Category Archives: INDIA

The Diamond Sutra: The Oldest Known Printed Book in the World

The Diamond Sutra: The Oldest Known Printed Book in the World

The Diamond Sutra: The Oldest Known Printed Book in the World
A page from The Diamond Sutra

With the holiday mood in the air and the sun blazing down in almost every part of our country, you might be one of those who does some reading to relax yourself after a draining session, playing outside.

We’ve all taken to books at one point or another, be it just for the pleasure of reading, to do some activities or study for exams. Do you, however, know which the oldest dated printed book still in existence even today is?

That honour goes to The Diamond Sutra, a Buddhist religious text. While the book dates back to the year 868 AD, it was found only in 1907, having remained hidden for nearly 1,000 years. The credit for this goes to Sir Aurel Stein, a Hungary-born British archaeologist and explorer.

Sir Aurel Stein

Unearthing a diamond

Born in Budapest in 1862, Stein studied Sanskrit, Old Persian, Indology and Philology, preparing himself for a career in India. While his formal positions from 1888 included being a registrar of Punjab University, principal of the Oriental College, Lahore and principal of the Calcutta Madrasah, his real interest was in exploring India, China, Central and West Asia.

Stein carried out three successful Silk Road expeditions during which he not only carried out archaeological excavations and photographing, but also geological and ethnographical surveys. He eventually died in his 80s in 1943, a week after arriving in Afghanistan, while embarking on his long-dreamt expedition to the country.

Perfect for preservation

Stein is now best-known for his discovery of the library cave at the Mogao Grottoes or Caves of a Thousand Buddhas in Dunhuang, China.

This secret library is believed to have been sealed up around the year 1000 AD when the area had expected a threat from the outside.

Aurel Stein (centre) with his expedition team.

Having remained hidden since then, the dry desert air had provided the perfect conditions for the preservation of the paper and silk scrolls inside.

Nearly 40,000 such scrolls were finally found in 1900 when a monk discovered a sealed entrance to the unknown cave during restoration work at a Buddhist monastery. Among these was The Diamond Sutra, the world’s earliest, dated, printed book. Stein gained access to it during his second exploration in 1907.

The Diamond Sutra

While this copy of The Diamond Sutra is now considered the oldest known printed book, its contents are central to Indian Buddhism and are believed to have been translated from Sanskrit to Chinese in about 400 AD. The development of printing in China in the 8th Century paved the way for this book.

Carved wooden blocks were employed for printing, the technique for which had been refined and mastered by the time this book was produced in 868 AD.

Comprising seven panels of paper, each of these is printed from a single block and stuck together to create a single scroll. While The Diamond Sutra isn’t the earliest example of block printing, it is the earliest to include a colophon, which gives details about when and why this book was produced.

The last few lines of the text are the colophon, which reads: “Reverently made for universal free distribution by Wang Jie on behalf of his two parents on the 13th of the 4th moon of the 9th year of Xiantong.” In our calendar, that corresponds to May 11, 868.

The Diamond Sutra now resides at the British Library, along with an acknowledgement that it is the oldest dated printed book in existence.

The British Library is also part of the International Dunhuang Project, a collaboration aiming to make the thousands of manuscripts, paintings and artefacts from Silk Road sites available online.

Possible 10th-Century Buddhist Monastery Site Uncovered in India

Possible 10th-Century Buddhist Monastery Site Uncovered in India

Archaeological Survey of India researchers has discovered a tenth-century structure in one of three mounds identified as possible Buddhist sites on the Hazaribagh Plateau in northeastern India, around 110-km from capital Ranchi, ASI officials said on Tuesday.

The ASI identified three mounds in the foothills having links to Buddhism last year.

The excavation of the first mound last year led to the discovery of a complete shrine with a central and two subsidiary shrines, just two metres below the surface. However, the excavation work was suspended after two months due to the Covid-19 pandemic triggered lockdowns and some other reasons.

In the second round of excavation, beginning the last week of January this year, the second mound, around 40-meters away from the first mound or central shrine, was excavated and a small Buddha Vihar like structure was discovered.

“We started excavation in the second mound of the area in January last week, where a huge structural mound, similar to a small Buddha Vihar, was found with three cells (rooms).

In the west corner of the structure, we found five sculptures of Gautam Buddha in a seated position and one sculpture of Tara, which indicates that it might also be a centre of Vajrayana,” said Dr Neeraj Mishra, an assistant archaeologist at ASI.

The discovery will help understand the impact of Buddhism in Jharkhand.

Spread over a 50-metre long and 50-metre wide area, three cells and hoards of artefacts including statues of Gautam Budha and Tara, the female Bodhisattva in Mahayana Buddhism who appears as a female Buddha in Vajrayana Buddhism, were discovered.

“As per the evidence found here, it appeared that the structures had been built during the Pala period. During the excavation, we found an inscription on a stone slab. The paleographic dating of the inscription suggests that it was of 10th century AD, meaning the Pala period,” said Dr Mishra.

It might have been a big religious centre then, as it is located on the side of the old Grand Trunk road, connecting Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh to Bihar, home to historic Bodh Gaya where Buddha attained salvation, he added.

He recalled that a shrine and two subsidiary shrines, spread over 30 metres long and 50 metres wide area, were discovered last year. “It was a single storey temple. An entry gate and stairs were also found there.”

Historians and archaeologists find the discovery of great importance, which will help understand the history and influence of the dynasty in Jharkhand.

Historian Dr DN Ojha, dean of, social sciences department at Ranchi University, said ancient history talks about the arrival of Buddhist monks in this area and the extension of Buddhism’s reach here.

“However, there was also a debate on this. The recent discovery in Hazaribag would work as big evidence to support the theory of extension of Buddhism and arrival of monks here,” he added.

Archaeologists unearth 4,000-year-old chariots in India

Archaeologists unearth 4,000-year-old chariots in India

According to Indian archaeologists, they have discovered the remains of 4,000-year-old horse-drawn chariots, which they say provides the first evidence of a “warrior class” on par with other ancient civilisations.

Although eight burial sites and artefacts, including swords and daggers, were found, the remains were discovered during an excavation undertaken by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) at the village of Sinauli, located about 70 kilometres north of New Delhi.

The researchers said they unearthed three chariots in burial chambers which date to between 2000 and 1800 BC in the Bronze Age, leading to a suggestion of “royal burials”, according to the Times of India.

Archaeologists unearth 4,000-year-old chariots in India
This ancient Indian chariot was found at Baghpat and dates to the Bronze Age (2000-1800 BC).

The area around Sinauli is considered to be a rich archaeological site, with the chariots found 120 metres from a site where graves and artefacts belonging to the Indus Valley civilisation were excavated after a farmer accidentally unearthed ruins in 2005.

The co-director of excavations and ASI’s Institute of Archaeology in Delhi, SK Manjul, claimed the find showed evidence that a warrior class existed that was as technologically advanced as their contemporaries in Mesopotamia and Greece.

“The discovery of a chariot puts us on a par with other ancient civilizations, like Mesopotamia, Greece et-cetera where chariots were extensively used,” Mr Manjul told the Times of India.

“It seems a warrior class thrived in this region in the past.”

Swords and daggers were also found in some of the burials.

The site where the chariots were found is part of a three-month excavation that started in March.

As well as warrior implements like swords, daggers and a helmet, Mr Manjul told the Times of India they had also discovered copper pots, beads and a copper mirror which pointed to sophisticated craftsmanship and lifestyle.

“The swords have copper-covered hilts and a medial ridge making it strong enough for warfare. We have also found shields, a torch and daggers,” he said.

In what he described as a first “in the entire continent”, Mr Manjul said the coffins found at the site were adorned with copper decorations.

Mr Manjul said they were yet to work out which society the chariots and coffins belonged to, but said they did not belong to the Indus Valley civilisation.

Lost Civilization? 172000 Year Old River Discovered in Thar Desert India

Lost Civilization? 172000 Year Old River Discovered in Thar Desert India

Researchers have found evidence of a “lost” river that ran through the central Thar Desert, near Bikaner, as early as 172 thousand years ago, and may have been a life-line to human populations enabling them to inhabit the region. The findings, published in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews, represent the oldest directly dated phase of river activity at Nal Quarry in the central Thar Desert.

The study by researchers from The Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany, Anna University in Tamil Nadu, and IISER Kolkata indicates that Stone Age populations lived in a distinctly different Thar Desert landscape than we encounter today.

This evidence indicates a river that flowed with phases of activity dating to approximately up to 172 thousand years ago, nearby to Bikaner, Rajasthan, which is over 200 kilometers away from the nearest modern river.

Sand Dunes in Bikaner, Rajasthan

These findings predate evidence for activity in modern river courses across the Thar Desert as well as dried up course of the Ghaggar-Hakra River, the researchers said. The presence of a river running through the central Thar Desert would have offered a life-line to Paleolithic populations, and potentially an important corridor for migrations, they said.

The researchers noted that the potential importance of ‘lost’ rivers for earlier inhabitants of the Thar Desert has been overlooked.

“The Thar Desert has a rich prehistory, and we’ve been uncovering a wide range of evidence showing how Stone Age populations not only survived but thrived in these semi-arid landscapes,” said Jimbob Blinkhorn from The Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.

“We know how important rivers can be to living in this region, but we have little detail on what river systems were like during key periods of prehistory,” Blinkhorn said.

Studies of satellite imagery have shown a dense network of river channels crossing the Thar Desert, according to the researchers.

“These studies can indicate where rivers and streams have flowed in the past, but they can’t tell us when,” explained Professor Hema Achyuthan of Anna University.

“To demonstrate how old such channels are, we had to find evidence on the ground for river activity in the middle of the desert,” Achyuthan said.

The team studied a deep deposit of river sands and gravels, which had been exposed by quarrying activity near the village of Nal. The researchers were able to document different phases of river activity by studying the different deposits.

“We immediately saw evidence for a substantial and very active river system from the bottom of the fluvial deposits, which gradually decreased in power through time,” Achyuthan said.

The researchers used a method called luminescence dating to understand when quartz grains in the river sands were buried. The results indicated that the strongest river activity at Nal occurred at approximately 172 and 140 thousand years ago, at a time when the monsoon was much weaker than today in the region.

River activity continued at the site between 95 to 78 thousand years ago, after which only limited evidence for the presence of a river at the site, with evidence for a brief reactivation of the channel 26 thousand years ago, the study found.

The river was flowing at its strongest during a phase of weak monsoonal activity in the region, and may have been a life-line to human populations enabling them to inhabit the Thar Desert, the researchers said.

The timeframe over which this river was active also overlaps with significant changes in human behaviour in the region, which have been linked with the earliest expansions of Homo sapiens from Africa into India, they said.

“This river flowed at a critical timeframe for understanding human evolution in the Thar Desert, across South Asia and beyond,” said Blinkhorn.

“This suggests a landscape in which the earliest members of our own species, Homo sapiens, first encountered the monsoons and crossed the Thar Desert may have been very different to the landscape we can see today,” he added.

Traces of Tenth-Century Temple Unearthed in Eastern India

Traces of Tenth-Century Temple Unearthed in Eastern India

The Hindustan Times reports that researchers led by Arun Malik of the Archaeological Survey of India uncovered traces of a building thought to be a tenth-century temple while excavating an area next to the eleventh-century Suka-Sari temple complex, which is located near eastern India’s city of Bhubaneswar.

ASI officials said while carrying out scientific cleaning of the two-acre land adjacent to the 11th-century Suka-Sari temple complex, they found the floor of the temple as well as a portion of wall containing beautifully engraved statues of danseuses of the temple that was earlier buried under the campus of a demolished Sanskrit college in Bhubaneswar.

“We think the temple was built on the Panchayatana model like the Brahmeshwara and Chitrakarini temples which are of the 10th-century origin.

A base (Shakti) of Shivling has also been found during digging at the site.

Another side of the wall is being dug out and it will require 10 more days to completely bring out the structures,” said Arun Mallick, superintendent of ASI’s Bhubaneswar circle.

Mallick said many ancient structures around the vicinity of Lingaraj temple are believed to have been damaged during the demolition drive carried out by the Odisha government for renovation of the old town area under Ekamra Kshetra Project.

“Bhubaneswar is said to be the city of more than 1000 temples. We believe many structures have been demolished during the current demolition exercise.

We tried to reason with them about not carrying out indiscriminate demolition. But the state government did not take note of our protests,” he said.

Among the heritage structures demolished around the Lingaraj temple is the 11th century Ganesh temple called Budha Ganesh on the northern side of Lingaraj complex.

It has been listed as a protected monument years ago and is one of the smallest Ganesh temples of Bhubaneswar.

The oldest structure in Bhubaneswar is Baitala temple, that is believed to have been built during the 8th century by the Bhaumakara kings.

10,000 Year Old Rock Paintings Depicting Aliens And UFOs Found in India

10,000 Year Old Rock Paintings Depicting Aliens And UFOs Found in India

Even before the great tectonic plate shift, the former central province of India, now Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, was the site of pre-agrarian human settlement. That is why a number of prehistoric cave paintings have been discovered in the region. Some of them are known to us like Bhimbetka where we mainly find cave paintings made by a hunter-gatherer population.

Representational Image of cave painting in India dated from 1500-2000 BC found in Bhimbetka, a UNESCO World Heritage Centre.

Recently in the Hoshangabad district of Madhya Pradesh, just 43 miles from the local administrative centre of Raisen, ancient 10,000-year-old rock paintings depicting UFOs and extra-terrestrials have been discovered in the caves. The caves are hidden deep within the dense jungle in Charama region in Kanker district in tribal Bastar region. Located about 130km from Raipur, the caves come under village Chandeli and Gotitola.

A group of anthropologists working with hill tribes in a remote area have made a startling discovery of intricate prehistoric cave paintings depicting aliens and UFO type craft next to a look-alike ‘wormhole’ formation in the sky.

Alien rock

A few years back, a three-and-a-half- million-years- the old prehistoric human skull was discovered in the Ahthnor village of Madhya Pradesh by geologist Dr Arun Sonakia. Possibilities that the above image was drawn by those ancient humans can’t be ruled out, said Dr Sonakia.

The state of Chhattisgarh has an abundance of ancient rock paintings. Many sites have paintings of humans and animals in everyday scenes. However, some researchers have referred to some rather unusual paintings, such as those depicting what appear to be kangaroos and giraffes (mainly in Kabra hills of Raigarh area of the state of Chhattisgarh) which are not native to the country, as well as human-fish hybrid creatures. Now, it is claimed that aliens and UFOs can be added to this collection.

The paintings are done in natural colours that have barely faded despite the passing of years. The strangely carved figures are seen holding weapon-like objects and do not have clear features. Especially, the nose and mouth are missing. In a few pictures, they are even shown wearing spacesuits. The newly-discovered depictions date back some 10,000 years.

The images may be depicting extra-terrestrials and UFOs as the paintings include large, humanoid beings descending from the sky, some wearing what looks like a helmet or antennae, as well as a disc-shaped craft with three rays (or legs) from its base. There are several beliefs among locals from the area.

While few worship the paintings, others narrate stories they have heard from ancestors about ‘rohela people’, which translates to “the small sized ones”. According to legend, the ‘rohela people’ used to land from the sky in a round shaped flying object and take away one or two persons of village who never returned.

According to one archaeologist, the art reflects the belief among ancient humans that we are not alone in the universe. The findings suggest that humans in prehistoric times may have seen or imagined beings from other planets which still arouse curiosity among people and researchers.

Archaeologists typically identify them as ‘shamanic’ images of humans, or human-animal hybrids, and geometric forms. Images of figures with antlers, antennae, or spiritual rays are familiar, and in fact quite common, in shamanic art.

A clear image of what might be an alien or ET in a spacesuit can be seen in above a cave painting along with a classical flying saucer-shaped UFO that appears to be either beaming something down or beaming something up, in what might be an ancient UFO abduction scenario.

A force-field or trail of some sort is seen at the rear of the UFO. Also visible is another object that might depict a wormhole, explaining how aliens were able to reach Earth. Down below is the wormhole. The concept was discussed by physicist Stephen Hawking but in a skeptical manner. But isn’t it fascinating that ancient Indian possibly witnessed wormholes, UFO and alien visitations while Stephen Hawking remained skeptic about them?

Local archaeologist, Mr Wassim Khan, has personally seen the images. He claims that the objects and creatures seen in them are totally anomalous and out of character when compared to other, already discovered, examples of prehistoric cave art depicting ancient life in the area. As such, he believes that they might suggest beings from other planets have been interacting with humans since prehistoric times.

It may be better explained that encounters like this helped ancient Indian civilization to understand how those alien spaceship worked and later documented in ‘Vimana shastra’. This explanation, in turn, establishes the ‘ancient astronaut theory’ which postulates that human civilization was established with the assistance of benevolent space-travelling aliens.

On enlargement, two objects that look like hats floating in mid-air can be noticed, as also one of them appears to have portholes on it. Indian Vedic texts are full of descriptions of Vimanas. The Ramayana describes Vimanas as a double-decked, circular or cylindrical aircraft with portholes and a dome. It flew with “the speed of the wind” and made a “melodious sound”.

It is not uncommon in Madhya Pradesh that commoners claiming sight of UFO in nearby areas till this date. The latest entrant to the list of people in Madhya Pradesh that have claimed to have seen Unidentified Flying Objects (UFO), states Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Ramkrishna Kusmaria in July 2014.

Kusmaria said while he was on an official tour he spotted a UFO in Sukha village in Damoh district, about 135 miles from ancient cave painting site. Kusmaria said he clearly saw the object in the sky, and it was emitting sharp sparks. “The object caused damage to the standing crops in the area. I saw papaya fruits fall off the tree as the UFO passed by,” the minister said.

The State Department of Archaeology and Culture in Chhattisgarh is seeking assistance from the Indian Space Research Organisation to research a set of ancient rock paintings found inside caves near the town of Charama in Kanker district, in the tribal Bastar region.

Hilltop Buddhist Monastery Uncovered in Eastern India

Hilltop Buddhist Monastery Uncovered in Eastern India

The first hilltop Buddhist monastery of the Gangetic Valley has been found at Lal Pahari in Lakhisarai district of the state, said its excavation team director Anil Kumar. Excavated during a joint collaboration of the Bihar Heritage Development Society, a part of the department of art, culture and youth affairs and the Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan, West Bengal, this finding is believed to be a great centre of Mahayana Buddhism.

The 11th-12th century common era (CE) monastery has some unique features rarely found elsewhere in the country and certainly not in Bihar. Besides wooden votive tablets found, it is the first Buddhist monastery which had a woman monk named Vijayashree Bhadra as its chief. She used to receive donations from Pala queen Mallika Devi.

A large number of metal bangles have been found and all its cells had doors, something unusual for the Buddhist monasteries excavated so far, suggesting that either it was exclusively for woman monks or a mixed one.

Excavated during a joint collaboration of the Bihar Heritage Development Society, a part of the department of art, culture and youth affairs and the Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan, West Bengal, this finding is believed to be a great centre of Mahayana Buddhism.

The two burnt clay seals recovered from the site record the name Srīmaddharmahāvihārik āryabhikṣusaṅghasya (the council of monks of Śrīmaddhama vihāra). The language used is Sanskrit and the script is Siddhamātṛkā of about 8th-9th century CE.

The name is equally significant as it indicates how much prestige the Mahāyāna Buddhism enjoyed in early medieval Magadha.

The wooden votive tablets of 5.3×2.3cm each have the figure of a person, probably Buddha, sitting in Padmasana in Bhumisparsha mudra. The lintel at the entrance of the main sanctum sanctorum represents the two Bodhisattvas — Manjushri and Avalokiteshvara.

Anil, who is the head of the ancient history and archaeology department at Visva-Bharati in Santiniketan, said it’s the first ‘vihara’ in the state, which probably gave Bihar its name, like those found at Nalanda, Vikramshila and Telhara were ‘mahaviharas’.

Also, after Nalanda and Telhara in Bihar, any monastic sealing has mentioned the monastery name. While a number of mahāvihāras and in one instance a vihārikā is known from epigraphic and archaeological records of eastern India, no evidence of a ‘vihara’-level monastic architecture has been so far discovered from any part of Bihar.

The only parallel evidence is found in a monastery excavated at Jagjivanpur in northern Bengal, he said.

These findings will be significant in the understanding of the history of monastic Buddhism in early medieval Magadha in general and the history of the historically identified Kṛmilā region in Lakhisarai in particular. This evidence clearly proves that the monastery atop Lal Pahari at Jaynagar was a ‘vihāra’, he explained.

He said the interconnected cells, wooden door frames, three huge bastions on each side of the monastery, the discovery of dozens of wooden inscribed seals/sealings and the evidence of application of red, green, yellow, white and black colours on lime-plastered floors make the architecture of this monastery the first of its kind among the eastern Indian Buddhist establishments.

Anil said this was the first excavation project completed within 3 years in Bihar after getting a licence from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Bihar government in 2017. CM Nitish Kumar had inaugurated the Lal Pahari excavation site on November 25, 2017.

“We have documented 500 sculptures lying all around the site and brought 200 of them to Lakhisarai. The state government should urgently preserve these sculptures as Lal Pahari is one of the five protected monuments of Bihar government in Lakhisarai.

The other four are Satsanda, Bichhwe, Ghosi Kundi and Lai. The 6th site at Nongarh is also being considered for inclusion in the list,” Anil told TOI.

800-Year-Old Inscription Discovered in Southern India

800-Year-Old Inscription Discovered in Southern India

Archeologists have stumbled on a Chola period stone inscription at a lake bund in Mookanur village near Sankarapuram in Kallakurichi district in Tamil Nadu, India.

According to experts, King Vanenja Perumalana Vanakovarayan created the inscription about a canal and connecting lakes during Rajendra Cholan III regime in the Sagarai year 1182 (1260 AD).

“During his rule, a canal was built at the south side of Arni lake, and the canal was linked to a lake in Moorkanur.

800-Year-Old Inscription Discovered in Southern India
Chola period inscription on canals found near Sankarapuram

Another canal, dug up at the south side of the lake in Moorkanur, was linked with a lake in Kaduvanur,” Villupuram Government Arts College History department professor T Ramesh says while explaining the inscription.

Moorkanur is now known as Mookanur, says S Rajagopal, another expert.  The archeology team which found the inscription consisted of professor Ramesh, his student Kumaraguru, Jothiprakash of Mundiyampakkam, and Mubarak of Villupuram.

Chola dynasty

The Chola dynasty was a Tamil thalassocratic empire of southern India, one of the longest-ruling dynasties in the world’s history. The earliest datable references to the Chola are in inscriptions from the 3rd century BCE left by Ashoka, of the Maurya Empire.

As one of the Three Crowned Kings of Tamilakam, along with the Chera and Pandya, the dynasty continued to govern over varying territory until the 13th century CE. Despite these ancient origins, the period when it is appropriate to speak of a “Chola Empire” only begins with the medieval Cholas in the mid-9th century CE.

Statue of Rajaraja Chola at Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur.

The heartland of the Cholas was the fertile valley of the Kaveri River, but they ruled a significantly larger area at the height of their power from the later half of the 9th century till the beginning of the 13th century.

The whole country south of the Tungabhadra was united and held as one state for a period of three centuries and more between 907 and 1215 AD. Under Rajaraja Chola I and his successors Rajendra Chola I, Rajadhiraja Chola, Virarajendra Chola, and Kulothunga Chola I, the dynasty became a military, economic and cultural power in South Asia and South-East Asia.

The power of the new empire was proclaimed to the eastern world by the expedition to the Ganges which Rajendra Chola I undertook and by naval raids on cities of the city-state of Srivijaya, as well as by the repeated embassies to China. The Chola fleet represented the zenith of ancient Indian sea power.

During the period 1010–1153, the Chola territories stretched from the islands of the Maldives in the south to as far north as the banks of the Godavari River in Andhra Pradesh.

Map showing the greatest extent of the Chola empire c. 1030, shaded in blue represent conquered territories, shaded in pink shows areas influenced by Chola.

Rajaraja Chola conquered peninsular South India, annexed parts of which is now Sri Lanka, and occupied the islands of the Maldives. Rajendra Chola sent a victorious expedition to North India that touched the river Ganges and defeated the Pala ruler of Pataliputra, Mahipala.

He also successfully invaded the cities of Srivijaya of Malaysia and Indonesia. The Chola dynasty went into decline at the beginning of the 13th century with the rise of the Pandyan Dynasty, which ultimately caused their downfall.

The Cholas left a lasting legacy. Their patronage of Tamil literature and their zeal in the building of temples has resulted in some great works of Tamil literature and architecture.

The Chola kings were avid builders and envisioned the temples in their kingdoms not only as places of worship but also as centers of economic activity.

Gopuram Corner View of Thanjavur Brihadisvara Temple.

They were also well known for their art, specifically temple sculptures and ‘Chola bronzes’, exquisite bronze sculptures of Hindu deities built in a lost-wax process they pioneered; that continues (to a certain extent) to this day.

They established a centralized form of government and a disciplined bureaucracy. The Chola school of art spread to Southeast Asia and influenced the architecture and art of Southeast Asia.

The medieval Cholas are best known for the construction of the magnificent Brihadisvara temple at Thanjavur, commissioned by the most famous Chola king, Rajaraja Chola in 1010 CE.