The Cholas dynasty of Tanjore rose into power in the 9th century A.D.
The founder of the Chola dynasty was a prince named Vijayalaya. His son, King Aditya defeated the contemporary Pallava king of Kanchi.
The next important King, Rajaraja Chola, conquered Kalinga in the north and Mysore in the south. He also possessed a powerful fleet with whose aid he conquered several islands in the Indian Ocean.
Rajendra Chola I, son of Rajaraja Chola, was the greatest among the Chola Kings. He defeated the Chalukyas, the Gangas and the Palas and his conquests reached as far as the bank of the Ganges. To commemorate his victory, he took the title of Gongaikonda and set up a new capital at Gongaikonda-Cholapuram. Like his father he also added overseas dominions to his Empire by conquering Nicobar and parts of the Malaya Peninsula.
Rajendra Chola II was the last powerful prince of the Chola dynasty. After his death the Cholas entered into a period of decline and the Empire was split up into a number of independent states.
The Cholas not only built up an extensive empire by land as well as by sea but they also kept it well governed. Their records bear witness to the excellent system of their administration. The king was the supreme head of the state. He ruled with the assistance of ministers and high officials. The latter not only counseled him, but often controlled him too. No royal order, for instance, could be effective without approval of the chief secretary.
The Chola kingdom was divided into number of provinces, usually governed by princes of the royal family. Each province (or mandalam) was subdivided into divisions known as Kattoms or Valanadus. Each division consisted of a number of districts or nadus. Nadu was divided into a number of villages known as Kurrams.
One of the interesting features of the Chola administration was the importance it attached to the institutions of popular assemblies. Each mandalam and nadu had an assembly of its own. Even the village had its own assembly. Members were elected by lot and they held office for a limited period.