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Cholas - 993 - 1070

What is known as the Chola country was disputed with varying fortunes by the Pallavas from the 2nd to the 9th century AD, when the Chola Rajas began to regain their authority about 860 AD. Wars with Ceylon, the Pallavas, and the Rashtrakutas took place in the 10th century; and at last there arose a King, Rajaraja the Great, who became unquestionably the Lord Paramount of the South. The Pallavas had already been reduced to complete dependence, and Rajaraja, who inherited their quarrels with the more Northern Kingdoms, completely defeated the Eastern Chalukyas and added Kalinga to his territories.

In the tenth century, the Sinhalese sent an invading army to India, this time to aid the Pandyan king against the Cholas. The Pandyan king was defeated and fled to Sri Lanka, carrying with him the royal insignia. The Chola, initially under Rajaraja the Great (AD 985-1018), were impatient to recapture the royal insignia; they sacked Anuradhapura in AD 993 and annexed Rajarata -- the heartland of the Sinhalese kingdom -- to the Chola Empire. King Mahinda V, the last of the Sinhalese monarchs to rule from Anuradhapura, fled to Rohana, where he reigned until 1017, when the Chola took him prisoner. He subsequently died in India in 1029.

Under the rule of Rajaraja's son, Rajendra (1018-35), the Chola Empire grew stronger, to the extent that it posed a threat to states as far away as the empire of Sri Vijaya in modern Malaysia and Sumatra in Indonesia. For seventy-five years, Sri Lanka was ruled directly as a Chola province. During this period, Hinduism flourished, and Buddhism received a serious setback. After the destruction of Anuradhapura, the Chola set up their capital farther to the southeast, at Polonnaruwa, a strategically defensible location near the Mahaweli Ganga, a river that offered good protection against potential invaders from the southern Sinhalese kingdom of Ruhunu.

The island waa for nearly a century in the almost entire possession of the Malabars, and complete anarchy is stated to have long prevailed over the whole; this being the case, it is not probable they would have been in a position to invade any place. Several Chola or Pandian kings have boasted in their edicts of the supremacy they exercised over Ceylon, and copper plates have been found where they are recorded. Although the invaders are generally called Malabars, they appear to have come from several parts of the continent, including Kalinga, or the northern Circars, Soilee, now Tanjore, and Mysore, also Pandya, or Madura, Southern India.

Prakrama Bahu I (1153 AD), according to the chronicles, was one of the most renowned of Sinhalese sovereigns, first successfully expelling the Malabar invaders, and then sending an expedition to the archipelago to avenge the insults of the kings of Cambodia, who intercepted ships between Ceylon and the continent; he next turned his arms against the Pandian kings in consequence of their assisting the Malabar invaders; having conquered them he founded a city, where he coined money, and then returned in triumph to Ceylon. When the Sinhalese kings regained their dominance, they chose not to reestablish themselves at Anuradhapura because Polonnaruwa offered better geographical security from any future invasions from southern India. The area surrounding the new capital already had a well- developed irrigation system and a number of water storage tanks in the vicinity, including the great Minneriya Tank and its feeder canals built by King Mahasena (AD 274-301), the last of the Sinhalese monarchs mentioned in the Mahavamsa.

The Malabars, in one of their forays under Chakawati, general of Kulasaikera, a Pandian prince, carried off the "Dalada" from the Yapahu to India (1303), where it remained until it was recovered a few years after by negociation. This Kulasaikera was probably one of the rulers of Mabar, called the Dewar Kelesa by Wassaf, who says he was slain in 1310 AD, after a reign of forty years.

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Page last modified: 05-05-2012 19:19:30 ZULU