The rule of the Cholas forms an important part in the history of South India. Chola rule saw remarkable progress in almost all spheres of life such as polity, culture and economy. During the 9th century, the Cholas gained control and overthrew the Pallavas. They primarily ruled in the south of India from the 9th to 13th Century. The Indian Chola Empire conquered not just the south of India but also extended their empire over the sea and ruled parts of the Maldives and Sri Lanka. The founder of the kingdom of Cholas was known by the name of Vijayalaya who conquered the kingdom of Tanjore during mid 8th century. The Chola dynasty is an important landmark in the history of India.
By the end of the 9th century, the Cholas firmly established their
empire and exercised control over the south of India. This was during
the reign of Rajaraja and his son Rajendra l. They were very ambitious
rulers and defeated the Pandya and the Cheras of the south and captured
their kingdoms. They had trade relations with west Asia, China and
Southeast Asia that aided in enormous development of cities during the
11th century. Architecture and art was at its peak during the reign of
the Cholas. The local administration system of the Cholas was amazing
and reminds us of the modern day Pahchayati raj.
Culture and Society
There were many developments in the culture and society during the
Chola Empire. The main center for cultural and social gatherings was the
temple. The temple was an institution in itself. The temple courtyard
functioned as a school where students were taught the ancient Vedas and
Holy Scriptures. The temples were built in the form of citadels where
people could feel safe during an attack or aggression. The society was
divided into Brahmins and non-Brahmins. This was the time when Bhakti
cult emerged and Lord Shiva was worshipped as a symbol of fertility.
Language developed immensely and many languages like Tamil, Kannada and
Telugu were developed from Sanskrit.
Architecture and Art
Architecture developed rapidly under the Chola Empire. The temples that
were constructed were magnificent to look at. A famous one is the
Brihadeeswarar Temple at Tanjore. They formed the cult of Dravidian style
of temple architecture. These splendid temples can be still seen at
Tanjore and are a living testimony to the intricate style of
architecture of the craftsmen of Chola dynasty. Another famous form of
art was the bronze figurines that were crafted during this time. The
craftsmen used to beautifully decorate the statues with garlands and
jewelry while carving the statue itself. Famous examples of bronze
statues are the Nataraja and Lord Shiva as Ardhanarishwara.