Rajendra Chola I - Establishment of Gangaikonda Cholapuram

Rajendra Chola I - Establishment of Gangaikonda Cholapuram

Rajendra Chola I was one of the greatest monarchs of India who was from Chola dynasty which was once ruled by greatest rulers like Karikala Chola, Vijayalaya Chola, Aditya Chola I etc,. Rajendra Chola succeeded his father Raja Raja Chola I, who was also a mighty emperor who made a small kingdom in to a dominant empire in India. That expanded kingdom was handed over to Rajendra Chola I. He further added a huge mass of land inside as well as outside of India. He was the first known Indian monarch who took his army overseas and invaded other countries like Modern Malaysia, Singapore, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Sri Lanka, Sumatra, Maldives, Thailand and Indonesia. His reign was between 1014-1044 A.D. The birth name of Rajendra Chola I is Madhuranthagan. He had three sons namely Rajadhiraja Chola I, Rajendra Chola II and Virarajendra Chola and two daughters namely Pranaar Arulmozhi Nangai, Ammanga Devi.

Birth :

Rajendra Chola I born on the day of Tamil festival Thiruvathirai, in the Tamil month of Aadi
Rajendra Chola I born on the day of Tamil festival Thiruvathirai, in the Tamil month of Aadi. He was born to the one of the greatest monarchs of Chola empire Raja Raja Chola I and his chief queen Thiripuvana Madeviyar (princess of Kodumbalur). He was brought up by his aunt Kundavai who was a queen of Eastern Chalukyan king Vimaladitya who had a son named Raja Raja Narendra. Rajendra Chola I spent most of childhood in Palayarai.

Early Conquests :

Rajendra Chola I was declared as crown prince by his father in 1012 A.D. But he started assisting his father in wars from 1002 A.D. In the year 1002 A.D., he conquered the Rashtrakuta empire on behalf of his father Raja Raja Chola I. He also led a campaign against Western Chalukyan king Satyasraya and his successor Jayasimha II. Rajendra Chola crossed Thungabhadra river and attacked them in their own capital. He also invaded Kollipakkai, located north to Hyderabad in Telangana.

Capturing Entire Ceylon (Sri Lanka) :

 Rajendra Chola completed the task by capturing the entire Sri Lanka around 1017 A.D. The king of Ceylon at that time was Mahinda V. His father Raja Raja Chola I, captured only half (Northern half) of Sri Lanka. Rajendra Chola completed the task by capturing the entire Sri Lanka around 1017 A.D. The king of Ceylon at that time was Mahinda V. Rajendra Chola I had a powerful navy and he attacked the capital city Anuradhapura. He completely destroyed it and defeated Mahinda V. He therefore captured the entire Island. Rajendra also captured the regal jewels of Pandyas, which Parantaka I tried to capture and the crown of the Sinhala king. The Sinhala king Mahinda V was taken as a prisoner to Chola empire. He was held in prison for 12 long years and he died in captivity. Mahavamsa gives a graphic illustration of the carnage wrought by the pillaging Chola army in the Sinhala country, claiming the invading army destroyed the monasteries seeking treasure but the Chola inscriptions were silent regarding the details of this campaign.

Pandya And Chera Countries :

Raja Raja Chola I the father of Rajendra Chola I already captured both the dominant empires of South India Pandyas and Cheras annexing them into his territory. Rajendra Chola once again in 1018 A.D. marched with his powerful army through the already captured Pandya and Chera countries to show the presence of his authority on them. He appointed one of his son as viceroy with the title "Jatavarman Sundara Chola-Pandyan", with Madurai as the headquarters of vice royalty.

Chalukyan Conflict And Battle Of Maski :

In 1015 A.D., Jayasimha II became the king of Western Chalukyas. He tried to recover the losses suffered by his father Satyasraya who was defeated by Cholas and later restored to throne by Raja Raja I as a tribute paying subordinate. In the beginning he was successful indoing so as Rajendra Chola was busy with Ceylon. In 1021 A.D. after the death of Eastern Chalukyan king Vimladitya, there was a dispute over succession between Vijayaditya VII and Raja Raja Narendra(Son of Kundavai who was aunt of Rajendra Chola I). Jayasimha II supported Vijayaditya VII and Rajendra Chola supported his nephew Rajaraja Narendra defeat Vijayaditya VII. Jayasimha II who started to rebel against Rajendra Chola was made to learn a lesson from him. In the battle of Maski, he was very easily defeated by Rajendra Chola. Rajendra gave his younger daughter Ammanga Devi in marriage to Rajaraja Narendra.

In 1031 A.D., again Western Chalukyas invaded Vengi of Eastern Chalukyas and drove Rajaraja Narendra in to exile. Vijayaditya was made king of Vengi. Rajaraja Narendra again requested Rajendra Chola for help. The Chola army invaded the Vengi and in a bloody battle near Kalidandi, defeated Vijayaditya and Western Chalukyas. Rajaraja Narendra managed to regain his throne in 1035 A.D.

Expedition To North India And Establishing Gangaikonda Cholapuram :

After supressing the Western and Eastern Chalukyas, Rajendra Chola moved northwards through Kalinga empire to river Ganges and reached the Pala kingdom of Bengal around 1019 A.D. There he defeated Mahipala, king of Pala empire and acquired elephants, women and treasure. According to Thiruvalangadu plates, the campaign lasted for nearly two years in which many kingdoms of the north felt the might of the powerful Chola army. These inscriptions further claim that Rajendra Chola  defeated the armies of Ranasura and entered the land of Dharmapala. He also defeated last ruler of Kamboja Pala dynasty Dharmapala of Dandabhukti. The Chola army raided East Bengal and defeated Govindachandra of Chandra dynasty.

After these mighty victories over Chalukyas, Kalinga, Ganga, Palas etc,. he assumed the title Gangaikonda which means "Chola king who took over or defeated (the kings near) Ganga". To commemorate these victories he built a new capital Gangaikonda Cholapuram, which served as a capital to later Cholas until the Chola dynasty came to an end in 1280 A.D. He built the Brihadeeswarar temple in Gangaikonda Cholapuram similar to Brihadeeswarar temple at Thanjavur which was built by his father Rajaraja Chola I.

Overseas Expedition :

Rajendra Chola I - Establishment of Gangaikonda Cholapuram Indian ocean stampAround 1025 A.D., the Chola army crossed the ocean and attacked Srivijaya kingdom(existed in Sumatra and Indonesia) of Sangrama Vijayatungavarman. Chola sacked Kadaram (the capital) and Pannai in Sumatra and Malaiyur in Malay peninsula. Rajendra Chola also invaded Tambralinga and the Langkasuka kingdom in modern Malaysia and South Thailand. He captured the last ruler of Sailendra dynasty Sangrama Vijayatungavarman. After this the Chola forces captured large portions of Srivijaya including its ports of Ligor, Kedah and Tumasik (now Singapore).The king of Srivijaya kingdom Sangrama Vijayatungavarman belonged to Sailendra dynasty. The Sailendra dynasty had been in good relations with the Chola empire during the period of Raja Raja Chola I. Raja Raja I encouraged Vijayatungavarman to build the Chudamani Vihara at Nagapattinam. But what would be the reason for Rajendra Chola's invasion on Srivijaya kingdom ? Historians also lack knowledge of the quarrel that caused the naval war  between Cholas and Srivijaya.

Rajendra made his men as the kings of several kingdoms in Cambodia and the Indonesian Archipelago. Suryavarman I, monarch of Khmer empire was a vassal of Rajendra Chola. He re-established the Khmer kingdom with the help of Rajendra Chola I. His successor Suryavarman II built the largest Hindu temple in the whole world Angkor Wat. The artisans from the Chola kingdom aided a great deal in constructing this temple. This temple now has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its national flag.

Relations With China :

Cholas had very good relations with the contemporary Chinese kingdoms (initially Tang dynasty and later Song dynnasty). These kingdoms respected Cholas a lot and they gave liberal licenses to the Chola people to trade in China. The Chola people back then set up a huge settlement and were pioneers of trade in China. They built several temples in their localty, though several got destroyed, a few are still alive. The Chezhiyan temple(known as Chediyan temple in China) in Quanzhou is still quite popular and the Chinese people worship there every day claiming it to be very powerful. There is a huge Shiva Lingam in the Bamboo Park in China which was built around the same period. Many inscriptions in China also mention the trade relations of Cholas and Chinese.

Legacy :

Rajendra Chola I was the only ruled who controlled the greatest army that India had ever seen. While Raja Raja Chola I had an army 900,000 strong men, Rajendra Chola had an army of close to 1.5 million which is greater than current number of Indian army which is only 1.1 million. He had a naval fleet that was unmatched by anyone at that time. The Indian government named the Naval Training Academy as TS Rajendra, to appreciate the greatness of naval fleet of Rajendra. During his rule the Arts and Architecture flourished. He built numerous Shiva temples. He was a secular king who gave importance to all religions. He was a poet and composed hymns in praise of Lord Shiva.

Death :

The reason for death of Rajendra is unknown. He had many wives including Vanavan Mahadeviyar, Panchavan Mahadevi, Arindhavan Mahadevi and Vira Mahadevi. Vira Mahadevi committed Sati on Rajendras death. He was succeeded by his son Rajadhiraja Chola I.

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