May 29

Rajendra Chola III - The last king of the Chola dynasty

Also known as Koparakesarivarman, Rajendra Chola III was brave since the time he was a prince. If the circumstances had been in his favour, he would have restored the lost prestige of the Cholas. However, when he became the king, the situation was entirely against him. The Chola Empire was surrounded by enemies from all sides who did not want to waste any opportunity to invade it.


Rajendra Chola III did not waste any time and soon started taking bold steps to restore the lost glory and fortunes of the Chola Empire. According to his inscriptions found in far off regions like Cuddappah, he undertook successful expeditions in the North and defeated a number of kings. He was also called Jagadekaviran or the one hero of the world, Khadgaviran, Raja Parmesvaran, Rajanarayan, etc.

As soon as he became the Chola monarch, he set himself the task of avenging the humiliation of two successful Pandya invasions of the Chola capital and apparently succeeded in wresting the Pandya kingdom from Maravarman Sundara Pandya around 1238-39 CE. After the temporary establishment of his hold over the Pandya kingdom, he turned towards the Sambuvaryas who were ruling in the Tindivanam, Villupuram, and north Arcot regions and called themselves the Vira Rakshasas. After defeating them, Rajendra Chola III assumed the title of ‘Rama who conquered the Vira Rakshasas of Uttara Lanka’.

Rajendra Chola III, Chola King, Chola Empire, last king of the Chola dynasty, Pandyas, Koparakesarivarman


During this period the Hoysalas tried to play a ‘divide and rule’ role in the politics of the Tamil country. Taking advantage of the lack of unity among the kingdoms, they sided with the winning side to prevent the Cholas and Pandyas from becoming victorious.

In the time of Rajaraja III, the Hoysalas sided with the Cholas and defeated the Kadava chieftain Kopperunjinga, later sided with the Pandyas, and defeated the Cholas.


After Maravarman Sundara Pandya, Jatavarman Sundara Pandya ascended the Pandya throne in 1251 CE. He proved to be a very capable and the most victorious ruler. The Pandya kingdom rose to great heights under him. He began defeating his enemies one by one.

The Hoysalas were the first to be defeated. They were expelled from the Kaveri delta region and their king Vira Someswara was killed in 1262 CE. After that came the turn of Kopperunjinga who was defeated and made a Pandya vassal. 

Rajendra Chola III was defeated too and made to acknowledge the Pandya sovereignty. The Chola ally Gandagopala was killed and his capital Kanchi was annexed. The Pandya lieutenant Vira Pandya defeated the Lankan king, and the island too came under the control of the Pandyas. Their conquest was complete.

It is not clear whether Rajendra Chola III died in the battle with the Pandyas. He died probably in 1279 CE as no further inscriptions are available after that period. With the defeat of the Cholas, the Chola regime came to an end, and they just remained the chieftains of the Pandyas.

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