Southern Dynasties – Chola Dynasty

Cholas Dynasty (850 – 1175)

  • They ruled with Tanjavore as capital.

Parantaka– I

  • Important King was Parantaka-I He took the title called ‘Madurai Konda’. His two inscription of Uttarameru, TN issued in 10th C says about the local self-governments.
  • Village administration was completely autonomous. Village panchayats are called Sabhas or Ur. Extreme powers are given to these panchayats. Judicial powers are also given. These were highly democratic and for election ‘Kundavali’ is the system. adopted.

Raja Raja– I

  • Apart from Indian domains and territories he also conquered territories outside India.He captured Maldives, Lakshadweep, and Northern Srilanka.
  • His counterpart or the contemporary king Of Srilanka was ‘Mahinda V’.He was defeated by Raja Raja – I and his capital Anuradhapura were captured and destroyed.
  • Cholas called their provinces as Mandalams. Northern Srilanka that.was captured by Raja. Raja was called as `Mummadichola Mandalam’.Raja Raja has a title called ‘Mummadichola Deva’.

Rajendra– I

  • He was son and successor of Raja Raja– I.
  • He defeated Pala kings and annexed Parts of Bengal and Bihar.
  • He took the title of `Gangaikonda’ (Gangai = Ganga).
  • Thereafter he built a new city called Gangaikonda.Cholapuram in Tamilnadu.
  • He also occupied Southern Srilanka and ‘Mahinda-V’ who was hiding there was brought as a prisoner to Tanjavore. Now complete Srilanka was called as Mummadichola Mandalam.
  • He also invaded Indonesia and defeated its king. Then he took another title called ‘kadaram Konda’. Kadaram (now Penang) was capital that dynasty.

Kuluttonga– I

  • He ruled between 11-12th Century
  • During his reign, he lost control over Srilanka. Cholas were expelled. The Sinhala hero ‘Vijayabahu the Great’ who vanquished Cholas from Sri Lanka made every possible effort to restore what Cholas destroyed.
  • In 1077, Kuluttonga-I has sent a huge embassy to China to improve Trade and Commerce relationship. This embassy consists of 72 members.
  • He has also very diplomatic relationships with Cambodian Kings. His contemporary Cambodian king was Suryavarina-II.
  • During his reign, two social groups which were rivals to each have emerged. There emerged is unknown, though they are

 ->  Valangai — means Right hand in Tamil
 ->  ldangai — means Left Hander in Tamil

  • After the decline of Chola, there emerged two kingdoms in South.

 ->  Pandyan kingdom with capital at Madurai, Tamilnadu.
 ->  Hovasala kingdom with capital at Dwarasamudra(Present Helebiedu = Deserted Village).

  • During Cholas period, complete Eastern coast (Bengal to Tamilnadu) was under their control. This as called as Cholamandalam (and this was anglicised by Britishers as Coromandal.
  • Cholas were so successful because their Navy power was immense. They were the master of navy administration.
  • Cholas emblem was the tiger.


  • A great poet of this period was Kamban (circa 12th C). He translated Ramayana into ‘Tamil’.
  • Another scholar Jayangondor he wrote ‘Salingattu Parani’ (Parani = conquest, Conquest of Kalinga). and this book is on Kuluttonga and his conquest of Kalinga.
  • Another Scholar. Sekkilar – he wrote Periyapuranam(a book on Shaivism).


  • Temples are considered the best of South India. All the temples are in Dravidian style.
  • The credit of strengthening the Dravidian style goes to Cholas. They have perfected this style by adding few new features like
  1. Gopuram:- A Gopuram or Gopura is a monumental tower, usually ornate, at the entrance of any temple. They function ‘as gateways through the walls that surround the temple complex. A gopuram is usually rectangular in form with ground-level wooden doors, often richly decorated, providing access. Above is the tapering gopuram, divided into many storeys which diminish in size as the gopuram tower narrows. Usually, the tower is topped with a barrel vaulted roof with a finial. Gopurams are exquisitely decorated with sculpture and carvings and painted with a variety of themes.Cholas built Gopurams in four directions.
  2. Mantapa: It is a pillared outdoor hall or pavilion for public rituals. In the Hindu temple, the mandapa is a porch like structure through the (gopuram) (ornate gateway) and leading to the temple. It is used for religious dancing and music and is part of the basic temple compound. The prayer hall was generally built in front of the temple’s sanctum sanctorum (garbhagriha). A large temple would have many mandapas. Often the hall was pillared and the pillars adorned with intricate carvings.This has become an integral part of temple architecture.
  3. Vimana: A multi-storied structure over the sanctum sanctorum is called Vimana. This is also in semi-pyramidal shape.

 Few important temples

  • Brihadeshwara temple at Tanjavore otherwise called as Rajarajeshwara temple. This was built by Raja Raja Chola. This is UNESCO World Heritage Centre.Vimana of this temple is so impressive – it is 13 storyed and almost 196 ft. This is considered tallest temple in India till date. This was built in 1010, recently millennium anniversary celebrations were held. Brihadeshwara Tupula weighs about 80 tonne (Tupula – A monolithic stone/ device kept on Vimana).
  • Brihadeshwara temple at Gangaikonda Cholapuram. This is the 2nd best temple of Cholas. This was built by Rajendra I.
  • Kampahareshwara Temple at Tribhuvanam, Tn. It was built by Kuluttonga I.
  • Iravateshwara temple at Darasuram (Near Tanjavore). Built by Rajendra Chola II.
  • Kuranganatha temple at Srinivasanallur. This was built by Parantaka I.
  • Best sculptor of Chola period was ‘Bronze Nataraja’. This is des described by scholars as ‘Epitome of Chola art’. It has four hands. (Nataraja is a depiction of the Hindu god Shiva as the cosmic dancer who performs his divine dance to destroy a weary universe. The sculpture is usually made in bronze, with Shiva dancing in an aureole of flames, lifting his left leg and balancing over a demon or dwarf (Apasrnara) who symbolises ignorance. It is a well known sculptural symbol in India and popularly used as a symbol of Indian culture.)
  • Hoyasala were best at architecture and arts and their sculptures have become a benchmark. Best temples of this kingdom were
 ->  Hoyasaleshwara Temple at Dwarasamudra
 ->  Chennakeshava Temple at Belur.

  • These two are most beautiful temples of Hoysala architecture and they are built in Vesara Style. The outer panels are decorated with thousands of finely sculpted pictures.