There’s much interest of late about the Chola empire.
For many reasons. The reason that looms large is the recent blockbuster movie, Ponniyin Selvan, which, is all about the most famous of the Cholas, Raja Raja.
The Cholas were one of the longest running empires in history. The earliest historic references to the Cholas dates back to 300 BC and the empire was disestablished in 1279 AD. That’s just shy of 1600 years. By comparison the Mughal empire ran from 1526 - 1857—that’s under 350 years.
While the Indian region was invaded and occupied variously for thousands of years, the Cholas were significant in their thalassocratic—or maritime—escapades in South East Asia. Their trade routes extended to Guangzhou in China and the silk route on the other side.
They ruled the Maldives and Sri Lanka and clearly they knew where to sail to and where to fight.
And there was no greater time in all the Chola years than during the rule of Raja Raja Chozhan that ran from 985 to 1014, about three decades. If you made a list of all the stuff he achieved from infrastructure and construction to military campaigns across the south and overseas, you would find it hard to figure how someone could do so much today, leave alone over a thousand years ago.
My guest today is Kamini Dandapani. She is a New York based corporate executive—Chase Manhattan Bank and McKinsey consulting. She does not call herself a historian. As a hobby she started a blog writing about historical places she visited in the south of India. There’s a link to her blog in her bio below. She says that Aleph, the reputable publishing house, called and asked to write a book.
And she did. This book is titled Raja Raja Chola, King Of Kings. I chose this book to present on this podcast because it is a wonderfully structured book.
The book is broken down into easily digestible chapters and Kamini strikes no elegant postures in her recounting the rule of one of the most respected kings of the world. In the parlance of the present, a man we might refer to as woke, efficient and progressive.
Kamini’s biography brings us closer to the history of the south in a way that cannot be replaced by comic books and movies.
She is a writer, a historian, a Carnatic singer, A Bharatanatyam dancer, a trained western classical pianist and she joins me now from her home in Manhattan.
ABOUT KAMINI DANDAPANI
Kamini Dandapani lives New York. She has had training in Carnatic music, Bharatanatyam and Pianoforte, She moved to the US to study and work, Her blog, Tales of South India resulted in the writing of her book about Rajaraja Chola, published by Aleph.
Buy Rajaraja Chola, King Of Kings: https://amzn.to/3OrTuQg
WHAT'S THAT WORD?!
Co-host Pranati "Pea" Madhav joins Ramjee Chandran in "What's That Word?!", where they discuss the interesting phrase, "GIVING AN INDIAN ANSWER".
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