Saturday, November 28, 2015

Gangaikonda Cholapuram - History

Gangaikonda Cholapuram - History
Rajendra Chola-I (1012-1044 A.D) son of the Great Rajaraja-I, established this temple after his great victorious march to river Ganges on Northern India. He was originally called Madurantakan. He assumed the title of Rajendra during his coronation and continued to rule along with his father Rajaraja-I for a while. He achieved the supreme title of Cholas called Parakesari.
Rajendra-I, a great warrior and assisted his father, is numerous expeditions to elevate the Cholas to supreme power. The various expeditions, he conducted, were: Gangetic expedition, eastern/western Chalukyas, war against Cheras/Pandyas, Ceylon expedition, Kadaram (currently called as Burma) expedition etc.
His empire extended the whole of southern India to river Thungabhadra in the north India, for administrative and strategic purpose he built another capital and named Gangaikondacholapuram. The Gangaikondacholapuram temple, he constructed consists of 3 stories and surrounded by a huge fort like wall, the outer wall was greatly destructed during the English rule (1896 A.D) to reuse the building material (Granite rocks) for constructing the Lower Anicut (Dam across river Kollidam). He built around 10 temples at various places.
He assumed the title of Gangaikonda Cholan and named his new capital as Gangaikondacholapuram and he also constructed a huge Lake known as Chola Gangam that spreads 22 km mainly used for drinking and irrigation. A statue of Rajendra-I is found in Kolaram temple at Kolar of Karnataka state in India.
Rajendra the Builder
Gangaikonda Chola Rajendra I, was the son of Rajaraja I through his queen, Vanavan madevi, also called Tribhuvana madevi, evidently a Chera princess. Ardra was the star of Rajendra's nativity.
Rajendra was a boy when Rajaraja ascended the throne in 985 A.D. Under the care and guidance of his father, he grew up as the most powerful general in Tamil history. Once he reached twenty years old, he led a Chola army into the heart of the Western Chalukya kingdom. He was then called Narmadi Chola Rajendra Vidyadhara and the ornament of the Chola race. In this campaign Rajendra is said to have advanced as far north as Bijapur District with an army of 900,000 and as a result, territories upto Rattapadi were annexed to the Chola Empire. He is also identified with Pancavan Maraya, who served as the Mahadandanayaka of the Vengi and Ganga countries.
Between March 27th and July 7th, 1012 A.D, Rajendra was chosen heir apparent by Rajaraja. Rajendra jointly ruled with his father for nearly four years till 1016 A.D., when Rajaraja passed away.
On the state of the empire at the time of Rajendra's accession, Rajendra inherited from his father an extensive empire comprising the whole of the modern Madras and Andhra and parts of Mysore and the island of Ceylon. The administration had been carefully organized and a fairly powerful bureaucracy brought into existence, which while it scrupulously respected the 'liberties' feudal and corporate, of the various magnates and associations that studded the land, successfully maintained the king's peace and enforced all civil rights. The army was a strong and tried body of men, well able to defend the wide land frontier and to keep down any threatened outbreaks in areas newly subjected to the empire and ready for aggressive warfare abroad. The hold on Ceylon and some other islands like the Maldives islands was securely maintained by a powerful naval force which also served to protect the considerable overseas trade of the empire with the islands of the East Indies and with China. During the thirty-three years of his reign, Rajendra turned these initial advantages to the best possible use and succeeded in raising the Chola Empire to the position of the most extensive and most respected Hindu state of his time.
Rajendra fought many battles and won every one of them. For every victory he gained, he assumed a title commemorating his success. He also conferred titles on his victorious generals. The moment he assumed independent sovereignty, he embarked on a 'conquest of the quarters', the digvijaya.
The western Chalukyas were probably the first target of his attack. Rajendra conquered "Idaiturai-nadu, Banavasi, encircled by a continuous hedge of forest, Kollipakkai whose ramparts were surrounded by sulli trees, and Mannaikadakkam whose fortifications were unapproachable, all in a single campaign, directed against Satyasraya the Chalukya ruler. Idaiturai-nadu was the country between the rivers Krishna in the north and Tungabhadra in the south comprising a large part of the present Raichur District. "Kollippakkai lies about 45 miles north-east of Hyderabad and is now called Kulpak. Mannaikadakkam is identified with Manyakheda (modern Malkhed). In this campaign, the Chola emperor, crossed the Tungabhadra and attacked the capital of the Chalukyas. After completing his successful expedition in the north Rajendra started on a southern campaign in which he defeated the Pandyas, the Kerala ruler and finally the king of Ceylon. Of Rajendra's southern campaign the Thiruvalangadu copper charter gives the following account.
This famous and heroic king, possessed of a powerful army, and bent upon the performance of meritorious deeds with heaps of money acquired by his own arm, then set his heart upon a digvijaya.
Accordingly, after arranging for the protection of his own capital, the unrivalled king Uttama-Chola, first started in the direction marked by Trisanku (the south) desirous of conquering the Pandya king.
The commander dandanatha of the ornament of the solar race thereupon struck the Pandya king who had a great force; and the Pandya abandoned his home in fright and fled for refuge to the Malaya Mountain, the abode of Agastya.
Rajaraja's son the master of policy took possession of the bright spotless pearls, the seeds of the spotless fame of the Pandya kings.
After establishing there his own son Sri Chola Pandya for the protection of the Pandya country, the light of the solar race then proceeded to the conquest of the West.
Having heard of the ignominy sustained by kings at the hands of Bhargava in battle, this proud king, finding him on the face of the earth, developed a desire to conquer the lands created by him.
Who else other than this supreme lord (Paramesvara) can entertain the thought in his mind of subjugating the ancient land protected by the glory of the ornament of the Bhrgukula and free from the inroads of enemies?
The fearless Madhurantaka crossed the Sahya Mountain and forthwith set upon the Kerala in great force and there ensued a fierce battle which brought ruins upon kings.
After having conquered the Kerala kings and harrowed the land guarded by the austerities of the lord of the Bhrigus, the prince returned to his capital, the abode of prosperity.
Both the Pandya and Kerala countries were placed under the viceroyalty of his son who was crowned at Madurai, with the title Jatavarman Sundara-Chola Pandya. Rajendra is said to have built a palace at Madurai. The Chera king, Rajasimha, built a temple to Lord Vishnu at Mannarkoil, naming it Rajendra Chola Vinnagaram after Rajendra.
Rajendra then invaded Ceylon. His father had defeated earlier Mahinda V and annexed a major part of Ceylon to the Chola empire and named it Mummudi-Chola Mandalam with many sub divisions called Rajaraja Valanadu, Vikrama chola Valanadu etc. Rajendra’s expedition was thorough and complete. His Karandai plates record that "Rajendra conquered the king of Ceylon with a fierce army and seized his territory, his queen, and her crown, his daughter, all his wealth, his transport, and the spotless garland of India, and crown of the Pandya left in his charge; after having lost the battle and being shorn of his queen, son and other belongings, the king of Ceylon, out of fear, came and sought the two feet of Rajendra as shelter".
The Ceylonese chronicle, Mahavamsa confirms this account and states that with Pulattinagara as base the Cholas held sway over Raja ratta as far as the locality known as Rakkhapasanakanta ... king Mahinda dwelt twelve years in the Chola land and entered into heaven in the forty-eight years (from his ascent of the throne)".
Probably Rajendra personally headed his army and brought the entire island of Ceylon under Chola rule. Towards the end of his reign however, there was an uprising in south Ceylon which was dealt with by his able son, Rajadhiraja I.
Rajendra next sent his celebrated expedition to the Gangetic plain to bring holy waters to purify his own land, after inflicting crushing defeats on all enemy forces upto Bengal. His Thiruvalangadu copper charter states that "the light of the solar race (Rajendra), mocking Bhagiratha who by the force of his austerities caused the descent of the Ganga, set out to sanctify his own land with the waters of that stream brought by the strength of his arm.
"He seized Sakkarakottam, whose warriors were brave; Maduramandalam destroyed in a trice, the prosperous city of Namanaikkonam with its dense groves, Pancapalli whose warriors bore cruel bows, Masunidesa with its green fields, a large heap of family treasures together with many other treasures which he carried away after capturing the Indraratha of the ancient race of the moon together with his family in a fight which took place at Adinagar; a city whose great fame knew no decline, Oddavisaya which was difficult of approach on account of its dense forest defence; the good Kosalainadu, where Brahmins assembled; Tandabhutti, in whose gardens bees abounded, after having destroyed Dhammapala in a hot battle; Takkanaladam whose fame reached all directions and which be occupied after forcefully attacking Ranasura; Vangaladesa where the rain water never stopped and from which Govindachandra fled, having descended from his male elephant; elephants of rare strength, women and treasure which he seized after having been pleased to put to flight in a hot battlefield the strong Mahipala by the sound of a conch from the deep sea; Uttaraladam on the horses of the expansive ocean producing pearls and the Ganga whose waters bearing fragrant flowers dashed against the bathing places".
Rajendra's father had integrated the Eastern Chalukya kingdom of Vengi politically and dynastically with the Chola line. As a result of Rajendra's expedition all the countries north of Vengi, which included Kalinga, Odda, Southern Kosala, the lower and upper Lada and finally the Vangaladesa (Bengal) were made to bow before the might of this Chola emperor. Rajendra himself went upto the banks of the Godavari, where he awaited the return of his triumphant army, which brought Ganges water in golden vessels, carried on the heads of the vanquished rulers.
Almost a thousand years before Rajendra, a Chera king of the Sangam age, Senguttuvan had marched upto the Himalayas with an army to bring a stone to carve an image of Goddess Pattini, which he enshrined in a temple erected for the purpose. Two northern kings are said to have opposed Senguttuvan's march, but they were vanquished in a trice and made to carry the stone on their head. This account is recorded in the Silappadikaram. Some critics doubt its authenticity. But Rajendra's expedition was an important landmark. According to R.D. Banerjee, "the invasion of the great southern conqueror, Rajendra Chola I, seems to have left a permanent mark in Bengal. Some obscure Karnataka chief seems to have followed Rajendra and settled in West Bengal. From him was descended Samantasena, who is generally taken to be the founder of the Sena dynasty". To commemorate this celebrated victory, Rajendra assumed the title of Gangaikonda Chola, a name given not only to his new capital (Gangaikonda Cholapuram) but also to his temple.
The conquest of the overseas island of Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula forms the most important even in the life of Rajendra and perhaps in the annals of South Indian history. This triumphant naval expedition was directed against the ruler of Srivijaya who also held sway over Kadaram.
Rajaraja had cordial relations with Srimara Vijayottunga-varmen, the ruler of Srivijaya who visited the Chola country and erected a Buddhist Vihara in the name of his father for which Rajaraja gifted lands and money. After his father's death Rajendra confirmed the grant to this Vihara. But the relationship became strained subsequently. Either the flourishing overseas trade of Cholas was obstructed or Rajendra having conquered the countries in the north, west, and south wished to conquer the east, to complete his digvijaya. The Nicobar Islands, the upper and lower Sumatran islands known as Ilamuridesa, Srivijaya, Singapore, the Malay peninsula and the lower part of Burma were subjugated. A number of places where he fought are detailed in Rajendra's Tamil inscriptions.
'Rajendra having dispatched many ships in the midst of the rolling sea and having caught Sangrama Vijayottunga Varman, the king of Kadaram, together with the elephants in his glorious army, took the large heap of treasuries which that king had rightfully accumulated, captured with noise, the arch called Vidyadhara torana at the war-gate of his extensive city. Srivijaya which the jeweled wicked gated adorned with great splendour and the gate of large jewels; Pannai with water in its bathing ghats; the ancient Malaiyur with the strong mountain for its rampart; Mayirudingam surrounded by the deep sea as by a moat; Ilangasoka (Lankasoka) undaunted in fierce battles; Mappalam having fine walls as defence; Valaippanduru having Valaippanduru; Talaittakkolam praised by great men and (versed in) the sciences; Madamalingam, firm in great and fierce battles; Ilamuridesam whose fierce strength rose in war, Manakkhavaram in whose extensive flower gardens honey was collecting; and Kadaram of fierce strength which was protected by the deep sea'.
To commemorate his victories Rajendra assumed the title of Kadaramkonda chola. Rajendra thus completed a brilliant digvijaya "conquest of quarters', which made him a Chakravarti.
"The closing years of Rajendra's reign formed the most splendid period of the history of the Cholas of the Vijayalaya line. The extent of the empire was at its widest and its military and naval prestige stood at its highest. There remained the necessity ever present in military empires of carrying out punitive expeditions to suppress out breaks and keep the conquest territories under control. The emperor was ably assisted by his talented sons and other members of his family and the tasks of imperial administration were thus put in commission".
Rajendra had many titles like Madhurantaka, Uttama chola, Vira chola, Mudikonda chola, Pandita chola, Gangaikonda chola, Gangaiyum Purvadesamum Kadaramum Konda Ayyan. He had many queens of whom Vanavanmadevi, Mukkolilan, Pancavan madevi and Vira madevi deserve mention. The last mentioned entered the funeral pyre with her husband at his death.
Later history
The first Chola king to be crowned at Gangaikonda Cholapuram was Rajakesari Rajadhiraja I, the eldest son of Rajendra I. He had been installed as crown prince very early in Rajendra's reign (1018 A.D.) and till his death in 1054; he had a life of warfare. He is probably identical with Sundara Chola Pandya, who was installed as the viceroy of the Pandya country in his father's reign. He quelled a rebellion in Ceylon, conquered a Pandya who fomented trouble, and dealt severely with the ruler of Venad. In the north he led three expeditions against the Chalukyas, ransacked Kalyanapura, their capital, and captured Kollapura. To commemorate this victory he assumed the title, Kalyanapuramum, Kollapuramum Konda Vijayarajendra. A few sculptures of exceptional beauty were brought by him as war trophies from Kalyanapura. One of the sculptures bears an inscription recording the fact that it was brought by Vijayarajendra from Kalyanapura after its conquest. Evidently, the sculptures of Durga, Ganesa, and the solar pitha now in Gangaikonda cholapuram, were also brought home. Rajadhiraja performed the asvamedha, to celebrate his victories. In 1054, at an advanced age, he led his army against the Chalukyas and fought a battle at Koppam, on the banks of the Tungabhadra. Rajadhiraja was mortally wounded while seated on his elephant. The Chola army fell into disarray and began to retreat in great confusion. The Chalukya army pressed forward with great force. Rajadhiraja's younger brother, Rajendra II, who was stationed behind, marched forward at great risk. The Chola army regrouped itself and followed its master. Rajendra was wounded in the thigh and lost some of his close associates. Nothing daunted, Rajendra moved forward, killing many able Chalukya generals. The Chalukya army was shattered. Somesvara, the Chalukya king, fled. Many able Chalukya warriors lost their life or were taken prisoners. Thus Rajendra converted an almost imminent defeat into a brilliant success. As if to commemorate this brilliant success, Rajendra crowned himself king on the battlefield, while his wounds were still fresh on his body. Thus the second son of Rajendra I was crowned not at Gangaikondacholapuram, his capital, but on the battlefield. Rajadhiraja came to be called 'the elder brother who lost his life on an elephant'.
Rajendra II was succeeded by his younger brother Virarajendra, who also won victories over the Chalukya after winning a decisive battle against the Kalyani Chalukya, Vikramaditya. Virarajendra gave his daughter in marriage to him. The earliest epigraph found on the temple belongs to the reign of Virarajendra. The epigraph records the issue of orders by Virarajendra confirming the gifts made by his father Rajendra I, and elder brother Rajadhiraja I.
After Virarajendra passed away, his son Adhirajendra ascended the throne. He was quite friendly with his brother-in-law. Adhirajendra was a weak ruler, while Vikramaditya was shrewd and able. The trained and seasoned Chola generals saw a danger to the Chola Empire in this alliance. They refused to accept Adhirajendra. The Cholas always chose not the eldest son, but the ablest as their successors. The Chola generals were guided by this principle. But Vikramaditya came to the rescue Adhirajendra. Marching on Kanchi, he punished those who rebelled there and reaching Gangaikonda Cholapuram, crowned his brother-in-law as Chola king. He stayed there for two months to make the position of Adhirajendra secure and then returned to his capital. As soon as Vikramaditya left Gangaikonda Cholapuram, the Chola generals rebelled and in the uprising Adhirajendra lost his life.
Ammanga Devi, a daughter of Rajendra I was married to the Eastern Chalukya ruler, Rajaraja Narendra. Their son was named Rajendra, the future Kulottunga. From Kalingattup parani, a heroic poem composed on him by Jayamkondar, it is learnt that Kulottunga was born and brought up in Gangaikonda Cholapuram. He had his education, military and other training and was crowned Yuvaraja by Virarajendra at Gangaikonda Cholapuram. At the time of the uprising, at Gangaikonda Cholapuram Kulottunga was waging a war in the north. He at once rushed to Gangaikonda Cholapuram. The Chola generals found in him a capable ruler crowned him Chola emperor in the name of Kulottunga. He immediately restored peace in the kingdom. A fragmentary inscription mentioning his mother Ammangadevi is preserved in the Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple. One of his inscriptions is also found in the temple. It refers to a gift of land to some other temple. An inscription dated in his 41st regnal year, in the temple gives the prasasti of a Gahadavala king of Kanauj. The inscription does not give the name of the ruler or the nature of gift, as it is left unfinished. But according to K. A. N. Sastri it should be assigned to either Madanapala or his son, Govindachandra of Kanauj. It points to some dynastic connection between the Gahadavalas and the imperial Cholas. The Kalingattuparani a contemporary poem on Kulottunga refers to Gangaikonda Cholapuram as Gangapuri. Gangaikonda Cholapuram continued to be the capital of the successors of Kulottunga. Thus Vikrama Chola, Kulottunga II, Rajaraja II, Rajadhiraja II and Kulottunga III retained it as their capital. There are a few fragmentary records of Kulottunga III in the temple.
Kulottunga III was the last of the great Chola emperors. He won victories against Ceylon, Madurai, and Karuvur (the Cheras) and assumed the title of Conqueror of Madurai, Karuvur and Ilam. However, towards the close of his reign, the dynamic Maravarman Sundara Pandya humiliated him. He invaded the Chola country and razed Tanjore and Urandai to the ground and performed the Virabhisheka at Ayirattali and reached as far as Chidambaram. It is not known whether Sundara Pandya captured Gangaikonda Cholapuram. At any rate, it is not mentioned in his inscriptions. The humiliation marked the beginning of the decline and fall of the Chola Empire and with it of the Chola capital.
Kulottunga III did not live long after this defeat and was succeeded by an inefficient son Rajaraja III. The later was driven out of his capital by the Pandya and tried to escape to the north to join the Kuntalas (the Hoysalas of Mysore) but was intercepted by the Pallava chieftain, Kopperunjingan probably at Telklaru where Rajaraja was made a captive. Hoysala Narasimha successfully intervened and defeated the Pandya in the south. Hoysala generals captured Kopperunjinga's territory and released the Chola. Rajaraja III was recrowned at Gangaikonda Cholapuram as the Chola capital. Probably Rajaraja III had a preference for that place though Gangaikonda Cholapuram continued to be of importance.
Jatavarman Sundara, who ascended the Pandya throne in 1251, conquered territories upto Nellore and kept the Cholas under subjection. Probably the Chola was paying tribute to him. One of Sundara's inscriptions is found in the Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple dated in his second regnal year. Evidently, he captured the city in his very first regnal year. Sundara established a special worship named after him in the temple. Vikrama, who shared the Pandya throne with him, has left an inscription in the temple.
Sundara was succeeded by Maravarman Kulasekhara, another able ruler in 1268 A.D. He defeated and probably killed the last Chola Rajendra III, in Kannanur in 1279. Gangaikonda Cholapuram was included in his dominion and two inscriptions of him are found in the temple. After the death of Kulasekhara, in 1310 the Tamil country was invaded by Malik Kafur, a Muslim general and there was anarchy and confusion for a year. The Pandya hold on Gangaikonda Cholapuram seems to have been weakened though they continued to hold sway in a nominal way over this part of the country.
In 1365, Kumara Kampana, the Vijayanagara viceroy marched as far as Rameswaram and brought the southern country under his control. There are no records of any of the Vijayanagara rulers till 1463, nearly a hundred years after Kampana's conquest. There is a record of Thiruvengadamudaiyan Ekamranatha Gangeyan dated 1463, who probably was a subordinate of the Vijayanagara ruler Mallikarjuna. An inscription of Prauda Virupaksha, the son of Mallikarjuna dated in 1483, is in the temple. This proves that Gangaikonda Cholapuram was in the Vijayanagara empire. An inscription of Krishnadevaraya, in Tirthanagari (South Arcot) dated in 1517, records that the king gifted tax-free lands to many Siva and Vishnu temples in the Cholamandalam. Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple is amongst them.
In the early part of 16th century Gangaikonda Cholapuram was brought under the Udaiyarpalaiyam subdivision which became the seat of Arasukavalar, also called Poligar. They were local chieftains who acted as the subordinates of the Vijayanagar emperors. They were to keep in perpetual readiness certain number of elephants, cavalry and foot soldiers to march against any army when called upon. For this purpose they were allotted certain revenue from a number of villages, assigned to them. Gangaikonda Cholapuram thus became a part of Udaiyarpalaiyam subdivision.
After the fall of the Vijayanagar Empire, the poligar of Udaiyar palaiyam continued to hold an important position in the area. In 1756 the French invaded Udaiyarpalaiyam and forced the Poligar to pay a tribute of 40,000 Rupees. In 1765, the Nawab assisted by a party of English attacked the forts of Udaiyarpalaiyam. During these battles, Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple was probably used as a fort and considerably suffered damage. The bastions now found outside the enclosure walls in the west were probably erected during these wars. The district of Tiruchirappalli was handed over to the British East India Company in 1801 when the Poligar of Udaiyarpalaiyam was paid an allowance of Rs.1000. The estate was brought under the management of an agent of the Nawab. In 1817 the British Government restored a portion of the Palayam to the Poligar However Gangaikonda Cholapuram was excluded from it.
The greatest damage to the temple was done in 1836, when a dam was erected across the Kollidam about seven miles from the temple. For the supply of stones of the construction, some vandal members of the public works department pulled down the enclosure walls, the dilapidated gopuram, the front and great mandapa and carried away the stones.

An interesting account published in a local publications of 1855 and reproduced in the Indian Antiquary IV, page 274, states that 'speaking of the noble temple of Gangaikonda Cholapuram it must not be omitted that when the lower Coleroon anicut was built, the structure was dismantled of a large part of the splendid granite sculptures which adorned it and the enclosing wall was almost wholly destroyed in order to obtain materials for the work. The poor people did their utmost to prevent this destruction and spoilation of a venerated edifice by the servants of a government that could show no title to it; but of course without success; they were only punished for contempt. A promise was made indeed that a wall of brick should be built in place of the stone wall that was pulled down; but unhappily it must be recorded that this promise has never been redeemed.'