Let’s read about the Chola Dynasty rulers.
Most of the empires of the Indian subcontinent had not felt the need to expand beyond it. A big reason for this is the resourcefulness of Indian lands. But an exception to this is the great Chola dynasty. The Cholas expanded Indian culture to borders beyond land and sea. At their peak, they ruled over present-day Srilanka, Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and Indonesia. And unlike the west of India, these lands still have the monuments and scriptures to remember Chola’s legacy.
The mystery of Chola’s origin solves by its name. Chola meant the one who was donated land by the King. The Cholas were donated lands by the successor of Ashoka as a piece offering. This is the reason why Cholas are mentioned in the Buddhist texts of Ashoka’s period. But there are no pieces of evidence of any war between the two. Two other clans named Pandyas and Cheras also emerged in a similar manner. All three of them belonged to the South of India. The first 300 years of these three dynasties were peaceful. They acted as allies and worked together to achieve development in maritime activities. This alliance is also what held northern empires from ruling over southern India.
The initial centuries of the Chola dynasty were dedicated to bettering their craft. They developed their own school of temples. These temples had long spires with a lot of intricate and colourful artwork. The temple constructed under the Cholas also served an economic purpose. These temples doubled as reserves of wealth. This tradition can still be seen in most of the major southern temples.
This was also the period when Tamil literature flourished the most. The Tamil versions of Vedic books like Ramayana and Mahabharata were written during these times.
The end of this peaceful era came with the emergence of King Rajaraja Chola. He had an expansionist mindset. During his reign, he won over the kingdoms of the Cheras and the Pandyas. And with that, he took control of the entire South Indian peninsula. His son Rajendra Chola made the Chola Navy even more superior with better ships. In a span of just 50 years, Chola became one of the biggest and scariest maritime forces in the Indian ocean.
Their expansion started with the neighbouring island country of Sri Lanka. First, they captured the northern territory from the Sinhalese dynasty, and with time expanded all over the island. The Cholas then went on to capture present-day southeast Asian countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Laos, and many more. They built Hindu temples of their own schools in these lands. They also spread their culture, mother tongue, and pieces of literature including Ramayana throughout the region.
The Chola dynasty existed for a whopping 1500 years. The Cholas are considered to be one of the longest-lasting dynasties across the globe. But their vision for expansion had spread them too thin. Managing a kingdom so vast and widespread was an impossible task. Soon the decline of the Cholas started. But such widespread was their kingdom that it took even centuries to decline. The last of Cholas had a stronghold in the south of India. But eventually, the Hoysala dynasty took over the lands of Cholas and ended their magnificent run.
The Cholas were the first explorers to come out of the Indian subcontinent. In the history of India, explorers have turned into invaders but Cholas were far different from this. Their way of expansion was not of violence and war, but of knowledge and peace. This is the reason why even today the lands that were once under Chola influence love them. Indonesia, a country with the highest Muslim population still celebrates Ramayana every year. When Cholas arrived in these lands, they had books in hand, friendship in heart, and the sword in its sheath.