Pandyas ruled regions in South India which lie in the present day state of Tamil Nadu, along with other dynasties like the Cholas, the Cheras, the Pallavas etc. They ruled from 550 BC upto 15th century AD.
The early Pandyas were reduced to onscurity by the Kalabhras, until their revival in the 6th century AD. They were again to be subdued by the Cholas in the 9th century, only to rise again in the 12th century.The Pandyans had diplomatic ties even with the Roman empire (dating right back to 550 BC), the Greeks,the Chinese, the Ptolemy Egyptians etc. The Pandyan kingdom was also independent during the Mauryan rule and had friendly ties with the former.
Marco Polo has made mentions of the Pandyan kingdom as one of the richest he has ever seen and so has Megasthenes in his work the Indika, as has the Chinese traveller Yu Huan. In the 15th century, this kingdom met its end after the invasion from the Islamic Delhi Sultanate. The Pandyas subsequently became a part of the Vijayanagara empire.
The word Pandya is derived from the Tamil word, ‘Pandi’ which means the ‘bull,’ and considered a symbol of masculinity , streangth and valour by the early Tamilians.
The early Pandyas are said to have taken part in the Kurukshetra war as well from the side of the victorious Pandavas.
Their earliest king was Kulashekharan Pandya, who was said to have been as strong as a bull.He was said to have been killed by Lord Krishna. Though his son wanted to avenge his fathers death, he was dissuaded from doing so by his well wishers.
It was his son, Malayadwaja Pandya , who actually took part in the Kurukshetra war. He is said to have wounded even the mighty Dronacharya the teacher of both the andavas and the Kauravas, who fought on the side of the Kauravas. Malayadwaja was even said to have taken on Dronas son Ashwathama in duel.
His daughter was Meenakshi, after whom the famous temple of Meenakshi Amman was built in Madurai. The city of Madurai was built around this temple.
The Pandyas are credited for constructing many other beautiful temples in their kingdom and were said to rule a very prosperous state. Their kingdom was said to be famous for the pearl trade. Arts,poetry and literature progressed under the Pandyas.It was during Pandyan rule that several beautifull temples were built like the Meenakshi Amman temple in Madurai, Nellaiappar temple in Tirunelveli etc.
Nelaiappar temple, courtesy http://www.indiacatalog.com/
The early Pandya kings list (as per the Sangam literature and poems)is as under:
Nedunj Cheliyan I ( Aariyap Padai Kadantha Nedunj Cheliyan ) The capital of the Early Pandyan kingdom was initially Korkai, around 600 BC, and was later moved to Kudal (now Madurai) during the reign of Nedunj Cheliyan I.
Mudukudumi Paruvaludhi In the Sangam literature he is said to have performed many religious sacrifices.
Nedunj Cheliyan II
Nedunj Cheliyan III ( Talaiyaalanganathu Seruvendra Nedunj Cheliyan ) finds mention in an Meenakshiuram record as having gifted a rock cut bed to a Jain ascetic. He is also described in the Sangam literature as the victor of Talaiyalanganam.
Musiri Mutriya Cheliyan
The Pandya kings of the first recorded empire are listed as under: The Sangam age ended when the Kalabhras took over the the Pandyan regions. But soon the Pandyas bounced back , retaking their regions and establishing what is now known as the first empire.
Kadungon (580-590 AD) Kadungon was a Pandya king who revived the Pandya rule in South India in the 7th century CE (along with the Pallava king Simhavishnu), marking the beginning of a new era in the Tamil speaking region. He assumed the title Pandyadhiraja.
Maravarman Avaniculamani (590-620 AD) .son.
Cezhian Cendan (620-640 AD)
Jayantavarman (640-670 AD)
Arikesari Maravarman Nindraseer Nedumaran (670-710 AD) .son. He conquered Kerala, made common cause with the Chalukya king Vikramaditya against the Pallavas(Paramesvaravarman ).He is credited with having defeated the Chera king in multiple battles. He also subjugated the recalcitrant Parathavar of the coastal areas and the inhabitants of the Kurunadu.Rules from Madurai.
Kochadaiyan Ranadhiran (710-735 AD). son.Conqured great part of Kongu country (Coimbatore,Salem).He subdued the Cholas, the Cheras .His campaigns against the Chalukya kings and Ay cheiftains (they later became his vassals) are also recorded.
Maravarman Rajasimha I ( 735-765 AD ) .son.subdued the Pallavas (with help from Chalukyan king Vikramaditya II), the Gangas(king Sripurusha) and the Chalukyas (the Chalukyan king Kirtivarman II gave his daughter in marriage to Maravarmans son, Jatila Parantaka). He defeated the ruler of Kongu Nadu and crossed the Cauvery to bring about the subjugation of Malakongam, which was situated between Trichy and Thanjavur districts. The Malava chieftain who suffered defeat gave his daughter in marriage to Rajasimha I.
Parantaka Nedujadaiyan (765-790 AD).son.rules in Madurai. Pandya forces defeat the Pallavas on the south banks of the Kaveri.
Rasasingan II ( 790-800 AD)
Varagunavarman I (800-830 AD) extends his empire up to Tiruchirapalli by defeating the Pallava king Dandivarman.
Srimara Srivallabha (830-862 AD) son.Srimara invades Lanka and captures the northern provinces of the Lanka king Sena I . He defeats the Pallavas at a battle at Kumbakonam. His son Varagunavarman also rebelled against him and invited the Sinhala forces under Sena II and the Pallava king Nripatunga to invade the Pandya country and sack Madurai. Srimara died soon after.
Varagunavarman II (862-880 AD).son.starts rule as vassal of the Pallavas.Tried to overthrow yoke of the Pallavas but suffered massive defeat at the hands of the Pallavas (Nandivarman III).
Sri Parantaka Viranarayana Sadaiyan ( 880-900 AD). younger brother.conflict with the Cholas who are a rising power.
Maravarman Rajsimha II (900-920 AD). Son. He opposed the Chola king of Thanjavur at Kodumbalur and plundered the Chera capital at Vanchi in Kongu Nadu. In 910 A.D he suffered defeat at the hands of Parantaka Chola I, the son of Aditya Chola. Parantaka totally invaded the Pandyan kingdom and earned the title Maduraikonda(the one who captured Madurai). Rajasimha appealed to Kassapa V, the king of Ceylon for assistance. But even the combined forces of the Pandyas and the Sinhalese suffered could not keep the Cholas at bay and they suffered a huge defeat in Vellur near Madurai.
After the successive defeats, Rajasimha II fled to Ceylon but then unable to secure refuge, he went to Kerala, as he himself had descended in part from a chera king . There he spent the remaining of his days in obscurity.He was the last Pandyan king of the first recorded Pandya empire.
The Chola domination remained upto 1210. The Pandyas were driven into exile and replaced by Chola viceroys known as Chola Pandyas.
The following list gives the names of the Pandya kings who were active during the 10th century and the first half of 11th century. It is difficult to give their dates of accession and the duration of their rule. Nevertheless, their presence in the southern country requires recognition.
Sundara Pandya I
Vira Pandya I The Chola domination of the Tamil country began in earnest during the reign of Parantaka Chola II. Chola armies led by Aditya Karikala, son of Parantaka Chola II defeated Vira Pandya in battle. The Pandyas were assisted by the Sinhalese (Ceylon/Sri Lanka) forces of Mahinda IV. Pandyas were driven out of their territories and had to seek refuge on the island of Sri Lanka. This was the start of the long exile of the Pandyas.
Later , with the Cholas empire declining, the Pandyas reclaimed their territories, and the Tamil country was divided between the Pallavas and the Pandyas, with the river Kaveri being the frontier between them.
Vira Pandya II
Jatavarman Sundara Chola Pandya
Maravarman Vikrama Chola Pandya
Maravarman Parakrama Chola Pandya
Jatavarman Chola Pandya
Srivallabha Manakulachala (1101 - 1124)
Maaravaramban Seervallaban (1132 - 1161)
Parakrama Pandiyan (1161 - 1162)
Kulasekara Pandyan III
Vira Pandyan III
Jatavarman Srivallaban (1175 - 1180)
Vikkikarma Pandyan (1190) Vikkirama Pandyan had gained the throne of Madurai with the help of Kulothunga Chola III. Kulothunga had defeated the rebellion of Vira Pandyan and his Sri Lankan allies and awarded the throne to Vikkirama Pandyan.
Jatavarman Kulasekharan I (1190-1216).son. He was a brother-in-law of the Chera prince Kothai Ravivarman. But Kulasekaran remained a Chola vassal. Resenting this , he rebelled against the Cholas but was defeated, and once again accepted Cholka yoke and was granted back his kingdom.
Maravarman Sundara Pandyan I (1216 - 1238). Younger brother.avenged brothers defeat at the hands of the Cholas.Revived Pandya fortunes.Sacked Chola cities of Thanjavur,Uraiyur and sent the Chola crown prince Rajaraja Chola III to exile. Kulothunga Chola III appealed for aid to his son-in-law, the Hoysala monarch Veera Ballala II. Ballala sent an army under his son, the crown prince Vira Narasimha II. Under pressure from the Hoysala threat , Sundara Pandyan agreed to restore the Chola kingdom to Kulothunga, but only after the Cholas acknowledged his suzerainty.Maravaram ruled over an extensive territory including Trichinopoly and Pudukottai.
Maravaram Sundara Pandya II (1238-1251).son. was defeated by Rajendra Chola III.
Revival and the second Pandyan empire
Jatavarman Sundara Pandya III (1251-1268).son. avenged defeat by completely destroying the Chola empire and established the second powerfull Pandyan empire. He defeated the Cheras, Hoysalas, Kakatiyas. Provided a golden roof to the temples of Chidambaram and Srirangam from the wealth acquired in his conquests. He also gave many grants to temples in Trichy, Thanjavur and Kanchipuram. He built a temple at Aragalur (Magadai Mandalam) for the merit of Kulasekara around 1259. He acknowledged the contributors of other dynasties to Tamil Nadu by building a gate at the Sri Ranganathaswami Temple at Srirangam in which he engraved the names of all the four great empires of Tamil Nadu namely the Cholas, Pallavas, Pandyas and the Cheras.. He also built the East tower of the Madurai Meenakshi Temple.
Maravaramban Kulasekhara Pandya I(1268-1275).son.He had two sons, a legitimate Jatavarman Sundara Pandya and an illegitimate Jatavarman Vira Pandya. The latter was chosen as the heir apparent , hence the former killed his father. This led to a civil war between the brothers. Jatavarman Sundara Pandya then appealed to Alladin Khiljis Deccan viceroy and General Mallik Kafur for help. Kafur invaded and destroyed the Pandyan kingdom, ending the Hindu Pandya rule and starting the Muhammedan one.