The Chola dynasty was a Tamil dynasty that ruled primarily in southern India until the 13th century CE. The dynasty originated in the fertile valley of the Kaveri River. Karikala Chola was the most famous among the early Chola kings, while Rajaraja Chola, Rajendra Chola and Kulothunga Chola I were famous emperors of the medieval Cholas.
The Cholas were at the height of their power during the tenth and the eleventh centuries. Under Rajaraja Chola I (Rajaraja the Great) and his son Rajendra Chola, the dynasty became a military, economic and cultural power in Asia. The Chola territories stretched from the islands of the Maldives in the South to as far North as the banks of the river Ganges in Bengal. Rajaraja Chola conquered peninsular South India, annexed parts of Sri Lanka and occupied the islands of the Maldives. Rajendra Chola also raided kingdoms of the Malay Archipelago. The power of the Cholas declined around the 14th century with the rise of the Pandyas and the Hoysala.
The Cholas have left behind a lasting legacy. Their patronage of Tamil literature and their zeal in building temples have resulted in some great works of Tamil literature and architecture. The Chola kings were avid builders and envisioned the temples in their kingdoms not only as places of worship but also as centres of economic activity. They pioneered a centralised form of government and established a disciplined bureaucracy.
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