The Renati Cholas

The Renati Cholas

The Telugu Cholas of Renadu (also called as Renati Cholas) ruled over Renadu region, the present day Cuddapah district. They were originally independent, later forced to the suzerainty of the Eastern Chalukyas. They had the unique honour of using the Telugu language in their inscriptions belonging to the 7th and 8th centuries.

The earliest Chola family in the Telugu area was that of Renadu. Regarding their origin, there is nothing on record about the time and the manner in which they established themselves here. It can at best be gauged from a study of their prasasti in their epigraphs. It states that they belonged to the family of Karikala Chola. The nature of connection between them and Karikala Chola. is envisaged in different ways by different scholars. The traditions preserved in their prasasti do not by themselves solve the historical problems and at best can show a link between the Telugu Cholas and Karikala Chola in ancient times.

The nature of the Chola settlement in the Telugu area is sought to be explained by attributing it not to the expansionist activity of Karikala Chola but to the Pallavas who, under Simhavishnu (560 A.D.- 580 A.D.), subjugated the Cholas of the Kaveri region and forced them to move northwards. It seems feasible. The name of the earliest known Renadu Chola chief Nandivarma lends support to this surmise, for he must have assumed it as a mark of his subjugation to the Pallavas. As for their association with Karikala it must have been done because of their claim of their connection with the Cholas of the Kaveri region. It can also be said that some members of this family entered the service of the Pallavas as military .gererals and settled in the Telugu area.

Region of the Cholas of Renadu

The kingdom over which the Renadu Cholas ruled was a tract known as the Renandu or Renadu 7000. It is referred to in not less than six inscriptions. It is rather difficult to explain the term Renadu. Early inscriptions do not throw any light on the origin of the name Renadu. Attempts have been made by scholars to locate this kingdom. Some identifies Renadu with the black soil country (regadinadu) and traces it along the Kunderu river valley in Cuddapah and Kurnool districts. This explanation appears rather fanciful. Its real meaning seems to be ’the country of the kings’, redu meaning a king. Some identify it with the land between the rivers Chitravati and Cheyyera comprising a major portion of Cuddapah and parts of Ghittoor districts in Andhra Pradesh and parts of Kolar district in Karnataka, while some equate it with the Chu-li-ya of 11 the Chinese Buddhist pilgrim Hiuen Tsang.

Hiuen Tsang toured all over India “between 650 and 644 A.D., and recorded the conditions of the kingdoms through which he passed. If Hiuen Tseng’s version is accepted, Chu-li-ya has to he looked for somewhere near the south hank of the Krishna at a distance of 167 miles (267 km.) south-west of Dharanikotta. It suits Kurnool which is 230 miles (368 km.) north-north-west of Kanchi in a direct line and 160 miles (256 km.) west-south-west of Dharanikotta. The Chino(Sino)-Japanese map of India, drawn to illustrate Hiuen Tseng’s travels, strengthens this view. In tnis map, Chu-li-ya (mentioned as Chu-ey-no) is located to the 14 north of Dravida and to the south-west of Dhanaka. Alexander Cunningham identifies Chu-ey-no with Kaidanur which Buchanan, in turn, identifies with Karnul, i.e., Kurnool.

The Ollala epigraph explicitly states that the Cholas of the Nalgonda region came from Eruva during the time of Chalukya Trailokyamalla (1044-1068 A.D.).

However, on the basis of the inscriptions of the Rengdu Chola rulers, a tentative conclusion can be arrived at. About 46 inscriptions referring to them are found along or around the Penner river in Cuddapah district. It is thus possible to fix the home of this dynasty in this area.

The Renadu Chola territory extended over the whole of Cuddapah district and the adjoining areas of Anantapur, Kurnool and Chittoor districts.

Of the five places, Mudivemu identified with Peddamudiyam, Chepali identified with Chippili, Bir~paru identified with Malepadu, Pudali identified with Bucili and Chirumburu identified with Chilamkuru, suggested to have been the capital of the Renadu Cholas, Chepali appears to be a more plausible place to get that honour. It has been pointed that Chepali is specifically described as patukanu, i.e., the capital.

The discovery of a copperplate inscription of the Renadu Chela prince. Srikantha Srimanohara near kotachenu at Peddaehappalle strengthens the conjecture that Peddaehappalle was the capital of the Renadu Cholas. The word kota refers to a fort which is in ruins at present. A damaged Vaidumba epigraph at Yandadi in Rayachoti taluk of Cuddapah district, assigned to the 10th century A.D., on palaeographical grounds, refers to a battle fought at the place as ’Peda Chipaliyambu kavambuna*. It further supports the argument that Peddachappalle could have been the capital of Renadu. As regards the other places, there is nothing on record against them, and that they could have served as the seats of subordinate chiefs or temporary camps from where the Renadu Chdlas issued their inscriptions.

The genealogy of the Renadu Cholas, is its entirety, is not available in any one record and it has to be pieced together from the information contained in many copperplate and stone inscriptions. The coppecplats inscriptions are more useful than the stone inscriptions in this regard. Even here, they do not yield uniform particulars. The Maiepadu y and Eommaranancyala plates trace the ancestry of the Renadu Cholas from Nandivarma. According to these plates, the early rmlers were

The Peddachappalle and Madras Museum plates are silent on Nandivarma, Simhavishnu and Dhananjayavarma, and proceed straight away to describe the descent from Sundarananda. Simhavishnu, the eldest son of Nardivarma, appears to have had no sons as recorded evidence is not available on this point.

Sundarananda and His Descendants

Till recently, the Madras Museum plates are the only source of information on the predecessors and successors of Sundarananda. Later on, they are corroborated by the discovery of another set of copperplates at Peddachappalle. The lineage traced in these copperplates can be divided into two categories, namely, mythological and historical. The mythological kings are those who appear before Chola and the historical are those who appear afterwards.

The Chronology of the Cholas of Renadu

There are no definite dates to work upon as none of their inscriptions is dated in any era. The period of these chiefs has, therefore, to be gleaned only from traditions, palaeography of their epigraphs and contemporary history. There are no traditions, lithic records or any other account on Nandivarma and his two of his three sons Simhavishnu and Sundarinanda. lt is, however, presumed that the first of them assumed the name of the then Pallava ruler Kumaravishnu’s brother and predecessor Nandivarman when he was defeated by the Pallava crown prince Buddhavarman as a mark of his subjugation Pallava Nandivarman ruled from 480 to 510 A.D., Kumarvishnu from 510 to 530 A.D., and Buddhavarman from 530 to 540 A.D. The Renadu Chola chief Nandivarma, who must have had some other name prior to assuming this name, appears to have been ruling the kingdom long before Buddhavarman came to power. In ancient times, it was the practice of the feudatories to assume the names of or name their offspring after their overlords. The Ranadu Cholas were not an exception to this custom and it led to the assumption of the names and titles of the Pallavas by them. It further affords a reliable criterion for chronological studies, viz., to treat the feudatory and the overlord as contemporaries.

The earliest member in Sundarananda line for whom there is probably any recorded evidence is Kokili who is sixth in the line. It is, therefore, better if the chronology of Dhananjayavarma and his successors is taken up first as their inscriptions are many and afford scope for arriving at some approximate date for their rule.

Period of Dhananjavarma and his Descendants

Dhananayavarma is represented by two inscriptions at Kalamalla and Erragudipadu in Kamalapuram taluk of Cuddapah district. The Government Epigraptist writes that the characters of the Erragudipadu epigraph belong to about the 7th century A.D.

Notwithstanding the palaeography, Dhananjayavarma must have belonged to the period 575-600 C. A.D., to which Simhavishnu and Sundarananda belonged as all the three were brothers. The inscriptions of Mahendravikranavarma, the son of Dhananjayavarma, are all undated except the one at Peddamudiyam in Jammalamadugu taluk of Cuddapah district which mentions the saka era, but it is lost due to the damaged condition of the record.

Apart from palaeography, there are other factors which help to fix his time. In the Malepadu plates he is given the title “lord of Pandya, Chola and Kerala countries”. Among the Pallavas, only Simhavishnu is credited with the conquest of these kingdoms. It is probable that Mahendravikramavarma accompanied Simhavishnu in his march against them and earned this title when he was quile young.

Further, the name Mahendravikramavarma indicates that it was the name or surname of Simhavishnu’s son and successor Mahendravarman I who actually called himself Mahendravikramavarma in the Mattavilasa. Mahendravikramavarma appears to have also named his eldest son after his familiar title Gunabhara. These names and titles, coming as they do in close succession, go to prove the contemporaneity of Mahendravikramavarma with tie Pallava rulers Simhavishnu and Mahendravarman I. He can, therefore, be taken to have ruled from 600 to 625 A.D. We know that he had a son called Gunamudita. Since no inscription ascribable to him is discovered it can be presumed that he did not come to the throne at all. As regards the date of the next chief Punyakumara also, there is no consensus among scholars in spite of the availability of better evidences such as copperplate inscriptions pertaining to his rule.

Rule of the Renadu Cholas

The Renadu Cholas claim Karikala Chola as tleir ancestor, hut the relationship between them and Karikala cannot be ascertained. There was some connection between the Telugu Cholas and Tamil Cholas, and that the Malepadu plates of Punyakumara constitute an important link in the chain of evidences, for the earliest mention of the connectinn of a Chola family in the Telugu aim with Karikala Chela is found in them. The Malepadu plates speak of Karikala thus.


Kavera-tanaya-velollamghanaprasamana-pramukn-adyanek-atisaya-karinah trairajya-sthitim-atmasat-kritavatah Karikala…..”


Scholars translates it thus: ‘In the family of Karikala, who was the mandara tree on the Mandara mountain, viz., the solar race; who was the worker of many wonders like that of controlling the daughter of Kavera, overflowing her banks. According to this interpretation, Karikala was an ornament to the solar race which was as noble as the Mandara mountain. As seen earlier, he worked wonders, chief among them being the proclamation of his prowess to the world by planting pillars of victory all over the earth, filling the earth and the sky with his glory by building the embankments of the Kaveri, and death to the Sankyadharas. The earliest reference to the flood banks of Kaveri, is found in these plates.

The appellation Trairajya-sthitim-atmasat-kritavatah’ applied to Karikala is interpreted by scholars differently. It is translated in such a way as to give four different meanings, which are (1) obtained for himself the position of (the headship of) three kingdoms, (2) made the dignity of trairajya his own (3) the condition of three-fold monarchy and (4) appropriated to himself the possessions of three kings. It ended in controversies, none being explained satisfactorily.

Karikala conquered the Telugu districts south of the Krishna after reducing a Pallava king to subjugation. The Pallava ruler from whom he obtained the Telugu country is identified with Trilochna. This conflict of Karikala Chola with Trilochana was made the basis of the following prasasti of the later Telugu Chola rulers:  charanasaroruha-vihata-vilochana-trilochana-pramuthakhila-prithivisvara-karita-Kaveri-tira. It was on this prasasti that conclusions of the highest importance to the chronology of early south Indian history were drawn.

As stated earlier, many kaifiyats provide an insight into the activities of Karikala who stands oat prominently among the Chola kings. He was not only the greatest and illustrious but the most remembered. According to the kaifiyats, he was a great builder and an administrator. He built temples, cleared forests, reclaimed forest land for cultivation and set up new villages. The forests between the Penner and the Tirumala were among those cleared by him. He fixed the tax which the ryots had to pay to the government annually on their lands. He excavated a tank at Brahmanapalle in Cuddapah district and built a dam across a rivulet in the neighbourhood to feed it. He granted agraharas to Brahmanas and planted trees on vacant sites in some villages. He founded the village of Pottapi in the neighbourhood of Karigiri and encouraged the growth of a number of villages in its vicinity. He allotted lands at the foot of the Sriparvata to immigrants from north India.


Nandivarma was the earliest known Renadu Chola ruler. He was born in the family of Karikala Chola He was the progenitor of the Renadu Cholas and ruled in the middle of the 6th century A.D. He came into conflict with the Pallavas and suffered defeat at the hands of Kumaravishnu and the crown prince, Buddhavarman and assumed a Pallava name as a mark of subjugation to them.

The cause for this conflict appears to be the attempt of the Pallavas to recapture what they had lost to the Cholas in the time of Karikala. It pre-supposes that the Chola migration to the north took place before Nandivarma started ruling. Buddhavarman claimed that he was a submarine fire to the ocean of the Chola army. It shows that he assisted his father Kumaravishnu in regaining the lost territory and subjugating the Cholas. Nothing is known about the rule of Nandivarma. He had three sons, namely, Simhavishnu, Sundarananda and Dhananjayavarma.


Nandivarma was succeeded by his eldest son Simhavishnu. However, nothing is known about him also. His name Simhavishnu is met with in the Pallava royal family. It suggests some undefined relationship, political or otherwise, between the Renadu Cholas and the Pallavas of Kanchi. It is nothing but a sure sign of political subordination to the Pallavas. The Pallavankovil plates of Pallava Simhavarman testify to this fact. They are dated in the sixth year of his reign and extol the achievements of his son Simhavishnu, the Yuvaraja (their apparent) and the virtual founder of the Pallava power during this period. They state that this Simhavishau conquered another Simhavishnu. The only contemporary of Pallava Simhavishnu bearing this name was the Renadu Chola ruler. It is not known whether he assisted the Chola monarch Senganan, famed in legend for his devotion to Siva, in any manner and deserved the punishment, or attempted to assert his independence. Simhavishnu was, however, put down. There is no evidence to show that Simhavishnu had any children.

Sundarananda and Dhananjayavarma

Nothing is known about Sundarananda, the second son of Nandivarma, except that he had a son named Navarama. His younger brother Dhananjayavarma ascended the throne. He was the first ruler to be represented by any recorded evidence. There are two epigraphs of his at Kalamalla and Erragudipadu in Cuddapah district. The first refers itself to him as Erikal Muturaju Dhananjaya. Four inscriptions at Sravanagudi in Madhugiri taluk of Tumkur district in Karnataka State refer to one Chola Dharanjayan as having ruled over Eriga Alvadi 600. His identity with the Renadu chief of this name can be established only on the availability of further material on the subject.

Dhananjaya was called Erikal Muturaju and also a Maharaja. As their inscriptions are not dated it is difficult to know when they were Muturajas and when Maharajas. The terms Muturaja, Yuvaraja and Maharaja indicate the relative position of each in the hierarchy.

Dhananjaya’s designation as Erikal Muturaju ruling Renadu indicates that he held the position of a Muturaju attached to Erigal before he became the king. Although he was the third son, his position in relation to the throne was thus recognised. Later on the sovereignty devolved on him in regular succession.

During Dhananjayavarma’s rule, a grant of a pannasa of 24 marunturs of land in the territorial division (Kottambu) was made to a Brahmana (para) at the instance of (or by) Kundikallu. One Navapriva Muturaju figures as a witness to it. Two other witnesses to it were Dujayarajula Muturaju and Vallava Dukaraju. Ravapriya Muturaju is identified with Dhananjayavaraa’s son, Mahendravikramavarma, for he figures along with Vallava Dukaraju (Yuvaraju of the Pallavas). If this identification is accepted, then it is the first and the earliest reference to Dhananjayavarma’s son and successor.


Dhananjayavarma was succeeded by his son Mahendravikramavarma. Before taking up his rule for consideration, a general appraisal of the relations between the Western Chalukyas of Badami and the Greater Pallavas during this period may be made since it throws some light on the conditions in which the Renadu kingdom found itself.

The Chalukyas who established themselves at Badami in the middle of the sixth century A.D., undar Pulakesi I, soon brought the whole of the Deccan under their sway. Their efforts to extend their kingdom brought them into conflict with their neighbours in the south. The most concerned in the south were the Pallavas of Kanchl. Pallava Simhavishnu left a strong and culturally advanced kingdom to his son Mahendravarman I who was a worthy successor of his father both in war and peace. By the time Pulakesi II ascended the throne at Badami in 610 A.D., his predecessors had already subjugated, among others, the Kadambas and the Nalas in the south. He was an ambitious and soldierly ruler eager to improve and consolidate the conquests of his predecessors. Poised directly between these two rival powers lay the Renadu Chola kingdom. Technically speaking, most of this tract was then situated between the north-western and southeastern portions of the Pallava and Chalukya kingdoms respectively.

The Renadu Chola ruler Mahendravikramavarma is not referred to by name in any inscription. All early inscriptions issued in the hare name of a Chola Maharaja are presumed to pertain to him because his successors who used the title Chola Maharaja invariably mentioned their personal names along with the title. If the identity of Chola Maharaja with Mahendravikramavarma is accepted, as many as fifteen epigraphs refer to him.

There is, however, no reference to his achievements in the records assigned to him. The copperplate charters of his son Punyakumara mention him as the master of Pandya, Chola and Kerala countries.

It is of interest to note that all his predecessors were merely called nripatis. He was the first to be called Chola Maharaja and to have a string of hirudas. Scholars held different views about the assumption of the title Chola Maharaja by Mahendravikramavarma.

The political conditions in the region were such that he could not have enjoyed an independent position though technically the Pallavas were his masters. The constant fights of the Pallavas with the Chalukyas hardly allowed them to pay any attention to such subordinates as Mahendravikramavarma. Further, being situated as a buffer state between the kingdoms of the Chalukyas and the Pallavas, the latter might have allowed him fair amount of independence as a safeguard of their northern territories against the attacks of the Chalukyas.


In two inscriptions a Erigal Dugaraju figures as a donor during the time of Chola Maharaja. It is also known from other inscriptions of the same period that Punyakumara was also ruling as Erikal Muturaju. These indicate that during the time of Mahendravi-kramavarma both these sons were in charge of administration holding different positions. It appears, however, that Gunamudita could not succeed his father, may be he did not survive his father. Thus we find Punyakumata as the next Renadu ruler.


Punyakumara was the most illustrious ruler of the family. He ruled the kingdom from 625 to 655 e. A.D. from Peddaehappale. His inscriptions can he divided into those issued as a Muturaja and those as a Maharaja. The epigraphs at Veludurti and Tippaluru, referred to earlier, fall under the former category. In these his name is devoid of honorific plural endings. He had other titles such as Ganyamanunru, Marunrapiduku, Madamuditunru and Uttamottamunru which mean one who was held in high esteem, one who was a thunderbolt to the hostile kings, one who was happy in his pride and one who was the noblest of the noble.

The titles borne by Punyakumara such as Mardavachitta and Madanavilasa are pro-Pallava in character, and Prithivivallabha, pro-Chalukya in character. The relationship between the Renadu Cholas and tie Chalukyas of Badami is again a matter of conjecture.

There was no war between the Pallavas and the Chalukyas top some time, during which period the former seem to have been recuperating their strength. The Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang, who passed through Renadu in this period (A.D. 639 and 640), referred to the Ranadu kingdom as deserted. Its population was very small, and troops of brigands roamed through the country openly. Such a description agrees with what one normally envisages in an area sandwiched between the two great kingdoms hostile to each other rank a region where the strong arm of a settled ruler was absent

Vlkramaditya I

The next ruler of the kingdom was Vikraraadi-ya I. He was probably the son and successor of Punyakumara. There is no information about his rule. The probable period of his rule was 655-680 A.D., and his contemporary in the collateral branch was Vijayakama.


Nothing is known about his rule. His probable period was 680-705 A.P., and his contemporary in the collateral line was Vlrarjuna.

Vikramaditya II

Saktikumara was followed on the throne by his son Vikramaditya II. He ruled from 705 to 730 A.D. His rule is represented by three inscriptions at Chilankuru (Kamalapuram taluk) and Nallacheruvupalle (Pulivendla taluk) in Cuddapah district, and Bhairavakonda (Giddalur taluk) in Prakasam district. He appears to have had a queen named Cholamahadevi. This name is read either as Elamchola-Mahadevi or elan-Cholamahadevui. The former means the queen of Elanchola and the latter, young Cholamahadevi. Vikramaditya II had another queen Mamkhi (Manchi) Porriyaru. He had two sons, namely, Uttanaditya and Satyaditya. His contemporary in the collateral branch was Agranipidugu.

Uttamaditva and Satyaditya

Uttamaditya succeeded Vikramaditya II. Before he ascended the throne, he was a samantaka of his mother Cholamahadevi who was ruling at Chirumburu. He ruled between 730and 755 A.D. His contemporaries on the Chalukya throne were Vijjayaditya and Vikramaditya II, and is the collateral branch, kokili and Mahendravarma II. His rule is represented by an inscription at Veludurti is Kamalapuram taluk of Cuddapah district. He had the title Chola Maharaja and is described as ruling over the earth. His brother Satyaditya is represented by an epigraph at Malepadu in the same taluk and district.


The history of the Renadu Cholas traced thus far is that of Nandivarma and his descendants. A few other Telugu Chola chiefs, who ruled over Renadu, have also come to light through inscriptions. However, it is difficult either to clearly ascribe them to this family or to give them exact dates in view of the fact that these inscriptions are not dated. It is well known that the prasasti of the Renadu Cholas commences with the expression aridurddharavara and its occurrence is the criterion for assigning these rulers to the Renadu Chola family. Even here the difficulty is that the inscriptions beginning with this expression are found in different areas and in different periods of time. It is also difficult to decide the relationship between the rulers mentioned in these inscriptions. However, an attempt is made here to collect and present as much information as possible about them.

Mahi Chola and Maim Chola

In inscription from Velpucherla in Jammalamadugu taluk of Cuddapah district mentions a chief called Mahi Chola ruling over Renadu 7000. His subordinate Karikala Chola Kathlavyremgu was administering Velpucheruvi. On the basis of the fact that he was governing Renadu 7000 and that his prasasti commenced with aridurddharavara he is considered to be a member of the Renadu Chola family. It is, however, not possible to establish any connection between him and the descendants of Nandivarma. Another chief by name Manu Chola figures in an inscription at the same place. He is also associated with Renadu 7000, and his inscription also has the aridurddharavara prasasti. These chiefs are assigned to the ninth century A.D.

Jata Chola

The next Renadu Chola ruler we come across is Jata Chola. His belonging to the Renadu Chola family is confirmed by his association with the Renadu Chola prasasti aridurddharavara. etc., as is known by an inscription at – Miduturu in Cuddapah district. This Jata Chola finds a mention in the famous inscription in the Kailasanatha temple at Kanchi, which belongs to his son Jata Chiola Bhima. This inscription speaks of Jata Ghola as governing Pendekallu which corresponds to the modern Banganapalli and Dhone regions in Kurnool district. It may be noted here that this region was outside the Renadu territory. It is likely, therefore, that he was displaced from his hereditary region possibly by the Vaidumbas. An inscription from Veligallu in Madanapalle taluk of Chittoor district mentions Vaidumba Ganda Trinetra as ruling over Renadu 7000. Further an inscription of this Ganda Trinetra at Animala in Cuddapah district mentions a Jata Chola obviously as a subordinate. A few other Vaidumba inscriptions are found in different parts of Cuddapah district which was the Renadu territory.

Jata Chola Bhima

The next Renadu Chola ruler we come across is Jata Chola Bhima, the son of Jata Chola mentioned above. He is by far the most famous of the Renadu Cholas. He played an effective role in the history of Andhra so much so he is called Andhra Bhlma in history. His only inscription is the famous Kailasanatha temple inscription at Kahchl. During this period, the eastern Andhra was ruled by the Eastern Chalukyas of Vengi and they had continuous conflicts with the Rashtrakutas and the Cholas on the other. At such a juncture Jata Chola Bhlma also jumped into the fray and even succeeded in occupying the Vengi throne for as long as twenty-seven years.

In Vengi there was continuous fight between Amma II (945-70 A.D.) and his half-brother Danarnava (970-973 A.D.) for the Vengi throne. The situation was highly uncertain with both the rivals claiming, to be the rulers. It is said that Danarnava succeeded in sending Amma into exile with the help of Rashtrakuta Krishna III (939-967 A.D.). But Amma managed to come back after a few years of his exile in Kalinga and established himself as the ruler. He seems to have received much help from Jata Chola Bhlma in this endeavour. However, Danarnava succeeded finally in pushing aside Amma who was killed in the battle field and himself occupied the throne. Jata Chola Bhlma could not keep quiet. He rose against Danarnava and finally succeeded in occupying the Vengi throne himself in 973.

The inscriptions of this period refer to a state of anarchy (anayaka) in the Andhra country. This is normally considered to be an interregnum because of the break of the rule of the Chalukyas of Vengi and the occupation of the throne by Jata Chola Bhlma. This continued for more than 25 years, i.e., till the end of the rule of Jata Chola Bhlma.

It may also be noted here that with the end of data Chola Bhlma the Renadu Cholas were dislodged from their original home of Renadu region. Some chiefs of this family appear to have taken shelter in the Chalukya kingdom as can be gathered from the inscriptions of the later family members. The available details are mentioned below.

Sovana Chola and His Son Atyana Chola

The next later Renadu Chola chief we come across is Sovana Chola Maharaja. He figures as the father of Atyana Chola Maharaja in the latter’s epigraph at Peddamudiyam in Cuddapah district. He is considered as a Renadu Chola chief on the basis of his association with the prasasti aridurddharavara, etc., borne by the Renadu Cholas. He had a son named Atyana through Gosanamahadevi. Atyana who also calls himself as a Chola Maharaja was a feudatory of Chalukya Vikramaditya VI In 1124 A.D. He in turn had a subordinate called Mahamandalesvara Chiddana Chola Maharaja.

Chiddana Chola Maharaja

The next chief we come across is Chiddana Chola Maharaja. He figures in seven inscriptions. It cannot be ascertained whether Chiddana Chola Maharaja mertioned in these records is one and the same, for in only two inscriptions he is introduced with the prasasti aridurddharavara. etc. He is referred to in a record of Chalukya Somesvara I dated 1067-68 A.D., as governing Ayaje 300. After this, he figures as the feudatory of the next Chalukya king Somesvara II in 1073-74 A.I., as the governor of Kanne 300, Pedekal 800, Haravadi 500 and Ayaje 300.

An inscription of S 996 (1074 A.D.) records that he was governing four divisions, of which only Kanne-nadu is mentioned. He led an expedition against a Seguna, worsted him in battle and captured him. Tie Seguna against whom he marched was a Seuna king who is on identified with Seunachandra II (1068-80 A.D.). The expedition was probably aimed at chastising the Yadava ruler for espousing the cause of Vikramaditya against his brother Somesvara II in the fight for the Chalukya throne.

Of the territorial divisions mentioned in the inscription, Kanne-nadu appears to be the same as the area around Nandikotkur taluk of Kurnool district, Haravadi 500, the ancient Nalavadi-vishaya corresponding to portions of Kurnool and Anantapur districts, Pedekal 800, the Pedekal-vishaya of earlier records representing a portion of Kurnool district and Ayaje 300 corresponding to the area around Ayije in Alampur taluk of Mahbubnagar district. What happened to Chiddana Chola after Vikramaditya’s succession is not known. But he appears to have entered the service of Vikramaditya VI, for in the record In which he figures as the feudatory of Atyana Chola, he is spoken of as having governed Pedekal, Avuku and Renadu 70 besides a fourth division, the name of which is lost.


The Chola kings followed a highly efficient system of administration. The entire Tanjore district, parts of Trichy, Pudukottai and South Arcot districts formed the part of’ the Chola Mandalam.

The Cholas had three major administrative divisions called Central Government, Provincial Government and Local Government. Tanjore was the capital of the Cholas. The efficient Chola administrative system has been well appreciated by many historians and rulers.


The king was the head of the administration. The Chola kings and Queens were considered as representatives of God.

Their idols were kept in temples. The Chola kingship was hereditary. The Chola royal family followed the principle that eldest son should succeed the king to the Chola throne.

The heir apparent was called Yuvaraja, The Chola monarchs enjoyed enormous powers and privileges. The Chola kings took up titles which marked their achievements. They lived in very big royal palaces. Kings were assisted by ministers and officials in their administration. Chola kings had tiger as their royal emblem.

Central Government

King heads the Central Government. Council of ministers and officials took active part in running the administration of Central Government. The higher officials were called Peruntaram and the lower officials were called Siruntaram.

Provincial administration

The Chola Empire was divided into nine provinces. They were also called mandalams. The head of the province was called viceroy. Close relatives of kings were appointed as viceroys. The Viceroys were in constant touch with the Central Government. Viceroys received orders from the king.

They sent regular reply to the king. The viceroys had a large number of officials to assist them in the work of administration.

Administrative Divisions

The success of the Chola administration depended more on the proper functioning of the administrative divisions.

Generally mandalams were named after the original names or the titles of the Chola kings. Each mandalam was divided into number of Kottams or Valanadus. Each kottam was sub divided into Nadus. Each Nadu was further divided into villages (Urs) which formed a part of the last unit of the administration.

Uttaramerur inscriptions speak about the administration of the Cholas.


The land revenue was the main source of income of the Chola Government. Proper land survey was made. Lands were classified as taxable land and non taxable land. There were many grades in the taxable lands.

Land revenue differed according to these grades. Generally 1/6 of the land yield was collected as tax either in cash or in kind or both according to the convenience of the farmers.

Besides land revenue, there were some other sources of income like customs and tolls. Taxes on mines, ports, forests and salt pans were collected. Professional tax and house tax were also collected. Many other taxes were levied. Tax burden was more on the society. Sometimes due to failure of rain and famine people could not pay tax.


The Cholas had an efficient army and navy. The Chola army consisted of elephants, cavalry and infantry. Soldiers were given proper training. Commanders enjoyed the ranks of nayaks and senapathis.

The army was divided into 70 regiments. The Chola arm had 60,000 elephants. Very costly Arabian horses were imported to strengthen the cavalry.

The Chola kings defeated the Cheras at Kandalur salai. The Kings of Ceylon and Maldives were also defeated.

The Chola navy was a formidable one in South India. With the help of their navy the Cholas controlled the Coromandal and Malabar coasts. The Chola army and navy together had 1,50,000 trained soldiers.

The armies of the tributary chieftains also joined Chola army at needy times. Generally the Chola army was led by the King or Yuvaraja.


The Chola king was the Chief Justice. The Chola kings gave enough care for the judicial administration. The village level judicial administration was carried on by the village assembly.

Minor disputes were heard by the village assembly. Disputes were settled with proper evidences. Village assemblies exercised large powers in deciding local disputes. Punishments were awarded by the judicial officers. The trial of serious offences and major cases were conducted by the king himself.

Chola Local Administration

The most important feature of the Chola administration was the local administration at districts, towns and villages level. Uttaramerur inscriptions speak much about the Chola administration. Village autonomy was the most unique feature of Chola administrative system.

Nadu was one of the important administrative units of the Cholas. Nadus had representative assemblies. The heads of the Nadus were called Nattars. The council of Nadu was called Nattavai. Representatives of the Nattavais and nattars promoted agriculture. They also took care of the protection of the people and tax collection.

Village Administration

The entire responsibility of the village administration was in the hands of the village assembly called Grama Sabha.

The lowest unit of the Chola administration was the village unit. The village assemblies looked after the maintenance of peace, tanks, roads, public ponds revenue collection, judiciary, education and temples.

The village assemblies were in charge of the payment of taxes due from the villages to the treasury. They regulated public markets and helped people at times of famine and floods. Assemblies provided provisions for education. The village assemblies possessed absolute authority over the affairs of villages. They maintained law and order in every village. Brahmin settlement was called Chathurvedi mangalam.


Village Assemblies carried on village administration effectively with the help of variyams.

The male members of the society were the members of these variyams.

The composition of these variyams, qualification and durations of membership differed from village to village.

There were many variyams in every village. Niyaya variyam administered justice, Thottavariyam looked after flower gardens. The Dharma variyam looked after charities and temples. Erivariyam was in charge of tanks and water supply. The pon variyam was in charge of the finance. The Gramakariya variyam looked after the works of all committees. The members of these varivams were known as “Varivaperumakkal They rendered honorary service.

The village officials were paid salary either in cash or in kind. Good functioning of these variams increased the efficiency of the local administration of the Cholas.

The Chola government during the Imperial Period (850 – 1200 CE) was marked for its uniqueness and innovativeness. The Cholas were the first dynasty who tried to bring the entire South India under a common rule and to a great extent succeeded in their efforts.

Although the form and protocols of that government cannot be compared to a contemporary form of government, the history of the Chola empire belongs to a happy age in their history and great things were achieved by the government and the people.


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