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The Chola – Trade, Literature & End of Chola Rule


  • Increased production in agriculture as well as artisanal activities led to trade and growing exchange of goods for goods.
  • This trade activity involved the notions of price, profit and market, which were not known in South India in the earlier period.
  • Two guildlike groups are known: anjuvannattar and manigramattar.
  • Anjuvannattar comprised West Asians, including Jews, Christians and Muslims.
  • They were maritime traders and were settled all along the port towns of the west coast.
  • It is said that manigramattar were busy with trade in the hinterland.
  • They settled in interior towns like Kodumbalur, Uraiyur, Kovilpatti, Piranmalai and others.
  • In due course, both groups merged and got incorporated under the banner of ainutruvar, disai-ayirattu-ainutruvar and valanciyar functioning through the head guild in Ayyavole in Karnataka.
  • This ainutruvar guild controlled the maritime trade covering South-east Asian countries.
  • Munai-santai (Pudukkottai), Mylapore and Tiruvotriyur (Chennai), Nagapattinam, Vishakapattinam and Krishnapattinam (south Nellore) became the centres of the maritime trade groups.
  • In the interior, goods were carried on pack animals and boat.
  • The items exported from the Chola land were sandalwood, ebony, condiments, precious gems, pepper, oil, paddy, grains and salt.
  • Imports included camphor, copper, tin, mercury and etc.
  • Traders also took interest in irrigation affairs.
  • Valanciyar, a group of traders, once dug an irrigation tank called ainutruvapperari in Pudukottai.

Cholas as Patrons of Learning

  • Chola kings were great patrons of learning who lavished support on Sanskrit education by instituting charities.
  • From the inscriptions, we see that literacy skills were widespread.
  • The great literary works Kamba Ramayanam and Periyapuranam belong to this period.
  • Rajendra I established a Vedic college at Ennayiram (South Arcot district).
  • There were 340 students in this Vaishnava centre, learning the Vedas, Grammar and Vedanta under 14 teachers.
  • This example was later followed by his successors and, as a result, two more such colleges were founded, at Tribuvani near Pondicherry in 1048 and the other at Tirumukudal, Chengalpattu district, in 1067.
  • In Sanskrit centres, subjects like Vedas, Sanskrit grammar, religion and philosophies were taught.
  • Remuneration was given to teachers in land as service tenure.

The End of Chola Rule

  • The Chola dynasty was paramount in South India from the ninth to the thirteenth centuries.
  • By the end of the twelfth century, local chiefs began to grow in prominence, which weakened the centre.
  • With frequent invasions of Pandyas, the once mighty empire, was reduced to the status of a dependent on the far stronger Hoysalas.
  • In 1264, the Pandyan ruler, Jatavarman Sundara Pandyan I, sacked the Chola’s capital of Gangaikonda Chozhapuram.
  • With Kanchipuram lost earlier to the Telugu Cholas, the remaining Chola territories passed into the hands of the Pandyan king.
  • 1279 marks the end of Chola dynasty when King Maravarman Kulasekara Pandyan I defeated the last king Rajendra Chola III and established the rule by Pandyas.

Sambuvarayars :

Sambuvarayars were chieftains in the North Arcot and Chengalpattu regions during the reign of Chola kings, Rajathiraja and Kulothunga III. Though they were feudatories, they were found fighting sometimes on the side of their overlords and occasionally against them also. From the late 13th century to the end of Pandya ascendency, they wielded power along the Palar river region. The kingdom was called Raja Ghambira Rajyam and the capital was in Padaividu. Inscriptions of Vira Chola Sambavarayan (1314–1315CE) have been found. Sambuvarayars assumed high titles such as Sakalaloka Chakravartin Venru Mankonda Sambuvarayan (1322–1323 CE) and Sakalaloka Chakravartin Rajanarayan Sambuvarayan (1337– 1338 CE). The latter who ruled for 20 years was overthrown by Kumarakampana of Vijayanagar. It is after this campaign that Kumarakampana went further south, as far as Madurai, where he vanquished the Sultan of Madurai in a battle.

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