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Friday, 7 July 2017

Karikala Chola - A Great Chola Monarch Who Won Battle Of Venni And Construction Of Grand Anicut (Kallanai Dam)

Karikala Chola - A Great Chola Monarch Who Won Battle Of Venni And Construction Of Grand Anicut (Kallanai Dam)
Karikala Chola was one of the greatest rulers of Chola dynasty. He was the early Chola king ruled during the Sangam era. He was also known by names such as Karikala Peruvalathan and Thirumavalavan. The dating of his reign has yet to be clarrified as no clear proofs are available. Most agreed date is 190 A.D. He succeeded his father Ilamchetchenni as the second known ruler of the Chola empire. The Chola empire emerged as a supreme power in the entire south India leaving behind the Pandyas and Cheras which were very powerful before his rule. Let us see how he managed to be on top of the Pandyas and Cheras.

Difficulties in claiming his right to the throne :

Karikala Chola - A Great Chola Monarch Who Won Battle Of Venni And Construction Of Grand Anicut (Kallanai Dam)
Although there are a lot of historical proofs and poems of sangam literature available to prove the existence of Karikala Chola, there are a lot of mythological stories ( they may be true stories) associated with the life of the king. So the information availablle about Karikala Chola is mixed with legend and anecdotal information gleaned from Sangam literature.

The main sources of information regarding Karikala Chola are Pattinappalai, Porunararruppatai and a number of individual poems in the Akananuru and Purananuru.

According to these proofs, the meaning of Karikala means "the man with Charred legs". His father Ilamchetchenni died when he was very young. Due to his young age, Karikala's right to the throne was overlooked, evil eyes fell on the throne and there was political turmoil in the country. So his enemies captured Karikala and imprisoned him. They also set prison on fire so that Karikala would die. His enemies declared that he was dead but he escaped from the fire and that caused his feet to burn. His feet turned black because of burns. So he was called Karikala (the man with charred legs).

With the help of his uncle Irum-Pitar-Thalaiyan, he defeated his enemies and captured the throne. He married a princess of Velir from a place called Nangur. He had several wives.

Battle of Venni :

When there was turmoil in the Chola empire after the death of Ilamchetchenni, his son was not given the throne and he faced many difficulties in claiming his right to the throne. During this phase of inner fights inside Chola kingdom, the neighbouring kingdoms saw a great opportunity in that situation. They wanted to take advantage of this situation of civil wars in Chola kingdom and attack it. They thought that, as the Chola kingdom was unstable because of internal fights, they can easily attack and invade it. Two great kingdoms Pandyan empire and Chera empire who were at the peaks of power during that time wanted to attack and invade weak Chola empire. Along with them, 11 minor neighboring empires of Cholas also wanted to try their luck by attacking Chola dynasty.

Karikala Chola - A Great Chola Monarch Who Won Battle Of Venni And Construction Of Grand Anicut (Kallanai Dam)The Karikala Chola some how managed to capture the throne by that time and faced the powerful confederacy formed, which included Chera, Pandya and 11 minor empires. This battle was called "Battle Of Venni". It was fought at a place called Venni (modern Kovilvenni near Thanjavur).

As Karikala Chola was new to rule, the opposition underestimated his abilities. He gave a shock to the opponents and won the battle defeating all of them. This was one of the greatest moments in history of India where a king facing powerful allied forces stood victorious. There can be no doubt that it marked the turning point in Karikal's career. Due to this defeat, the Chera ruler Uthiyan Cheralathan committed suicide. Karikala Chola and Chola empire became supreme power in the entire South India with that win.

Grand Anicut (Kallanai Dam) :

Karikala Chola - A Great Chola Monarch Who Won Battle Of Venni And Construction Of Grand Anicut (Kallanai Dam)
After the battle of Venni, Karikala fought other battles. He defeated confederacy of nine minor chieftains in the battle of Vakaipparandalai. He was one of the few tamil kings who occupied whole Ceylon (modern Srilanka). At that time Ceylon was being ruled by Sinhalese kingdom. He defeated Sinhalese and after that battle he decided to build a Anicut along the banks of Kaveri river. He used Sinhalese war prisoners to build Anicut. They are used to carry massive blocks of rocks from mountains to the bank of river Kaveri.

The Grand Anicut is now known as Kallanai dam, which is an ancient dam, which was built across the Kaveri river in Trichy district in the state of Tamilnadu. It is considered as one of the oldest water diversion or water regulator structures in the world which is still in use. Karikala Chola was remembered for ever for his efforts to divert water from rivers to agricultural fields for irrigation purpose. This dam is 329 meters high and 20 meters wide.

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