The Chola empire was a kingdom which existed in South India.They had Tamilian origins but ruled large tracts of lands in adjoining Andhra,Kerala and Karnataka.
Because of their naval power, they also colonised their kingdom included in the same the present day countries of Sri Lanka,Maldives,Malaysia and Indonesia. Their trading sphere included their colonies and also China and the middle east.
They played a major role in the history of south India mainly in the sangam age before the invasion of the Kalabhras and later the Pallavas. Their name continued in the form of the Telugu Chodas who ruled in Renandu (Cuddapah dist) as feudatories of the Palalvas,chalukyas,Rashtrakutas. Around the mid 9th century, Vijayalaya, a Pallava feudatory conquered Tanjore and rose from obscurity.
The Chola kings were great patrons of arts, literature, poetry and constructed several magnificent temples, the most famous being the Brihadeswara temple of Thanjavur/Tanjore.
The Cholas are mentioned even in Indian mythology. The Anbil Plates gives fifteen names before Vijayalaya Chola including the genuinely historical ones of Karikala, Perunarkilli and Kocengannan.
The Thiruvalangadu Plate names forty-four, and the Kanyakumari Plate almost up to fifty-two kings.
The Cholas were looked upon as descended from the Sun god. There is also another myth whereby a Chola king (an contemporary of sage Agastya) brought River Kaveri on earth. Then there is a story of Chola justice eulogised in a story of the king Manu who sentenced his son to death for having accidentally killed a calf. The Chola benevolance is personified in a story of King Shibi who rescued a dove from a hawk by giving his own flesh to the hungry hawk was also part of the early Chola legends. King Shibi was also called Sembiyan, a popular title assumed by a number of Chola kings.
Early Cholas are mentioned in the Sangam literature. Their references occur at many places in form of poems and stories, but it is difficult to pinpoint them chronologically because of lack of dates.
Ilamcetcenni ruled with Puhar as his capital. He was said to be a contemporary of the Magadhan king Bindusara.He is credited to defeating both the Cheras and the Pandyas.Ruled around 301 BC (approx).
Karikala Chola was son of Ilamcetcenni and ruled approx. around 270 BC. Defeated the Cheras and Pandyas. Won Ceylon as well.
Nedunkilli . son. involved in a civil war with kin Nalinkilli
Killivalavan .son. captured Chera capital Karur.Defeated in battle by the Pandyas.Killed Malainadu chief Malayaman Tirumudikkari in battle.
Kopperuncholan was a poet and patronised arts literature and poetry.His sons quarreled in his tenure. Unable to resolve the strife, he himself commited suicide by starving himself to death.
Kocengannan defeated the Cheras in battle. Built 70 Shiva temples.
Perunarkilli was a powerfull monarch who performed the Rajasuya yagna after his victories.
Vijayalaya Chola 848 – 871 conquered Tanjore from Muttarayar, a Pandya feudatory.
Aditya Chola I 871 - 907 Son. Helped his Pallava overlord Aparijata against the Pandyas in the decisive battle of Sri Purambiyam. In return he is rewarded with territories.But this also sows seeds of ambition in his mind, after he sees the Pallava weaknesses.Aditya kills the Pallava king and annexes Tondaimandalam in 891. Then conquers Kongu country and Western Gangas become his vassals.
Aditya I built quite a few temples for Siva and for Lord Vishnu. In fact in AD 890, his inscriptions speak of his contributions to the construction of the Ranganatha Temple at Srirangapatnam (now in Mandya district of Karnataka) in the country of Western Gangas who were both his feudatories and also had marital relations with him.
Parantaka Chola I .907 - 950 Son.Parantaka defeats the Pandyas, invades the Pandyan kingdom and earns himself the title Maduraikonda (the one who captured Madurai). Rajasimha appeals to Kassapa V, the king of Ceylon for assistance, but even the combined forces of the Pandyas and the Sinhalese are not able to keep the Cholas at bay and they suffer a huge defeat in Vellur near Madurai. The Cholas rule Pandyan territory for the next three hundred years. By 930 AD, Cholas rule whole of South India from Pener to Cape Comorin(except western coast rule of the Keralas).
Alarmed, the Rashtrakuta king Krishna III invades South India, conquers Ganga kingdom and defeats the Cholas at Takkolam in 949 and annexes Tondaimandalam. Parantaka dies in 953 AD.
The grand Chidambaram temple was patronised by Parantaka Chola I.
Sundara Chola or Parantaka II 957-93.defeats Vira Pandya and his Sinhalese allies, but unable to gain decisive success. Recovers Tondaimandalam from Rashtrakutas.
Rajaraja I .son.985 -1018 AD. conquers Western Ganga country.Defeats Kerala ruler, destroys his ships at Kandalarusalai ( Trivandrum ) and attacks Kollam (Quillon).Defeats Pandya king and seizes Madura. Takes possession ofstronghold of Udagai in Kudamalai (Coorg). Conquers Eastern Chalukya,Vengi and puts his own nominee Saktivarman on its throne, and marries his daughter Kundavvai to Vimaladitya, the younger brother of Saktivarman.Also defeats the Gangas of Kalinga who vied fr Vengi.
Rajaraja built the famous Brihadeshwara temple at Tanjore/Thanjavur. Inspite of being a Shaivite (which was the state religion of the Cholas), Rajaraja built several temples of Vishnu, and also helpedSailendra king of Java construct a Buddhist vihara. Declaress his son Rajendra Chola as Yuvaraja(king in waiting). Dies 1018.
Rajendra Chola 1018-1044. Son.
Was a Great Conquerer. He defeated the Pandyas, the Cheras, the Chalukyas, and several minor kings of Bengal and even humbled the mighty Pala king Mahipala..Also conquered and colonised Ceylon,Java,Sumatra,Malaya peninsula.
Built a new capital Gangakodaicholapuram decorated with lavish temples (Gangakodaicholiswaram temple) and palaces.He built a 16mile irrigation tank and a great college for Vedic study and started several reforms in administration.
Rajadhiraja Chola 1044-1053 AD.Son. Quelled several rebellions by Pandyas,Cheras and the Ceylonese and maintained his kingdom.
Lost his life in battle against the Chalukya king Someswara , but won the war because of the exploits of his brother Rajendra who was crowned the next king.
Rajendra Chola 1053-1063.Brother. Continued battles against the Chalukyas.
Virarajendra 1063-1070 son
Adhirajendra.Son. 1070 driven away within a year by Kulotunga I a kin.
Kulotunga I 1070-1118 AD had Chola blood in him and belonged to the Eastern Chalukya dynasty. He set aside Adhirajendra and became the next king.Repelled attacks from the western Chalukya king Vikramaditya VI (who supported the cause of Adhirajendra). He also defeated the Kalinga king Anantavarman Chodaganga. During his reign Ceylon became independent and after his death in 1118, Chalukyan king Vikramaditya VI captured Vengi.Hoysalas too drove away Cholas beyong Kaveri, and freed Mysore.
The famous Tamil poet Ottakuttan was a contemporary of Kulothunga Chola I and served at the courts of three of Kulothunga's successors.
Vikrama Chola 1118-1135 son.reconquered Vengi by defeating Someswara III, the Chalukyan king. He also recovered Gangavadi from the Hoysalas.
Kulothunga Chola II 1135-1150 son
Rajaraja Chola II son.1150-1163.built the Airavateswara temple at Darasuram.
Rajadhiraja Chola II .son.1163-1178
Kulotunga Chola III.son.1178-1218. Conquered Kalinga,Ilam (Ceylon),Madurai,Karur,Kataha.Defeated by Maravarman Sundara Pandiyan II. The Tamil writer Kamban was his contemporary.
Rajendra Chola III. 1256-1279. Son.Held hostage by Kadava chieftain, Kopperunchinga, his own feudatory. Pandyas seized his capital.With the help of the Hoysalas, the Chola king defeated the Pandyas. But the Kakatiya king,Ganpati occupied Kanchi in 1250 and weakened the Cholas decisively.
Pandyas underJatavarman Sundara Pandya,marched northwards and defeated the Hoysalas, the Kakatiyas and also dealt a final crushing blow to the Chola empire.
The Chola king Rajendra III henceforth ruled as a vassal of the Pandyas until the Mohammedan invasion of Malik Naib Kafur, the general of Aladin Khilji in 1310.
Thus the last vestige of the Chola empire was swept off.
The Chola kings of the Sangam (literature) period have legends about the mythical Chola kings.Their Pantheon of Gods were led by Shiva the supreme god, Aiyai or Uma the Kotravai(Kullabai), Sevvel or Muruga the Kurinci-Marudakkadavul, ThiruMaal or Maayoan the Mullaikkadavul, Vanci-Irai(Indira), Neitharman(Varuna), El the Uthi(the Sun) and Nanna the Mathi(the Moon) .
The following list of early Sangam Cholas has been built from the various poems of Purananuru. The dates of accession are approximate interpolation of the Hindu Puranic Timeline[ref.wikipedia].
• Eri Oliyan Vaendhi C. 3020 B.C.E.
• Maandhuvaazhi C. 2980 B.C.E.
• El Mei Nannan C. 2945 B.C.E.
• Keezhai Kinjuvan C. 2995 B.C.E.
• Vazhisai Nannan C. 2865 B.C.E.
• Mei Kiyagusi Aerru C. 2820 B.C.E.
• Aai Kuzhi Agusi Aerru C. 2810 B.C.E.
• Thizhagan Maandhi C. 2800 B.C.E.
• Maandhi Vaelan C. 2770 B.C.E.
• Aai Adumban C. 2725 B.C.E.
• Aai Nedun jaet chozha thagaiyan C. 2710 B.C.E.
• El Mei Agguvan a.k.a Keezh nedu mannan C. 2680 B.C.E.
• Mudiko Mei Kaalaiyam Thagaiyan C. 2650 B.C.E.
• Ilangok keezh kaalaiyan thagaiyan a.k.a. Ilangeezh nannan C. 2645 B.C.E. -start of Kadamba lineage by his brother Aai Keezh Nannan
• Kaalaiyan gudingyan C. 2630 B.C.E.
• Nedun gaalayan dhagayan C. 2615 B.C.E.
• Vaengai nedu vael varaiyan C.2614 B.C.E.
• Vaet kaal kudingyan C. 2600 B.C.E.
• Maei Ila vael varaiyan C. 2590 B.C.E.
• Sibi Vendhi C. 2580 B.C.E.
• Paru nonji chaamazhingyan C. 2535 B.C.E.
• Vaeqratrtri chembiya chozhan C. 2525 B.C.E.
• Saamazhi chozhiya vaelaan C. 2515 B.C.E.
• Uthi ven gaalai thagan C. 2495 B.C.E.
• Nannan that kaalai thagan C. 2475 B.C.E.
• Vel vaen mindi C. 2445 B.C.E.
• Nedun jembiyan C. 2415 B.C.E.
• Nedu nonji Vendhi C. 2375 B.C.E.
• Maei Vael paqratrtri C. 2330 B.C.E.
• Aai Perun thoan nonji C. 2315 B.C.E.
• Kudiko pungi C. 2275 B.C.E.
• Perun goep poguvan C. 2250 B.C.E.
• Koeth thatrtri C. 2195 B.C.E.
• Vadi sembiyan C. 2160 B.C.E.
• Aalam poguvan C. 2110 B.C.E.
• Nedun jembiyan C. 2085 B.C.E.
• Perum paeyar poguvan C. 2056 B.C.E.
• Kadun jembiyan C. 2033 B.C.E.
• Nedun kathan C. 2015 B.C.E.
• Paru nakkan C. 1960 B.C.E.
• Vani sembiyan C. 1927 B.C.E.
• Udha chira mondhuvan C. 1902 B.C.E.
• Perun kaththan C. 1875 B.C.E.
• Kadun kandhalan C. 1860 B.C.E.
• Nakka monjuvan C. 1799 B.C.E.
• Maarko vael Maandhuvan Aaththikko C. 1786 B.C.E.
• Musukunthan Vaendhi C. 1753 B.C.E.
• Peru nakkan Thatrtri C. 1723 B.C.E.
• Vaer kaththan C. 1703 B.C.E.
• Ambalaththu Irumundruvan C. 1682 B.C.E.
• Kaari mondhuvan C. 1640 B.C.E.
• Vennakkan Thatrtri C. 1615 B.C.E.
• Maarko chunthuvan C. 1565 B.C.E.
• Vaer parunthoan mundruvan C. 1520 B.C.E.
• Udhan kaththan C. 1455 B.C.E.
• Kaariko sunthuvan C. 1440 B.C.E.
• Vendri nungunan C. 1396 B.C.E.
• Mondhuvan Vendhi C. 1376 B.C.E.
• Kaandhaman C. 1359 B.C.E.
• Mundruvan Vendhi C. 1337 B.C.E.
• Kaandhaman C. 1297 B.C.E.
• Monjuvan Vendhi C. 1276 B.C.E.
• Ani sembiyan C. 1259 B.C.E.
• Nungunan Vendhi C. 1245 B.C.E.
• Maarkop perum Cenni C. 1229 B.C.E.
• Monjuvan Nanvendhi C. 1180 B.C.E.
• Kop perunar chenni C. 1170 B.C.E.
• Monthuvan jembiyan C. 1145 B.C.E.
• Narchenni C. 1105 B.C.E.
• Caet chembiyan C. 1095 B.C.E.
• Nakkar chenni C. 1060 B.C.E.
• Parun jembiyan C.1045 B.C.E.
• Venjenni C. 998 B.C.E.
• Musugunthan C. 989 B.C.E.
• Maarkop perun jembiyan C. 960 B.C.E.
• Nedunjenni C.935 B.C.E.
• Thatchembiyan C. 915 B.C.E.
• Ambalaththu iruvaer chembiyan C. 895 B.C.E.
• Kaariko chenni C. 865 B.C.E.
• Venvaer chenni C. 830 B.C.E.
• Kaandhaman, C. 788 B.C.E.
• Kaandhalan C. 721 B.C.E.
• Caetchenni C. 698 B.C.E.
• Vani nungunan C. 680 B.C.E.
• Mudhu sembiyan Vendhi C. 640 B.C.E.
• Peelan jembiyach chozhiyan C. 615 B.C.E.
• Maeyan gadungo C. 590 B.C.E.
• Thiththan C. 570 B.C.E.
• Perunar killi Porvaiko C. 515 B.C.E.
• Kadu mundruvan C. 496 B.C.E.
• Kopperunjozhan C. 495 B.C.E.
• Narkilli Mudiththalai C. 480 B.C.E.
• Thevvan go chozhan C. 465 B.C.E.
• Naran jembiyan C. 455 B.C.E.
• Nakkam peela valavan C. 440 B.C.E.
• Iniyan thevvan jenni C. 410 B.C.E.
• Varcembiyan C. 395B.C.E.
• Nedun jembiyan C. 386 B.C.E.
• Nakkan aran jozhan C. 345 B.C.E.
• Ambalathu irungoch chenni C. 330 B.C.E.
• Perunar killi C. 316 B.C.E.
• Kochaet Cenni C. 286 B.C.E.
• Cerupazhi Erinda Ilanjaetcenni, C. 275 B.C.E.
• Nedungop perunkilli C. 220 B.C.E.
• Cenni Ellagan C. 205 B.C.E.
• Perun gilli C. 165 B.C.E.
• Kopperun jozhiyav ilanjaetcenni C. 140 B.C.E.
• Perunar killi Mudiththalai ko C. 120 B.C.E.
• PerumpootCenni C. 100 B.C.E.
• Ilam perunjenni C. 100 B.C.E.
• Perungilli Vendhi aka Karikaalan I C. 70 B.C.E.
• Nedumudi Killi C. 35 B.C.E.
• Ilavanthigaipalli Thunjiya Maei Nalangilli Caet Cenni, C. 20 B.C.E.
• Aai Vaenalangilli C. 15 B.C.E.
• Uruvapakraer Ilanjaetcenni, C. 10 - 16 C.E.
• 16 C.E. - 30 C.E. Kingdom ruled by a series of Uraiyur chieftains
• Karikaalan II Peruvalaththaan, C. 31 C.E.
• Vaer paqradakkai Perunar killi, C. 99 C.E.
• Perun thiru mavalavan ,Kuraapalli Thunjiya C. 99 C.E.
• Nalangilli C. 111 C.E.
• Perunarkilli , Kula mutrtraththu Thunjiya C. 120 C.E.
• Perunarkilli , Irasasuya vaetta C. 143 C.E.
• Vael kadunkilli C. 192 C.E.
• Kochenganaan C. 220 C.E.
• Nalluruththiran C. 245 C.E.
Genealogy from Chola inscriptions
The genealogy of the Chola family conveyed by the Thiruvalangadu copperplate grant and consist of names that are mostly mythological, and as under.
• Suraguru (Mrityujit)
• Vasu (Uparichara)