The most significant Early Chola ruler is Karikala Chola, who ruled around 270 BC and is mentioned in the Sangam Literature. The meaning of his name “Kari + Kalan” refers to “Slayer of Elephants” but also means “the one with burnt limbs”. This indicates a fire accident in his early age, which left his legs charred. One of the Sangam Poems testifies this. Karikala Chola is best known for winning the famous “Battle of Venni” in which both the Pandyas and Cheras were crushed by him. The current location of Venni is near Thanjaur.The “Battle of Venni” was a turning point in his career and he was established as a firm power in the South. Some legends say that he won the whole of Ceylon Kingdom, after the Battle of Venni.
World’s earliest water-regulator structure in stone at Kallanai (Grand Anicut)on River Cauvery was built by Karikala Chola. It was constructed mainly to divert the water from Cauvery River for irrigation. This dam stands as a huge mass of 329 meters (1,080 feet) long and 20 meters (60 feet) wide, across the main stream of the Cauvery and is a major tourist attraction today.
In 2013, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa announced a memorial for Karikala Chola, for a commemoration of his construction of Kallanai (Grand Anicut)on River Cauvery. The 14ft Bronze statue depicts the king astride an elephant and pointing to the kallanai. The height of the elephant is 8 ft and the king sitting on it adds another 6 ft.