Imperial Chola

Origin of Imperial Chola

  •  They were one of three muvendars (kings) who ruled over the combined geography of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. 
  • Most well-known ruler of Sangam-age Cholas was Karikala.
  • However, after the Sangam era, there was no record of Chola kings as independent rulers. They remained as subordinates to the Pallavas in the Kaveri Region.

Emergence of Imperial Chola (Later Chola, Great Chola)

  • Re-emergence of Cholas began with VIJAYALAYA (850-871 AD), who conquered Kaveri delta. He built the city of Thanjavur and laid foundation of independent Chola kingdom in 850.
  • Rajaraja I and his son Rajendra I were the most prominent kings in the Imperial Chola dynasty.

Geographic extent of Imperial Chola

  • Began at Kaveri delta known as Cholamandalam. Later with military expansions, they conquered entire Tamil Nadu.
  • Rajaraja I even ruled north-eastern parts of Sri Lanka.
  • Rajendra I, his son further expanded to entire Sri Lanka and influenced regions in south-east Asia.
  • In the north, Rajendra I defeated Western Chalukya and expanded his northern boundary up to Tungabhadra River and later up to Godavari River under his control. He built the Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple to commemorate his victory in the North of Tamil Territory.
  • Naval expeditions: Chola had a remarkable prowess in navy and naval warfare. They controlled both the Coromandal (Tamil Nadu and Southern Indian Coast along the Bay of Bengal) and Malabar Coast (Southern Karnataka and entire Kerala coast along the Arabian Sea). They captured northern Sri Lanka and ruled it. Rajendra I even defeated and captured Sri Vijaya kingdom (Southern Sumatra) and Kheda (Kadaram), a feudatory of Sri Vijaya.
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Local Bodies under Imperial Chola

  • A highlight of Chola administration was the functioning of many relatively autonomous local organisations such as Urar, Sabhaiyar, Nagarattar and Nattar.
  • Nattar: A group of Ur composed a Nadu. However, they excluded brahmadeyas formed around irrigation sources such as canals and tanks. Nattar were the assembly of landholders of Urs in Nadu. Nattar discharged many administrative, fiscal and judicial functions.
  • Urar: Peasant (Vellvangai) settlements were called as Ur. Landholders of Ur (peasant village) acted as members of assembly Urar. Urar were entrusted with upkeep of temples, maintenance of tanks and managing water and oversaw administrative functions like collection of revenue, maintenance of law & order etc.
  • Sabhaiyaar: Local assembly that looked affairs of Brahmadeya (Brahmin) settlement. It was responsible for maintaining irrigation tanks attached to temple lands and other similar functions as Urar.
  • Nagarattar: Urban centre and settlement of traders and skilled artisans. Nagarattar was assembly of residents of nagarams and regulated their association with temples. During the reign of Rajaraja I, Mamallapuram was administrated by a body called Maanagaram.
Sabha’s membership during Chola period as per Uttaramerur inscription:
All those who wish to become members of the Sabha should be owners of land from which revenue is collected.
Have their own homes.
Be between 35 to 70 years of age.
Have knowledge of the Vedas.
Be well-versed in administrative matters and honest.
Not have been members of any committee in the last three years, for becoming a member of another committee.
Have submitted their accounts and those of their relatives

End of Chola Empire

  • The rise of Hoysalas in the north and Pandyas in the southern Tamil Nadu led to terminal decline of Cholas.
  • In 1279, Pandyan ruler Jatavarman defeated last Chola king Rajendra Chola III and captured the capital of Cholas.
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