After the decline of the Sangam period, the Cholas became feudatories in Uraiyur. They became prominent in the ninth century and established an empire comprising the major portion of South India.
Their capital was Tanjore.
also extended their sway in Sri Lanka and the Malay Peninsula
Therefore, they are called as the Imperial Cholas
founder of the Imperial Chola line was Vijayalaya.
Parantaka I was a great builder of temples. He also provided the vimana of the famous
Nataraja temple at Chidambaram with a golden roof.
The two famous Uttiramerur inscriptions that give a detailed account of the village administration under the Cholas belong to his reign
Rajaraja I (985 – 1014 A.D.)
defeat of the Chera ruler Bhaskararavivarman in the naval battle of Kandalursalai and the destruction of the Chera navy.
He completed the construction of the famous Rajarajeswara temple or Brihadeeswara temple at Tanjore in 1010 A.D.
also helped in the construction of a Buddhist monastery at Nagapattinam.
Rajendra I (1012-1044 A.D.)
reasserted the Chola authority over the Chera and Pandya countries.
defeated Jayasimha II, the Western Chalukya king and the river Tungabadhra was recognised as the boundary between the Cholas and Chalukyas
To commemorate this successful north-Indian
campaign Rajendra founded the city of Gangaikondacholapuram and constructed the famous Rajesvaram temple in that city.
He also excavated a large irrigation tank called Cholagangam on the western side of the city
was also a devout Saiva and built a temple for that god at the new capital Gangaikondacholapuram.
He made liberal endowments to this temple and to the Lord Nataraja temple at Chidambaram.
was also tolerant towards the Vaishnava and Buddhist sects
excellent system of administration
emperor or king was at the top of the administration. The extent and resources of the Chola Empire increased the power and prestige of monarchy.
big capital cities like Tanjore and Gangaikondacholapuram, the large royal courts and extensive grants to the temples reveal the authority of the king.
undertook royal tours to increase the efficiency of the administration.
elaborate administrative machinery comprising various officials called perundanam and sirudanam.
land revenue department was well organized. It was called as puravuvarithinaikkalam.
residential portion of the village was called ur nattam.
These and other lands such as the lands belonging to temples were exempted from tax. Besides land revenue, there were tolls and customs on goods taken from one place to another, various kinds of professional taxes, dues levied on ceremonial occasions like marriages and judicial fines.
the hard times, there were remission of taxes and Kulottunga I became famous by abolishing tolls and earned the title – Sungam Tavirtta Cholan.
royal troops were called Kaikkolaperumpadai.
Within this there was a personal troop to defend the king known as Velaikkarar
Attention was given to the training of the army and military cantonments called kadagams existed
divided into mandalams and each mandalam into valanadus and nadus.
each nadu there were a number of autonomous villages
royal princes or officers were in charge of mandalams.
valanadu was under periyanattar and nadu under nattar.
town was known as nagaram and it was under the administration of a council called nagarattar.
system of village autonomy with sabhas and their committees developed through the ages and reached its culmination during the Chola rule
Two inscriptions belonging to the period of Parantaka I found at Uttiramerur provide details of the formation and functions of village council
village was divided into thirty
wards and each was to nominate its members to the village council.
From the persons duly nominated, one was to be chosen for each ward by kudavolai system for a year.
were divided into six variyams such as samvatsaravariyam, erivariyam, thotta variyam, pancha variyam, pon variyam and puravuvari variyam to take up six different functions of the village administration.
committee members were called variyapperumakkal.
Brahmins and Kshatriyas enjoyed special privileges
inscriptions of the later period of the Chola rule mention about two major divisions among the castes – Valangai and Idangai castes
cooperation among various castes and sub-castes in social and religious life
position of women did not improve. The practice of ‘sati’ was prevalent among the royal families. The devadasi system or dancing girls attached to temples emerged during this period
Saivism and Vaishnavism continued to flourish during the Chola period.
temples remained centres of economic activity during this perio
mathas had great influence during this period
Commerce and trade were brisk with trunk roads or peruvazhis and merchant guilds
Commercial contacts between the Chola Empire and China, Sumatra, Java and Arabia were extensively prevalent. Arabian horses were imported in large numbers to strengthen the cavalry
Education and Literature
Besides the temples and mathas as educational centres, several educational institutions also flourished.
inscription at Ennayiram, Thirumukkudal and Thirubhuvanai provide details of the colleges existed in these places.
development of Tamil literature reached its peak during the Chola peri
Sivakasintamani written by Thiruthakkadevar and Kundalakesi belonged to 10th centu
Ramayana composed by Kamban and the Periyapuranam or Tiruttondarpuranam by Sekkilar are the two master-pieces of this age. Jayankondar’s Kalingattupparani describes the Kalinga war fought by Kulotunga I. The Moovarula written by Ottakuthar depicts the life of three Chola kings. The Nalavenba was written by Pugalendi. The works on Tamil grammar like Kalladam by Kalladanar, Yapperungalam by Amirthasagarar, a Jain, Nannul by Pavanandhi and Virasoliyam by Buddhamitra were the products of the Chola age
Art and Architecture
Dravidian style of art and architecture reached its perfection under the Cholas
chief feature of the Chola temple is the vimana.
early Chola temples were found at Narthamalai and Kodumbalur in Pudukottai district and at Srinivasanallur in Tiruchirappalli district. The Big Temple at Tanjore built by Rajaraja I is a master-piece of South Indian art and architecture. It consists of the vimana, ardhamandapa, mahamandapa and a large pavilion in the front known as the Nandimandapa.
architecture is the Siva temple at Gangaikondacholapuram built by Rajendra I.
Airavathesvara temple at Darasuram in Tanjore District and the Kampaharesvara temple at Tribhuvanam are examples of later Chola temples.
walls of the Chola temples such as the Tanjore and Gangaikondacholapuram temples contain numerous icons of large size with fine execution.
bronzes of the Chola period are world-famous. The bronze statues of Nataraja or dancing Siva are master pieces. The Chola paintings were found on the walls of Narthamalai and Tanjore temples.