Three states, namely, Cholas, Cheras, and Pandya emerged in south India.
Sangam literature believes that the dynasties of Chola, Chera, and Pandya belong to immemorial antiquity.
The Cholas have occupied the region of Kaveri delta and the adjoining area. The region of Kanchi was also part of the Cholas kingdom.
The Kingdom was situated towards the north-east of Pandya kingdom and it was also called as Cholamandalam in early medieval times.
In the beginning, its capital was Uraiyur in Tiruchirapalli, but subsequently shifted to Kaveripattanam. It was called as ‘Puhar’ at that time.
A Chola king, known as Elara, conquered Sri Lanka and ruled over it for about 50 years during the middle of the 2nd century B.C.
Karikala was a famous Chola king of the early time. He was credited because of his two achievements −
He had defeated the joint forces of Chera and Pandya kings and
He successful invaded Sri Lanka and ruled there.
Karikala was defeated in a great battle at Venni near Tanjore by a confederacy of (about) a dozen rulers headed by Chera and Pandya kings.
Karikala maintained a powerful navy and conquered Sri Lanka.
Karikala built big irrigation channels and embankment about a 160 km along the river Kaveri.
Karikala fortified the town and the famous sea part of Puhar at the mouth of the Kaveri.
Karikala was a great patron of literature and education.
He was a follower of Vedic religion and performed many Vedic sacrifices.
The successors of Karikala were quite weak and family members squabbled for power and position therefore the Chola kingdom faced confusion and chaos after Karikala.
Illanjetcenni was the only king after Karikala who is known. He had captured two fortresses from the Cheras. However, after Karikala, the Chola empire declined and the Cheras and Pandyas extended their territories.
The Cholas were reduced to a small ruling family from about the 4th to the 9th century A.D.