On the history of Cholas, as in many other subjects of Indian history, we have very little authentic written evidence. Historians during past 150 years have gleaned a great treasury of knowledge on the subject from a variety of sources such as ancient Tamil Sangam literature, oral traditions, religious texts, temple and copperplate inscriptions of the imperial cholas from the 10th century.
The main source for the available information of the early Cholas is the early Tamil literature of the Sangam Period. There are also brief notices on the Chola country and its towns, ports and commerce furnished by the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea (Periplus Maris Erythraei). Periplus is a work by an anonymous Alexandrian merchant, written in the time of Domitian (81 – 96 CE) and contains precious little information of the Chola country. Writing half a century later, the geographer Ptolemy has more to tell us about the Chola country, its port and its inland cities.
Mahavamsa, a Buddhist text, also recounts a number of conflicts between the inhabitants of Ceylon and the Tamil immigrants.
Cholas also are mentioned in the Pillars of Ashoka (inscribed 273 - 232 BCE) inscriptions, where they are mentioned among the kingdoms, which, though not subject to Ashoka, were on friendly terms with him.
Kharavela, the Kalinga king who ruled during the 2nd century BCE, in his Hathigumpha inscription, claims to have destroyed a confederacy of Tamil states (‘’Tamiradesasanghatam’’) which had lasted 132 years.
Chronicles such as the Yalpana Vaipava Malai and stone inscriptions like Konesar Kalvettu recount that Kulakkottan, an early Chola king and descendant of Manu Needhi Cholan, was the restorer of the ruined Koneswaram temple and tank at Trincomalee in 438 CE, the Munneswaram temple of the west coast, and as the royal who settled ancient Vanniar in the east of the island Eelam.
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