History of South India: The Ancient Period
The word Pallava means "branch", in contrast with Chola meaning "new country", Pandiya meaning "old country" and Chera meaning "hill country" in Sangam Tamil lexicon
The Cholas 300s BC–1279
The Tamil kingdom that enjoyed the most uninterrupted prosperity was that of the Cholas. As in case of all other polities in ancient India, the wealth of the Cholas was based upon a thriving agriculture, with two monsoons annually facilitating large scale cultivation of rice, barley and millet.
A coin of the Chola period
By the middle of the 4th century AD, the Chola kingdom was largely eclipsed by the Pallavas who shot into limelight and reigned supreme in the southern part of India for a considerable period of time. However, in the 9th century the Cholas re-emerged as a major political power. The Chola kingdom reached its zenith during the10th and the 11th centuries AD. The Chola kingdom with its capital at Chidambaram was one of the most impressive and well-administered political entities in the region. There was high level of prosperity as indicated by the surviving bronze figurines and statuettes, which rank among the finest specimens of Indian art and sculpture. The exquisitely beautiful temples, centred around Tanjore (Thanjavur) are also the crowning glory of the Chola art and architecture
Shiva Temple at Thanjavur
The most famous rulers of the Chola dynasty were Rajaraja I (985-1014) who extended the boundaries of his territory to include virtually the entire southern India, Sri Lanka, Lakshadweep and Maldives; and his son Rajendra (1014-42) who defeated the Pala rulers of Bengal and dispatched a naval expedition against the Srivijaya empire that flourished in Sumatra and the Malaya peninsula, which had caused some hindrance to the Chola kingdom’s trade activities with China, that were carried out through the straits of Malacca.
During the 12th century the powers of the Cholas steadily declined, and although a series of protracted wars with the Chalukyas ended in victory for the Cholas, their strength was sapped in the long struggle. The Cholas left 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.
Today part of
Located in Northwestern Cambodia, Angkor, the Capital of the Ancient Khmer Empire was possibly founded around the Ninth Century AD by King Jayavarman II. However, the city reached its peak glory in the 12th Century under Kings uryavarman II and Jayavarman VII. The most beautiful and most famous monument in the city, Angkor Wat, lies about one kilometer south of the Royal town of Angkor Thom which was founded by Jayavarman VII.
The Temple of Angkor Wat was dedicated to the Hindu God Vishnu by King Suryavarman II, who reigned between 1131 and 1150 AD. The Temple was constructed over a period of 30 years, and illustrates some of the most beautiful examples of Khmer and Hindu art. Covering an area of about 81 hectares, the complex consists of five towers, which are presently shown on the Cambodian national flag. These towers are believed to represent the five peaks of Mount Meru, the Home of Gods and Center of the Hindu Universe. Angkor Wat features the longest continuous bas-relief in the world, which runs along the outer gallery walls, narrating stories from Hindu Mythology. With the decline of the Ancient Khmer Empire, Angkor Wat was turned into preservation. In 1992, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee declared the monument, and the whole city of Angkor, a World Heritage Site....
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