Rajendra Chola 1 is counted among the great emperors of India, belonging to the Tamil Chola Empire. His empire extant was the whole rim of Bay of Bengal, from Maldives to Sri Lanka to Malaysia to Indonesia.
South East Asia regions conquered by the Chola
India never invaded?
We have often heard that India has not invaded any country in the last 1000 years. This statement is not wholly true because the kings, Rajendra Chola and his father Raja Raja Chola of the Chola Empire, with its capital in Thanjavur in present day Tamil Nadu, who reigned between 950 CE and 1050 CE, had large naval fleets and conquered South East Asia such as Cambodia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Maldives Malaysia and Indonesia.
A painting depicting the Chola Navy of Rajendra Chola-I raid on the Kedah (Today’s part of Malaysia)
Rajendra Chola I took over the reign from his father on July 28th 1014 CE.
Rajendra Chola and Raja Raja Chola
Conquering Sri Lanka
In 1017 CE, the king captured the whole of Sri Lanka, of which his father, Raja Chola was able to conquer only the northern half. He realized his father’s dream of gaining complete control over Sri Lanka.
Victory over Pandyas and Cheras
In 1018 CE, King Rajendra marched to Pandya and Chera regions and fighting a fierce battle, defeated their kings.
In 1021 CE, Rajendra Chola planned to conquer the Chaulakya territory. At that time, Jayasimha was the ruler of the Chaulakya territory and was going strong. However such was the prowess of Rajendra that, he was able to defeat Jayasimha in a battle, now called the battle of Maski.
Rajendra Chola then 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”.
The city that Rajendra Chola built was named Gangaikonda Cholapuram, meaning “the city of him who conquered the kings in the Ganga region.” This city became the capital of the Chola Empire.
Today this place is listed under UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is famous for a Shiva temple that goes by the same name – Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple.
Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple
Rajendra Chola was among the first Indian kings to conquer territories outside India. His conquests included areas of present day Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Laos, Andamans, Lakshadweep and Cambodia.
A Thai painting shows Chola soldiers invading Kedah( Malaysia) and using fire throwers against those Siamese defending themselves inside fort
In all these Conquests, Krishnan Raman served as the Commander in Chief of the Chola forces, under Rajendra Chola.
Feared by Mohammed of Gazni
Mohammed of Gazni while raiding the north west of India, dared not to cross into the Chola kingdom, fearing its might.
The closing years of Rajendra’s reign from 1040CE to 1044CE was a golden period for the Cholas. The Chola Kingdom had extended far and wide. The naval provess of the Cholas was at its peak. King Rajendra passed on all the powers to his sons and others in the family who ruled on his behalf.
He soon passed on the mantle to his son Rajendra Chola II.
Temples and Lakes: His legacy
King Rajendra Chola is said to have built a number of temples during his 30 year reign. He built the Dharasuram temple replicating the Tanjavore temple built by his father.
The invasion of the overseas islands by Rajendra Chola was in keeping with the civilized norms of those days and did not involve destruction or plunder as is evidenced from the records of those islands. These conquests actually led to opening the doors for the spread of Indian culture, ideas and ethos to the whole of South East Asia.