Chera dynasty

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Capital Early Cheras
  • Vanchi
  • Karuvur
  • Muchiri (Muziris)
  • Thondi (Tyndis)

Kongu Cheras

  • Vanchi Karur (Karur)

Kodungallur Cheras (Kulasekharas)

Venadu Cheras

Common languages Tamil
Religion Hinduism
Today part of  India

The Chera dynasty was one of the principal dynasties in the early history of the present day states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu and union territory of Puducherry in southern India.[1][2] Together with the Cholas and the Pandyas, the early Cheras were known as one of the three major political powers of ancient Tamilakam (southern India) in the early centuries of the Common Era.[1][3]

The Cheras owed their importance to exchange of spices and other products with the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean (Graeco-Roman) merchants. The geographical advantages, like the favourable Monsoon winds which carried ships directly from the Arabia to Kerala as well as the abundance of exotic spices in the interior Ghat mountains and the presence of a large number of rivers connecting the Ghats with the Arabian Sea combined to make the Cheras a major power in ancient southern India.[4][2]

Along with the Ay-Vels in the south and the Ezhimala Mushakas in the north, the early Cheras formed the three principle ruling polities of ancient Kerala.[5] The age and antiquity of the Cheras is difficult to establish.[6] The exact location of the Chera homeland is also a matter of scholarly debate.[7][8] The early Cheras of the Sangam period (early centuries of the Common Era) are known to have established bases at various locations such as Vanchi, Karuvur, Muchiri (Muziris) and Thondi (Tyndis) among others.[8] After the end of the Sangam period, around the 5th century CE, there seems to be a period where the Cheras' power declined considerably.[9]

The bardic collection known as the Sangam (the Academy) literature mentions the names of a number of Chera rulers, and the court poets who extolled them. The internal chronology of this collection is still far from completely settled and a connected account of the history of the period is an area of active research. Uthiyan Cheral, Nedum Cheral Athan and Chenguttuvan are some of the rulers referred to in the Sangam literature. Chenguttuvan, the most celebrated of the Cheras, is famous for the legends surrounding Kannaki, the heroine of the Tamil epic Chilapathikaram.[10][8] Other sources for the early Cheras include rare inscriptions, coin collections, classical Sanskrit works and accounts by Graeco-Roman writers.[8]

The 'Kongu' Cheras are also known to have controlled Karur Vanchi in central Tamil Nadu at various points in time.[8] The Cheras of Makotai/Kulsekharas (former Muchiri, modern Kodungallur) were in power between c. 9th and 12th century in Kerala.[11][12] The exact nature of the relationships between the various lines of Chera rulers is somewhat unclear.[8] It is known that the Cheras were intermittently subject to the Pandya Kingdom and the Chola Empire among others.[9] The rulers of Venadu, based out of the port of Kollam in southern Kerala, claimed their ancestry from the Kodungallur Cheras.[9] Ravi Varma Kulasekhara, their most ambitious ruler, set out to expand his kingdom by annexing the ruins of the other southern kingdoms.[13] In the modern period the rulers of Cochin and Trivandrum (in Kerala) also claimed the title "Chera".[12]


The etymology of "Chera" is still a matter of considerable speculation among historians. One approach proposes that the word is derived from Cheral, a corruption of Charal meaning "declivity of a mountain" in Tamil, suggesting a connection with the mountainous geography of Kerala.[a] Another theory argues that the Cheralam is derived from cher (sand) and alam (region), literally meaning, "the slushy land".[b] Apart from the speculations mentioned, a number of other theories do appear in historical studies.[c][d]

In non-Tamil sources, the Cheras are referred to by various names. The Cheras are referred as Kedalaputo (Sanskrit: "Kerala Putra") in the Emperor Ashoka's Pali edicts (3rd century BCE).[16] While Pliny the Elder and Claudius Ptolemy refer to the Cheras as Kaelobotros and Kerobottros respectively, the Graeco-Roman trade map Periplus Maris Erythraei refers to the Cheras as Keprobotras.[17]

The term Cheralamdivu or Cheran Tivu and its cognates, meaning the "island of the Chera kings", is a Classical Tamil name of Sri Lanka that takes root from the term "Chera".[18]


Early Cheras

The Cheras are referred as Kedalaputo (Sanskrit: "Kerala Putra") in the Emperor Ashoka's Pali edicts (3rd century BCE).[16] The earliest Graeco-Roman accounts referring to the Cheras are by Pliny the Elder in the 1st century CE, in the periplus of the 1st century CE, and by Claudius Ptolemy in the 2nd century CE. [19] One of the earliest Sanskrit works which refers to the Cheras is probably the Aitareya Aranyaka in which the Cherapadah are noted as one of the three peoples who did not follow some ancient injunctions. There are also brief references by Katyayana (4th century BCE), Patanjali (2nd century BCE) and Kautilya (c. 4th century BCE) though Panini (5th century BCE) does not mention the land.[20]

A large body of Tamil works collectively known as the Sangam (the Academy) literature describes a number of southern Indian rulers.[21][22] Among them, the most important sources for the Cheras are the Pathitrupathu, the Akananuru, the Purananuru.[20] The Pathitrupathu, the fourth book in the Ettuthokai anthology, mentions a number of rulers and heirs-apparent of the Chera family. Each ruler is praised in ten songs sung by the court poet.[23][21] However, the book is not worked into connected history and settled chronology so far.[24] Uthiyan Cheral, Nedum Cheral Athan and Chenguttuvan are some of the rulers referred to in the Sangam literature. A method, known as Gajabahu-Chenguttuvan synchronism, is used by some historians to help date early Tamil Sangam literature.[25] Despite its dependency on numerous conjectures, the method is considered as the sheet anchor for the purpose of dating the events in the Sangam literature.[26][27][28]

The legendary Chera ruler Chenguttuvan is famous for the events surrounding Kannaki, the heroine of the Tamil epic Chilapathikaram.[10][8][8]

Archaeology has found epigraphic evidence of the early Cheras.[29][unreliable source?][dead link] Two identical inscriptions near Tiruchirappalli, dated to the 2nd century CE, describe three generations of Chera rulers of the Irumporai clan. They record the construction of a rock shelter for Jains on the occasion of the investiture of Ilam Kadungo, son of Perum Kadungo, and the grandson of Athan Cheral Irumporai.

Chera rulers according to the Sangam literature (c. 1st - 4th century AD)
Family tree of the rulers of the Chera dynasty (c. 1st - 4th century AD). Compiled from A Survey of Kerala History (1967) by A. Sreedhara Menon
  • Uthiyan Cheral Athan - first of the known ruler of the Chera family, Uthiyan Cheral was also known as "Vanavaramban" Perumchettutiyan Cheral Athan. His headquarters was at Kuzhumur in Kuttanad. Poet Mamulanar credits him with having conducted a feast in honour of his ancestors. In a battle at Venni, Uthiyan Cheral was wounded on the back by the Chola ruler Karikala Chola. Unable to bear the disgrace, the Chera committed suicide by starvation.[30]
  • Nedum Cheral Athan - Nedum Cheral Athan is the hero of the second decade of Pathitrupathu which was composed by the poet Kannanar. In the poems, Nedum Cheral Athan is praised for having subdued "seven crowned kings" to achieve the title of adhiraja. With characteristic exaggeration, Kannanar also lauds the king for conquering foes from Kumari to the Himalayas. Nedum Cheral Atan, famous for his hospitality, gifted Kannanar with a part of Umbarkkattu. The greatest of his enemies were the Kadambas whom he defeated in battles. He also won another victory over the Yavanas (Westerners) on the coast. Nedum Cheral Athan was killed in a battle with a Chola ruler. The Chola is also said to have been killed by a spear thrown at him by Nedum Cheral Athan.[30]
  • Chenguttuvan - Vel Kelu Kuttuvan, son of Nedum Cheral Athan, ascended to the Chera throne after the death of his father. He is often identified with the legendary Kadal Pirakottiya "Chenguttuvan Chera", the most illustrious ruler of the early Cheras. Under his reign, the Chera territory extended from Kollimalai in the east to Thondi and Mantai on the western coast. The queen of Senguttuvan was Illango Venmal (the daughter of a Velir chief).[31][page needed]

In the early years of his rule, Chenguttuvan successfully intervened in a dispute in the Chola territory. The war was among the Chola princes and the Cheras stood on the side of their relative Killi. The rivals of Killi were defeated in a battle at Neriyavil, Uraiyur and he firmly established the Chola throne. A combined land and naval expedition against the Kadambas was also successful. The Kadambas had the support of the Yavanas, who were routed in the Battle of Idumbil and Valyur. The fort of Kodukur in which the Kadamba warriors took shelter was stormed and the Kadambas was beaten. In the following naval expedition the Yavana-supported Kadamba warriors were crushed. He is said to have defeated the Kongu people and a warrior called Mogur Mannan.[10]

Ilango Adigal author of the legendary Tamil epic Chilapathikaram describes Chenguttuvan as his elder brother. He also mentions Chenguttuvan's decision to propitiate a temple (virakkallu) for the goddess Pattini (Kannaki) at Vanchi.[citation needed] Chenguttuvan Chera was perhaps a contemporary of Gajabahu, king of Sri Lanka. Gajabahu, according to the Sangam poems, visited the Chera country during the Pattini festival at Vanchi.[32][unreliable source?] In the context of Gajabahu’s rule in Sri Lanka, Chenguttuvan can be dated to either the first or last quarter of the 2nd century CE.[10]

Ilango Adigal, author of the epic Chilapathikaram
  • Selva Kadumko Valia Athan - Selvakadumko Valia Athan was the son of Anthuvan Cheral and the hero of the 7th set of poems composed by Kapilar. His residence was at the city of THondi. He married the sister of the wife of Nedum Cheral Athan. Selva Kadumko defeated the combined armies of the Pandyas and the Cholas. He is sometimes identified as the Athan Cheral Irumporai mentioned in the Aranattar-malai inscription of Pugalur.[33]
  • Perum Cheral Irumporai - "Tagadur Erinta" Perum Cheral Irumporai defeated the combined armies of the Pandyas, Cholas and that of the chief of Tagadur. He destroyed the famous Tagadur which was ruled by the powerful ruler Adigaman Ezhni. He is also called "the lord of Puzhinadu and "the lord of Kollimala" and "the lord of Puhar". Puhar was the Chola headquarters. Perum Cheral Irumporai also annexed the territories of a minor chief called Kaluval.[34]
  • Illam Cheral Irumporai - Illam Cheral Irumporai defeated the Pandyas and the Cholas and brought immense wealth to his base Vanchi. He is said to have distributed these treasures among the Pana poets.[34]
  • Yanaikatchai Mantaran Cheral Irumporai - King Yanaikatchai Mantaran Cheral Irumporai ruled from Kollimalai in the east to Thondi and Mantai on the western coast. He defeated his enemies in a battle at Vilamkil. The famous Pandya ruler Nedum Chezhian captured Mantharan Cheral as a prisoner. However, he managed to escape and regain the lost territories.[35]
  • Kanaikkal Irumporai - Kanaikkal Irumporai is said to have defeated a chief called Muvan and imprisoned in him. The Chera then brutally pulled out the teeth of the prisoner and planted them on the gates of the city of Thondi. Upon capture by the Chola ruler Sengannan Kanaikkal committed suicide by starvation.[35]

Decline of Early Cheras

After the end of the Sangam period, c. the 5th century CE, there seems to be a period where the Chera family's political prestige and influence declined considerably.[9]

An approximate extend of Kalabhra supremacy in southern India. Kalabhras controlled large parts of southern India in the c. 5th and 6th centuries CE

Little is known for certain about the Chera family during this period. Tradition tells that the Kalabhra rulers kept the Chera, Chola and Pandya rulers in their confinement. The Kalabhras were marginalised c. the 6th century by the rise of the Chalukyas, Pallavas and Pandyas.[12] The Rashtrakutas were other major power in southern India. They all claim to have overrun the Cheras. A number of inscriptions mentions their victories over the kings of Cheras.[36][37] [38] Small buffer kingdoms, such as that of the Ay-Vels, oscillated their allegiance in these period between major rulers.[39][40][41] By 8th century CE, Chera kingdom seems to have divided into two separate polities, one based at Karur in central Tamil Nadu and the other one based at Kodungallur in Kerala. Royal inscriptions, the major source of information about the rulers of this period, obnoxiously refer both clans as the Cheras. Identification of the Cheras in each record is a matter of major scholarly discourse.[8][9]

The Chera kingdom and chieftaincies, c. 11th century.[42]

Kodungallur Cheras (Kulasekharas)

A line of rulers, described in royal charters and temple inscriptions as the Chera kings, are known to have ruled what is now Kerala between c. 8th and 12th century AD.[3] The base of their rule was the city of Makotai (Sanskrit: Mahodayapura), modern Kodungallur. The history of Kerala during this period is an active area of scholarly research and debate. Historians tend to identify Nayanar saint Cherman Perumal and Alwar saint Kulasekhara Alwar with some of the earliest rulers of this kingdom.[43][44]

The Cheras of Kodungallur were intermittently subject to the Pandyas and the Chola Empire. They strategically fought battles and formed alliances with the Pandyas and the Cholas.[45][46] The Chera kingdom was eventually dissolved in 12th century, and most of its autonomous chiefdoms became independent. Venadu in southern Kerala was one of these daughter states. [47][48][49][3] In the modern period the rulers of Cochin and Travancore (in Kerala) also claimed the title "Chera".[12]

The Kodungallur Cheras (Kulasekharas) according to:
Elamkulam Kunjan Pillai[50] M. G. S. Narayanan[51]
  • Kulashekhara Varma (c. 800–c.820 CE)
  • Rajashekhara (c. 820–844 CE)
  • Sthanu Ravi Varma (844–c. 885 CE)
  • Rama Varma (c. 885–917 CE)
  • Kota Ravi Varma (917–947 CE)
  • Indu Kota Varma (944–962 CE)
  • Bhaskara Ravi Varma I (962–1019 CE)
  • Bhaskara Ravi Varma II (979–1021 CE)
  • Vira Kerala (1021–c. 1028 CE)
  • Rajasimha (c. 1028–c.1043 CE)
  • Bhaskara Ravi Varma III (c. 1043–c.1082 CE)
  • Ravi Rama Varma (c. 1082–1090 CE)
  • Rama Varma Kulashekhara (1090–1102 CE)
  • Rama Rajasekhara (c. 800–844 CE)
  • Sthanu Ravi Kulasekhara (c. 844–883 CE)
  • Kota Ravi Vijayaraga (c. 883–913)
  • Kota Kota Kerala Kesari (c. 913–c.943 CE)
  • Indu Kota (943–962 CE)
  • Bhaskara Ravi Manukuladitya (962–1021)
  • Ravi Kota Rajasimha (c. 1021– c.1036 CE)
  • Raja Raja (c. 1036–1089 CE)
  • Ravi Rama Rajaditya (c. 1036–1089 CE)
  • Adityan Kota Ranaditya (c. 1036–1089 CE)
  • Rama Kulasekhara (1089–1122 CE)


Monarchy was considered the most important political institution of the Chera kingdom, though the extent of state formation is disputed.[8] There was a high degree of pomp and pageantry associated with the person of the king. The king wore a gold crown studded with precious stones. The king was an autocrat, but his powers were limited by the counsel of ministers and scholars. The king held daily durbar to hear the problems of the common men and to redress them on the spot. The royal queen had a very important and privileged status and she took her seat by the side of the king in all religious ceremonies.[52]

Another important institution was the manram which functioned in each village of the Chera kingdom. Its meetings were usually held by the village elders under a banyan tree, and helped in the local settlement disputes. The manrams were the venues for the village festivals as well.[53] In the course of the imperial expansion of the Cheras, the members of the royal family set up residence at several places of the kingdom. They followed the collateral system of succession according to which the eldest member of the family, wherever he lived, ascended the throne. Junior princes and heir-apparents (crown princes) helped the ruling king in the administration.[54]

Revenue was accrued through a combination of taxes on land and trade. It is unclear as to the share of the agricultural produce that was accrued by the state. Taxes were imposed on internal trade as well articles for exports and imports and this brought in a lot of revenue. Smuggling was heavily cracked down upon and elaborate arrangements were made for security in the kingdom. Roads were patrolled at night by watchmen with torches. The Cheras had a well-equipped army which consisted of infantry, cavalry, elephants and chariots. They were also in possession of an impressive navy fleet which was regarded as one of the most powerful in the Sangam era.[52] The Chera soldiers made offering to the war goddess Kottavai before any military operation. It was traditional when the Chera rulers were victorious in a battle to wear anklets made out of the crowns of the defeated rulers.[55]

Mahodayapuram (Makotai or Vanchi - present-day Kodungallur) was the headquarters of Kuda Cheras ("the Western Cheras") between c. 8th and 12th centuries CE. It was spread around.[56] The city was built around Thiruvanchikkulam Siva Temple.[31][page needed]

Kodungallur was centre of learning and science in medieval period. A well-equipped observatory functioned at the capital under the charge of Sankaranarayana (c. 840 – c. 900), the Chera court astronomer.[57] It functioned in accordance with the rules of astronomy laid down by Aryabhata. The Chera ruler, Sthanu Ravi, equipped a section of the observatory with some special yantras (Rasi Chakra, Jalesa Sutra, Golayantra etc.) and hence it came to be called Ravi Varma Yantra Valayam. It seems that arrangements had been made in the city for recording correct time and announcing it to the public from different centres by the tolling of bells at regular intervals of a ghatika (25 minutes). This practice (nazhikakkottu) continued until the early 15th century.[58]


Foreign trade

Silk Road map showing ancient trade routes

Chera trade with foreign countries around the Mediterranean sea can be traced back to before the Common Era and was substantially consolidated in the early years of the Common Era.[59][unreliable source?][60][unreliable source?] In the 1st century of the Common Era, the Romans conquered Egypt, which helped them to establish dominance in the Arabian sea trade. The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea portrays the trade in the kingdom of Cerobothras in detail. Muziris was the most important port in the Malabar coast, which according to the Periplus, abounded with large ships of Romans, Arabs and Greeks. Bulk spices, ivory, timber, pearls and gems were exported from the Chera ports to Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Phoenicia and Arabia.[61] The Romans brought vast amounts of gold in exchange for pepper.[62][unreliable source?][dead link][63][unreliable source?][64][page needed] This is testified by the large number of Roman coins that have been found in various parts of Kerala. Pliny, in the 1st century CE, laments about the drain of Roman gold into India and China for unproductive luxuries such as spices, silk and muslin. This trade declined with the decline of the Roman empire in the 3rd-4th centuries CE.[citation needed]

There were also extensive trade contacts with the Chinese and this is confirmed[citation needed] by the discovery of Chinese coins from the 1st century CE. It is speculated by some authors[who?] that the trade with China is older and lasted longer than the trade with the Greeks and the Phoenicians. Kollam was an important port of trade with the Chinese and Marco Polo, in the 15th century CE, discovers extensive trade ties between Kerala and China, mainly in the trade of pepper.[citation needed]

Society and culture

Early Cheras

Chera kingdom in the Sangam Period

Most of the Chera population followed native Dravidian practices. The worship of departed heroes was a common practice in the Chera kingdom along with tree worship and other kinds of ancestor worship. The war goddess Kottavai was propitiated with elaborate offerings of meat and toddy. The Cheras probably worshipped this mother goddess. It is theorised that Kottavai was assimilated into the present-day form of the goddess Durga. There is no evidence of snake worship in the Chera realms during the Sangam Age.[65] It is thought that the first wave of Brahmin migration came to the Chera kingdom around the 3rd century BCE behind the Jain and Buddhist missionaries. It was only in the 8th century CE that the Aryanisation of the Chera country reached its climax.[66]

Though the vast majority of the population followed native Dravidian practices, a small percentage of the population followed Jainism, Buddhism and Brahmanism. These three philosophies came from regions in northern India to the Chera kingdom.[65] Populations of Jews and Christians were also known to have lived in these territories.[67][68][69]

The division of the society into castes and communities was conspicuously absent and practices of untouchability and exclusiveness were unknown. There was dignity of labour accorded to all work and no one was looked down upon due to their work or occupation.[53] A striking feature of the social life of the Cheras in the Sangam age is the high status accorded to women. Women enjoyed freedom of movement as well as the right to full education. Child marriage was unknown in the early Sangam era and adult marriage was the general rule. The practice of 'bride-price', where the groom would pay the girl's parents, appears to be prevalent in the time. Women were free to follow any occupation though most of them were involved in weaving or the sale of goods.[70] A martial spirit was pervasive and women even went to the battlefield along with the men, largely playing a key role in keeping up the morale of the fighting forces.[citation needed]

Agriculture was the primary occupation of the people and rice was the main staple of the people. Various agricultural occupations such as harvesting, threshing and drying are described. Fish and meat were also eaten liberally. There is a mention of ney-ven choru or butter-laden rice with meat of the best quality being served to guests assembled for a wedding (mentioned in Agam 136). Liquor, mainly wines, that were brought by the Yavanas (or Westerners) was quite popular. However, the local population was partial to palm-wine or Toddy. Music, poetry and dancing provided entertainment for the people. And poets and musicians were held in high regard in society. Sangam literature is full of references about the lavish patronage extended to court poets. There were professional poets and poetesses who composed poems praising their patrons and were generously rewarded for this. Musical instruments such as drums, pipes and flutes were also known in the time.[71]

Later Cheras

The early period of the Kulasekharas i.e. the period of the 9th and 10th centuries constitutes a "golden period" in the history of Kerala. There was great patronage of the arts, literature and science and several important contributions in these fields were made during this period. At its height, the Kulasekhara empire comprised almost all of modern-day Kerala, some parts of the Nilgiri hills and parts of the Salem-Coimbatore regions. Political administration was distributed federally and the various areas were divided into various administrative provinces called nadus. The southern-most region was the Venad, comprising regions of modern-day Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam, while the northern-most was called the Kolathunadu and comprised areas of Kannur and Kasaragod. The administration of these nadus was carried out by feudatory local chieftains also known as naduvazhis. These chieftains were overseen by royal representatives named koyiladhikarikal who were usually selected from the blood relations of the Kulasekhara's family.Each of these nadus or provinces were sub-divided into smaller Desams. These desams were governed by desavazhis who were usually selected by the local representative bodies named kuttams.[72]

The Chera state had extensive trade relations with countries of the outside world. The most important ports of this period were Kandalur (near Vizhinjam), Kollam and Kodungallur. Sulaiman and al-Mas'udi, the Arab travellers who visited the Malabar Coast during the period, have testified to the high degree of economic prosperity achieved by the state from its foreign trade. Sulaiman makes specific mention of the brisk trade with China. A number of copper-plates and inscriptions testify to the high importance given to trade corporations and merchant guilds.[73]

The Kulasekhara period is characterised by a great flowering of the arts and literature. Several notable works in Sanskrit and Tamil were written during this period under the patronage of the Kulasekharas who themselves indulged in authoring several works. Malayalam emerged with its own distinct script around this period, around the Kollam era (early 9th century). Hinduism as a religion, became more prominent around this period and was accompanied by a corresponding decline in Buddhism and Jainism. There was an increase in the number of Vedic schools called salais and an increase in their prestige with the widespread prominence of the Advaita philosopher, Adi Shankara, who was born at Kaladi on the banks of the river Periyar.[74] The Kulasekhara empire was characterised by eclectic beliefs and religious harmony that was free from sectarian conflict evidenced by the simultaneous existence of several religions. This is also evidenced in the form of grants given to Christians as well as copper-plate grants given to the Jews of Kochi.[75]

Copper-plate grants

Vazhappally script
Vazhappally plates (detail)

The Vazhapally Plates are a set of copper-plate grants issued by Kulasekhara Mahodayapuram king, Rajashekhara Varman (820–844).[76]

The Tharisapalli plates are a set of copper-plate grants issued to Mar Sapir Iso, the leader of the Saint Thomas Christians by Ayyan Atikal Thiruvatikal in 849, conferring on the Palli and Palliyar a large number of privileges, including the 72 royal rights. These copper-plates are still present at Devalokam Aramana Kottayam, the headquarters of Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (successor to the Saint Thomas Christians).[76][77][page needed][78][page needed]

The Jewish copper plate was given to the Cochin Jews by the Kulasekhara king, Bhaskara Ravi Varman I (962–1019 CE). This inscription conferred on a Jewish leader, Joseph Rabban, the rights of the Anjuvannam and 72 other proprietary rights.[79][80]

Cheras of Venadu

In the absence of a central power at Makkotai, the divisions of the Chera kingdom soon emerged as principalities under separate chieftains. The post-Chera period witnessed a gradual decadence of the Nambudiri-Brahmans and rise of the Nairs.[citation needed]

The original Chera dynasty migrated to Kollam (Quilon) and merged with the Ay kingdom. Ramavarma Kulasekhara, the last Chera King of Makotaiya Puram (Kodungaloor), became the first ruler of the Chera-Ai Dynasty and was called Ramar Thiruvadi.[citation needed]

The rulers of the kingdom of Venadu, based at port Quilon in southern Kerala, trace their relations to the Perumals of Makkotai. Venadu ruler Kotha Varma (1102–1125) probably conquered Kottar and portions of Nanjanadu from the Pandyas. Under the reign of Vira Ravi Varma the system of government became very efficient, and village assemblies functioned vigorously. Udaya Marthanda Varma's tenure was noted for the close relationship between the Venadu and Pandyas. By the time of Ravi Kerala Varma (1215–1240), Odanadu kingdom had acknowledged the authority of the Venadu rulers. The next Venadu ruler Padmanabha Marthanda Varma is alleged to have been killed by Vikrama Pandya in 1264 CE.[31][page needed]

The Pandyas probably led a successful military expedition to Venadu and captured the capital city of Quilon between 1250 and 1300 CE. The records of Jatavarman Sundara Pandya and Maravarman Kulasekhara Pandya testify to the establishment of Pandya rule over Venadu Cheras.[81]

Ravi Varma Kulasekhara

Ravi Varma Kulasekhara, the last of the Venadu kings, ruled Venadu as a vassal of the Pandyas till the death of king Maravarman Kulasekhara. After the death of the king he became independent and even claimed the throne of the Pandyas (Ravi Varma had married the daughter of the deceased Pandya ruler). He later annexed large parts of southern India and raised Venadu Cheras to the position of a powerful military state for a short time. The chaotic succession battles in the Pandya kingdom helped his conquests. The Venadu ruler invaded the Pandya kingdom and defeated the forces of Vira Pandya. After annexing the entire Pandya state, he was crowned as "Emperor of South India" in 1312 at Madurai. He later annexed Tiruvati and Kanchi (the Chola kingdom). Under Ravi Varma Venadu attained a high degree of economic prosperity.[82]

The success of Ravi Varma was short lived and soon after his death the region became a conglomeration of warring states. Venadu itself transformed into one these states. The line of Venadu kings after Ravi Varma continued through the law of matrilineal succession.[citation needed]

Aditya Varma Sarvanganatha (1376–1383) is known have defeated the Muslim raiders of the south and checked the tide of Islamic advance. Under the rule of Chera Udaya Marthanda Varma, the Venadu gradually extended their sway over the Tirunelveli region. Vira Ravi Ravi Varma (1484–1503) was the ruler of Venad during the arrival of the Portuguese in India.[31][page needed]

See also


  1. ^ Citing Komattil Achutha Menon, Ancient Kerala, p. 7[14]
  2. ^ Citing Komattil Achutha Menon, Ancient Kerala, p. 7[14]
  3. ^ According to Menon, this etymology of "added" or "reclaimed" land also complements the Parashurama myth about the formation of Kerala. In it, Parashurama, one of the avatars of Vishnu, flung his axe across the sea from Gokarnam towards Kanyakumari (or vice versa) and the water receded up to the spot where it landed, thus creating Kerala.[15]
  4. ^ Citing Komattil Achutha Menon, Ancient Kerala, p. 7[14]


  1. ^ a b "Cera dynasty". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Classical Indo-Roman Trade". Economic and Political Weekly. 48 (26–27). 2015-06-05.
  3. ^ a b c Noburu Karashmia (ed.), A Concise History of South India: Issues and Interpretations. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2014
  4. ^ Cyclopaedia of India and of Eastern and Southern Asia. Ed. by Edward Balfour (1871), Second Edition. Volume 2. p. 584.
  5. ^ Menon 2007, p. 65.
  6. ^ Karashima 2014, p. 30.
  7. ^ Menon 2007, p. 73.
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External links

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