Medieval Cholas

From the Third century AD to 9th Century AD is the interregnum in the Chola History. The Chola hegemony over Pandyas and Cheras was lost after the close of the Sangam Era and south India was disturbed by the predatory activities of the Kalabhras.

Kalabras was probably a tribal clan from the Deccan and they did not speak Tamil. They might be the ascendants of the Saatvahana, whose empire had demised by early 3rd century AD. Kalabhras were patrons of Buddhism and also Jainism. The demise of the Saatvahana dynasty in Deccan created a chaos and out of this chaos the Kalabhras tried to create a niche for themselves. They invaded the southern Tamil countries which were not in a position to counter attack. The Pallavas drove out the Kalabhras.

Later, most of the Chola territories were lost to Pandyas and Pallavas. In the medieval period, Chalukyas rose to power. The Cholas and Chalukyas kept fighting over control on Vengi Kingdom for a longer period of time.

Vijayalaya Chola

The first medieval Chola ruler was Vijayalaya Chola who in 848 AD re-established the Chola rule. His capital was Thanjaur. Vijayalaya was a Pallava feudatory. Because of this victory, the Cholas became powerful and Vijayalaya wiped out both the Pandyas and Pallavas from the Thanjaur area. Vijayalaya renovated Thanjaur and built solesvara temple at Padukottai.

Aditya Chola I

Aditya Chola I was son of Vijayalaya and he succeeded him after his death. He was a great Shiva devotee and built a number of Shiva Temples on the banks of river Cauvery. With Cheras he had friendly relations. He died in 907 AD and his son Parantaka Chola I succeeded him.

Parantaka Chola I

The foundation of the Chola Kingdom by Vijayalaya and Aditya Chola-I was further enhanced by Parantaka Chola I. His reign was from 907 AD to 955 AD. Just three years of ascending to the throne, he attacked the Pandyas and captured Madura, and assumed the title Madurakonda.

Gandaraditya Chola

Gandaraditya Chola was insignificant ruler and
30 years from 955 AD i.e. 985 AD, the Chola Country was ruled by 5 Chola princes, all insignificant. Finally, in 985 AD Rajaraja Chola I ascended the Throne.

Rajaraja Chola I

The birth name of Rajaraja Chola-I was Arulmozhi varman. He was also known as Arunmozhi udayar Periya Udayar. He was such an able King that for the period of next 20 years, he achieved so many victories that when he died in 1014 AD, he was beyond dispute the lord paramount of Southern India. His territory included today’s whole of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, parts of Andhra Pradesh, parts of Orissa, whole of Kerala and Sri Lanka. The Rajrajeshwaram temple at Thanjaur, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site was built by Rajraja Chola . It is known as Brihadeeswarar Temple or Peruvudaiyar Kovil , devoted to lord Shiva.

Rajendra Chola -I:

Rajendra Chola I succeeded his father Rajaraja Chola I in 1014 AD and reigned till 1044 AD. He was an able son and prince. He continued the ambitious career of his father and added more and more territories to the Chola Dominions. Know more here about this Gangaikonda.

Rajadhiraja Chola 1018-1059 AD

Rajadhiraja Chola was declared crown prince / Co-regent as early as 1018 AD during time of his father Rajendra Chola I. He ruled with full regal status and was leader of the most of the military conquests of his father including that of Ceylon. He emphasized his claim to a paramount power by performing an Ashwamedha Yajna. In 1059, he was killed in the Battle of Koppam near Mysore.

Rajendra Chola-II (1051-1063 AD)

Rajendra Chola II had declared himself the King in the battlefield of Koppam in 1054 AD. He was declared heir apparent by his elder brother Rajadhiraja Chola 3 years ago.
He was a great patron of dance and poetry. He provided necessary support for a musical dance drama Rajarajeswara Natakam at the Brihadeshwara Temple at Thanjaur. In 1063, he was succeeded by Virarajendra Chola.

Virarajendra Chola (1063-1070 AD)

Virarajendra Chola was a significant Chola ruler who reigned from 1063-1070 AD. He was younger brother of Rajendra Chola II and Rajadhiraja Chola. We see that in a span of around 18-20 years, there was a rapid succession in the Chola Kings as three brothers ruled one after another. This gave an opportunity to Someshwara-I to launch a campaign against them. They conflicted in 1066 but the Chalukyas led by Someshwara I were again defeated. In Virarajendra Chola we find a brave, able, wise and strong King who not only maintained the status of the Cholas but also was able to increase the in Chola strength. He died in 1070 AD. In his life he patronized arts and cared for temples of all deities specially Lord Vishnu. Virarajendra Chola was succeeded by Athirajendra Chola who reigned only for few months of 1070 AD. There was a civil unrest in the Chola kingdom and he was killed in this unrest.

With the death of Athirajendra Chola, the dynasty of the Vijayalaya Chola came to an end. The next Cholas (Later Cholas) were actually a fresh blood arising out of the Chola-Chalukya marital alliances.

Trouble in Chola Kingdom

The death of Virarajendra Chola in 1070 AD was followed by troubles in Chola Kingdom. Further, Vikramaditya VI, his son-in-law attained significant position and soon started taking the Chola alliance as a liability. When Virarajendra died, there was an uprising (probably religious) in Chola Kingdom. After hearing this, Vikramaditya VI went to the Chola Capital and destroyed the uprising. Vikramaditya VI remained at Gangaikonda Cholapuram for around a month and then returned to his capital. At Gangaikonda Cholapuram, he installed Athirajendra as new King. However, within a few months, Athirajendra was killed in a fresh outbreak of rebellion. His own people most probably killed him.

Athirajendra had no male successor. When Athirajendra died, Rajendra Chola or Rajendra Chalukya, who was later known as Kulotthunga Chola I, captured Chola throne. This was the beginning of a new line of Chola Kings, called Later Cholas, who were offspring’s of Chola-Chalukya alliance.

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