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Dynasties of South India: Pallavas & The Cholas

South India was ruled by three great kingdoms: the Pallavas, the Pandyas, and the Cholas. A continuous fight for power was there among them all.


The Pallavas came to popularity following the Satvahanas' death in the fifth-sixth centuries.

Kanchi happens to be the capital of the empire.

Emperors: Mahendravarman I and Narsimhavarman I were two of the finest Pallava emperors.

Temples: The Pallava rulers were entrepreneurs and benefactors of the arts and architecture. At Mahabalipuram, the Ratha and Shore temples, as well as the Kailashnath temple at Kanchi, are examples of Pallava temple construction.

In the ninth century, the Cholas defeated the Pallavas.

The Pallavas are best known for their architectural patronage, with the Shore Temple in Mamallapuram, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Pandyas

The Pandya kingdom was located south of the Chola kingdom, in the area surrounding present-day Madurai.

Madurai, their capital, was a major centre of learning.

Marco Polo paid a visit to the Pandya kingdom and left a written record of his stay. In the fourteenth century, the kingdom started to fail.

The Cholas

The Cholas (or Cholas) were the South's most civilised people. This dynasty is said to have been created by Karikala.

  • Cholamandalam was the name of the Chola empire.

  • Trichinopoly, Tanjore, and a few districts of Mysore and Madras were included (now Chennai). Its capital was Kaveripattam.

Vijayalaya (846-871 A.D.)

Vijayalaya (Pallava feudatory), was the true founder of the Chola dynasty of Tanjore. His dynasty rose to popularity and lasted over two centuries.

  • He governed the territory north of the Kaveri River. Parantaka I, a great Chola king, defeated the Pandyas in Madurai.

  • He was, however, defeated in the Battle of Takollam in 949 by Rashtrakuta king Krishna III. Following this battle, the Cholas became weakened.

Rajaraja & Rajendra Chola

Rajaraja Chola and Rajendra Chola were instrumental in reviving the kingdom and boosting the Cholas to popularity in South India.

During the reigns of Rajaraja (985-1014) and his son, Rajendra I, the Chola kingdom reached its height (1014-1041).

  • Rajaraja Chola, commonly known as Rajaran I, was an exceptionally gifted general.

  • He battled the Pandyas and the Cheras, two other southern governing dynasties.

  • He established a powerful fleet in order to monopolise commerce along the coasts of Kerala, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives.

  • He was a Shaivite who was tolerant of other religions while being a Shaivite.

Rajendra Chola

Rajendra Chola replaced Rajaraja Chola in the crown and maintained his father's conquest agenda. He defeated the Chalukyas of Kalyani and Bengal's Pala king.

  • He was given the title 'Gangaikondachola', which translates as 'Chola conqueror of the Ganga'.

  • He also established a new capital at Tanjore, which he named Gangaikondachola, or 'the city of the Chola conqueror of the Ganga.'

Rajendra Chola launched his most daring expedition in Southeast Asia.

Trade in the Chola Empire

Indian traders have been dealing with various areas of Southeast Asia and southern China for ages. Indian ships were required to sail through the Molucca Straits, which were administered by the kingdom of Sri Vijaya.

Because the merchants of Sri Vijaya desired control over this trade, they began developing strategies to keep Indian merchants out. Many of these traders were Cholas.

They begged for help from Rajendra Chola. He dispatched a vast navy and defeated the Sri Vijaya King. Thus, commerce with Southeast Asia and Southern China continued, increasing the Chola empire greatly.

Decline: Rajendra Chola's successors continued to wage war against neighbouring kingdoms. The Cholas were weakened by these constant battles. As a result, by the end of the thirteenth century, the empire declined.


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