Raja Raja Chola is the tallest name in Chola Dynasty. He ruled from 985 CE to 1014 CE. His capital was Tanjavore.
Within India, his kingdom extended from South India till Andhra Pradesh, Coastal Orissa all the way upto Ganga River.
Raja Raja Chola
Outside India, his empire extended from Mauritious Island in Indian Ocean to Bengal in the north, Sri Lanka in south and coastal regions of North India.
Astute young Raja Raja Chola
His father died when he was young. His uncle wanted to ascend the throne. The astute youngster then, Raja Raja Chola offered the throne to his uncle as regent with the solemn promise that his time, Raja Raja Chola will ascend the throne. This was to to avoid an intercine battle within the family. A wise ploy by young Raja Raja Chola.
He finally ascended the throne in 1014 and ruled ruled for 30 years till 1044.
Rajendra Chola conquered regions around Ganga, from Palas of Bengal. He brought waters of Ganga in ceremonial procession and for this feat, he renamed his capital as Gangaikonda. He was conferred the title Gangaikonda Cholan, meaning, “one who brought the waters of Ganga”. In commemoration of this, in every town where the waters of Ganga were brought and kept, they bilt a private mandap called Gangakonda Mandap. These mandaps stand 1000 years to this day and are used in temple rituals.
Naval Power House
During his reign, Chola Kingdom became a naval power house and the ships were plying over the Bay of Bengal.
The model of a Chola Dynasty Ship hull, built by the ASI, displayed in a Museum in Tirunelveli.
The king also built many temples. Shivaji Ganeshan one of the greatest actors of Tamil essayed an epic role in the film characterizing the glories of Raja Raj Chola.
One of the greatest achievements of Raja Raja Chola was the temple he built for Shiva in Tanjavore known as Brahadishvara Temple. This temple is also known as Rajarajeshwaram Temple.
Rs 1000 Note issued by RBI in 1954 to honor the Brahadeeswarar Temple
Before his time, the largest temple of his land was the Kailasanatha temple, Kanchipuram.
The Brihadishvara temple that he planned and executed was 40 times in size of the earlier large structure.
Brihadishvara temple, Tanjavore
How he envisioned such a large structure that was 40 times the earlier structure is truly to be amazed at.
This big temple was a forerunner in thought and design to other big temples of other dynasties, not only in India, but in South East Asia as well. The other temples in India have all followed the grandeur of the Rajarajeshwaram temple. This shows that Raja Raja Chola was a true visionary and was one of the greatest builders.
Because of large size of this temple, it earned the name Dakshina Meru, meaning the Meru of the south.
Contemporary of Muhmad of Ghazni
When Muhmad of Ghazi was visiting the North Western part of India from Saurashtra to Mathura to Punjab, Raja Raja Chola was ruling, administering the land well in South Indian and coastal parts of East India.
For having brought the waters of Ganga successfully, he built the new city in Tanjavore and called it Gangaikonda Cholapuram, meaning “The city built by Chola King who brought the waters of the Ganga.”
Not only was a great conqueror, he was a great administrator. His administration skills and how he benevolently administered the land is inscribd in his throne on the walls of the Raja Rajeshwaram Temple and many other temples of Tamil Nadu.