The Cholas
In this slide show we have covered The Cholas in some extent
Their are few topics which we are going to study in detail are given below :

  • Expansion of Terriotory
  • Art and Arcitecture
  • Economy
  • Agricultural
Expansion of territory
Territorial Expansion
The Cholas had ruled as Chieftains in Tamilnad since AD 1st century.
Towards the middle of the 9th century, Vijayalaya (846-870) conquered Tanjore (the heart of Tamilnad) and declared himself the ruler of an independent state.
Even more important was Parantaka I (906-53) who conquered the land of the Pandyas, but suffered defeat at the hands of a Rashtrakuta king.
Chola power became solidly established in the reign of Rajaraja I (985-1014), and of his son and successor Rajendra I (1014-1042).
Rajaraja's Policy of Annexation
Rajaraja's policy of annexation was influenced by the consideration of trade.
He began by attacking the alliance between Kerala under the Cheras , Ceylon and the Pandytls in order to break their monopoly of western trade.
The Pandyas had already been subjugated.
The Arab traders were well settled on the west coast and enjoyed the support of the Cheras.
To eliminate Arab competition in trade, particularly in South-east Asia, Rajaraja I tried to bring the Malabar coast under his control.
Importance of Arab Trade
Rajendra led a naval expedition against the Maldive Islands.
This had assumed importance in the Arab trade.
The Cholas, although unable to strike directly at the Arab trade, caused havoc in Ceylon with a devastating campaign when the existing capital Anuradhapura, was destroyed and the Cholas moved the capital to Pollonnarua.
The conflict over the rich province, Vengi, resumed between the Cholas and the later Chalukyas.
Ganges valley
The annexationist ambitions of Rajendra I turned northwards as far as the Ganges valley.
He matched up to the east coast of India, through Orissa and up the river Ganga.
There he threatended the Pala king ruling in Bengal before returning to the south.
Relationship with China
Even more daring was Rajendra's overseas campaign against the kingdom of Shri Vijaya in order to protect Indian commercial interests in South-east Asia and southern China.
The campaign was successful and for a while Indian ships and goods passed without interference through Shri Vijaya territory.
This permitted a steady improvement in the commerce of southern India and better communications with the Chinese to whom Kulottunga I (1070-1118) sent an embassy of 72 merchants in 1077.
The Successors of Rajendra I
The Successors of Rajendra I turned their attention to conflicts within the Peninsula and the struggle with the later Chalukyas (the successors of the Rashtrakutas) for the province of Vengi was revived.
The old enemies of the far south, the Pandyas, Kerala, and Ceylon, remained at war.
End of Calukya Empire
By the third quarter of the 12th century, the Chalukya empire had come to an end.
It set the Chalukya feudatories free, who, in turn, set up their own kingdoms.
They were the Yadavas of Devagiri (northern Deccan), the Kakatiyas of Warangal (Andhra) and the Hoysalas of Dwarasamudra (Mysore).
The Chola kingdom had exhausted its resources and was on the decline in the 13th century when it succumbed to an attack by the Hoysalas from the west and Pandyas from the south.
The new kingdom were to last till the Turkish sultans overthrew the existing dynasties in the Deccan in the 14th century.
Art and Architecture
Under the Cholas, the Dravida style of temple architecture, exclusive to the south, attained its most magnificent form.
The main feature of this style was the building of five to seven storeys (in a typical style called the vimana) above the chief deity-room (garbhagriha).
A large elaborately carved pillared hall with flat roof was placed in front of the sanctum.
This mandap acted as an audience hall and a place for various other ceremonies.
Sometimes a passage was added around the sanctum for devotees to walk around it, where images of many other Gods were placed.
Dravid Style Temples
The Brihadiswara temple at Tanjore built by Rajendra I, is an example of the Dravida style.
Another is the Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple.
Temple-building activity continued even after the fall of the Cholas.
Chalukyan Style Temple
The Hoysalesvara temple at Halebid is the most magnificent example of the Chalukyan style.
The temple contained finely sculptured panels which show a busy panorama of life.
The ground plan was not rectangular, but was star-shaped or polygonal, within which was accommodated the temple built on a raised platform.
The giant statue of Gomteswar at Shrvana Belagola is a fine example of the standards attained in sculpture.
In this period Chola craftsmen excelled in making bronze figurines.
The Nataraja, the dancing figure of Shiva, is considered a masterpiece.
Land Cultivation
This period saw the extension of land under cultivation and settlement through land grants (brahmadeya or agrahara), to brahmanas which was exempt from various taxes and dues.
Most of these lands were virgin forests though, of course, grants were also made in regions which were already under cultivation.
The ruling families derived economic advantage in the form of the extension of the resource base.
Moreover, by creating brahmadeya, they also gained ideological support for their political power from the brahmanas.
Religious Views
Grants of cultivable land to brahmanas are recommended in all the Smritis and Puranas of the post Gupta-period.
A conscious effort to provide means of the subsistence to the brahmanas.
Devadana grants were, given to the brahmanical temples in southern India.
The non-brahmanical religious establishments such as Buddhist and Jain monasteries (samhas and basadis), especially in Kamataka, Andhra and Gujarat and eastern lndia, Were also given grants of land.
Post-Gupta Period
The gift of land to officials of state is mentioned as early as AD 200, but the practice picked up momentum in the post-Gupta period.
The incidence of grants to state officials varies from one region to another.
Very large territories were granted to Vassals and high officers under the Chalukyas of Gujarat.
It thus created another class of landlords.
Land Revenue
Local chiefs though defeated in war were allowed to keep lands in the form of grant.
The grantees were equivalent of Vassals or feudatories who displayed their allegiance by handing over a part of the revenue from the land to the king.
The new land-owing elite also consisted of local peasant, clan chiefs or heads of kingship groups and heads of families who had kani rights.
Rights of possession and supervision Hereditary ownership seems to have developed out of such grants.
Thus, several strata of intermediaries emerged between the king and the actual producer.
Water Resources
The accessibility to water resources was an important consideration in the spread of rural settlements.
There was thus an increase in irrigation sources, such as canals, lakes, tanks and wells.
Keres or tanks in South Kamataka, nadi (river), puslrkarini (tank), srota (water channel), etc. in Bengal and araghatta wells in western Rajasthan and step Well (vapis) in Rajasthan and Gujarat, used to be natural points of reference whenever distribution and transfer of village land had to be undertaken.
Land Grant System
The chronological appearance of the land grant system shows the following pattern:
4th -5th Century: lt spread over a good part of central lndia, northern Deccan and Andhra.
5th -7th Century: Eastern lndia (Bengal and Orissa) beginnings in western lndia (Gujarat and Rajasthan).
7th - 8th Century: Tamil Nadu Kamataka and 9th Century: Kerala and end of 12th century-almost the entire subcontinent with the possible exception of Punjab.
The land grant had paved the way for feudal developments in India.
Hierarchy of Officers
Emergence of hierarchical, landed intermediaries who were Vassals, officers of state and other secular assignees and had military obligations and feudal titles.
The different strata of intermediaries consisted of land-owing aristocrats, tenants, share-croppers and cultivators.
This hierarchy was also reflected in the power/administrative structure, where a son of Lord-Vassal relationship emerged.
Rights for Peasants
Due to the growing claims for greater rights overland by rulers and intermediaries, peasants suffered a curtailment in their land rights.
Many were reduced to the status of tenants at will.
The position of peasants was also undermined on account of the imposition of forced labour (vishti) and several new levies and taxes.
Rights on Labour
Forced labour was originally a prerogative of the king or the state.
It was transferred to the grantees, petty officials, village authorities and others.
As a result a kind of serfdom emerged, in which agricultural labourers were reduced to the position of semi-serfs.
Surplus was extracted through various methods, and the actual tillers were hardly left with anything to trade.
Village Ecomnomy
It resulted in the growth of closed village economy where community needs were being met locally.
The peasants and immobile craftsmen and artisans remained attached to the villages, and to the land, and hence were mutually dependent.
The relative dearth of a medium of exchange, viz. metal coins, only strengthened this trend.
Trading System
The paucity of actual coins and the absence of coin moulds in archaeological finds lead us to believe that there was a shrinkage of trade and decline of urban centres.
Trade in costly, luxury goods for kings, feudal chiefs and heads of temples and monasteries continued to exist.
Precious and semi-precious stones, ivory, horses, etc. formed an important part of long-distance trade, but the evidence regarding transaction in the goods of daily use is quite meagre.
The only important article mentioned in the inscriptions are salt and oil which could not be produced by every village and thus had to be brought from outside.
The economy was predominantly agrarian.
This prompted a concern for agriculture that can be seen in the detailed instructions to agriculturists in the Brihat Samhita, Agni Purana, Vishnudhar-mottara Purana and Krishiparasara.
The Kashy-piya Krishisukti, a text which dates back to 8-9th century deals with all aspects of agriculture at length.
Improvement in agricultural knowledge and technology led to agrarian growth and rural expansion on an unprecedented scale.
Irrigation Technology
The increase in the number of irrigation works was due to an advance in irrigation technology.
There is evidence of the use of more scientific and permanent methods of flood control, damming of river waters, sluice construction both at the heads of canals, lakes and tanks.
Flood control was achieved gradually through breaching of rivers for canals and mud embankments which ensured the regulated use of water resources.
No less significant were the improvements in agricultural implements.
10th century inscription from Ajmer refers to the 'big' plough.
Similarly separate implements are mentioned for weeding plants.
Vrikshayarveda mentions steps to cure diseases of trees, water lifting devices such as araghatta and ghati-yantra operated by man and animal power, oxen, elephants, etc.
Advanced knowledge about weather conditions and their use in agricultural operations is noticeable in such texts as the Gurusamhita and Krishiparasara.
Agricultural Production
More than 150 types of cereals including wheat, barley, textiles etc. are mentioned in contemporary writing on agriculture.
According to Shnya-purana, more than fifty kinds of paddy were cultivated in Bengal.
Use of compost was known, cash crops such as areca nuts, betel leaves, cotton, sugarcane etc. find frequent mention.
Commodity production of coconut and oranges assumed special importance in peninsular India during the period.
Thus, advanced agricultural technology must have caused an increase in agricultural production.
The Chola kings built many temples throughout their kingdoms. The temples of early Cholas are found in large number in the former Pudukottai region. These Chola temples reveal the gradual evolution of the Chola art and architecture. The Chola kings earlier built brick temples. Later they built stone temples.
The first Chola ruler Vijayalaya Chola built temple at Narttamalai. This is a stone temple. It is one of the finest examples of the early Chola temple architecture. Balasubramaniya temple of Kannanur in Pudukottai region and Thirukkatalai temple were built during the period of Aditya-I. Nageswarar temple at Kumbakonam is famous for sculptural work. King Parantaka I built Koranganatha temple at Srinivasanallur (Trichy District). Muvarkoil of Kodumbalur. They are good examples of the later Chola architecture and sculpture.
Besides all these temples of the Chola period, the greatest landmark in the history of south Indian architecture is Brhadeeswarar temple at Tanjore. This is also called as big temple. It has many architectural significance. It was built by Rajaraja I. This is the largest and tallest temple in Tamil nadu. Rajendra Chola built a temple at GangaiKonda Cholapuram which is also equally famous. King Rajendra Chola added credit to the Chola art and architecture. King Kulothunga I built a temple for Sun God at Kumbakonam. This temple is first of its kind in the south Indian architecture. Rajaraja II built Airavatheeswarar temple at Dharasuram.
The Cholas
This quiz has been prepared with questions related to Chola dynasty. These question were asked in various competitive exams across India. You can practice these questions to gain more knowledge.

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