Battle of Kandalur Salai

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Battle of Kandalur Salai
Part of Expansion of Chola empire under Raja Raja I
Chola-Chera conflicts
Rajaraja territories.png
Extent of the Chola Empire under Rajaraja I
Date End of the 10th century AD
Location Kandalur
Result Decisive Chola victory.
Chola dynasty Later Chera dynasty
Commanders and leaders
Raja Raja Chola I Bhaskara Ravi Varman I

The Kandalur War (or Kanthalur War) was a naval battle between Chola Empire and Later Chera forces at the port-town of Kandalur salai (now called Valia-ssala[1]), near Vizhinjam in present day Kerala state, South India around the end of the 10th century AD and was the beginning of the larger military campaigns of the Chola Empire under Raja Raja Chola I.

A hero-stone belonging to the reign of the Chola emperor, Raja Raja I, unearthed in Tamil Nadu in 2009, talks about Raja Raja Chola I “beheading the Malai Alargal” - the Chera warriors of Kanthalur Salai. The inscription settles a long-standing debate about what Raja Raja Chola did at Kanthalur Salai. There was a debate whether he had destroyed the boats, brought under his control an autonomous Vedic educational centre situated there or defeated the Chera warriors trained there in Vedas and warfare. By this discoveries the latter proves to be the fact.[1] It touches on points that he built a mantapa there, that he split in two a naval vessel belonging to the Chera king and that he destroyed a number of boats.[1]

The kingdoms of Pandya, Kulasekhara (Later Chera) and Sinhala were often allied against the Cholas at the end of the 10th century (around 985 AD) [2] and Chola king Raja Raja Chola I's initial campaigns were against the combined Pandya and Kulasekhara armies.

The Kandalur War is often regarded as the first military achievement of Raja Raja Chola I’s reign (985 - 1014 AD[1]). The arrest and ill-treatment of an envoy of the Chola king Raja Raja Chola I by the Kulasekhara (Later Chera) king Bhaskara Ravi Varman I (962- 1019 AD) led to the initial skirmishes. This is an example of the reaction to the breakdown diplomatic immunity. In this campaign Rajaraja is said to have destroyed a fleet in the port of Kandalur, which appears to have been situated in the Chera kingdom.[3][4] However, some years' fighting apparently was necessary before the conquest could be completed and the conquered country could be sufficiently settled for its administration could be properly organized.[5]

List of Chera kings
Early Cheras
Uthiyan Cheralathan  ·   Nedum Cheralathan  ·   Selva Kadumko Valiathan   ·   Senguttuvan Chera  · Illam Cheral Irumporai  ·   Mantaran Cheral
Interregnum (c.300–800)
Later Cheras
Kulashekhara Varma 800-820
Rajashekhara Varma 820-844
Sthanu Ravi Varma 844-885
Rama Varma Kulashekhara 885-917
Goda Ravi Varma 917-944
Indu Kotha Varma 944-962
Bhaskara Ravi Varma I 962-1019
Bhaskara Ravi Varma II 1019-1021
Vira Kerala 1021-1028
Rajasimha 1028-1043
Bhaskara Ravi Varma III 1043–1082
Ravi Rama Varma 1082-1090
Rama Varma Kulashekhara 1090-1102
Related articles
Silappatikaram  ·   Patiṟṟuppattu
Muchiri  ·   Thondi  · Vanchi
Tholan  · Śaṅkaranārāyaṇa
Cheraman Perumal  ·   Mukundamala
Kollam Era
Battle of Kandalur Salai
School of Astronomy and Mathematics  ·   Vazhapalli plates

Raja Raja Chola I’s early inscriptions use the descriptive "Kandalur salai kalamarutta". Inscriptions found around Thanjavur show that frequent references are made to the conquest of Later Chera and the Pandyas in Malainadu.

However, some historians argue Kandalur salai, which only later inscriptions claim to have belonged to the Chera, may be held by the Pandya when it was conquered by Raja Raja Chola I.[5] Tamil poet “Kavimani” Desika Vinayagam Pillai had suggested that when the Chera king stopped the free distribution of food at the Vedic educationcentre at Kanthalur Salai, Raja Raja Chola intervened and revived the practice. However, historians says that researchers rejected this viewpoint.[1]

The epigraphist, T.N. Subramaniam, had been of the view that Kanthalur Salai must have functioned autonomously, without any royal control. Thereafter, K.K. Pillai had suggested that when Raja Raja Chola wanted to bring about changes in the functioning of the Vedic school at Kanthalur Salai, its trustees, who had functioned independently till then, must have resented it. Raja Raja Chola, therefore, must have despatched his soldiers to bring the rebellious teachers and pupils under his control.[1]

Kandalur salai is believed to have been established by Karunandadakkan (857-85 AD), an Ay ruler. The Salais were Vedic schools associated with temples (Kanthalur Salai, Parthivapuram Salai, Thiruvalla Salai, Moozhikkulam Salai etc.) were residential in nature, with students living in proximity to the teacher.


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Friday Review Chennai / Heritage : Unearthed stone ends debate". The Hindu. 2009-11-27. Retrieved 2011-05-07. 
  2. ^ "Rajaraja began his conquests by attacking the confederation between the rulers of the Pandya and Kerala kingdoms and of Ceylon" - KAN Sastri, History of South India p 164
  3. ^ KAN Sastri, The Colas
  4. ^ Chakravarti, Prithwis Chandra (December 1930). "Naval Warfare in ancient India". The Indian Historical Quarterly 4 (4): 645–664. The naval supremacy of the Colas continued under the immediate successors of Rajendra. Rajadhiraja, as stated above, not only defeated and destroyed the Chera fleet at Kandalur but sent out his squadrons on an expedition against Ceylon. 
  5. ^ a b KAN Sastri