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Source: The post is based on the article “Ponniyin Selvan:1 puts focus on the Cholas: what happened during their rule?” published in Indian Express on 6th October 2022.
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The Tamil Movie Ponniyin Selvan-1 brought the focus to the 10th-century Chola Kingdom.
About the era of the Cholas
The Chola kingdom stretched across present-day Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and parts of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
Founded by: The dynasty was founded by the king Vijaylaya, described as a “feudatory” of the Pallavas by historian Satish Chandra in the book ‘The History of Medieval Era’.
Wars: The Chola King Rajadhiraja came to power in 1044, he was able to “subdue” Pandyan and Kerala kings, and presumably to celebrate these victories performed the Ashvamedha sacrifice.
The Chola rulers sacked and plundered Chalukyan cities including Kalyani and massacred the people, including Brahmans and children. They destroyed Anuradhapura, the ancient capital of the rulers of Sri Lanka”
Society under the Cholas
Naval supremacy: One of the biggest achievements of the Chola dynasty was its naval power. Cholas had strong ties with merchant groups and this allowed them to undertake impressive naval expeditions. This allows them to go as far as Malaysia and the Sumatra islands of Indonesia in their conquests.
Chola inscriptions: Cholas cultural sophistication is reflected in the meticulous records kept by them in the form of inscriptions on the walls of temples built by them, and on copper plates.
This is one of the reasons why so much is known of the Cholas as compared with their contemporaries.
Infrastructure: The construction of grand trunk roads and public ferries during the time of Cholas are mentioned in books.
The practice of building grand temples: Temple building was ramped up in an unprecedented way by the Cholas. The grand Brihadeeswara temple of Thanjavur, built by the Cholas, was the largest building in India in that period.
Note: Earlier, the Rashtrakutas had built the Kailasanatha temple in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad — the largest monolith structure (carved from a single rock) of its time.
Arts and sculptures: Artworks and sculptures were commissioned by Chola kings and queens. The most famous of them is the bronze Nataraja idols.
Role of women: The role of women in the royal family is being brought to focus given their impact on public life, but that is not to suggest that ordinary women wielded equal power as men. There were instances where cities were named after women.