Centred at the heart of the fertile valleys of the Kaveri River, the Chola Dynasty was the ruling power in South India for a considerable span of time stretching from 300 BC – 1279 AD. Their sphere of influence and control was quite widespread and encompassed several territories like the entire lands lying to on the southern side of the Tungabhadra, the territories that spanned across from the Maldives in the South to the banks of the Godavari River in Andhra Pradesh to the North, peninsular parts of South India, and parts of present day Sri Lanka.
Chola Dynasty – Origin
The founder of Chola Dynasty was Elara Chola (235 BC – 161 BC). Their origin remains a mystery, although historians have gathered considerable evidence in this regard, mostly from sources like the Sangam Literature, religious texts, traditions that have been passed down across the generations, and inscriptions that cover the walls of the several temples built by the Cholas. The city of Urayur, now belonging to modern day Thiruchirapalli, initially served as their capital. It is believed that the Cholas later shifted the center of their activities to Kaveripattinam.
The entire Chola dynasty has been broadly classified into four categories:
- Early Cholas – They have been talked about in detail in the Sangam literature.
- The Interregnum – This period is considered to be the transition from the Early Cholas to the Medieval Cholas.
- Medieval Cholas – Much of the material that has been compiled on the rulers of this period have their sources as the carvings and inscriptions by the Chola rulers themselves, as well as by their rival dynasties – the Pandiyans and the Chalukyas.
- Later Cholas – This consists of the dynasty of Kulothunga Chola I, and begins from the third quarter of the eleventh century.
Chola Dynasty – Art
The Chola Dynasty was ardent patron of art in every form, literature, architecture and religion.
The Bronze Statue of Lord Nataraja – the Hindu deity personifying the ancient art of Bharathanatyam – which is now housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, is one among the many contributions to Indian heritage made by the notable Chola Dynasty.
Written By: Saikrupa Chandramouli