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Chola Inscriptions Detail Qualifications for Civic officials


Chola-era inscriptions are found to bear testimony to the qualifications required for members of the village administrative council.

Chola inscriptions at Thenneri village in Kancheepuram district also shed light on how farm produce was taxed.


Prelims, GS-I: History (Indian History – Ancient, Sources of History), GS-I: Art and Culture

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Chola Inscriptions
  2. About the temples and Thenneri
  3. About the Chola dynasty

About the Chola Inscriptions

  • The inscriptions of Uthiramerur in Kancheepuram district talk about ‘Kudavolai’ — a system to elect members to annual committee (‘variyam’), garden committee, tank committee and other committees for 30 wards.
  • Thenneri inscriptions in Kancheepuram talk about laying down qualifications for candidates to village administrative committees (‘perumkuri sabai’).
  • The inscriptions show that the rulers were considerate while taxing agricultural produce – For areca nuts and banana, only 50% tax would be collected in the beginning until the yield. Farmers would pay full tax only after the trees started yielding fruits.

About the temples and Thenneri

  • The inscriptions are on the walls of the Kanthaleeswarar temple on the banks of the Thenneri lake – constructed by Sembian Mahadevi, the grandmother of Chola King Rajaraja, in memory of her son Uthama Chola.
  • Perumpanattrupadai, a Sangam-era literary work, refers to the king who created the Thenneri lake as ‘Thondaiman Ilanthiraiyan’. (The copper plates of the Pallava period refer to the lake as ‘Thiraiyan Eri’.)

About the Chola dynasty

  • The Chola dynasty was an empire of southern India with the earliest datable references tracking all the way back to inscriptions from the 3rd century BCE left by Ashoka, of the Maurya Empire.
  • The Chola was one of the Three Crowned Kings of Tamilakam, along with the Chera and Pandya.
  • The dynasty continued to govern over varying territory until the 13th century CE.
  • The heartland of the Cholas was the fertile valley of the Kaveri River, but they ruled a significantly larger area at the height of their power from the later half of the 9th century till the beginning of the 13th century.
  • Under Rajaraja Chola I and his successors Rajendra Chola I, Rajadhiraja Chola, Virarajendra Chola, and Kulothunga Chola I, the dynasty became a military, economic and cultural power in South Asia and South-East Asia.

Military Conquests

  • The Chola fleet represented the zenith of ancient Indian sea power.
  • During the period 1010–1153, the Chola territories stretched from the islands of the Maldives in the south to as far north as the banks of the Godavari River in Andhra Pradesh.
  • Rajendra Chola sent a victorious expedition to North India that touched the river Ganges and defeated the Pala ruler of Pataliputra, Mahipala.
  • In 1025, he also successfully invaded cities of Srivijaya of Malaysia and Indonesia.

Art and Architecture

  • Their patronage of Tamil literature and their zeal in the building of temples has resulted in some great works of Tamil literature and architecture.
  • The Chola kings were avid builders and they were also well known for their art, specifically temple sculptures and ‘Chola bronzes’ (exquisite bronze sculptures of Hindu deities built in a lost wax process they pioneered).
  • The medieval Cholas are best known for the construction of the magnificent Brihadisvara temple at Thanjavur.

-Source: The Hindu

June 2024