(Last Updated on : 01/11/2010)
Rajaraja II ruled from 1146 AD -1173 AD. He is considered to be one of the weakest kings of the Chola dynasty. However, he succeeded in maintaining the enormous empire of the Cholas which included Madurai
, Kongunadu, Thirunelveli, Nellore, Guntur, Vijayawada
and Kalinga. In addition to this, Northern Sri Lanka was more or less under his control. Rajaraja II proved strong enough to retain control of the eastern Gangavadi province, which was regained from the Hoysalas by his predecessor, the great Vikrama Chola.
Reign of Rajaraja II
The Chola kingdom during his rule never witnessed major revolts barring a few minor ones. The feudatory Telugu Chola chieftains of Velanadu wanted to lead independent kingdoms and this followed with a series of disasters towards the end of Kulothunga Chola I's reign. The central administration showed signs of weakness with respect to control and effective administration towards the end of Rajaraja's reign. However, he recovered adequate control on regions like Kalinga, Pandya, Vengi, and Chera. He invaded Sri Lanka according to a literary work of his period. Constant conflicts and military occupancy accompanied the rule of Rajaraja and his successor which exhausted the resources of successive Chola emperors.
In the closing years of his reign civil unrest weakened the Chola influence in the Pandya kingdom. This was due to the constant revolts of the Madurai kingdom to gain their independence from their occupiers. Later on Pandya rulers like Maravarman Jatavarman Vira Pandyan and Jatavarman Sundara Pandyan went on increasing their power and were emerging as one of the dominant kingdom in South India during the period 1200-1300 AD. These developments began to weaken the Chola kingdom, though there was a minor revival during the steady rule of Kulothunga-III during 1178 AD -1218 AD.
Achievements of Rajaraja II
The most significant achievement of Rajaraja II was that his rule witnessed calm and peace in the later half. He was a patron of art and culture. It was during this period that he initiated construction of the very famous Airavateswarar Temple at Darasuram near Kumbakonam. The Airavateswarar Temple is considered an architectural marvel of the later Chola period and this tradition was carried on by his successor too. Raja Raja-II made numerous grants to the temples at Chidambaram, Tanjore, Srirangam, Kanchi, Tiruchy and Madurai.
On the whole he was a generous king who was capable to manage the huge Empire of the Chola dynasty which is evident by the relief measures to the people during famine and civil unrest. This way he maintained the respect of his ministers, commanders and the general public.