Rajendra Chola I

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"Rajendra Chola" redirects here. For Rajendra Chola II, see Rajendra Chola II.
Rajendra Chola I[1][2]
Parakesari, Yuddhamalla, Mummudi, Gangai Kondan, Kadaram Kondan[3]
Rajendra Chola.JPG
Sculpture of Rajendra I
Reign c. 1014 – c. 1044 CE[4]
Predecessor Rajaraja I
Successor Rajadhiraja Chola I
Died 1044 CE
Consort Tribhuvana Mahadeviyar
Pancavan Madeviyar
Issue Rajadhiraja Chola I
Rajendra Chola II
Virarajendra Chola
Dynasty Chola Dynasty
Father Rajaraja Chola
Mother Thiripuvana Madeviyar
Religion Hinduism

Rajendra Chola I or Rajendra I was a Chola king who ruled over the ancient Tamil kingdom in India. He is considered as one of the greatest rulers and military generals of India. He succeeded his father Rajaraja Chola I in 1014 CE. During his reign, he extended the influence of the Chola empire to the banks of the river Ganga in North India and across the Indian ocean to the West, making the Chola Empire as one of the the most powerful empires of India.[5][6] Rajendra’s conquests included the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Sri Lanka, Maldives, and he successfully invaded the territories of Srivijaya in Malaysia, Southern Thailand and Indonesia in South East Asia.[5][7] The Cholas exacted tribute from Thailand and the Khmer kingdom of Cambodia. He defeated Mahipala, the Pala king of Bengal and Bihar, and to commemorate his victory he built a new capital city called Gangaikonda Cholapuram.[8][9]

Early life and ascension[edit]

Rajendra Chola I was the son of Rajaraja Chola and Thiripuvana Madeviyar, princess of Kodumbalur. He was born on Thiruvathirai in the Tamil month of Aadi. He was originally called Maduranthagan. He spent most of his childhood in Palayarai and was brought up by his aunt Kundavai and great-grandmother Sembian Madevi. He was made the co-regent in 1012 CE.[10] Rajendra formally ascended the Chola throne in 1014 CE. In 1018 CE, he installed his eldest son Rajadhiraja Chola I as the crown prince.[10]

Military conquests[edit]

Early campaigns[edit]

Rajendra led Chola campaigns from 1002 CE. These include the conquest of the Rashtrakutas and the campaigns against the Western Chalukyas. He conquered the Chalukyan territories of Yedatore (a large part of the Raichur district between the Krishna and the Tungabhadra), Banavasi in the north-west of Mysore and capital Manyakheta. Rajendra erected a Siva temple at Bhatkal. He also conquered Kollipakkai, located to the north of Hyderabad in present-day Andhra Pradesh. An excerpt from an inscription in Tamil from Kolar states:

In the 8th year of the reign of Kopparakesarivanmar sri Rajendra Sola Deva, who, while the goddess of Fortune, having become constant, increased, and while the goddess of the great Earth, the goddess of victory in battle and the matchless goddess of Fame, having become his great queens, rejoiced-that in his extended lifetime, conquered with his great war-like army Idaiturai-nadu, Vanavasi shut in by a fence of continuous forests; Kollipakkai, whose walls were surrounded by sulli trees; Mannaikkadakkam whose fortification was unapproachable.[11]

Conquest of Sri Lanka[edit]

Inscription dated to 1100 CE Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka

Raja Raja Chola I conquered the northern half of Sri Lanka during his reign. Rajendra invaded Ceylon in 1017 CE and annexed the entire island.[12] As a result of the campaign, Rajendra captured the regal jewels of the Pandyas, which Parantaka I tried to capture and the crown of the Sinhala king. The Sinhala king Mahinda V was taken prisoner and transported to the Chola country.

Pandyas and Cheras[edit]

In 1018 CE, Rajendra marched across the Pandya and Chera kingdoms referred in the Tamil Copper-plate inscriptions. The territories were already conquered during the reign of Raja Raja I.[10] Rajendra appointed one of his sons as viceroy with the title Jatavarman Sundara Chola-Pandya with Madurai as the headquarters.

Chalukyan conflict[edit]

In 1015 CE, Jayasimha II became the king of Western Chalukyas. He tried to recover the losses suffered by his predecessor Satyashraya, who fled his capital and was later restored to the throne by Raja Raja I as a tribute paying subordinate. Initially, Jayasimha II was successful as Rajendra was busy with his campaigns in Sri Lanka.[13] In 1021 CE, after the demise of the Eastern Chalukyan king Vimaladitya of Vengi, Jayasimha supported the claim of Vijayaditya VII to the throne against the claims of Rajaraja Narendra. Rajaraja Narendra was the son of Vimaladitya and Chola princess Kundavai.[13] Rajendra helped his nephew Rajaraja defeat Vijayaditya.[14] His armies defeated Vijayadiya in Vengi and Jayasimha in the battle of Maski.[13]

Gangaikonda Cholapuram was built by Rajendra Chola to celebrate his success in the Ganges Expedition
Brihadeeswarar temple inscription reading "Gangaikondacholan"

Expedition to the Ganges[edit]

In 1019 CE, Rajendra’s forces marched through Kalinga towards the river Ganga. The Chola army eventually reached the Pala kingdom of Bengal where they defeated Mahipala. The Chola army also defeated the last ruler of the Kamboja Pala dynasty Dharmapala of Dandabhukti.[15][16] The Chola army went on to raid East Bengal and defeated Govindachandra of the Chandra dynasty and invaded Bastar region.[17][18] The territories held the status of tribute paying subordinates and trade partners with the Chola Kingdom, an arrangement that lasted till the times of Kulothunga III.[19] He constructed a new capital at Gangaikondacholapuram.

Rajendra Chola's Territories c. 1030 CE

South East Asian expedition[edit]

Sangrama Vijayatunggavarman was the son of Mara Vijayatungavarman of the Sailendra dynasty who ruled the Srivijaya kingdom near Palembang in Sumatra. The Sailendra dynasty had good relations with the Chola Empire during the reign of Rajaraja Chola I. Mara Vijayatungavarman built a Chudamani Vihara at Nagapattinam. The Khmer king Suryavarman I requested aid from Rajendra against the Tambralinga kingdom.[20][21] After learning of Suryavarman's alliance with Rajendra Chola, the Tambralinga king requested aid from the Srivijaya king Sangrama Vijayatungavarman.[20][22] This eventually led to the Chola expedition against the Srivijiya Empire. This alliance somewhat also had a religious nuance, since both the Chola Empire and the Khmer empire are Hindu Shivaist, while Tambralinga kingdom and Sri Vijaya were Mahayana Buddhist.

In 1025 CE, the Chola navy crossed the Indian ocean and attacked the Srivijaya kingdom of Sangrama Vijayatunggavarman. Several places in Malaysia and Indonesia were invaded by Rajendra Chola I.[23] Kadaram, the capital was sacked and Pannai in present-day Sumatra in western Indonesia and Malaiyur in the Malayan peninsula were attacked. Rajendra also invaded the Tambralinga Kingdom in Southern Thailand and the Langkasuka Kingdom in modern Malaysia and South Thailand.[9][24][25] The Chola invasion marked the demise of the Srivijaya Empire.[26][27] The victory dealt a blow to Sri Vijayas maritime might and monopoly.[28] After this the Chola Empire conquered large portions of the Sri Vijaya Empire including its ports of Ligor, Kedah and Tumasik.[28][29] The Chola invasion furthered the expansion of Tamil merchant associations such as the Manigramam, Ayyavole and Ainnurruvar into Southeast Asia.[30][31][32][33] For the next century, Tamil trading companies from southern India dominated Southeast Asia.[26][27] The expedition of Rajendra Chola I is mentioned in the corrupted form as Raja Chulan in the medieval Malay chronicle Sejarah Melaya and Malaysian princes have names ending with Cholan or Chulan such as the Raja of Perak called Raja Chulan.[34][35][36][37][38] One record of Rajendra Chola describes him as the King of the country of Lamuri in north Sumatra in Indonesia.[39] The war ended with a victory for the Chola dynasty and major losses for the Sri Vijaya Empire and the Tambralinga kingdom.[20][22]

Work and legacy[edit]

Stone sculpture with Tamil Inscription, Chokkanathaswamy temple, Bangalore built in 10th century AD
Tamil Inscription at Chokkanathaswamy temple

Rajendra Chola built a vast artificial lake, sixteen miles long and three miles wide which was one of the largest man-made lakes in India.[40] The fortified capital of Rajendra Chola was of impressive grandeur and Ottakoothar states, On seeing Gangapuri, all fourteen worlds encircled by the billowing ocean are overwhelmed with joy.[40][41] The extent of the empire was the widest in India and the military and naval prestige was at its highest.[42]

After his successful campaign to Ganges he got the title Gangaikonda Chola (The Chola who took the Ganges). He founded a new capital city called Gangaikonda Cholapuram and built a Shiva temple similar to the Thanjavur Brihadisvara temple built by his father Rajaraja Chola. He expanded the Pathirakali Amman Temple and Koneswaram temple of Trincomalee.[40] He inherited the title Mummudi Cholan (The Chola with three crown) from his father with Mummudi, a title used by Tamil kings who ruled the three kingdoms of Cholas, Pandyas and Cheras.[43] To commemorate his conquests, Rajendra assumed other titles such as Mudigonda Cholan and Irattapadikonda Cholan.

Personal life and family[edit]

Rajendra Chola had many consorts including Tribuvana or Vanavan Mahadeviar, Mukkokilan, Panchavan Mahadevi, Arindhavan Madevi and Viramadevi who committed sati on Rajendra’s death. The Siddanta Saravali of Trilochana Sivacharya who was a contemporary of Kulothunga III states that Rajendra was a poet and he composed hymns in praise of Lord Shiva. Rajendra had three sons namely Rajadhiraja Chola, Rajendra Chola II and Virarajendra Chola, who followed him on the Chola throne in succession. He had two daughters Pranaar Arul Mozhi Nangai and Ammanga Devi. His campaigns were led by general Senapati Narakkan Sri Krishnan Raman.[44][45]

Popular culture[edit]

  • India's navy training ship TS Rajendra was named in his honor.[46]
  • Vengayin Maindhan by Akilan covers the life and achievements of Rajendra Chola
  • Gangapuri Kavalan by Vembu Vikiraman in which Rajendra Chola is the protagonist
  • Mannan Magal by Sandilyan set in the period of Rajendra Chola
  • Gangai Konda Cholan by Balakumaran

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Culture causerati forget a 1000yr milestone". telegraphindia.com. Retrieved July 28, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Sculptures of Shiva in temples of South India". lakshmisharath.com. Retrieved February 17, 2015. 
  3. ^ Nagapattinam to Suvarnadwipa: Reflections on the Chola Naval Expeditions to Southeast Asia, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, p.170
  4. ^ Sen, Sailendra (2013). A Textbook of Medieval Indian History. Primus Books. pp. 46–49. ISBN 978-9-38060-734-4. 
  5. ^ a b Trade and Trade Routes in Ancient India by Moti Chandra p.213
  6. ^ Advanced Study in the History of Medieval India by Jaswant Lal Mehta p.37
  7. ^ Power and Plenty: Trade, War, and the World Economy in the Second Millennium by Ronald Findlay,Kevin H. O'Rourke p.67
  8. ^ Cultural Sociology of the Middle East, Asia, and Africa: An Encyclopedia by Andrea L. Stanton,Edward Ramsamy,Peter J. Seybolt,Carolyn M. Elliott p.18
  9. ^ a b The Sea and Civilization: A Maritime History of the World by Lincoln Paine p.866
  10. ^ a b c See Sastri, K. A. N., A History of South India, p165
  11. ^ Epigraphia Carnatica, Volume 10, Part 1, page 32
  12. ^ Indian History with Objective Questions and Historical Maps Twenty-Sixth Edition 2010, South India page 59
  13. ^ a b c See Sastri, K. A. N., A History of South India, p166
  14. ^ Proceedings of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, page 70
  15. ^ Ancient Indian History and Civilization by Sailendra Nath Sen p.281
  16. ^ West Bengal District Gazetteers: Nadīa p.63
  17. ^ The Cambridge Shorter History of India p.145
  18. ^ Dimensions of Human Cultures in Central India by Professor S.K. Tiwari p.161
  19. ^ See Nilakanta Sastri, K. A. (1935). The CōĻas, pp 209 – 212. Sastri bases his argument on the fact that these regions were not included in the inscriptions of his successors, though successive Chola Kings from Rajaraja I to Kulothunga III have assumed titles as 'Kings who conquered Ilam', reinforcing the fact that off and on, rebellions were being quelled and Chola authority on the island of 'Ilangai' was maintained, despite a later king of Lanka sending an embassy to the Chola adversary Vikramaditya VI of the Chalukya dynasty, subsequent to which another expedition to Ilangai caused the Sinhala king to flee to Rohana hills on the South Coast of that country.
  20. ^ a b c Kenneth R. Hall (October 1975), "Khmer Commercial Development and Foreign Contacts under Sūryavarman I", Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 18 (3), pp. 318-336, Brill Publishers
  21. ^ Early Kingdoms of the Indonesian Archipelago and the Malay Peninsula by Paul Michel Munoz p.158-159
  22. ^ a b *Majumdar, R. C. (1961). The Overseas Expeditions of King Rājendra Chola, Artibus Asiae 24 (3/4), pp. 338–342. Artibus Asiae Publishers.
  23. ^ Coedès, George (1968). Walter F. Vella, ed. The Indianized States of Southeast Asia. trans.Susan Brown Cowing. University of Hawaii Press. pp. 142–143. ISBN 978-0-8248-0368-1. 
  24. ^ Leaves of the Same Tree: Trade and Ethnicity in the Straits of Melaka by Leonard Y. Andaya p.35
  25. ^ Epigraphia Carnatica, Volume 10, Part 1, page 41
  26. ^ a b The History of Singapore by Jean Abshire p.17
  27. ^ a b Between 2 Oceans (2nd Edn): A Military History of Singapore from 1275 to 1971 by Malcolm H. Murfett,John Miksic,Brian Farell,Chiang Ming Shun p.16
  28. ^ a b Southeast Asia: Past and Present by D.R. SarDesai p.43
  29. ^ Early kingdoms of the Indonesian archipelago and the Malay Peninsula by Paul Michel Munoz p.161
  30. ^ Buddhism, Diplomacy, and Trade: The Realignment of Sino-Indian Relations 600-1400 by Tansen Sen p.159
  31. ^ Power and Plenty: Trade, War, and the World Economy in the Second Millennium by Ronald Findlay,Kevin H. O'Rourke p.69
  32. ^ Al-Hind, the Making of the Indo-Islamic World: Early Medieval India and the expansion of Islam 7th-11 centuries by André Wink p.325
  33. ^ Ancient Indian History and Civilization by Sailendra Nath Sen p.564
  34. ^ History Without Borders: The Making of an Asian World Region, 1000-1800 by Geoffrey C. Gunn p.43
  35. ^ Nagapattinam to Suvarnadwipa: Reflections on the Chola Naval Expeditions to Southeast Asia by Hermann Kulke,K Kesavapany,Vijay Sakhuja p.71
  36. ^ Buddhism, Diplomacy, and Trade: The Realignment of Sino-Indian Relations by Tansen Sen p.226
  37. ^ Aryatarangini, the Saga of the Indo-Aryans, by A. Kalyanaraman p.158
  38. ^ India and Malaya Through the Ages: by S. Durai Raja Singam
  39. ^ Al- Hind: The slave kings and the Islamic conquest. by André Wink p.326
  40. ^ a b c Art of the Imperial Cholas by Vidya Dehejia: p.79
  41. ^ See Schmidt, K, p32
  42. ^ Kulke, Hermann; Rothermund, Dietmar (1998). A history of India. Routledge. p. 109. ISBN 0-415-15482-0. 
  43. ^ Temples of South India by V.V. Subba Reddy p.118
  44. ^ South Indian shrines: illustrated, page 53
  45. ^ Śrīnidhiḥ: perspectives in Indian archaeology, art, and culture : Shri K.R. Srinivasan festschrift, page 358
  46. ^ "Press release, President address". 

Further reading[edit]

Preceded by
Rajaraja Chola I
Chola dynasty
1012–1044 CE
Succeeded by
Rajadhiraja Chola