and the Airavatesvara temples. Art and sculpting were also at an all-time high in this reign. Sculptures of Gods and Goddesses like Vishnu, Lakshmi, and Shiva have been carved out of bronze and work as a golden reminder of this period. Literature was another key highlight of this period. Religious literature took shape, and Jain and Buddhist writings got appreciation and acknowledgement during this phase. The popular Nalayira Divya Prabandham from this era is a compilation of 4000 Tamil verses and is widely enjoyed by literary scholars even to this day.
Thus, the Chola Dynasty left behind a rich legacy. Their reign symbolizes majestic architecture, outstanding artwork, and a great era for literature.
FAQs on Chola Dynasty
Q.1. Who is remembered as the founder of the great Chola dynasty?
Vijayalaya is known as the founder of the Chola Empire.
Q.2. Where did the Chola dynasty rule?
At its highest point in the eleventh century, the Chola Dynasty governed most of South India, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives Islands.
Q.3. How long did the Chola dynasty last?
The Chola dynasty ruled for more than 1500 years, making them one of the longest-ruling families in human history.
Q.4. When did the supremacy of the Chola dynasty begin?
The Cholas supremacy began in the 9th century when they conquered the Pallavas to come into power.