Gangaikonda Cholapuram | The story of Rajendra Chola's conquests - Storytrails
Every sight has a story to tell

Gangaikonda Cholapuram |The story of the Chola king who conquered the Gangetic plains

A long time ago, the mighty king of South India, Rajendra Chola, had conquered much of India's southern peninsula. And to celebrate his conquests, he wanted to build a new capital. To anoint this new city, he wanted nothing less than the sacred waters from the Ganges. So he set on a long expedition with his army to bring back the holy water from the river. But the expedition was not without danger. How did the Chola king not only conquer the kingdoms along the way but also go on to make the largest manmade lakes in India?

Gangaikonda Cholapuram was the capital city of Rajendra Chola, the greatest Chola king that ever lived. Born to an illustrious father, Raja Raja Chola, this mighty king ruled over large parts of south India over 1000 years ago. He wanted to anoint his new capital city with water from River Ganga. So he sent his army on a long expedition from Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu all the way to modern day Bangladesh. His army defeated many kingdoms en route, and brought back water from the holy river Ganga. He poured this water into a lake he built, the Chola Gangam, one of the largest manmade lakes in India till date. Gangaikonda Cholan literally means the Chola king who conquered the (plains of) River Ganga. Rajendra Chola commanded the largest blue water navy in Indian history, and used it effectively to subdue Srivijaya, a southeast Asian kingdom that lay 3000 kilometres away. The magnificent Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple was built by him and it still stands tall as a charming celebration of his might and power.

All images and video footage of Gangaikonda Cholapuram by Studio A

Brihadisvara Temple inscription reading “Rajaraja”

By David George – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Rajendra Chola in Battle, Kolaramma Temple, Kolar

By WestCoastMusketeer – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, 

Brihadeeswarar Temple from the right side

By Nirinsanity – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, 

A Siamese painting depicting the Chola raid on Kedah.

By Everdawn at en.wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, 

Ornamented pillar Darasuram

By Ravichandar84 at English Wikipedia, CC BY 3.0, 




You might also be interested in

The Sengol may or may not have a place in contemporary India, but historically it was considered as a symbol of righteousness and justice, to be wielded only by a worthy leader. Interestingly, the British Crown Jewels also include a sceptre – not untainted by controversy. Read on for the story of the Indian Sengol and the British sceptre.
Kalki Krishnamurthy’s magnum opus, Ponniyin Selvan, is a masterpiece in historical fiction. Based on the real events surrounding Raja Raja Chola's accession to the throne, the novel serves up an enticing concoction of espionage, deceit, desire and valour, topped with an ancient murder mystery. What is the real story? And can truth really be stranger than fiction?
This podcast focuses on the son of Rajaraja Chola the great - Rajendra Chola. Who was the greatest Chola king? Listen in, as we tell you the story of a southern king who took his campaigns to the Gangetic plains, Srilanka, Maldives and South East Asia. This story takes you to Gangaikonda Cholapuram, the capital city he built a 1000 years ago, with a marvellous temple that still stands.
In a small village near Madurai, the village gods are quite unlike the Vedic gods. They may look fearsome and grim, but have colourful and human personalities. They are the go-to gods in case of any trouble, illness or grief. The ancient village gods of Tamil Nadu are the personal guardians of the village, the protectors of the people and have a specific role to play in the lives of Keezha Kuil Kudi village people.
In 2015, on the banks of the river Vaigai, near Madurai in Tamil Nadu, archaeologists unearthed several artefacts dating back to the 6th century BCE. They offered many clues to the archaeologists about that civilisation: it told them about the language and literacy levels, the social hierarchy, and the age of the civilisation. What are now known as the ‘Keeladi excavations’ point to the existence of a literate society in parts of South India nearly 2,500 years ago!
The mighty Brihadeeswara temple in Thanjavur is a 1000 year-old engineering marvel and one of the tallest structures of its time. It is considered Rajaraja Chola’s magnum opus. Join us on this podcast by Storytrails, as we explore the rich history and the many myths that surround this famous temple.