Raja Raja Chola I was born as Arulmozhi Varman to Parantaka II and Vanavan Mahadevi (Velir Malayaman dynasty) in 947 in Aipassi month on the day of Sadhayam star. He was also known as Raja Raja Sivapada Sekhara, Telungana Kula Kala, Ponniyin Selvan, Rajakesari Varman, Raja Raja Devar and respectfully as Peruvudaiyar. He was the third and younger child of Parantaka II. He had one elder brother and elder sister. Aditya Karikalan or Aditya II was his elder brother who was cruelly assassinated. Kundavai was his elder sister. As per records and inscriptions, he had nearly 15 wives. Among them Vaanathi or Thiripuvana Madeviyar (princess of Kodumbalur) bore him his only son Rajendra Chola I.
Accession To Throne :
The grandfathers of Raja Raja Chola I were Gandaraditya and Arinjaya. Gandaraditya ruled the Chola empire between 950-956 A.D. Gandaraditya was childless until a very late age. So he thought he might end up with no successor. For this purpose he made his brother Arinjaya as his successor. But after some time, he had a child named Uttama Chola. Arinjaya was succeeded by his son Parantaka II. Here instead of Parantaka II, Uttama Chola should be made king as he has the right to throne. But Parantaka II was made king. As we know that Parantaka II was the father of Raja Raja Chola I and Aditya II. Aditya II was assassinated by the supporters of Vira Pandya of Pandyan empire as Vira Pandya was killed by Aditya II in a battle. After the death of Aditya II, Uttama Chola forced Parantaka II to declare him as his successor. The younger son of Parantaka II, Raja Raja Chola I did not protest as he wanted to avoid a civil war. So Uttama Chola succeeded the father of Raja Raja I. Then after the death of Uttama Chola, Raja Raja Chola I succeeded him as the emperor of Chola kingdom. He waited for nearly 15 years to claim the throne.
Battle Of Kandalur :
Raja Raja Chola I's first ever campaign occurred in the 9th year of his reign. Raja Raja Chola I decided to attack Chera empire in the year 994 A.D. The king of Chera empire at that time was Bhaskara Ravi Varman Thiruvadi. This battle between Raja Raja Chola I and Cheras was fought at a port town of Kandalur Salai (modern Valia-ssala in kerala). The Pandyas and Sinhalas allied with Cheras against Cholas in this battle. This was a naval battle between Cholas and Cheras which was called as "Battle of Kandalur Salai". Raja Raja Chola I destroyed numerous boats and ships of Chera Naval fleet. The battle was fought for few years and finally Raja Raja Chola I won the war. The Kandalur war is often regarded as the first military achievement of Raja Raja Chola I.
Invasion Of Sri Lanka :
The Thiruvalangadu copper plate inscriptions mentions that Raja Raja Chola I invaded the Sinhalese country (sri lanka). The king of Sinhalese at that time was Mahinda V. In this battle Raja Raja I destroyed the 1400 year old capital of Sinhalese called Anuradhapura. Raja Raja I selected the city Polonnaruwa as capital city. He changed its name to Jananathamangalam. He built a Shiva temple in that city. He captured only northern part of Sri Lanka. The other half was captured by his son Rajendra Chola after him.
Wars With Eastern And Western Chalukyas :
During the reign of Raja Raja I, Hoysalas were vassals of Western Chalukyas. An inscription from Gopalakrishna temple in Narasipur mentions that a chola general killed minister Naganna and other generals of Hoysalas. This was a indirect victory of Cholas over Western Chalukyas.
During that time the Vengi kingdom was ruled by Jata Choda Bhima of Eastern Chalukyas Dynasty. Raja Raja Chola I waged a war on Vengi kingdom and defeated Jata Choda Bhima and captured Vengi kingdom. He placed Saktivarman on the throne of Vengi Kingdom as a viceroy of Chola kingdom. Again around 1001 A.D. Bhima invaded and captured Kanchi. This time Raja Raja Chola I killed him and re-established Saktivarman on the throne of Vengi kingdom.
Ganga Wars :
Around 998-999 A.D. Raja Raja conquered Gangapadi (Gangawadi), Nurambapadi (Nolambawadi) which formed part of present day Karnataka. The invasion of Chola country by RajaRaja I proved a complete success and the entire Ganga country came under the Chola rule for the next century.
Brihadeeswarar Temple :
One of the greatest and largest temples of India was Brihadeeswarar temple which was dedicated to Lord Shiva. This temple is a part of UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temple is an example of Dravidian architecture. It is located in Thanjavur of Tamilnadu. The foundations for this temple were laid around 1002 A.D. This great temple was built by RajaRaja Chola of Chola dynasty. It was completed in 1010 A.D. In 2010, the temple turned 1000 years old.
The temple tower (Vimanam) is 198 ft. high and is one of the tallest in the world. The apex on the top of the temple (Kumbam) weighs around 80 tons. The entire temple is made out of granite. This temple is an expression of Cholas wealth, power and artistic expertise.
Death And Succession :
RajaRaja Chola was a king who documented almost his entire life on stone inscriptions and copper plates but no information is available about his death. His tombstone is now in small village of Udayalur. This is where he is rumored to have been buried or cremated. There is a Shiva lingam on top of it about 2 feet tall. Why would a great king like Raja Raja Chola I have such a small and simple grave ?
Several archeologists state that the only reason why a king's death would not be recorded is if the king died an unnatural death. According to this, if a king committed suicide or was murdered, then the ancient Tamils would not record that. This might be the correct answer for the question of how RajaRaja died. But yet it is not proved so it still is a guess. Raja Raja Chola I died around 1014 A.D He was succeeded by his son Rajendra Chola I.