Answer: The inscription of the Chola Kings supply many interesting details about their system of administration. The kingdom was divided into a number of provinces, some of which were governed by princes of the royal blood, in addition, there were the principalities of the vassal chiefs, who paid tribute and rendered military services in times of war. The provinces (Mandalam) were sub-divided into divisions (Kottam or Valanadu) which were further sub-divided into districts (Nadu). A district was composed of groups of villages (Kurram). The lowest unit of administration was the village.
Perhaps the most remarkable feature of the administrative system of the Cholas was a series of popular assemblies. There are references to the assembly of the people of a whole province. Districts and towns (Nagaram) had their own assemblies. Very little information is however available about the constitution and functions of these assemblies. The assemblies of the villages were of various types. In the Ur the local people assembled to discuss important matters without any formal rules or procedure. The Sabha (or Mahasabha) was an assembly of the Brahmin villages. Under the supervision and general control of the royal officials the Sabha enjoyed full powers in all the departments of local administration. They owned the village lands. They collected taxes. They disposed off petty criminal cases. They control primary education. All members are elected by lot, and held office for one year only. The meetings of the assembly were held in a temple or in a public hall.
The cultivated lands were carefully surveyed and all the holdings were properly registered ‘at least a century before the famous Domesday records of William the Conqueror’. The royal dues normally amounted to one-sixth of the gross produce, and were paid either in case or in kind or in both. Very fertile land could be assessed at as much as one-third of