• Our history books offer little to read about ancient Tamil kingdoms such as the Cholas which are much in discussion now.
  • When monumental eras like the Cholas are missing from the pages of history, the best option to know more about the ancient civilisation is to read from the available literature that talk of the valour and conquests of these kings of yore, their trade links and wealth, styles of administration, art and architecture, and cuisine and skills of the period.
  • The monumental relics left behind; the majestic bronzes and 1,00,000 inscriptions and temples which are characteristic of the times, are for the eyes to feast on.
  • All recent archaeological discoveries and interpretations are also a great way to explore.

Exhaustive collection

  • There is an interesting mix of Tamil and English books and novels by scholars and modern writers on the Dravidian kingdom.
  • A unanimous choice of historians is The Cholas (spelt The Colas) by Prof K. A. NilakantaSastri.
  • This account of the social, political and cultural history of the Chola dynasty from 850 to 1279 AD from Vijalaya Aditya I to Rajendra III, up to the end of the dynasty, is considered a pioneering work in South Indian History. 

The might and power

  • Nagapattinam to Suvarnadwipa, compiled by Hermann Kulke in 2009 has a lot of historical research on naval power and expeditions of the Chola kings.
  • Art historian C. Sivaramamurti has chronicled the architecture of the period in The Chola Temples: Thanjavur, Gangaikondacholapuram&Darasuram. Japanese historian Noboru Karashimahas written insightful volumes on the Cholas’ economic, social and administrative prowess.
  • Early Cholas: History, Art and Cuture by Dr. S. Swaminathan, gives a good account of the period from 850 AD to 970 AD that forms an important epoch in the history of Tamil Nadu.
  • The book is about how the early Chola rulers started from scratch and went on to establish a vast empire by their conquests and are best remembered for their contribution to rules relating to the mode of local administration and imprints on art, architecture and sculpture.

S.R. Balasubrahmanyman, published a series of books —

  1. Early Chola Art (1966); Early Chola Temples (1971); Middle Chola Temples (1977);
  2. Later Chola Temples (1979), two of which were co-authored by his son B. Venkataraman, who like his father had a passion for Chola art, history and architecture and was the first historian to compile information on the Rajarajesvaram and the Brihadeeshwara temples at Thanjavur from the epigraphs available there.


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