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The Cholas are commonly known as the Choda or Telugu Cholas in the present day southern region of Andhra Pradesh region which comprised ancient Tamilagam and Tondaimandalam. Many Telugu Choda kingdoms ruled over many regions including the cities on the banks of Krishna River in the period between the seventh and the thirteenth century. It is not known much about these family origins. Its antiquity is evident from the mentions in ancient Tamil literature and in inscriptions. Later medieval Cholas also claimed a long and ancient lineage. Mentions in the early Sangam literature (c. 150 CE)[a] indicate that the earliest kings of the dynasty antedated 100 CE. Cholas were mentioned in Ashokan Edicts of 3rd Century BCE as one of the neighboring country existing in South. They began their career as local chieftains in the Kadapa region in the seventh century. They may be identified with the people referred by the Chinese traveler Yuan Chwng as 'Chuliya'. The Telugu Chodas adopted the title Chola as an honorary title and also to show the feudatory status they had under the Chola-Chalukya rulers.
|Durjaya Chieftains of Velanadu|
|Rajendra Choda I||1108–1132|
|Rajendra Choda II||1161–1181|
|Rajendra Choda III||1207–1216|
Telugu Cholas of Velanadu (Velanati Choda) were one of the Telugu Chola families which claimed their descent from the Cholas. Velanadu is located in the modern Guntur district. The chieftains who ruled over Velanadu came to be known as the Velanati Chodas. One of them, Rajendra Choda II had even assumed the title Durjayakulaprakara since Velanati Cholas belong to Durjaya clans. These Velanati chiefs were the subordinate allies of the Chalukya Cholas of the south. They were entrusted with the responsibility of the governance of the Andhra region, which formed a part of the Chola kingdom in the twelfth century. Their capital was Dhanadapura or Sanaduprolu, the modern Chandolu in the Guntur district initially then later they ruled from Vengi in West Godavari and Pithpuram in East Godavari Districts.
The Velanati Chiefs rose to prominence among the vassals of the Chalukyas of Vengi during the early days of Kulothunga Chola I and served as the Chalukya Chola viceroys faithfully as their trusted lieutenants and generals. Finding his dominion dwindling, due to the ascendency of the Kalyani Chalukyas in the Vengi country, Kulothunga Chola lent support to his loyal chieftains of Velanadu to bring the situation under control and rule over Vengi as his vassals. Evidence is available to the effect that five chieftains of Velanadu ruled over the country after which it was overrun by the Kakatiyas and became a part of their kingdom.
- Gonka I (1076–1108 )
- Rajendra Chola 1 (1108–1132 )
- Gonka II (1132–1161 )
- Rajendra Chola II (1161–1181 )
- Gonka III (1181–1186 )
- Prithviswara (1186–1207 )
The Telugu Cholas of Renadu (also called as Renati Cholas) ruled over Renadu region, the present day Cuddapah district. They were originally independent, later forced to the suzerainty of the Eastern Chalukyas. They had the unique honour of using the Telugu language in their inscriptions belonging to the 7th and 8th centuries. The inscriptions at Gandikota at Jammulamadugu and Proddatur are proof of this fact.
Telugu Chodas of Pottapi ruled the Cuddapah region after the fall of the Renati Cholas. Their inscriptions from 11th century are found in this area. It is also believed that they ruled over Chittoor district, since Dhurjati of Kalahasti mentioned that he was from Pottapi region. Now Pottapi is a GramPanchayat of Nandalur mandal of Kadapa district.
The Konidena Cholas were also a branch of the Renadu Cholas. Their capital was Konidena (also called as Kotyadona) near Narasaraopeta in the Guntur district. They ruled over parts of Palanadu in 11th and 12th centuries. Early kings Kannara Choda and Kama Choda were independent. Tribhuvana Malla Choda, son of Kama Choda, was a chieftain to Gonka II of Velanati Chodas. Nanni Choda, son of Tribhuvana Malla Choda declared independence again, but was soon was defeated and forced to be vassals again by Gonka II. After the fall of Velanadu Cholas, they were forced to suzerainty by Ganapatideva of Kakatiyas.
Nannuru Cholas were another branch of Telugu Cholas in the region of Pakanadu. The famous Telugu Poet Kaviraja Sikhamani Nanne Choda belonged to this family. Not much is known of this clan and it is believed to be a subordinate of Vikramaditya VI of Kalyani Chalukyas.
Telugu Chodas of Nellore
There was another branch of the Telugu Chodas who ruled from Nellore and were chieftains of Kakatiyas. The Telugu poet, Tikkana, in the introduction of his Nirvachanottara Ramayanamu, gave an account of the history and antecedents of this family. These Chodas also claimed descent from the famous Karikala Chola. They ruled over their kingdom consisting of the Nellore, Cuddapah, Chittoor and Chengalpet districts with Vikramasimhapuri (modern Nellore) as their capital.
Chola Bijjana was the first important chief in the Nellore Choda clan. As a feudatory of the Western Chalukya Someswara I (1042–1068 ) of Kalyani, he took part in wars of the Chalukyas and Cholas. In recognition of the loyalty and services of his descendants to the Chalukyas of Kalyani, Vikramaditya II (1076–1126) appointed them as rulers of Pakanadu.
Later Tikka (1223–1248 ) father of the famous Manumasiddhi, extended the sway of the Nellore Telugu Chola family as far south as the river Kaveri. He owed nominal allegiance to the already crippled Chalukya Chola emperors of the south and thus practically an independent ruler. Along with the Hoysala Vira Narasimha, he helped the Chalukya Chola ruler Rajaraja Chola III in restoring him back to his throne by repulsing the attacks of Aniyanka Bhima, Kopperunchinga II and the Pandyas.
Subsequently, whan the Hoyasala Vira Narasimha's successor Someshvara, desirous of making the Chalukya Chola ruler a puppet in his hands, joined hands with the Pandyas and attacked Rajendra III, Choda TiKka came to the rescue of the Chola emperor. He defeated both the Hoyasala and the Pandyan forces and got thereby the Tondaimandalam region for himself. He even assumed the title Cholasthapanacharya. During the reign of Tikka's son and successor Manumasiddhi II (1248–1263), the power of the Nellore Cholas was at its low ebb.
About the year 1260, a dangerous feud broke out between Manumasiddhi and Katamaraju, the chief of Erragaddapadu in Kanigiri region. The feud was on the issue of the rights of the two princes to use certain wide meadows as grazing grounds for their flocks of cattle. It led to a fierce engagement of the two sides and the bloody battle was fought at Panchalingala on the Paleru river. Manumasiddhi's forces led by Khadga Tikkana, the cousin of poet Tikkana won the battle, but the leader perished. This feud and the consequent battle formed the theme of the popular ballad entitled "Katamaraju Katha". Shortly after this disastrous battle, Manumasiddhi died.
With the death of Manumasiddhi II, the Nellore kingdom lost its individuality, became a battle ground between the Kakatiyas and the Pandyas and changed hands frequently. In the reign of Kakatiya Prataparudra II, the Nellore region became part and parcel of the Kakatiya empire and lost its political significance.
Advances in Telugu literature
The period of rule of the Telugu Chodas was in particular significant for the development it received in both Tamil literature and Telugu literature under the patronage of the rulers. But much importance was given to Telugu poets as it was the language in use in that region. It was the age in which the great Telugu poets Tikkana, Ketana, Marana and Somana enriched the literature with their remarkable contributions. Tikkana Somayaji wrote Nirvachanottara Ramayanamu and Andhra Mahabharatamu. Abhinava Dandi Ketana wrote Dasakumaracharitramu, Vijnaneswaramu and Andhra Bhashabhushanamu. Marana wrote Markandeya Purana in Telugu. Somana wrote Basava Purana.
Tikkana Somayaji was a minister of Manumasiddhi II of Nellore. This great poet had for his credit two important works in Telugu. The first one is Nirvachanottara Ramayanamu. Though a highly Sanskritised style was employed, it is characterised by excellent literary qualities and abounding elements of pathos and heroism. However it is the Andhra Mahabharata which brought Tikkana undying fame and made him one of the immortals. Though it is a translation of the last fifteen volumes of the Mahabharata left out by his predecessor Nannaya, Tikkana put life and blood into it with an avowed objective of making it an epic. His delineation of character, dramatic dialogue and lucid and at the same time suggestive exposition of facts are masterly in nature. His broad spiritual outlook, lofty idealism, high imagination and splendid diction made him Kavi Brahma (the Supreme Creator among poets).
Abhinava Dandi Ketana, who was a contemporary of Tikkana, dedicated his Dasakumaracharitramu, written in tasteful and sweet style, to him. He also translated Vijnaneswara's Mitakshari, a Sanskrit commentary on the Yajnavalkya Smriti, into Telugu under the name Vijnaneswaramu.
Another work of Ketana is Andhra Bhashabhushanamu, a book on metrical grammar in Telugu. Marana was another contemporary of Tikkana. He was also a disciple of the latter. He translated the Markandeya Purana into Telugu. His work, became a source book to many subsequent Telugu poets who selected their themes from the many delightful stories incorporated in it.
- Durga Prasad, History of the Andhras up to 1565 A. D., P. G. PUBLISHERS, GUNTUR (1988)
- K.R.Subramanian, Buddhist Remains in Andhra and The History of Andhra
- Etukuri Balarama murthi, Andhrula Samkshiptha Charithra
- Paula Richman, Questioning Ramayana: A South Asian Tradition