Later Chola Temples

by S. R. Balasubrahmanyam | 1979 | 143,852 words

This volume of Chola Temples covers Kulottunga I to Rajendra III in the timeframe A.D. 1070-1280. The Cholas of Southern India left a remarkable stamp in the history of Indian architecture and sculpture. Besides that, the Chola dynasty was a successful ruling dynasty even conquering overseas regions....

Chapter I - Kulottunga I (a.d. 1070 to 1125)

The last phase of Chola history as well as of Chola art and architecture begins with the accession of Kulottunga I, a Chalukya-Chola prince, to the throne at Gangaikonda Cholapuram. It is a strange pattern of destiny that the mighty Chola Empire, that bestrode like a Colossus the southern peninsula and even the lands across the seas, should have had three successive generations of great kings, the last comprising three brilliant brothers, all tough soldiers and able rulers, but then that two of them should have died without male successors and the third left a shortlived one. Rajadhiraja I apparently had no male progeny to succeed him to the Chola throne, and Rajamahendra, Crown Prince for three years under Rajendra II, predeceased the father. Adhira-jendra, the son of Vira Rajendra, died in confusing circumstances, hardly a few months after he had succeeded his father. In the result, Dame Fortune Who had smiled on the Chola Empire for three great generations seemed suddenly to frown upon it.

Vira Rajendra, ascending the throne late in life, had very little time to consolidate his position, and a succession of wars kept him busy. As a far-sighted ruler, he saw the wisdom of building up alliances with his erstwhile enemies to keep his frontiers free of war or the threat of it. He gave one of his daughters in marriage to Vikramaditya VI of the Western Chalukyas and by this alliance he wrested from Somesvara II, the hostile Suzerain of Kalyani, half of the Chalukyan Empire for his son-in-law; thus, in one stroke, he weakened that empire and ensured a friendly neighbour on his north-western borders. This also enabled him to have Western Chalukyan support for his ruling peacefully over Vengi, whose western frontier was virtually guaranteed by his son-in-law.

He gave another daughter Rajasundari in marriage to the Eastern Ganga king Rajaraja, ruling over Southern Kalinga, and thus protected the northern borders of Vengi from the inroads they had been so frequently subjected to.

Thus, towards the closing years of his reign, by these diplomatic marital alliances, he had consolidated the empire, and all was set for a grand epoch, when the cruel hand of fate struck the empire. In a.d. 1069-70, Vira Rajendra died and soon thereafter, his son, whatever his qualities and potentialities were, met with an early death, resulting in a period of confusion and claims and counterclaims, that ultimately was terminated by the able Eastern Chalukyan Prince Rajiga, who, on the maternal side, had inherited Chola blood over two generations (and was himself married to a daughter of Chola Rajendradeva II) as shown by the genealogical table below:

Rajaraja I
Rajendra I & (d.) Kundavai (m.)
Rajadhiraja I & Rajendradeva II & Vira Rajendra & (d.) Ammangadevi
Adhi Rajendra
Rajamahendra & (d.) Madhurantaki (m.)

Eastern Chalukyas
Saktivarman I
Vimaladitya (m.) & Medava Mahadevi
(m.) Narendra alias Rajaraja
Vijayaditya VII
Saktivarman II
Rajendra alias Kulottunga I

Here a word may be said of Vengi-Chola relations. The earliest Chola king who interfered in the affairs of the Eastern Chalukyan country was Rajaraja I. From his inscriptions, we know that he conquered Vengi in the 14th year of his reign (= a.d. 999- 1000). Evidently, Rajaraja I placed Saktivarman (1) Chalukya-Chandra on the Eastern Chalukya throne the same year, who presumably accepted a status of dependence on the Chola emperor as inferred from the Ranastipundi grant of Vimaladitya, the brother and successor of Saktivarman. Rajaraja I cemented the relationship by an inter-dynastic marital alliance, his daughter Kundavai being given in marriage to Vimaladitya.

Kulotlunga I's reign began sometime about June in a.d. 1070 and lasted at least fifty-two[1] years. He was born under the asterism Pushya. His youth had not been spent on a bed of roses. The death of Kulottunga’s (then called Rajertdra'i lather Rajaraja Narendra of Vengi in a.d. 1061 triggered off' trouble in Vengi that had its repercussions on the Chola-Westcrn Chalukya relations, which subsided only with the death of the Western Chalukyan ruler Somcsvara 1. Vijayaditya Vll, the step-brother of Rajaraja Narendra, seized the Vengi throne on the latter’s death and bestowed it on his own son Saktivarman II, and in this Somcsvara I was of great assistance to Vijayaditya. This led to a natural Chola reaction: Vira Rajcndra endeavoured to set right the situation resulting from his brothers’ neglect of this region.

The policy followed by Rajaraja I and Rajendra I towards the newly acquired dominion of Vengi was not vigorously pursued by Rajadhiraja I and Rajcndradcva II, but was resumed by Vira Rajcndra as mentioned in so many words in his Kanvakumari inscription (Travancore Arch. Series, Vol. Ill, p. 57, v. 77):

“The Vengi and Kalinga countries which had come into the family of the Cholas for generations, having been left uncared for by his (Vira Rajendra’s) two brothers and having been encroached upon by powerful enemies, the glorious king Vallabha-Vallabha (i.e., Vira Rajendra) conquered these highly powerful foes, leaving only those that were frightened, and ruled over the country”.

He invaded the Vengi country and killed Saktivarman II in battle, but this produced no lasting realignments among the powers. Vijayaditya VII sought the help of Somesvara I and remained on the Vengi throne, much to the discomfiture of Vira Rajendra. This happy state of affairs for Vijayaditya would have continued but for the sudden death of Somesvara I (a.d. 1068); the marriage of Vira Rajendra’s daughter to Vikramaditya VI, son of Somesvara I, also brought about a volte face in Chalukyan relations with the Cholas, Vikramaditya claiming the southern portion of the kingdom of Somesvara I, while his elder brother Somesvara II had to be content with the northern half; this had its consequential realignment among the southern powers, resulting in Vijayaditya getting the support of Somesvara II, and Vikramaditya supporting the cause of Vengi’s integration with the Chola empire. Thus, with the growing power of Vikramaditya and the waning influence of Somesvara II (with a further enemy in Rajaraja of Kalinga), Vijayaditya of Vengi was subdued; hardly a year had passed after Vira Rajendra had established a state of equilibrium by his farsighted marital alliances and diplomatic moves, when it collapsed with his death. Of this, more later.

The years of Vijayaditya’s ascendancy in Vengi were years of wandering and adventure for the disinherited prince Rajendra. Perhaps then only in his teens, Rajendra at his father’s death left for the northern regions and, unaided, won a victory over the king Dharavarsha of Chakrakuta (the region of modern Bastar district of Madhya Pradesh) and possibly even ruled as a petty prince over that area, known as Purvadesam. Thus, Rajendra was in virtual exile from the Vengi country for over six to seven years when the death of Adhirajendra at Gangaikondasolapuram brought him hastily to the Chola capital as it did Vikramaditya VI, who was interested in his wife’s brother’s kingdom for himself. In a treatise on Art history, we have no concern with the intriguing events covering the clouded days from the death of Vira Rajendra to the accession of Kulottunga I; suffice it to say that the available material, literary and epigraphical, is too scanty to enable us to draw a cogent picture of the sequence of events.

Considerable information, often conflicting, is provided by Bilhana’s Vikramanka Charitam, Jayangondar’s and numerous Chola and less numerous Western Chalukyan inscriptions, in regard to these eventful years. With the death of Adhirajendra and the consequent snapping of any bonds of love that might have existed between the two dynasties, Vikramaditya set about systematically to build up an empire for himself at least as large as his father’s and in the process gathered around him a number of allies and vassals, like the Yadava king of Devagiri, the Hoysala Ereyanga, Tribhuvanamalla Pandya and the Kadamba Jayakesari, and having neutralised the influence of his brother, he turned his attention to Vengi whose integration with the Chola kingdom consequent on the accession of Kulottunga I irked him. He invaded the Kolar region of the Chola kingdom sometime before the 6th year of the reign of Kulottunga I; reading between the conflicting lines, we see that Somesvara II, his brother, was taken prisoner, Vengi was left to remain a part of the Chola kingdom and the Tungabhadra stabilised itself as the boundary between the Western Chalukyan kingdom and the Chola empire. Having consolidated his suzerainty over Vengi, Kulottunga I let his step-uncle Vijayaditya VII rule over that province, which he did for fifteen years—till his death in a.d. 1076, upon which Kulottunga I hastened to appoint his own son Rajaraja Mummadi Chola as the Viceroy of Vengi (July, a.d. 1076). For reasons not quite clear, the latter was later recalled and replaced by his younger brother Vira Choda, who administered the province for six years (till Saka 1007 = a.d. 1084-5). He was followed by the eldest brother Rajaraja Chodaganga, whose spell as viceroy seems to have brought discredit on him with the result that he was replaced by Vira Choda again who continued as viceroy for a second term from a.d. 1088-89 to 1092-93. And finally Vikrama Chola, another son of Kulottunga I, assumed the viceroyalty of Vengi, where he continued till he was recalled to the Chola capital to assume the heir-apparency in a.d. 1118. In this period of Vikrama Chola’s viceroyalty, the First Kalinga War took place. Some years before his viceroyalty, the territory between the Godavari and the Mahendragiri, known as Southern Kalinga, was part of the Vengi province. The Chief of Kolanu (modern Ellore, near the Kolair lake), presumably instigated and assisted by the Kalinga ruler, attempted to revolt, and a punitive expedition was evidently taken out against him (in a.d. 1095-96) by Vikrama Ghola, assisted by the Pandyan vassal Parakrama Pandya. Kulam (Kolair or Kolanu) was taken and Chola authority reasserted, as evidenced by the Tamil inscriptions of Kulottunga at Simhachalam (a.d. 1098-99), Draksharama and other places[2].

A second and more famous invasion of Kalinga took place in a.d. 1110, and much information is available on this war from the Kalingattupparani, a heroic poem written by the contemporary court poet Jayangondar. The provocation for the war would appear to have been the default on two occasions of the king of North Kalinga to pay his annual tribute to the Chola Emperor. Informed of this by his Chief Secretary (tiru mandira) at his Durbar in his palace at Kanchi, the king ordered an expeditionary force under the Pallava chieftain Karunakara Tondaiman, Lord of Vendai, to invest the Kalinga kingdom. The king, Anantavarman Choda-ganga, a grandson of Vira Rajendra by his daughter Rajasundari, made light of it in his capital of Kalinganagara and put up a fight against the invading army; the battle, so goes the parani, ended in a rout for Anantavarman, who sought refuge in flight. His setting up his capital at Cuttack in a.d. 1111 would corroborate the validity of much that is said in this poem on the Kalinga war; however, this defeat does not appear to have caused much harm to his power, for he continued to rule from Cuttack for another thirty-five years, living upto a ripe old age (a.d. 1076-(1112-) 1147). As for the Chola emperor, his writ ran over Southern Kalinga and perhaps portions of Northern Kalinga too, and the empire retained virtually its full extent as under Rajendra I, except for the loss of Sri Lanka (Ceylon).

Sri Lanka never accepted the suzerainty of the Cholas, and during the Middle Chola period, the Sri Lanka Chiefs were chafing at their subordination; (towards the close of the Middle period,) even before the accession of Vira Rajendra, the Sinhalese prince Kitti raised the banner of revolt and set Rohana free and even assumed the title of Vijayabahu in a.d. 1058, when hardly seventeen years old. Both Rajendradeva II and Vira Rajendra were much too pre-occupied with the unceasing wars with the Western Chalukyas to permit of their grip over Sri Lanka remaining firm; it slackened towards the closing years of Rajendradeva II. The confused political situation in a.d. 1070, and the multiple fronts on which Kulottunga I’s energies were compulsorily drawn, gave the much-needed breathing spell to Kitti and, in a series of pincer movements, he drove out the Chola army from Polonnaruva (a.d. 1073), Anuradhapura and later from the island itself and in another two years had crowned himself King of all Sri Lanka. Polonnaruva was rechristened Vijayarajapura. He restored the Buddhist religion (ousting Saivite worship) and a temple for the tooth relic of the Buddha was built at the capital.

The Chola hold over Sri Lanka, that had lasted more than seven decades, ceased within the first few years of the accession of Kulottunga I. Kulottunga’s inscriptions are discreetly silent about this loss, to which, as a matter of practical wisdom, he became reconciled. Further, he effected a matrimonial alliance by giving his daughter Suttamalli in marriage to Vira Perumal, a Sri Lanka Prince of the Pandyan party in the island.

In the Volume on Middle Chola temples, we have already seen that there was intimate intercourse between the Chola empire and the emperors of Kadaram (see Note 1 at the end of the chapter) who by the end of the 10th century had established their sway over the entire Malay peninsula and the Indonesian archipelago; and that the ruler of Sri-Vishaya and Kataha, named Mara-vijayottungavarman, of the Sailendra family having the makara[3] crest, the son of Chulamanivarman, had erected a lofty shrine for the Buddha in the Chulamani-vihara, in the name of his father, at the delightful city of Nagapattana in Pattina kurram, a subdivision of Kshatriyasikhamani valanadu in the Chola desa and that the king Rajaraja I alias Rajakesarivarman gave in the 21st year of his reign (a.d. 1006) the village of Anaimangalam for the maintenance of the vikara and the shrine. The permanent grant mentioned that on the 92nd day after the 21st year (a.d. 1006) of his reign, King Rajaraja I, while he was in the pavilion on the southern side of his palace called ‘Rajasrayan’, erected in a suburb of Tanjavur, decreed that the income of 8,943 kalam, 2 tuni, 1 kunri and 1 nali of paddy accruing from the payment of the assessment on 97 veils, 2 ma, 1½ kani, 1 mundirigai and odd of land, composing the village of Anaimangalam, should be given as a tax-free Pallich-chandam to meet the requirements of the palli[4]which was being constructed by Chulamanivarman. Thus this palli was under construction in a.d. 1006. This deed was presented to the Sanga on the 163rd day after the 23rd regnal year of Rajaraja I.

Further we saw that after Rajaraja I had passed away his son Madhurantaka (Rajendra I) ordered that the vihara enjoy the grant ‘as long as the earth endures’. Years later, in the 20th year (a.d. 1090) of the king Rajakesarivarman alias Sri Kulottunga Choladeva I, ‘who was pleased to be seated along with his queen Bhuvanamulududaiyal on his lion-throne, wearing the excellent crown of gems belonging to the royal family, when he was pleased to rest on the reclining couch (pallipaddam) called Kalingarajan, in the bathing hall within the palace at Ayirattali alias Ahavamal-lakulakalapuram, the ambassadors of the king of Kadaram named Rajavidyadhara Sri Samanta and Abhimanottunga Sri Samanta paid their compliments and submitted a request on behalf of their king that a copper plate charter be made and given conveying (what actually had been already ordered) that (i) all the villages which were the pallichchandas of Rajendrasolapperumpalli and Rajarajapperumpalli constructed by the king of Kadaram at Soiakulavallipattinam in Pattana-kurram, a subdivision of Geya-manikka valanadu, stand exempted from payment of the customary taxes inclusive of antarayam, viraseshai, kundali and sungamera, that (ii) the old kaniyalars who were holding the kanis of the pallichchandas stand removed, and further that (iii) the kanis be invested with the Sangattar of the A royal order was accordingly issued to the adhikarin Rajendrasinga Muvendave-lar that he, in conjunction with the sandhivigrahigal Rajavallabha-Pallavaraiyan, should draw up a copper plate charter to this effect. Accordingly a charter note[5] was drawn up.

The charter gives a list of the pallichchandas belonging to Rajarajapperumpalli, their situation, extent, kanikkadan and nichchayitta-nellu, and goes on to state that (i) the taxes or incomes in money and kind have been assigned to meet the requirements of the monastery and that (ii) the individuals who were previously holding the lands of these pallichchanda villages had now been divested of them and the lands now vested solely with the Sangattar of the monastery. After giving the limits of the campus of the vihara (see Note 2) and details of the boundaries of the pallichchanda villages (see Note 3), the record concludes by saying that the royal order had thus been carried out and that on the direction of the sandhi-vigrahigal and the adhikarin referred to earlier, this copperplate charter was written by one Nilaiyudaiya Panaiyan Nigarili-solan Madhurantakan, one of the Vikkiramabharanat-terinda vala-valangai-velaikkarar or Utkodi. Certain interesting pieces of information flow from the Smaller Leyden Grant. The names, Nagap-pattinam and Kshatriya-sikhamani valanadu, of the grant made by Rajaraja I (the ‘Larger Leyden Grant’), become Solakulavatli-pattinam and Geyamanikka valanadu respectively in the reign of Kulottunga I. The fact that the donees figuring in both the grants are identical emerges from the statements (apart from others) in both grants that Anaimangalam was of extent 97 velis and 2 ma and that the kanikkadan was 8,943 kalams. The tenant usually paid an assessment on land to the king, called the, and again,

to the royal intermediary collecting the revenue, called the kaniyalar, an amount called the nichchcyitla nellu (= pre-determined amount of paddy). The objective of the grant was to increase the income of the vihara by eliminating the intermediaries. The Sangattar of the Palli were the equivalents of the Pan-mahcsvaras of Siva temples and the Sri-Vaishnavas of Vishnu temples—a body of the local elite were chosen on their merits to constitute the overseeing agency that took over the grants and gifts, maintained their accounts, ensured the proper utilisation of charities and punished the defaulters.

It may be interesting to note that more than three hundred years after this grant was made, the institution still survived, with a change. A reference to the Rajarajap-perumpalli is found in a stray inscription on a slab built into the ceiling of the gopuram in the Naganathasvamin temple at Nagapattinam in Tanjavur district. On epigraphical grounds, this record could be attributed to the fifteenth century, and it records the gift of the vilagam around the temple for the tiruppani (repair and maintenance) of Rajarajap-perumpalli, which was a Buddhist monastery and which had come to bear the alternate name of Srimahesvarap-perumpalli (ARE 290 of 1963-64).

Ever since the conquest of the Pandya country by Rajaraja I and Rajendra I, there was effective Chola control over the Pandya country. This success was due to the wise administrative measures taken by Rajendra I such as stationing a standing army at military stations like Brahmadesam and Kottaru and appointing Chola princes as viceroys, bearing the title of ‘Chola-Pandya’, in charge of the conquered land. The system seems to have broken down about this time (accession of Kulottunga I) in the face of a struggle for independence in the Pandya country. There is evidence erf two wars to quell the resistance having been fought in the reign of Kulottunga I. The first was directed against the ‘five Pandyas’, followed by the overthrow of the “Cheras with their bow emblem”, the capture of Vilijnam, the destruction of their fleet at Kandalur-Salai and the occupation of the “land of the Podiyil mountains and of the pearl fisheries”. At Kottaru, sixteen kilometres north of Kanyakumari, a military station was established.

There is a Grantka inscription engraved on the outside of the east wall of the innermost prakara of the great temple of Chidambaram in the South Arcot district, referring to these conquests. It consists of two verses in the Sragdhara metre, each of which eulogises the victories of Kulottunga Chola over the five Pandyas. The first verse further states that the king burnt the fort of Korgara (Korgaradurga = Kottaru) and defeated the Keralas. Korgara is probably a sanskritised form of Kottaru in the Tirimelveli district. The second verse records that Kulottunga Chola placed a pillar of victory on the Sahyadri mountain, i.e., the Western Ghats. This he must evidently have done after his conquest of the Keralas which is mentioned in the first verse.

The following is a translation of these two verses:

(Verse 1): Hail! Prosperity! Having defeated the five Pandyas by an army which discharged numerous arrows, having burnt, like straw, the fort of Korgara, just as (Arjuna) the son of Pandu burnt the Khandava (forest), and having crushed the extremely dense army of the Keralas, the illustrious Kulottunga Chola, who resembled Siva in splendour and Indra in might, placed a pillar (commemorative) of (his) conquest of the three Worlds on the shore of the ocean.

(Verse 2): (Having placed) a pillar (commemorative) of (his) conquest of the three Worlds on the sacred peak of the Sahyadri (mountain), and having defeated the five Pandyas with masses of powerful armies, the illustrious Kulottunga Chola, whose fame is voluntarily sung by the tender women of the Parasis, and who has driven away armies, made the trembling crowd of kings subject to his orders.” (See SII, Vol. I[6]).

But, in spite of these measures, political unrest was not altogether eliminated; there was a second Pandya War in about the 28th regnal year of Kulottunga I (a.d. 1098). The conduct of this second Pandyan War was in the hands of Naralokaviran, a General, who claims in his inscriptions to have conquered the Tennavar (the Pandyas), the Malaimannar (the Cheras), and other, northern kings (enai vada-manna.

In spite of these victories, the Chola control over the Pandya country during the period was not as effective as in the days of Rajaraja I and his son Rajendra 1. Kulottunga I was wise and prudent enough to recognise the semi-independent status of the Pandyan rulers. He contented himself with establishing military cantonments (nilai-padai) at strategic points like the arterial trade and military routes and other vital communication links. Continuing with the Chola names of the administrative units in the Pandyan area, and the collection of tributes annually in token of Chola overlordship and control in this region, buttressed by military posts at strategic places, were the means that Kulottunga I devised to control the recalcitrant region that was sulking over its subordinate status. Wisdom persuaded Kulottunga I, however, to let the Pandyan vassals carry on the administration without much interference and, in fact, inscriptions of the contemporary Pandyan ruler Maravarman Parakrama Pandya were issued in the regnal years of the Pandyan ruler and not of the Chola overlord. Even the gifts of the victorious Chola General Naralokaviran are issued in terms of the regnal years of the Pandyan ruler. Two of his gifts at Tiruppattur in Ramanathapuram district are thus issued in the 3rd and the 12th regnal years of Parakrama Pandya (ARE 98 and 131 of 1908).

From the Chinese annals, we learn that Kulottunga I sent a diplomatic-cum-trade mission to the Chinese Court in the year a.d. 1077, comprising seventy-two men; it should have enhanced the Chola prestige and commercial prospects on the Chinese mainland.

The relations with the kingdom of Kambhoja (modern Cambodia) were equally friendly in the concluding part of his reign. In a 44th year inscription of Kulottunga I, recorded on the northern outer wall enclosing the first prakara of the Nataraja temple at Chidambaram, it is mentioned that the king of Kambhoja gave King Rajendra a katchi (gift) of a precious stone winch; at the behest of the Chola king, was installed on the front layer of the lintel of the gateway of Tiru-edir-ambalam (i.e., the Mulasthana

shrine opposite the (now) main Nataraja shrine). This inscription, incidentally, gives us two surnames of Kulottunga I—Jayadhara and Abhaya—the inscription itself being dated “in the 44th year of Jayadhara”. Unfortunately, we are not in a position to know the nature of the relationship that existed between the Kambhojan and Chola kingdoms, or the nature and value of the precious gift which merited such special mention.

The sequence of events in the reign of Kulottunga I becomes difficult to arrange, as, unlike the inscriptions of Rajaraja I or Rajendra I, those of Kulottunga I do not bring the narrative up to date; very often references to earlier events are deleted to make room for more current topics; suffice it to say that the following events stand out as major landmarks:

(i) Around the 5th year, he defeated the King of Kuntala, crowned himself King of the Chola country and decapitated an unnamed king of the South (SII, III, p. 174):

(ii) by the 11th year, he had driven Vikkalan from Nangili by way of Manalur to the banks of the Tungabhadra river and conquered Gangamandalam and Singamandalam (SII, III, p. 144):

(iii) by the 14th year, he had put the “five Pandyas” to flight, asserted his suzerainty over the western portion of their country and conquered Kudamalainadu, and

(iv) he made war repeatedly on the Kalinga country, to which inscriptional reference is found in his records of the 26th, 42nd and 45th years.

The historical introduction of Kulottunga’s inscriptions commences in various forms. The earlier epigraphs carry the introduction ‘tirumanni vilangum’; and mention that with the sole aid of his arm and sword he captured herds of elephants at Vayiragaram (Wairagadh) in modern Chanda district, received tribute from Dharavarsha of the Chakkarakotta country and “brought the earth under his parasol” (SII, VII, no. 392). Upto his 4th year, the king is still called (Rajakesarivarman alias) Rajendra Chola. Another, rather infrequent, introduction (6th year, ibid., no. 137) is pumel-arivai. The most common introductions found between his 6th and 49th years, however, begin with: (i) ‘Pugal-sulnda punari’, giving a full account of the king’s achievements and (ii) ‘pugal madu vilanga’, which refers in general terms to his victory over the Cheras, the Pandyas, Vikramaditya VI and Simhana, i.e., Jayasimha (SII, IV, no. 813; VII, nos. 874 and 875). Kulottunga I had many titles and surnames:

Rajendra, Rajiga, Virudarajabhayankara (after his victory over Western Chalukya king Vikramaditya VI), Akalankan (the spotless or blemishless), Ubhayakula Abhayan (the protector of the two kulas or families), Abhayan, Jayadharan, Tirunirruchcholan (Trisulam inscription), Sungam-tavirtta-solan (meaning “one who abolished tolls”, by which title he continues to be called by the succeeding kings of the Chola empire) and Rajanarayanan. A ringing Tamil expression in an inscription states: “sungamtavirndu-irul-nikki-ulaganda” which expression means: ‘he ruled the World (well) by abolishing tolls and thereby dispelling the darkness (the evils) of the World’.

The Cholas brought up-to-date their land survey records from time to time and resettled the revenue rates; the first major survey was conducted in the days of Rajaraja I and the second universal survey was conducted in the 16th year of Kulottunga I (the Surveyor-General was called Ulagalanda-perumal—‘he who mapped the world’). A third major survey, of which mention will be made later, was made in the 38th year of Kulottunga III.

Kulottunga I ruled from the capital city of Gangaikonda-sola-puram or Gangapuri. Kanchi and Palayarai served as his secondary capitals. The Chudamani-vihara grant is issued from Ayirattali, one of the earliest of Chola subsidiary capitals, dating back to the Early Chola period, and now renamed Ahavamalla-kulakalapuram. Yet another capital and a palace are said to have been located in Perumparrappuliyur (Chidambaram).

Kulottunga I bestrode the. South Indian scene like a Colossus for an eventful half a century—from a.d. 1070 to 1120 or thereabouts. His life and rule were full of thrills and momentous events; he moved into the capital of a shaky empire in his teens or early twenties, and his long and enduring reign was marked by a stability that the crucial year a.d. 1070 did not foreshadow. Inheriting (nominally to start with) two kingdoms, from the paternal and maternal sides, he succeeded in maintaining intact the extent of the Imperial Chola domain, with only a minor erosion in the loss of the island of Sri Lanka. He stabilised the northwestern boundary of his empire along the Tungabhadra, and for some years to come, it remained a peaceful frontier, in utter contrast to the preceding decades of war and destruction.

The forty-fifth year marked the apogee of his glory. In the next five years, he was to see some misfortunes, which either his age or the growing might of the Powers beyond his frontiers rendered him unable to prevent. He lost the province of Gangavadi to the Hoysalas, who discarded their mantle of a feudatory of the Chalukyas of Kalyani and became a power to count. Bittiga alias Vishnuvardhana (a.d. 1100-1152) worsted the Chola army at Talakkadu in a.d. 1116 and assumed the title of ‘Talakkadu-konda’. In this, he was helped by Dandanayaka Gangaraja who fought the Chola feudatory, the Adiyaman Chief of Tagadur (Dharmapuri) in the Kongu country, who, on behalf of the Chola emperor, ruled over Gangavadi as a province of the Chola empire. Conditions in Vengi too were by no means quite happy. In the prolonged struggle for supremacy over Vengi, Kulottunga I withstood all attempts on the part of Vikramaditya VI to wrest it from him; but in the closing years, after his victory over Kalinga, things had not been happy in that province; and the withdrawal of Vikrama Chola from there to take over the reins of administration from Kulottunga I produced a power-vacuum into which Vikramaditya VI jumped, virtually wresting the province from the Cholas. In the result, the Chola empire came back to where it was in the days when Rajaraja I had just ascended the throne. But his able son was soon to set matters right and, by the first few years of his reign, he had re-established Chola suzerainty over Vengi and even portions of Gangavadi. This we shall see in our chapter on Vikrama Chola.

Note 1

The kings of the Sailendra dynasty, who had the makara crest on their flag, had kept up close contact with India primarily because of religious affinity; even as early as the 7th century aj>., there was regular religious intercourse; in fact, the Guru or the preceptor of the Sailendra king (in a.d. 778) was from the Gauda desa; about the middle of the 9th century, the Sailendra king established a vihara at Nalanda; and king Devapala of Bengal granted at his request a number of villages for its upkeep; here the reference is to a similar vihara established in Nagapattinam at the turn of the 10th century; the details of the grant of a village then are contained in the Larger Leyden Grant.

In the years between a.d. 1006 and a.d. 1091, the relations between the Kataha and the Chola kings went through fluctuating phases. There can be no doubt that the relations between the two kingdoms were nothing but cordial in the days of Rajaraja I, even perhaps in the early years of the reign of Rajendra I; perhaps relations became strained after the latter’s 6th year and we have various records confirming the invasion of Kataha and its conquest by Rajendra I—the Tiruvalangadu plates, a Malur inscription of his 13th year and other charters of his 19th, 22nd, 23rd and 27th years. By his 13th year, Rajendra I had made the Sailendra empire a part of his dominions. This state of things continued through the reigns of his sons and we know of a war between the two kingdoms during the reign of Vira Rajendra, who is said to have conquered the kingdom of Kadaram but bestowed it back on its king (SII, III, Pt. II, p. 202). Even in the early years of Kulot-tunga I, this state of strained relations persisted, and terminated only, we presume, by about the time of the second charter of the Vihara, when peace and amity was restored.

However, close trade and business contacts existed between the two kingdoms, unruffled by the vagaries of the political relationship. At Loboe Toeuva in the island of Sumatra was found a fragmentary Tamil inscription dated in Saka 1010 (—a.d. 1088)-just before the grant of the second charter, recording the existence of a celebrated International Merchant Guild called Tisai-Ayirattu-annurruvar (The ‘five hundred of (i.e., trading in) a thousand directions’).

Note 2

The boundaries of the site and the surrounding grounds of the ‘glorious Sailendra Ghudamani Varma Vihara alias Rajarajapperumpalli’, are given in detail, and the campus measured 31¾ veli, 2 ma, and 1 mundirigai, and this land was also given free of all taxes to the palii—inclusive of antaraya, panmaipanda vetti and all other pattams. The boundaries are:

Eastern boundary—‘to the west of the sea-shore inclusive of the sand-hill in it’;

Southern boundary—‘to the north of the well called pugaiunni-kinaru; to the north of the land belonging to the temple of Tiruvirattanamudaiya Mahadevar situated to the west of the said well; and to the north of the line passing westwards from the north bank of the channel dug by Paravai-Kulattu-Marayan and reaching the high road to Karaikkal’;

Western boundary—‘to the cast of the said high road to KaraikkaP;

Northern boundary—‘to the south of the boundary of the lands in Vadakadanpadi of Solakula vallipattinam’.

Note 3 (Pallichchanda villages)

Details of villages gifted to the Palli as pallickchandm and the dues therefrom are given in the statement below.

SL No. Village Division in which
it is situated
v m k mn
kl kn na

Nichchayitta nellu
kl kn

1. Anaimangalam Pattanak kurram in
Geyamanikka valanadu
97 2 1½ — 8,943 9 3 4,500 —
2. Brahmadeyam in
Pattanak kurram in
Geyamanikka valanadu
12½ — — — 400 — — 560 —
3. Munjikudi Pattanak kurram in
Geyamanikka valanadu
27¾ 3½ — — 2,779 4 4 1,800 —
4. Annur Tiruvarur kurram 106 — — — 10,600 9 6 5,850 —
5. Vadakudi Ala nadu 70¾ 4½ — — 6,514 5 1 2,840 —
6. Kil Chandirappadi Ala nadu 10 2 1½ 1
(+ kil¾)
1,012 5 — 1,500 —
7. Palaiyur brahmadeyam Ala nadu 60¾ — — — 1,000 — —  
8. Puttakudi Kurumbur nadu in 87½ — — — 8,720 4 4 6,107 —
9. Udayamarttandanallur Jayangondasola valanadu 
Idaikkali nadu in
3 3 — — 135 3 3 78 5


In my previous volume of this series, entitled Middle Chola Temples, I have discussed briefly the successors of Rajendra I (pp. 334 to 344) and the temples built during their time (pp. 345 to 373). The dates mentioned therein are only approximate. My object is only to present a broad general survey of the development, reign by reign, of Chola art (while accepting the generally ascribed dates for the reigns) so as to enable scholars to enunciate appropriate canons of stylistic features and development during each phase or period of Chola rule. 1 have neither the time, nor the energy, nor the facilities to verify the dates in a systematic, scientific way. So I welcome the emergence of a rising star in the field of South Indian History and Epigraphy—N. Sethuraman, a businessman of standing from Kumbakonam. Inspired by divine grace and guided by his guru Sri Bujandar’s prophetic utterances linking the past, the present and the future, contained in 1800 cadjan leaf manuscripts —Nadi grantham, now in the possession of his friend, R.V. Ramani of Madras, he has published recently a book “Arul-udaich-ckola mandalam” centering round the Chola temples at Darasuram and Pallavarayanpettai. The (Later Chola) Palla-varayanpettai inscription of the eighth year of Rajadhiraja II is subjected to a full, critical study. He has studied it scientifically, compared the published text with its original on the temple wall, filled the gaps with his own alternate readings and made some valuable conclusions that merit the attention of the scholars in the field. I shall mention here only his conclusions on the events prior to the accession of Kulottunga I in a.d. 1070. (His views on the Pallavarayanpettai inscriptions and their implications on the course of historical events will be discussed in a later section of this volume.) His critical study based on his verification with the Indian Ephemeris (L.D.S.) reveals that Vira Rajendra’s coronation took place in a.d. 1063 (sometime in April to September); that Adhi Rajendra was crowned as co-ruler on the 8th June, a.d. 1068; that Vira Rajendra fell ill and died in a.d. 1070 (sometime in July to November); that Adhi Rajendra also fell ill and died in a.d. 1071 (June) and that even during the time of Vira Rajendra himself, Kulottunga (I), his sister’s son, was crowned heir-apparent to the Chola throne on the 13th June, a.d. 1070 (ARE 1947—48, p. 3) in order to avert a civil war of succession and preserve the Chola power from extinction.

Footnotes and references:


Pd. 127. According to recently-discovered inscriptions, it appears that his reign might have indeed lasted for fifty-five years (a.d. 1070-1125).


About Vikrama Chola, it is said that “in the season of Cupid (i.c., in spring), he grasped the cruel weapon, so that at Kulam (i.e., the Kolair lake) the Telinga Viman (i.e., Bhima) ascended the mountains as refuge and so that hot fire consumed the country of Kalinga” (SII, III, p. 184—ARE, nos. 44 of 1891 and 608 of 1904). These two records also contain a lengthy account of the invasion and conquest of the Seven Kalingas by Kulottunga I which must be different from the one mentioned in the 26 th year. Invasion of Kalinga by theCholas is mentioned (i) in the inscriptions of the 16 th y eat of Kulottunga I, (ii) in the inscriptions of Vikrama Chola, and (iii) in the Tamil heroic poem Kalingat-tupparani. Under item (i), a reference is made to the conquest of Kalinga-mandalam by Kulottunga I in an inscription at Tiruvidaimarudur (SII, III, p. 158); this invasion must thus have taken place before a.d, 1095-96 (see pp. 52-53 of ARE for the year ending May 1905).


Makara—a conventionalised animal with the body of a fish and the head of an elephant.


palli—a Jaina or a Buddhist shrine.


After it was discovered, this charter was taken to the Leyden Museum and is preserved there, hence bearing the name of the (Smaller) Leyden Grant.


Both the Vikramasolan Ula and the Kalingattupparani make reference to these events including the destruction of the Chera fleet at Kandalur Salai.


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