Chera Dynasty

The Chera Dynasty is one of the most prominent and historically important Tamil Dynasties ever flourished in India. Along with the Pandyas and the Cholas, the Cheras formed the three principle warring Iron Age Tamil kingdoms inIndia. The Chera rulers were able to establish their rule before the advent of the Sangam Age (period between 3rdcentury BC and 3rd century AD) and ruled till the twelfth century AD.
The late megalithic phase of the Cheras, along with the Pandyas, Satyaputras and the Cholas, is mentioned in the inscriptions of the Ashoka, the great Maurya Emperor. In the early phase of Christian era, the kingdom of Cheraswas as important as were the empires of the Cholas and Pandyas. During the period of Sangam Age, the Chera rulers were known by many titles including Malaiyar, Villavar and Vanavar. There were two important lines of theChera Emperors, who ruled the Chera Empire in the ancient era of the Indian history. The first of these two lines initiated from Uthiyan Cheralathan while the second line starts from Irumporai.
Based on the available historical evidences, it is believed that the Cheras were successful in killing Ilamcetcenni, father of the Chola King Karikala, but at the expense of the life of their own king who was also killed in action. Later, for a short-lived period, the Cheras developed some friendly relations with the Cholas and concluded matrimonial alliances with them, but soon supported the Pandya rulers against Cholas. However, the alliance between theCheras and the Pandyas failed to earn them victory and their allied forces were defeated by the army of the Chola king in the battle of Venni. After this defeat, the badly injured Chera ruler, Uthiyan Cheralathan, committed suicide.
In the early third century AD, the reign of the Cheras was interrupted by the Kalabhra Interregnum and the empire of the Cheras began to decline. After the reign of the Chera king, Kulashekhara Varman, the dynasty became to be known as the Kulashekharas of Mahodayapuram. Of the two Chera Dynasties, the first one existed till the fifth century AD while the second initiated its rule in the ninth century AD. Not much is known about the dynasty between the timeframe of fifth and the ninth century AD.
The former dynasty of Cheras is believed to have ruled the parts of present day’s Kerala, Dharmapuri and Salem from an immemorial time. It is also expected that after the wedding of the second king of the former Chera Dynastyinto the royal family of the Cholas, the province of the Southern Nagapattanam and Thiruvarur were also added to their reign.
The Chera Empire, under its regime, was successful in developing healthy trade relations with Rome. Muziris, a famous sea-port in the ancient India, having two Roman regiments, was an essential part of their kingdom. Through this sea-port, spices, timber, pearls, ivory and gems were exported from India to kingdoms of the Middle East and southern Europe. Trade is believed to have flourished in Chera regime, and consequently the empire gained prominence in the region. Numerous historical evidences suggesting signs of an extensive foreign trade from the coasts of Karur, Malabar and Coimbtore have been found. Legends say that the Romans constructed a temple of Augustus at the port city of Muziris.
Vanchi Muthur was established as the capital city of Chera Empire in the ancient time but later, in second century AD, the kingdom’s capital was shifted to Karuvur.
The Chera rulers were tolerant to all religions and faiths. In their reign, immigrants belonging to Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths established their communities as the Juda Mappila, the Nasrani Mappila and the Muslim Mappila respectively. Historians believe that the Chera king, Nedunjeral Adan, attacked Yavana ships and captured Yavana traders for ransom in his reign. Nedunjeral Adan was succeeded by his son, Senguttuvan, who was the most famous and potent of all Chera rulers, remembered for his great conquests. Senguttuvan was successful in defeating his enemies and established his cousins to throne securely. The contexts of Gajabahu, a famous emperor from Sri Lanka, also mention about the conquests of Senguttuvan.
The second Chera Dynasty, which initiated its rule in the ninth century AD, famously known as the Kulasekharas, ruled from the outskirts of Muziris, situated on the bank of river Periyar. They did all they could to regain the old status of the Cheras, but failed. During their rule, they were in constant conflict with their neighbors and fought many battles against them. Finally, in twelfth century AD, continuous Chola invasions marked an end to their dynasty.

List of rulers from the former Chera Dynasty

  • Perumchottu Uthiyan Cheralathan
  • Imayavaramban Nedun-Cheralatan
  • Palyanai Sel-Kelu Cheran Chenkutuvan
  • Kalankai-Kanni Narmudi Cheral
  • Vel-Kelu Kuttuvan
  • Adukotpattu Cheralatan
  • Kuttuvan Irumporai
  • Ilamcheral Irumporai
  • Antuvancheral
  • Poraiyan Kadungo
  • Selvak-Kadungo
  • Tagadur Erinda Perumcheral
  • Yanaikat-sey Mantaran Cheral
  • Perumkadungo
  • Ilamkadungo
  • Kanaikal Irumporai

List of rulers from the later Chera Dynasty

  • Kulashekhara Varman (800 AD to 820 AD)
  • Rajashekhara Varman (820 AD to 844 AD)
  • Sthanu Ravi Varman (844 AD to 885 AD)
  • Rama Varma Kulashekhara (885 AD to 917 AD)
  • Goda Ravi Varma (917 AD to 944 AD)
  • Indu Kotha Varma (944 AD to 962 AD)
  • Bhaskara Ravi Varman I (962 AD to 1019 AD)
  • Bhaskara Ravi Varman II (1019 AD to 1021 AD)
  • Vira Kerala (1021 AD to 1028 AD)
  • Rajasimha (1028 AD to 1043 AD)
  • Bhaskara Ravi Varman III (1043 AD to1082 AD)
  • Rama Varma Kulashekhara (1090 AD to 1102 AD)


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