Here is a portrait of a map depicting the empire of the Chola Dynasty that ruled South India and parts of South East Asia under Rajendra Chola 1 in the 11th century. This map lies lost in a thatched hut which houses the museum as well. And the thatched hut is in a forgotten town called Gangaikondacholapuram, the erstwhile capital that once ruled over this entire empire. Today the town doesnt exist, except for an unfinished massive Brihadeshwara temple that resembles the one in Thanjavur, built by Rajendra’s father, Raja Raja Chola . Here is a painting of the king , Rajendra himself – in the same museum .

Please click on both the pictures to see the enlarged versions


  1. Hari Nair 1 May, 2009 at 18:08 Reply

    Hey – this is good stuff. Must go and check it out some day.

    These days, India’s colonising past is not very much part of our discourse. But it is very interesting. And especially the maritime ‘sphere of influence’ of the tamil people. Go to most places in South East Asia & Indo-china and you are immediately face to face with it. Here is a post with an interesting example of ancient India’s cultural influence.

  2. Anu 1 May, 2009 at 23:57 Reply

    are these paintings in the museum at gangaikondacholapuram, or is it a smaller colection of stuff? i have been wanting to go there since a long time, and you have given me one more reason to.

    For all those who have asked about the location, Gangaikondacholapuram is about 35 Kms from Kumbakonam in Tamilnadu. the temple here is huge, managed by the ASI (Archaelogical soc of India) and has some wonderful artefacts….

    Lakshmi, I envy you for this !!!!!

  3. Kamini 2 May, 2009 at 01:28 Reply

    When will we learn to appreciate our heritage and display our knowledge with pride – not leave things in a thatched hut, lost to most of the world?
    Great map and picture, thanks for sharing.

  4. Final_Transit 4 May, 2009 at 19:03 Reply

    That’s a huge chunk of territory! I wonder why they didn’t push for expansion to the north (continental India) instead. We would have been much better. 😉

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  6. GMG 7 May, 2009 at 14:45 Reply

    Hi Lakshmi! Another hectic week and my tour of blogosphere suffers… But it seems yours was even more frenzied or then a great vacation… ;))

    Blogtrotter ended the tour of temples in Old Town Vilnius. Enjoy and have a great weekend!

  7. vj 13 May, 2009 at 13:41 Reply

    hi laksmi

    The naval strike on srivijaya is a matter of intense debate. was there territorial expansion or just a clinical strike to cripple srivijaya is a question that has not been clearly answered.

    So technically they don’t count as territory. The cambodian king send tributes to Rajendra, so maybe you can treat him as a vassal.

    srilanka was annexed partly during Raja raja time and almost fully during Rajendra.

    The Maldives and adjoining islands also during Raja Raja – for a full list you should study the meikeerthi or prasithi – inscriptions of the cholas. These were true conquests with cholas ruling the lands – including administration.

    Rajendra’s famous ganges campaign extended his reach up north, but again, was he ruling upto there or the kingdoms just accepted his might is a point of contention.

    Whereas the same cannot be said about Rajendra’s naval assault. it was most possibly just that .. an assult. I have read some references here and there that the cholas had outposts in singapore and even in Aceh, but nothing more came from it.

    you can read more about them and the GKC temple in Dr. Nagaswamy’s site below

    The reason for this assault is a mystery – afterall srivijaya and cholas had a healthy relationship – with the srivijayan king building a buddhist monastry in nagapattinam and Raja raja gave grants for its upkeep. Somehow relations soured during Rajendra – some say it was due to trade privileges – others say that when the ambassador from Rajendra visited the Sung Dynasty court ( cholas sent 2 more after this) – he was introduced wrongly as a vassal of the srivijayan kingdom – did that insult spark the row…


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