Nagapattinam to Suvarnadwipa: Reflections on the Chola Naval Expeditions to Southeast Asia

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Hermann Kulke, K Kesavapany, Vijay Sakhuja
Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2009 - History - 337 pages
3 Reviews
The expansion of the Cholas from their base in the Kaveri Delta saw this growing power subdue the kingdoms of southern India, as well as occupy Sri Lanka and the Maldives, by the early eleventh century. It was also during this period that the Cholas initiated links with Song China. Concurrently, the Southeast Asian polity of Sriwijaya had, through its Sumatran and Malayan ports, come to occupy a key position in East-West maritime trade, requiring engagement with both Song China to the north and the Chola kingdom to its west. The apparently friendly relations pursued were, however, to be disrupted in 1025 by Chola naval expeditions against fourteen key port cities in Southeast Asia. This volume examines the background, course and effects of these expeditions, as well as the regional context of the events. It brings to light many aspects of this key period in Asian history. Unprecedented in the degree of detail assigned to the story of the Chola expeditions, this volume is also unique in that it includes translations of the contemporary Tamil and Sanskrit inscriptions relating to Southeast Asia and of the Song dynasty Chinese texts relating to the Chola Kingdom.

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A great introduction to the Naval might of Cholas and the Tamils' contribution to the world of maritime trade and naval expeditions for all times to come.
It is on record that ancient Tamil
Seafarers traded in spices with China besides transhipment of goods through Coramandal Coast and West Coast between Rome and China as early as 3rd Century CBE and upto 13th Century AD according to Prof.Tansen Sen of New York University. (Maritime Interactions between China and
India: Coastal India and the Ascendancy of Chinese Maritime Power in the Indian Ocean)
Tamils ruled high seas in Maritime Trade for more than 1000 years as Chinese entered sea trade only in 13th Century AD. i.e., after Tamils left the void due to political upheavals in Tamil Country due to the fall of Pandiya Kingdom since 13th Century.
It was well documented fact that Marco Polo visited Pandiya Kingdom of Tamil Country in 13th Century on his way back to Venice while returning from China. Actually he scouted for the Europeans which inspired and resulted in the voyages of Columbus and Vasco de Gama.
The great Tamils Traders went into oblivion and hence Chinese traders had to enter Maritime trade and also the void created lasting impact in the down fall of Tamils till date and in the process so called Traders from Portugal, Dutch, France and Engalnd became rulers of India. Rest is history.
That much of impact was made in the geo- politics of the world by the exit of Tamil traders in Maritime trade that they dominated for more than 1000 years.
The book titled "Nagapattinam to Suvarna Dwip" : Reflections on the Chola Naval Expeditions to South East Asia is a milestone in this crucial Maritime / Naval activities of Tamils for more than thousand years in the geo-politics of the world i.e., before the expeditions of Columbus and Vasco de Gama inspired by Marco Polo's visit to Pandiya Kingdom.
Independent Historian
Pittsburg USA (Camp)

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

Really a fantastic book. It seems the authors have done lot of research and spent time in getting the historical facts. We must encourage authors and publishers by buying the book


1 The Naval Expeditions of the Cholas in the Context of Asian History by Hermann Kulke
2 Medieval Commercial Activities in the Indian Ocean As Revealed from Chinese CeramicSherds and South Indian and Sri Lankan Inscriptions by N...
3 The Military Campaigns of Rajendra Chola and the CholaSrivijayaChina Triangle by Tansen Sen
A Nautical Perspectiveby Vijay Sakhuja and Sangeeta Sakhuja
5 A Note on the Navy of the Chola State by Y Subbarayalu
6 Excavation at Gangaikondacholapuram the Imperial Capital of Rajendra Chola and Its Significance by S Vasanthi
The Medieval Port City in the Context of Political Religious and Commercial Exchanges between South India Southeast Asia and China by Gokul Ses...
8 South Indian Merchant Guilds in the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia by Noboru Karashima
11 Cultural Implications of the Chola Maritime Fabric Trade with Southeast Asia by Hema Devare
12 Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia during the Period of the Polonnaruva Kingdom by Anura Manatunga
South Indian Cultural Links with Indonesia by P Shanmugam
14 Rajendra Cholas Invasion and the Rise of Airlangga by Ninie Susanti
The Indic Carvings of Quanzhou by Risha Lee
Ancient and Medieval Tamil and Sanskrit Inscriptions Relating to Southeast Asia and China by Noboru Karashima and Y Subbarayalu
Chinese Texts Describing or Referring to the Chola Kingdom as Zhunian by Noboru Karashima and Tansen Sen

A Maritime Trade Guild of Medieval Times by Y Subbarayalu
10 Rajendra Cholas Naval Expedition and the Chola Trade with Southeast and East Asia by A Meenakshisundararajan

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About the author (2009)

•Hermann Kulke is Professor Emeritus of Asian History, Kiel University, Germany.

•K. Kesavapany is Director of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore.

•Vijay Sakhuja is Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore. 

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