The Cheras, Cholas and Pandyas of South India

In the previous post we have read about the age of Satavahanas. Satvahana Dynasty was the first kingdom to rule the South India. Now, we will go for a new expedition in South India. We will search for new kingdoms along the Western and Eastern Coast of Southern Peninsula.

In the deep south India, there were the three important chiefs ruling on different regions. These chiefs were from the Chera, Chola and Pandya Dynasty. All these three collectively called as Muvender. Muvender is a Tamil word meaning three chiefs. So, here we will read about these kingdoms in brief.

South India: Chola, Chera and Pandya
South India: Chola, Chera and Pandya

South India: Chera, Chola and Pandya

Ancient Evidences

The Ashokan Major Rock Edict- II and XIII mentions about the Cheras, Cholas and Pandya Kingdom. Major Rock Edict of Ashoka states that Southern Kingdoms were their neighbours in South. Other than the Ashokan Inscription, the Sangam Literature also mentions about these kingdoms.

The Southern half of the Indian Subcontinent marked by the long coastline, mountains, plateau and river valleys. The region which Chera, Chola and Pandya were ruling was the region of South of the Krishna river and the region of Kaveri Delta. So, the region was/is very fertile. So, there was plenty of food grains and habitation was suitable.

Pandya Kingdom

The Pandya Kingdom situated at the southern tip of Indian Peninsula. The Magasthenes, Greek Ambassador, first mentioned about the Pandya Kingdom. It was the kingdom of pearls. The Madurai was the capital of the Pandya Kingdom.

Magasthenes also mentioned about a Queen, who ruled the Pandya Kingdom. So, this suggests some matriarchal influence in the Pandya Society. The Pandya Kingdom included the modern districts of Tirunelveli, Ramnad and Madurai in Tamilnadu. The Marco Polo, Italian traveller came to India in the Pandya Kingdom. He also gave some account of the Pandya Kingdom.

Marco Polo's Path of Travel
Marco Polo’s Path of Travel

The Pandya Rulers were of the Brahmanical faith but they were tolerant of other religions. The Pandya Rulers performed Vedic Sacrifices in the early centuries.

Chola Kingdom

The Chola Kingdom situated just north to the Pandya Kingdom. The eastern coast of India, where the Chola Rulers ruled called Cholomandalam or Coromandel coast. The Chola Kingdom was lying between the Pennar and Velar rivers.

It is evident that Chola Village administration and the Navy was the superior of that time. Chola Rulers conquered Sri Lanka. They also conquered region up to south-east Asia in Malay Peninsula. The chief centre of the political power was at Uraiyur. Uraiyur was the famous for the cotton trade.

The capital of Chola Kingdom was Kaveripattanam. The ancient great king of Chola Kingdom was Karikala. But after Karikala there was not a good ruler. So, after him, Chola Empire declined for some time by the attacks of the Pallavas.

But this Chola Power re-emerged in the 7th Century CE under the Rajaraja Chola and Rajendra Chola. The reign of this two father and son was the watermark period of Chola Empire. Most of the temples of the Dravidian Architecture developed during their reign like Gangaikondamcholapuram, Rajaraja Temple etc.

Chera Kingdom

Chera or the Kerala state, situated on the western coast of South India. The western coast where the Chera Kingdom is Malabar Coast of India. The region was densely forested due to Monsoon Rainfall. So, the Monsoon winds were one of the main reason for the trade and commerce of Chera Empire.

The Cheras had their trade relations with the Romans. The most important seaport of that time was Muziris port. Roman people also built a temple of Augustus at this port. The history of these South Indian Kingdoms always marked by the continuous fight among these Muvender (three chiefs).

The great king of Chera Dynasty was Senguttuvan. The main feature of this Kingdom was that it had profitable trade with the other port cities of the world that time. As the region was the area on which spices were grown. So, many foreign visitors, traders came and had trading alliances with the Kingdom.

As we know that this region is having a population of elephants in Periyar National Park, Augusthamalai National Park, Bandipur National Park, Wayanad National Park etc. So, in the ancient times, these kingdoms were exporters of ivory to the world.

South India: Elephant Parks
South India: Elephant Parks

This was a brief description of the Muvender. In next post, we will deal with other important Southern Kingdoms.

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