Later Cholas and Pandyas
The Cholas belonged to one of the three mighty dynasties that ruled the Tamizh country in the early historical period. Described as the Muvendhar in the Sangam literature, they were known for the valour and for their patronage of the Tamil language. Many songs were composed in high praise of their glories. However, after the Sangam period until about the ninth century CE, there are no records about them. Changes that overtook Tamizhagam in the intervening period brought about a major transformation of the region and enabled the emergence of big, long-lasting monarchical states. The Cholas were one among them.
The river valleys facilitated the expansion of agriculture leading to the emergence of powerful kingdoms. The agricultural boom resulted in the production of considerable surplus of predominantly food grains. But this surplus in production resulted in unequal distribution of wealth. Society gradually became highly differentiated unlike in the earlier period. Institutions and ideas from the north of India, such as the temple and the religion it represented, emerged as a new force. The Bhakti movement led by the Nayanmars and Azhwars popularised the ideology and the faith they represented. Similarly, political ideas and institutions that originated in northern India soon found their way to the south as well. The cumulative result of all the new developments was the formation of a state, which in this case was a monarchy presided over by the descendants of the old Chola lineage.
After the eclipse of the Chola kingdom, Pandyas, who began their rule in the Vaigai river basin at Madurai, wielded tremendous power during the 14th century. Like the Cholas, the Pandyas also realised substantial revenue from agriculture as well as from trade. Trade expansion overseas continued in the Pandya rule. Tirunelveli region, which was part of the Pandyan kingdom, exported grain, cotton, cotton cloth and bullocks to the Malabar coast and had trade contacts with West and Southeast Asia. Pandya kings produced a cultural heritage by synthesising the religious, cultural and political elements, and it differed totally with the assumed homogeneity of classical age of Guptas.