After the end of the Sangam age, the Cholas became feudatories but rose again to prominence in 9 century AD. These were the years of the Imperial Cholas as they had captured the entire Malay peninsula and Sri Lanka.
The Cholas ended the Pallava dynasty and also defeated the Pandya but received a setback from the Rashtrakutas. But under king Rajaraj I, they reached the height of their power.
Kaveri delta was a seat of Chola power.
Features of the reign:
- The Cholas established supremacy over the Chera and the Pandya under the reign of King Rajaraja I. The Cholas also invaded and captured north Sri Lanka.
- The Maldives too was captured after a military conquest.
- By defeating the Western Chalukyas of Kalyani the Chola power reached to Tungabhadra river.
- The Chola king Rajendra I started a military campaign against the northern kings and defeated the Bengal king.
The Chola kings were devout Shaivites but they were tolerant of Buddhism and Vaishnavism. The Chola power weakened after the successors of Rajendra I and finally, the Chola Empire was absorbed into the Pandyan kingdom.
1. The king ruled with the help of ministers.
2. The administration was efficient.
3. Surprise visits were made by the king to check the efficiency of the administration.
4. Land revenue was collected by elaborately surveying the land. Relief was given during harsh times. The expenditure of taxes was done on canals, irrigation, army, navy, and courts.
5. The army and navy were trained in cantonments. The navy was the top priority of the Cholas. The navy had dominated both Coromandel and Malabar coasts. In fact, the Bay of Bengal was a Chola lake for some period.
6. Village autonomy reached its peak during the Chola rule. Qualifications and disqualifications were prescribed for becoming a member of the village committee. These committees had functions and could pass resolutions.
1. The caste system was prevalent. The upper castes enjoyed special privileges.
2. The sub-castes too existed but harmonious cooperation existed between them.
3. Women had inferior status. Sati and Devdasi system was prevalent.
4. Temples of Shiv and Vishnu were built. Hence both these sects flourished.
5. Trade with China, Sumatra, Java, and Arabs flourished in this period. Silk weaving of Kanchi was famous. Agriculture too increased and forest lands were brought under cultivation.
- The temples were centers of imparting education.
- Numerous colleges too were created. In these apart from Vedic knowledge, mathematics and sciences too were taught.
- Land endowments were given to these.
- Tamil literature reached its peak during this period.
Art and Architecture:
- The Vimana style of temple building grew prominent in this period. The walls have detailed frescoes, sculptures, and paintings.
- The temples too were large.
- The mandaps and semi mandaps were built in temples.
- Architectural beauty is also seen in sculptures of large sizes with fine execution.
- Chola paintings and bronze statues of dancing girls are famous.
- Dwarpal and Gana were common in temples. The base of Chola temples has ‘Yazhi’ – A mythical animal.
- Bharat Natyam was developed.