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The grandeur of the Chola Empire

GS Paper I:


Source: The Hindu

Syllabus Ancient India (Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times)

Directions: This article is taken from The Hindu. Go through it and prepare a holistic note on the Chola empire both from the Prelims and Mains perspective.

Later Chola Dynasty

  • Chola dynasty ruled from 850 to 1279 AD from Vijalaya Aditya I to Rajendra III, up to the end of the dynasty.
  • Sources of History:
    • Literary sources, such as Tamil literature flourished during this period.
      • Rise in bhakti saints and compilation of hyms reflect sociocultural features of that period
      • Muvarula, and Kamba Ramayanam, the great epic, belong to this period.
    • Uttarameruru Inscription issued by Pranthaka Chola gives details of election to local self-government bodies.

  • Famous rulers:
    • Rajaraja I (985 – 1014 A.D.)- engaged in naval expeditions and emerged victorious on the West Coast, Sri Lanka and conquered the Maldives in the Indian Ocean.
      • He completed the construction of the famous Rajarajeswara temple or Brihadeeswara temple at Tanjore in 1010 A.D.
    • Rajendra I (1012-1044 A.D.) – founded the city of Gangaikondacholapuram, annexed complete Ceylon, got the title Pandita Chola and constructed the famous Rajesvaram temple.
    • Rajendra III – the last Chola king who was defeated by Jatavarman Sundarapandya II
    • On the ruins of the Chola empire, Pandya and Hoysala kingdoms came into existence.
  • Administration: Chola Empire was divided into mandalams and each mandalam was into valanadus and nadus.
    • In each nadu there were a number of autonomous villages.
    • The royal princes or officers were in charge of mandalam.
    • Various units of land measurement are kuli,ma, veli, patti, padagam, etc.
    • The tax rates were fixed depending on the fertility of the soil.
  • Architecture: Chola art saw the culmination of Dravida temple art.
    • They followed the architectural style of the
    • They used material of stone instead of bricks due to their greater durability.
    • The temples had a Garbhaghriha(Deity room); Vimana(Brihadeshwara Temple); Shikhara(Stone weighing 90 tonnes);
      • Metal Art(Nataraja at Chidamabaram Temple) Lofty Gates
      • Presence of a water tank is the unique feature of Chola architecture.
    • Chola bronze sculptures: The well-known dancing figure of Shiva as Nataraja evolved and fully developed during the Chola Period.
      • The bronze casting technique and the making of bronze images of traditional icons reached a high stage of development during this period.

Insta Links

Prelims link:

Chola empire

Mains Links:

Q. Chola architecture represents a high watermark in the evolution of temple architecture. Discuss. (UPSC MAINS 2013)

Q. The Chola period witnessed remarkable development in sculptures and bronze works with a special emphasis on Hindu iconography. They portray a classic grace, grandeur and taste. Discuss.