Chapter 13: IMPERIAL CHOLAS
After the end of the Sangam age the Cholas became
feudatories but rose again to prominence in 9 century AD. These
were the years of the Imperial Cholas as they had captured the
entire Malay peninsula and Sri Lanka.
The Cholas ended the Pallava dynasty and also
defeated the Pandya’s but received a setback from the
Rashtrakutas. But under king Rajaraj I they reached the height
of their power.
Kaveri delta was a seat of Chola power.
Features of the reign:
The Cholas established supremacy over the Chera and
the Pandya under the reign of King Rajaraja I. The Cholas also
invaded and captured north Sri Lanka.
The Maldives too were captured after military
By defeating the Western Chalukyas of Kalyani the
Chola power reached to Tungabhadra river.
The Chola king Rajendra I started a military
campaign against the northern kings and defeated Bengal king.
The Chola kings were devout Shaivites but they were
tolerant towards Buddhism and Vaishnavism. The Chola power
weakened after successors of Rajendra I and finally the Chola
Empire was absorbed into the Pandyan kingdom.
Fig 1: Empire of Imperial
The king ruled with the help of ministers.
The administration was efficient.
Surprise visits were made by the king to check
efficiency of the administration.
Land revenue was collected by elaborately surveying
the land. Relief was given during harsh times. The expenditure of
taxes was done on canals, irrigation, army, navy, courts.
The army and navy were trained in cantonments. The
navy was top priority if the Cholas. The navy had dominated both
Coromandel and Malabar coasts. In fact the Bay of Bengal
was a Chola lake for some period.
Village autonomy reached its peak during the Chola
rule. Qualifications and disqualifications were prescribed for
becoming a member of village committee. These committees had
functions and could pass resolutions.
The caste system was prevalent. The upper castes
enjoyed special privileges.
The sub castes too existed but harmonious cooperation
existed between them.
Women had inferior status. Sati and Devdasi system
Temples of Shiv and Vishnu were built. Hence both
these sects flourished.
Trade with china, Sumatra, Java and Arabs flourished
in this period. Silk weaving of Kanchi was famous. Agriculture too
increased and forest lands were brought under cultivation.
Fig 2: Great living chola temples Brihadeshwar [Thanjavur] , Airavatesvara
Temple and Brihadeshvar [Gangaikonda]
The temples were centers of imparting education.
Numerous colleges too were created. In these apart
from Vedic knowledge, mathematics and sciences too were taught.
Land endowments were given to these.
Tamil literature reached its peak during this
Art and Architecture:
The Vimana style of temple building grew prominent
in this period. Walls have detailed frescoes, sculptures,
The temples too were large.
The mandaps, and semi mandaps were built in
Architectural beauty is also seen in sculptures of
large size with fine execution.
Chola paintings and bronze statues of dancing girl
Dwarpal and Gana were common in temples. Base of
Chola temples has 'Yazhi' – A mythical animal.
Bharat natyam was developed.