By conquering several small kingdoms in South India, he expanded the Chola Empire as far as Sri Lanka in the south, and Kalinga Odisha in the northeast. He fought many battles with the Chalukyas to the north and the Pandyas to the south. By conquering Vengi , Rajaraja laid the foundation for the Later Chola dynasty. He invaded Sri Lanka and started a century-long Chola occupation of the island. The key dates of Raja Raja's rule are difficult to come by.
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By conquering several small kingdoms in South India, he expanded the Chola Empire as far as Sri Lanka in the south, and Kalinga Odisha in the northeast. He fought many battles with the Chalukyas to the north and the Pandyas to the south. By conquering Vengi , Rajaraja laid the foundation for the Later Chola dynasty.
He invaded Sri Lanka and started a century-long Chola occupation of the island. The key dates of Raja Raja's rule are difficult to come by. Scholar N. Sethuraman concludes that he was born in circa CE, was crowned on 18 July and died in in the Tamil month of Maka. Aditya karikala was not declared as the crown prince. During the lifetime of his father Sundara Chola, Arulmozhivarman had carved a name for himself through his exploits in the battles against the Sinhala and Pandyan armies.
This was to say that Raja Raja was legally elected through the kind of democratic process followed by Cholas as seen in their Uttiramerur inscription. This is widely accepted as the correct interpretation. It could very much be possible that the king rejected the offer in order to continue to devote time and energy to build the resources to realize the Chola military objectives.
Madhuranthaga made a compromise with Sundara Chola that Madhuranthaga will be succeeded by Arulmozhi and not his own son. The Thiruvalangadu inscription again states:. The southern kingdoms of Pandyas, Cheras and the Sinhalas were often allied against the Cholas. Rajaraja's initial campaigns were against the combined Pandya and Chera armies. There is no evidence of any military campaign undertaken by Rajaraja until the eighth year of his reign.
During this period he was engaged in organising and augmenting his army and in preparing for military expeditions. In this campaign Rajaraja is said to have destroyed a fleet in the port of Kandalur, which appears to have been situated in the dominions of the Chera King Bhaskara Ravi Varman Thiruvadi c. Kandalur-Salai, which later inscriptions claim to have belonged to the Chera king, was probably held by the Pandyas when it was conquered by Rajaraja.
Some years' fighting apparently was necessary before the conquest could be completed and the conquered country could be sufficiently settled for its administration could be properly organised. To commemorate these conquests Rajaraja assumed the title Mummudi-Chola , the Chola king who wears three crowns — the Chera, Chola and Pandya and according to tradition the title Raja Raja was conferred on him by serving members of Chidambaram temple of ancient who had also the duty of conducting the swearing in ceremony of chola and pallava princes.
In a battle against the Cheras sometime before CE, Rajaraja captured Udagai in the western hill country. Kalingattuparani , a war poem written during the reign of Kulothunga Chola I hints at a slight on the Chola ambassador to the Chera court as the reason for this sacking of Udagai. Rajaraja's son Rajendra was the Chola general leading the army in this battle. The Kalingattu-Parani refers to the "storming of Udagai" in the verse, which alludes to the reign of Rajaraja. The Kulottunga-Cholan-ula also mentions the burning of Udagai.
This was probably an important stronghold in the Pandya country, which the Chola king captured. The Tamil poem Vikkirama Cholan ula mentions the conquest of Malai Nadu and the killing of 18 princes in retaliation of the insult offered to an envoy.
Mahinda V was the king of Sinhalese. Mahinda had to seek refuge in the southern region of Ruhuna. Rajaraja utilised this opportunity and invaded the island. Anuradhapura , the year-old capital of Sinhala kings was destroyed. The destruction was so extensive the city was abandoned. Cholas made the city of Polonnaruwa as their capital and renamed it Jananathamangalam. The choice of this city demonstrates the desire of Rajaraja to conquer the entire island.
Rajaraja also built a Temple for Siva in Pollonaruwa. His son Rajendra Chola led the conquest continued in the year and brought the entire island under Chola rule.
Later led Vikramabahu of Ruhuna rebellion against the Chola Empire. He allied with Pandyas and Cheras against the common archenemy Cholas. King Vijayabahu I successfully drove the Cholas out of Sri Lanka in , reuniting the country for the first time in over a century.
Rajaraja also expanded his conquests in the north and northwest. Mural found in the Brihadeesvara temple, Tamil Nadu, 11th century.
The belief that this represents Rajaraja Chola in the background and his guru Karuvurar is contested. Before his 14th year c. This conquest was facilitated by the fact the Cholas never lost their hold of the Ganga country from the efforts of Sundara Chola. Nolambas who were the feudatories of Ganga could have turned against their overlords and aided the Cholas to conquer the Gangas, who were the chief bulwark against the Chola armies in the northwest.
The invasion of the Ganga country was a success and the entire Ganga country was under the Chola rule for the next century. The easy success against the Gangas was also due to the disappearance of Rashtrakutas c.
From this time, the Chalukyas became the main antagonists of Cholas in the northwest. During the reign of Rajaraja Chola, there were continuous wars with the Western Chalukyas to assert supremacy and there are multiple epigraphic evidences that show that the Cholas were constantly fighting with the Chalukyas or against the vassals of the latter.
It is unclear as to why Rajaraja mounted an invasion against Satyasraya. According to historian Eugen Hultzsch the circumstances that led to the war are not mentioned in any of Rajaraja's inscriptions.
But we do know that the rulers of these two conquered provinces were originally feudatories of the Rashtrakutas. An inscription of Rajaraja asserts that he captured Rattapadi by force.
Rajendra led the Chola armies against the Western Chalukyas and would turn Manyakheta , the Chalukyan capital into his own playground.
Raja Raja I claims damages worth "seven and a half lakshas from Irattapadi which was evidently the site of war with Satyashraya resulting in victory for Raja Raja I and payment of damages by the Chalukya king. Chalukya kingdom Satyashraya would renege on his promise of agreeing to Chola suzerainty, but would be defeated by Rajendra Chola I when he became king.
Irivabedanga Satyasraya partially acknowledges this Chola onslaught in his Hottur Dharwad inscription as he screams in pain. In his own words he calls himself the ornament of Chalukya race and the slayer of the Tamil. Historians like James Heitzman, Wolfgang Schenkluhn conclude that this confrontation displayed the degree of animosity on a personal level between the rulers of the Chola and the Chalukya kingdoms, the feeling of otherness and their inability to identify with the other side that degenerated to a level of violence that overthrew the established social order destruction of caste.
They also draw a parallel between this relationship and the enmity between the Chalukyas of Badami and the Pallavas of Kanchi. An inscription from the roof of the Gopalakrishna temple at Kaleyur in the Tirumukudalu Narasipur taluk dated in Saka being current, Parabhava, corresponding to A. D, records that Rajaraja's viceroy Aprameya displayed his valor by slaying the Hoysala minister Naganna and multiple other generals of the Hoysalas like Manjaga, Kalega or Kali Ganga , Nagavarman, etc.
At the end of this war, the southern banks of the Tungabadhra river became the frontier between these two empires. Parantaka Chola I who had made extensive conquests had in fact subdued the Deccan kingdom that flourished in this region in Thus there is no truth in the proposition of "Chola Throne" ties with "Vengi".
Some of Chola Inscriptions of Raja Raja note how during a war against Vengi, the king himself took initiative and killed a certain ruler called Bheema ruling that area because " he felled one of his commanders".
Thus even if Cholas had reigned supreme in Eastern Deccan it was certainly a military vision and the small province of Vengi most probably served as a military base for Cholas who frequently sent in expeditions to Odisha and Western Deccan. We know about such base building activities down south in Pandyan country and also near Suchindram and Colombo in Lanka where the Cholas are known to have built naval bases and also " some temples for Lord Vishnu ".
The invasion of the kingdom of Kalinga must have occurred subsequent to the conquest of Vengi. We have no further details regarding this expedition, however this is a sufficient indication of the abilities of the Chola Navy, which was utilised effectively under Rajendra I.
The Chola Navy also had played a major role in the invasion of Sri Lanka. Nagapattinam on Bay of Bengal was the main port of the Cholas and could have been the navy headquarters. The construction of the temple is said to have been completed on the th day of the 25th year of his reign. Year after year villages from all over the country had to supply men and material for the temple maintenance. The tower or the sikhara is very high and decorated with sculptures.
The entrance to the temple is a high gateway which is also beautifully decorated with sculptures called the gopuram. Nandi, Shiva's bull, guards the temple. Stories of Shiva and Parvati and moreover, eighty one poses of Bharatnatyam are carved on the walls of the temple. Rajaraja carried out a revenue and settlement during the final years of his reign.
Inscriptions found in the Thanjavur temple bear testimony to the accuracy of this operation. The revenue survey enabled for the confiscation of lands of the defaulting landlords.
Rajaraja also perfected the administrative organisation by creating a strong and centralised machinery and by appointing local government authorities. He installed a system of audit and control by which the village assemblies and other public bodies were held to account while not curtailing their autonomy. He promoted International trade by patronising "Thisai ayirathi ettu Ainootruvar", which is an ancient Tamil trade organisation which carried on trade from the length and breadth of the Indian Ocean From the Arabia to the Malaya.
Rajaraja created a powerful standing army and a considerable navy which achieved even greater success under his son Rajendra.
A number of regiments are mentioned in the Tanjore inscriptions and it is evident that Rajaraja gave his army its due share in the glory derived from his extensive conquests. In most of the foregoing names the first portion appears to be the surnames or titles of the king himself or of his son. That these regiments should have been called after the king or his son is indicative of the attachment the Chola king bore towards his army.
It is possible that these royal names were pre-fixed to the designations of these regiments after they had distinguished themselves in some engagement or other. It is worthy of note that there are elephant troops, cavalry and foot soldiers among these regiments. To some of these regiments, the management of certain minor shrines of the temple was entrusted and they were expected to provide for the requirements of the shrine.
Others among them took money from the temple on interest, which they agreed to pay in cash. We are not, however, told to what productive purpose they applied this money. At any rate all these transactions show that the king created in them an interest in the temple he built.
He was also the Mahadandanayaka Panchavan Maharaya — supreme commander- of the northern and northwestern dominions. He figures in many of his inscriptions most notably when he and other top officers take a vow to light lamps and make other donations if they escaped from being disgraced during the military operations towards the end of Rajaraja's reign.
Paluvettaraiyars from the region of Thiruchirapalli were closely associated with the Cholas from the time of Parantaka I when he married a Paluvettaraiyar princess, were occupying a high position in the Chola administration.
Raja Raja Chola I
On the eastern coast he battled with the Chalukyas for the possession of Vengi the Godavari districts. Rajaraja, an able administrator, also built the great Brihadisvara Temple at the Chola capital Thanjavur. During his reign, the texts of the Tamil poets Appar , Sambandar and Sundarar were collected and edited into one compilation called Thirumurai. Rajaraja's ascension ended a period of rival claims to the throne, following the death of his grandfather Parantaka I.
Rajaraja Chola Biography
During his reign, the Cholas expanded beyond South India 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. During his reign, the texts of the Tamil poets Appar, Sambandar and Sundarar were collected and edited into one compilation called Thirumurai. He initiated a massive project of land survey and assessment in which led to the reorganization of the country into individual units known as valanadus. Raja Raja Chola died in and was succeeded by his son Rajendra Chola.
Throughout history, there has been only handful of people admired as the Emperors who had earned the true love of their citizens across generations. King Raja Raja Chola I is one such rarest of rulers in South India who is still remembered even after thousand years of his reign. The regions along the bank of River Cauvery is the Chola base from where the rulers of the great Chola Dynasty emerged and established the great kingdom who have left their footprints strongly in the history in the form of temples, reformation systems and even the life styles of the people in that region. Historians record that the parts of South India had witnessed tremendous advancement across all verticals during the rule of Ancient, Medieval and Later Chola Dynasties.