Chola chōˈlə [key], S Indian dynasty, whose kingdom was in what is now Tamil Nadu. Its chief capitals were at Kanchi (Kanchipuram) and Thanjavur (Tanjore). The Chola kingdom was one of the three of ancient Tamil tradition, but the dynasty had been virtually submerged for centuries when at the end of the 9th cent. a.d. it rose again. Under the famous rulers Rajaraja I (reigned 985–1014) and Rajendra I (reigned 1014–42) Chola power reached its zenith. The former conquered Kerala and occupied N Sri Lanka; the latter completed the conquest of Sri Lanka, invaded Bengal, and sent out a great naval expedition that occupied parts of Myanmar, Malaya, and Sumatra. For 300 years the Chola kingdom supported a flourishing social and economic life, marked by a flowering of Hindu culture. Its greatest architectural monument is an 11th-century temple at Tanjore, which was dedicated to Shiva in celebration of a military victory. By the 13th cent. the kingdom was in decline, and the dynasty ended in 1279.

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