[Sangam-Age] Chola: Architecture, administration, Conquests & 1000th year of Rajendra-1 Chola’s Coronation

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IAS Mock Interviews
  1. 3-Southern Kingdoms: Chola, Chera, Pandya
  2. Imperial Chola
  3. Rajendra-1 (1000th Year of coronation, 2014)
  4. Chola Architecture
  5. Chola society and administration
  6. Chola patronized Buddhism
  7. Mock Questions

Chola, Chera, Pandya

On 3rd Nov 2014, Indian navy celebrated the 1000th Anniversary of Rajendra Chola’s coronation, hence topic becomes important for CSAT-2015.

Main Dynasties of Sangam Age
  • Capital: Uraiyur and later Tanjor
  • Southern Andhra Pradesh to Northern Tamilnadu
  • Emblem: Tiger
  • Karikala defeated Chera, Pandyas and other chillar kingdoms.
  • Capital: Vanji
  • Modern Kerala
  • Emblem: Bow
  • Began Pattini Cult for worshipping Kannagi.
  • Capital: Madurai
  • Southern Tamilnadu
  • Emblem: Carp
  • King Neduncheliyan has executed Kovalan. The Curse of Kovalan’s wife Kannagi- destroyed Madurai in fire.

Map Chola Empire Chera Pandya kingdoms

Imperial Chola

“Sangam Chola” became weak at the end of Sangam Age. But King Vijayala captured Tanjore, and began the new line of “Imperial Chola”. Notable Imperial Chola Kings were Rajaraja-1 and his son Rajendra-1.


  • He Defeated Chera and Pandya Kings.
  • He Extended Chola empire all the way to Tungabadhra river.
  • He built the famous Brihadeshwara Temple at Tanjore (Saivism) and patronized a Buddhist monetary at Nagapattinam.

Rajendra-1 (1000th Year of coronation, 2014)

  • Rajendra-1 took away Madurai from Pandya Kings and Keral territories from Chera Kings, and appointed his son as Viceroy of this region.
  • He annexed Northern Sri Lanka and Maldives using his mighty navy, and even abducted Sri Lankan King Mahinda V.
  • He sent a naval expedition to Malay Archipelago – to teach a lesson to Sri Vijaya Empire because they were obstructing Chola trade with Chinese.
  • He sent a military expedition towards Northern India, defeated many chillar kings above Ganges river Odisha and Bengal, and updated his facebook profile status to “Gangai Kondan”.
  • To further celebrate these victories and upload its photos on twitter, he built a city “Gangai-Konda-Cholapuram city” and Rajesvaram temple (Saivism) in it.
  • His successors were weak, ultimately Cholas were reduced from “Kings” To “local Chieftains”

Chola Temple Architecture

Chola Architecture

Cholas followed the architecture style of Pallavas and constructed numerous temples throughout their territory. Nagaesh-wvara, Brihadesh-wvara and Airavatesh-wara temples in Tanjore-Thanjavur region represent the zenith of Chola architectural style.

Notable features of Chola Temple Architecture
MaterialStarted using stones instead of bricks.
Walls & Passageshave neatly detailed frescoes, sculptures and paintings- including birds, dancing figures, pictorial stories from Puranas
PortraitsSome of the Chola temples contain beautiful life-sized portraits of kings and queens. e.g. Rajaraja I and his queen lok-mahadevi, Rajendra I and his queen Chol-mahadevi.
Garbhagrihachief deity room
Vimanathe 5-7 storeys above chief deity room. In Brihadeshwahra temple- 13 successive storeys.
Shikharaabove the Vimana (Storeys). Rajarajeshwara temple has Shikhara stone weighing almost 90 tonnes. Since they didn’t have cranes to lift it, architects built a 4 km long inclined path to drag the stone over the top.
.Vs Pallavas
  • Although Chola continued the art tradition of Pallavas, but abandoned the lion motifs from temple walls.
  • Chola temple pillars were constructed with greater refinement than Pallavas.
  • During Chola period, metal art showed remarkable development and was used for further decoration of temples.
  • e.g Nataraja or dancing shiva at Chiadambaram temple- described as the ‘cultural epitome’ of the Chola period.
MandapAudience hall, for various ceremonies. Elaborate carvings and pillars.
GopuramTemple gateways, which enclosed the entire temple structure with high walls.
  • Brihadeshwara temple by Rajaraja –I at Tanjore. It was the tallest of all Indian temple at that period.
  • Other kingdoms in South India- and even in Sri Lanka, adopted the architectural style of Chola temples.

Chola society and administration

  1. More centralized than other dynasties. Chola provinces were headed by Naval chiefs.
  2. Entire kingdom was divided into Mandal=>Vanlandu=>Nadu (villages).
  3. Both towns and villages had autonomous assemblies.
  4. Assembly members had tenure limit of 3 years.
  5. Emergence of Kanchi-Silk, Bronze Idol of Nataraja, Caste rigidity, Sati and Devdasi system.
  6. They worshipped dead king and built temples in their honor.
  7. Trade flourished with China, Sumatra, Java and Arabia.
  8. Land owned by temples and artisans were exempted from tax.
  9. They made “predatory naval raids” to fill treasury every once in a while. They also sent naval expedition for setting up trade-posts in foreign harbors as well.

Chola patronized Buddhism

  • Sailendra kings were Mahayan Buddist and ruled over Sumatra, Bali, Cambodia and Malaya.
  • Sailendra Kings had constructed a Buddhist Vihara at Nagapattinam, Tamilnadu. (area under Chola control)
  • Name of this Vihara: Chula-mani-varma-vihara.
  • Chola King Rajaraja Chola 1 had issued a Charter to provide money to this Vihara
  • This charter was inscribed on a copper plate and preserved at Leiden University of Netherlands, and proves that Chola patronized Buddhism as well.

Mock Questions

Q1.Which of the following pairs are matched incorrectly?

  1. Chola: Madurai
  2. Chera: Kerala
  3. Pandya: Andhra Pradesh

Answer choices

  1. Only 1 and 2
  2. Only 2 and 3
  3. Only 1 and 3
  4. All of them

Q2.Which of the following empire vs emblem pairs are matched correctly?

  1. Chola: Ship
  2. Chera: Tiger
  3. Pandya: Bow

Answer choices

  1. Only 1 and 2
  2. Only 2 and 3
  3. Only 1 and 3
  4. None of them

Q3. Chola King Rajendra-1 had annexed:

  1. Madurai from Chera kings
  2. Andhra from Satvahan kings
  3. Gangai-Konda-Puram from Pandya Kings

Answer choices

  1. Only 1 and 2
  2. Only 2 and 3
  3. Only 1 and 3
  4. None of them

Q4. Chola king Rajaraja-1

  1. Had ordered the execution Kolavan.
  2. had Patronized Saivism and Buddhism.
  3. Built Brihadeshwara temple at Tanjore.

Answer choices

  1. Only 1 and 2
  2. Only 2 and 3
  3. Only 1 and 3
  4. None of them

Q5. King ____ of ___ dynasty called himself Gangai-Kondan.

  1. Rajaraja-1, Chola
  2. Rajendra-1, Chera
  3. Rajaraja-1, Chera
  4. Rajendra-1,Chola

Q6. In Chola empire

  1. Sati system was prohibited
  2. Dev-Dasi system was prohibited
  3. Village Assembly membership was hereditary in nature.

Answer choices

  1. Only 1 and 2
  2. Only 2 and 3
  3. Only 1 and 3
  4. None of them

Q7. Chola temples

  1. have lion motifs on walls
  2. have Gopuram without walls
  3. use bricks instead of stones

Answer choices

  1. Only 1 and 2
  2. Only 2 and 3
  3. Only 1 and 3
  4. None of them

(Mains-2013) Q. Chola architecture represents a high watermark in the evolution of temple architecture. Discuss. (5 Marks, 100 words)

Visit Mrunal.org/HISTORY for entire Archive of History-Culture related articles published so far.

Mrunal recommends

  1. (free) NCERT, NIOS, TN-Books 4 History,Geo,Sci
  2. Indian Polity M.Laxmikanth (Hindi | English)
  3. Spectrum: Modern History (Hindi | English)
  4. Maths: Quantam CAT Sarvesh Kumar
  5. Objective General English SP Bakshi
  6. Word Power made Easy -Norman Lowe
  7. Topic wise Solved Paperset by Disha

41 Comments on “[Sangam-Age] Chola: Architecture, administration, Conquests & 1000th year of Rajendra-1 Chola’s Coronation”

  1. Thanks Mrunal. Are you planning to analyse this years GS papers. It would be really help for us!!

  2. Correction: Mandalam >> Kottam >>ValaNadu >> Nadu

  3. mrunal sir….can i get all this meterial (u provided) in hindi language..???? plzz sir if yes than plzzz help & suggest me…

    1. No, All material is posted in simple English here. Just understand and write it in Hindi in your own notebook.
      That’s all.
      I am also Hindi Medium Aspirant.

  4. Thank you sir..Article is very good :)

  5. Sir i have complete my b.tech. civil engg. In 2014 ….so i am preparing for gate + DMRC junior engg.
    give me some motivatation…..like time management…..
    sir ….i m addicted of smoking….i want to quit but not success in this
    pleae help me

    1. Every early morning practice yoga I think you will get good result.

  6. 1) C
    2) D
    3) D
    4) B
    5) D
    6) D
    7) D

  7. Notify me of new posts by email.

  8. Sir generally when one should finish his/her mains preparation? is there any ideal time table of preparation? pls guide me


  10. mrunal sir pls guide us for the insurance ao exam also. especially for those who do not have affordable coachings. pls provide some breakup of last papers and strategy. it will be very helpful

  11. 1. C
    2. D
    3. D
    4. B
    5. D
    6. D
    7. D

  12. Splendid piece of work sir.

  13. IBPS clerk iv result out

  14. news and current affairs for upsc and general studies for upsc mains

  15. You are a great help!

  16. 1c

  17. Hi Mrunal, the way you provide the notes, short, crisp and with witty tinges is just awesome, I was seriously reading this article at 3:00 AM and all of sudden read — ‘FB profile to Gangaikon’, I literally laughed so loudly that my roomie got up. Thanks for providing such heavy stuffs in such beautiful light manner:-)

  18. Thank You Mrunal Sir..

  19. Thank you mrunal sir for ur hard work
    Khuda àap ko barkat de


  21. sir when will be the acio (IB) exam date please inform,thanq…

    1. hey teja. r u oreparing fr civls

  22. Sir please suggest me what is important in “HISTORY AND CALTURE” part for 2015 prelims?

  23. Thank you Mrunal sir.

    I am working as software engineer and preparing for CSAT-2015 .Actually i get less time to study .3 4 hours per day .so i just want know how i have to manage my time for newspapaer?becoz it takes much time to read hindu papaer.Please suggest me sir as soon as possible

  24. One doubt mrunal, you have mentioned Chera capital as Vanji, however I think for early cheras it was Karuvur & later shifted to Mahodayapuram. Please confirm.

    1. the old name of karur is vanji only… it was the capital of ancient cheras, hence not wrong

  25. Sir, i have a query that these topics occur in The Hindu in some way or the other but at times, I miss to capture such things. Please suggest how to cover them and any alternate for it?

  26. I want to appear for 2015 mains is is it enough time to prepare?? Frm which sub I shd start prepare?

    1. I dnt think this is a time to prepare for mains.for whole prep u need a year aleast.if u really wana do this then start with subject seem difficult to u.

    2. yes n subject should b history geography polity n economics which r called four pillar of ics

  27. thank u sir…buit one thing I want 2 say… is it possible that we can get handwritten notes of senior toppers same fonts n way as articles….becoz it is not the matter of credibility of this site…becoz all here is authentic on this site…but it will save energy n time of students ..sorry sir but I have I have faced problem..

  28. Thank you sir…Very helpful….& easy to remember…

  29. Mrunal, knowledge, facts and analysis apart, but we really like your sarcastic / funny way of presentation of every topic. “Fracture Pandya” ha ha ha :-). ROFL.

  30. sir plz tell me ki main april tk mains notes bna skti hun??maine punjabi language main upsc clear krna?/?plz sir reply me plz..

  31. Hi mrunal..can you plz help me how to prepare ancient and medieval history along with culture part as i always hv difficulty in reading ncerts for dese topics.

  32. sir plz suggest for essay

  33. U are doing a great job sir

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