The Chola dynasty was one of the most popular dynasties of south India which ruled over Tamil Nadu and parts of Karnataka with Tanjore as its capital. Rock edicts II and XII of Ashoka rare the earliest historical documents to refer to the Cholas.


1.Who is Raja Raja cholan?

2.What are the parts ruled by him?

3.His administrative ability and land survey?

4.Military Achievements of Raja Raja chola?

5.Arts and architecture in Raja Raja chola regime?


1.RAJA Raja cholan

He is a famous chola king who ruled from 947 A.D. to 1014 A.D.His military conquests and administrative reforms and architectural excellence gave him a special place in south Indian History.


2.Area ruled by Raja Raja Chola

During his reign, the Cholas expanded beyond South Inda with their domains stretching from Sri Lanka in the south to Kalinga in the north. Raja Raja Chola also launched several naval campaigns that resulted in the capture of the Malabar Coast as well as the Maldives and Sri Lanka.


3.Military Achievements of Raja Raja chola?

  • During his earliest conquests, he attacked the combined armies of the Pandyas and Cheras, though there is no significant evidence of any campaign in the first eight years of his reign.
  • With his capital at Thanjavur, he utilized the first few years in building a strong army and preparing for military expeditions.
  • In 991, the army of the Sinhalese king, Mahinda V, the ruler of Anuradhapura Kingdom, revolted against him with help from professional soldiers hired from Kerala forcing him to escape south to Ruhana.
  • While he longed for ruling the entire Ceylon Island, the southern region of Ruhana remained beyond his reach, which was later successfully captured by his son, Rajendra.
  • In 994, he made his first successful campaign by destroying a fleet of Chera King Bhaskara Ravi Varman Thiruvadi at Kandalur port.
  • In around 998-999, he succeeded in capturing Gangapadi (Gangawadi) and Nurambapadi (Nolambawadi), in the present-Karnataka, thereby administering control over the entire Ganga country.
  • With southern territories added to his Empire, he moved northwards for further conquests, following which he was continuously at war with the Western Chalukyas.
  • His son, Rajendra, led the 900,000 army slaughtering Brahmans, women and children, while the army elephants were used for further destruction along the banks of River Tungabhadra.
  • In 999, he invaded the Vengi kingdom and overthrew its ruler, Jata Choda Bhima, to replace him with Saktivarman as the Eastern Chalukya king.
  • Bhima attacked and captured Kanchi again after his exit; however, he responded immediately by drawing him out of Kanchi, thereby securing Saktivarman to his throne in 1002. Eventually, Vengi became his empire’s subsidiary kingdom.
  • Soon after Vengi was captured, Rajendra set out on the conquest of Kalinga and defeated its king, Bhima, who had fled to Kalinga after being expelled from Kanchi by Raja Raja.
  • The territory of Udagai, a significant stronghold of the Pandyas, was raided and captured under the leadership of his son, Rajendra, and was added to the Chola Empire, sometime around 1008.
  • The naval conquest of the ‘old islands of the sea numbering 12,000’ was probably one of his last conquests, which included the invasion of Maldives.
  • While administering his control over the Bay of Bengal region, he transformed it into Chola Lake, with Nagapattinam serving as the main port of the Cholas and, perhaps, the navy headquarters as well.
  • Towards the later years of his reign, he shifted his attention from conquests to internal administration wherein he transformed all the territories governed by lords and local princes into dependent officials to monitor them closely.
  • He appointed local government authorities and formed centralized machinery to audit and control village assemblies and other public bodies without restricting their independence.
  • He patronized ‘’Thisai ayirathi ettu Ainootruvar’, an ancient Tamil trade organization, to promote international trade along the Indian Ocean, with countries extending from Arabia to Malaya.
  • Apart from being a devoted Saivist Hindu, he had utmost respect for other religions and faiths, evident from the construction of temples for Vishnu and Buddhist Chudamani Vihara for Sri Maravijayatungavarman, ruler of Srivijaya.
  • He also conquered many kings above Ganges and so got the name “GANGAI KONDAAN”.Also to celebrate his victory he built a city “Gangai-Konda-Cholapuram city” and Rajesvaram temple (Saivism) in it

4.Arts and Architecture in Raja Raja reign

  • In 1010, Raja Raja built the Brihadisvara Temple in Thanjavur dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple and the capital acted as a center of both religious and economic activity.It is also known as Periya Kovil, RajaRajeswara Temple and Rajarajeswaram.
  • It is one of the largest temples in India and is an example of Dravidian architecture during the Chola period. The temple turned 1000 years old in 2010.
  • The temple is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the “Great Living Chola Temples”, with the other two being the Gangaikonda Cholapuram and Airavatesvara temple.
  • Raja Raja Chola embarked on a mission to recover the hymns after hearing short excerpts of Thevaram in his court.He sought the help of Nambi Andar Nambi.
  • Rajaraja thus became to be known as Tirumurai Kanda Cholan meaning one who saved the Tirumurai. Thus far Shiva temples only had images of god forms, but after the advent of Rajaraja, the images of the Nayanar saints were also placed inside the temple
  • Nambi arranged the hymns of three saint poets Sambandar, Appar and Sundarar as the first seven books, Manickavasagar’s Tirukovayar and Tiruvacakam as the 8th book, the 28 hymns of nine other saints as the 9th book, the Tirumandiram of Tirumular as the 10th book, 40 hymns by 12 other poets as the 10th book, Tirutotanar Tiruvanthathi – the sacred anthathi of the labours of the 63 nayanar saints and added his own hymns as the 11th book.
  • The first seven books were later called as Tevaram, and the whole Saiva canon, to which was added, as the 12th book, Sekkizhar’s Periya Puranam (1135) is wholly known as Tirumurai, the holy book. Thus Saiva literature which covers about 600 years of religious, philosophical and literary development.

5.Administration of Raja Raja chola

  • The Cholas had three major administrative divisions called Central Government, Provincial Government and Local Government. Tanjore was the capital of the Cholas
  • . The king was the head of the administration. The Chola kings and Queens were considered as representatives of God. Their idols were kept in temples. The Chola kingship was hereditary. The Chola royal family followed the principle that eldest son should succeed the king to the Chola throne.
  • The heir apparent was called Yuvaraja, The Chola monarchs enjoyed enormous powers and privileges.
  • Kings were assisted by ministers and officials in their administration. Chola kings had tiger as their royal emblem.
  • The Central Government was under the headship of the King. Council of ministers and officials took active part in running the administration of Central Government. The higher officials were called Peruntaram and the lower officials were called Siruntaram. The Chola Empire was divided into nine provinces. They were also called mandalams.
  • The head of the province was called viceroy. Close relatives of kings were appointed as viceroys. The Viceroys were in constant touch with the Central Government. Viceroys received orders from the king. They sent regular reply to the king. The viceroys had a large number of ofqficials to assist them in the work of administration.
  • The success of the Chola administration depended more on the proper functioning of the administrative divisions. Generally mandalams were named after the original names or the titles of the Chola kings.
  • Each mandalam was divided into number of Kottams or Valanadus. Each kottam was sub divided into nadu.
  • Each nadu was further divided into (Urs) villages which form part of the last unit of the administration. Uttaramerur inscriptions speak about the administration of the Cholas.
  • The land revenue was the main source of income of the Chola Government. Proper land survey was made. Lands were classified as taxable land and non taxable land. There were many grades in the taxable lands. Land revenue differed according to these grades. Generally 1/6 of the land yield was collected as tax either in cash or in kind or both according to the convenience of the farmers.
  • Besides land revenue, there were some other sources of income like customs and tolls. Taxes on mines, ports, forests and salt pans were collected. Professional tax and house tax were also collected. Many other taxes were levied. Tax burden was more on the society. Sometimes due to failure of rain and famine people could not pay tax.


6.Land Survey of Raja Raja Chola

  • Before the reign of Raja Raja I, parts of the Chola territory were ruled by hereditary lords and princes who were in a loose alliance with the Chola rulers.
  • Raja Raja initiated a project of land survey and assessment in 1000 which led to the reorganization of the empire into units known as valanadus.
  • From the reign of Raja Raja Chola the hereditary lords and local princes were either replaced or turned into dependent officials.This led to the king exercising a closer control over the different parts of the empire.
  • Rajaraja strengthened the local self-government and installed a system of audit and control by which the village assemblies and other public bodies were held to account while retaining their autonomy




1.The cholas-part 1-chapter-9. By professed K.A. Nilakanda sastri.

2.Wiki pedia

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