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Pandya Kingdom & Invasion of Malik Kafur

Pandya Revival (600–920)

  • The revival of the Pandyas seems to have taken place after the disappearance of the Kalabhras.
  • Once hill tribes, the Kalabhras had soon taken to a settled life, extending their patronage to Buddhists and Jains.
  • Kadunkon, who recovered Pandya territory from the Kalabhras according to copper plates, was succeeded by two others.
  • Of them, Sendan possessed warlike qualities and his title Vanavan is suggestive of his conquest of Cheras.
  • The next one, Arikesari Maravarman (624–674), an illustrious early Pandya, ascended the throne in 642, according to a Vaigai river bed inscription.
  • He was a contemporary of Mahendravarman I and Narsimahvarman I.
  • Inscriptions and copper plates praise his victory over his counterparts such as Cheras, Cholas, Pallavas and Sinhalese.
  • Arikesari is identified with Kun Pandian, the persecutor of Jains.
  • After his two successors, Kochadayan Ranadhira (700–730) and Maravarman Rajasimha I (730–765), came Jatila Parantaka Nedunjadayn (Varaguna I) (765–815), the donor of the Velvikkudi plates.
  • He was also known as the greatest of his dynasty and successfully handled the Pallavas and the Cheras.
  • He expanded the Pandya territory into Thanjavur, Tiruchirappalli, Salem and Coimbatore districts.
  • He is also credited with building several Siva and Vishnu temples.
  • The next king Srimara Srivallabha (815–862) invaded Ceylon and maintained his authority.
  • However, he was subsequently defeated by Pallava Nandivarman III (846–869).
  • He was followed by Varaguna II who was defeated by Aparajita Pallava (885–903) at Sripurambiyam.
  • His successors, Parantaka Viranarayana and Rajasimha II, could not stand up to the rising Chola dynasty under Parantaka I.
  • Parantaka I defeated the Pandya king Rajasimha II who fled the country in 920CE.

Saivite saint Thirugnanasambandar converted Arikesari from Jainism to Saivism.

Rise of Pandyas Again (1190–1310)

  • In the wake of the vacuum in Chola state in the last quarter of 12th century after the demise of Adhi Rajendra, Chola viceroyalty became weak in the Pandya country.
  • Taking advantage of this development, Pandya chieftains tried to assert and rule independently.
  • Sri Vallaba Pandyan fought Rajaraja II and lost his son in the battle.
  • Using this situation, the five Pandyas waged a war against Kulotunga I (1070–1120) and were defeated.
  • In 1190, Sadayavarman Srivallabhan, at the behest of Kulotunga I, started ruling the Pandya territory.
  • He was anointed in Madurai with sceptre and throne.
  • To commemorate his coronation, he converted a peasant settlement Sundaracholapuram as Sundarachola Chaturvedimangalam, a tax exempted village for Brahmins.
  • After the decline of the Cholas, Pandya kingdom became the leading Tamil dynasty in the thirteenth century.
  • Madurai was their capital. Kayal was their great port.
  • Marco Polo, the famous traveller from Venice, visited Kayal twice, in 1288 and in 1293.
  • He tells us that this port town was full of ships from Arabia and China and bustling with business activities.

Marco Polo, a Venetian (Italy) traveller who visited Pandya country lauded the king for fair administration and generous hospitality for foreign merchants. In his travel account, he also records the incidents of sati and the polygamy practiced by the kings.

Sadaiyavarman Sundarapandyan

  • The illustrious ruler of the second Pandya kingdom was Sadaiyavarman (Jatavarman) Sundarapandyan (1251–1268), who not only brought the entire Tamil Nadu under his rule, but also exercised his authority up to Nellore in Andhra.
  • Under his reign, the Pandya state reached its zenith, keeping the Hoysalas in check.
  • Under many of his inscriptions, he is eulogized.
  • Sundarapandyan conquered the Chera ruler, the chief of Malanadu, and extracted a tribute from him.
  • The decline of the Chola state emboldened the Boja king of Malwa region Vira Someshwara to challenge Sundarapandyan, who in a war at Kannanur defeated him.
  • Sundarapandian plundered his territory.
  • He put Sendamangalam under siege.
  • After defeating the Kadava chief, who ruled from Cuddalore and wielded power in northern Tamil Nadu, Sundarapandyan demanded tribute.
  • He captured the western region and the area that lay between present-day Arcot and Salem.
  • After killing the king of Kanchipuram in a battle, Pandyas took his territory.
  • But, by submitting to the Pandyas, the brother of the slain king got back Kanchipuram and agreed to pay tribute.
  • Along with him, there were two or three co-regents who ruled simultaneously: Vikrama Pandyan and Vira Pandyan.
  • A record of Vira Pandyan (1253–1256) states that he took Eelam (Ceylon), Kongu and the Cholamandalam (Chola country).

Maravarman Kulasekharan

  • After Sundarapandyan, Maravarman Kulasekharan ruled successfully for a period of 40 years, giving the country peace and prosperity.
  • We have authentic records about the last phase of his reign.
  • He ascended the throne in 1268 and ruled till 1312.
  • He had two sons, and in 1302, the accession of the elder son, Jatavarman Sundara Pandyan III, as co-regent took place.
  • The king’s appointment of Sundarapandyan as a co-regent provoked the other son Vira Pandyan and so he killed his father Maravarman Kulasekharan.
  • In the civil war that ensued, Vira Pandyan won and became firmly established in his kingdom.
  • The other son, Sundara Pandyan, fled to Delhi and took refuge under the protection of Alauddin Khalji.
  • This turn of events provided an opening for the invasion of Malik Kafur.

Invasion of Malik Kafur

  • When Malik Kafur arrived in Madurai in 1311, he found the city empty and Vira Pandyan had already fled.
  • In Amir Khusru’s estimate, 512 elephants, 5,000 horses along with 500 mounds of jewel of diamonds, pearls, emeralds and rubies are said to have been taken by Malik Kafur.
  • The Madurai temple was desecrated and an enormous amount of wealth was looted.
  • The wealth he carried was later used in Delhi by Alauddin Khalji, who had then taken over the throne, to wean away the notables in the court to his side against other claimants.
  • After Malik Kafur’s invasion, the Pandyan kingdom came to be divided among a number of the main rulers in the Pandya’s family.
  • In Madurai, a Muslim state subordinate to the Delhi Sultan came to be established and continued until 1335 CE when the Muslim Governor of Madurai Jalaluddin Asan Shah threw off his allegiance and declared himself independent.

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