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Beyond Ponniyin Selvan. Rajaraja Chola: King of Kings. Book Review

Author: Kamini Dandapani

Published by Aleph Book Company

Historical Biography

No of Pages: 394

MRP: Rs. 999/-

Thank you Aleph Book Company for a media copy of the book.

Kamini Dandapani's Raja Raja Chola: King of Kings is a compelling and well-researched biography of one of India's most iconic rulers. The book delves into the life and reign of Rajaraja Chola, one of the greatest kings of the medieval period, who expanded the Chola empire to unprecedented heights, both in terms of territorial expansion and cultural achievement.

Throughout the book, Dandapani paints a detailed portrait of Rajaraja's character, highlighting his ambition, brilliance, and ruthlessness. The author also provides an in-depth look into the cultural, social, and political milieu of the Chola empire under Rajaraja's rule. The Chola dynasty has its roots in the Sangam era, around 2,000 years ago, and by the time of Rajaraja's reign, the dynasty had already established itself as a powerful force in southern India, having defeated rivals such as the Pallavas and the Pandyas.

One of Rajaraja's most notable achievements was the construction of the Brihadeeshwara Temple, a monumental structure that stands as a testament to the engineering and architectural capabilities of the Cholas. Dandapani provides a fascinating account of the temple's construction and its significance, both in terms of its religious and cultural impact.

Additionally, the author discusses the Chola society under Rajaraja's rule, including the lives of ordinary people, the place of women, the flourishing of culture, and the spread of religion. The Chola empire was also an economic powerhouse, and Dandapani provides insights into the empire's trade and agricultural practices.

The book also chronicles the life of Rajaraja's son and successor, Rajendra, who expanded the empire even further and followed in his father's footsteps in many ways. However, the Chola dynasty's fortunes began to decline after Rajaraja's death, and the empire eventually succumbed to its rivals, the Pandyas.

Overall, Raja Raja Chola: King of Kings is a comprehensive and well-written biography that offers an in-depth look into the life and reign of one of India's most iconic kings. The author has done a fantastic job of weaving together various historical accounts, cultural and political analysis and personal anecdotes to give a well-rounded account of Rajaraja Chola. The book is a must-read for anyone interested in the history and culture of medieval India, and the life of one of its most brilliant and ambitious rulers.

In addition to providing a detailed account of Rajaraja's accomplishments throughout the book, the author makes use of contemporary accounts and other historical sources to provide an accurate and engaging portrayal of Rajaraja, avoiding romanticizing or demonizing the king.

The book also includes a wealth of illustrations and photographs that help to bring the period to life. These images, ranging from temple carvings and bronze sculptures to maps and illustrations, provide a visual complement to the text and help to give readers a deeper understanding of the Chola empire and its culture.

One of the strengths of the book is the author's attention to detail. Dandapani has done a thorough research of Rajaraja's life and reign, providing insights into the political, social, and economic realities of the Chola empire. This level of detail gives the book an air of authenticity and makes the reader feel like they are transported back in time.

The author has also been able to convey the Chola society's complexities and its social and cultural dynamics with great skill.

In conclusion, Raja Raja Chola: King of Kings is an essential read for anyone interested in the history of medieval India and the life of one of its most iconic rulers. The book offers a well-researched, engaging, and nuanced portrayal of Rajaraja Chola and provides readers with an in-depth understanding of the Chola empire and its culture. The author's attention to detail, use of primary sources and the wealth of illustrations and photographs make this book invaluable for scholars, students, and general readers alike.

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