They are mentioned as one of the south Indian ruling groups in Asoka's inscriptions (273-233 BCE). The Cholas dominated the east coast of peninsular India from a very early date and were associ-ated with the emergence of Tamil culture. The rise of Parantaka Chola (907-955) heralded the emergence of the Cholas as a major power in south India. The next important rulers, Rajaraja I (985-1014) and Rajendra I (1014-1044), brought about the consolidation of the Chola kingdom, leading to the extension of its control to Malabar and Ceylon. Rajendra I marched up to the Ganges River in the north and also conducted overseas campaigns to protect Indian commercial in-terests in southeast Asia. By the third quarter of the 12th century, the Chola ascendancy was waning, leading to the Pandyas superseding the Cholas as the dominant power of the Tamil country.
   Among the early southern states, the Chola kingdom was con-spicuous for having a centralized political organization where feudatories were ignored significantly. Chola central authority maintained contact with the cultivators on a wide scale. The high-sounding royal title chakravartigal and the cult of God kings of the Chola system defined its absolutist nature. The division of the Chola kingdom into provinces (mandalam), each one of them sub-divided into districts (valanadus), and the presence of other subdi-visions (kurram, nadu, or kottam) as well as the autonomy of vil-lage level government were some of the distinctive features of the Chola administration.

Historical dictionary of Medieval India. . 2011.

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