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Rajasekhara Varman (820-44) marked the beginning of the Kollam Era in 825. He is also reputed to have issued the Vazhappali Inscription, the first epigraphical record of the Second Kera Kingdom. Rajasekhara Varma was followed by Sthanu Ravi Varman (844-55), a contemporary of the Chola king, Aditya I. With the rise of the Cholas of the Vijayalaya dynasty around the middle of the ninth century, the Keralas found that they had to deal with another powerful rival. Aditya I, (c. 871 – c. 907 CE) expanded the Chola kingdom by defeating the Pallavas. He was on friendly terms with the Chera king Sthanu Ravi.[1]

Aditya married one of Sthanu Ravi's daughters. Sankaranarayana, who composed the astronomical work Sankaranarayaniyam, attended his court.

The Keralas faced total defeat at the hands of the great Chola king Rajaraja Chola. He invaded Kerala in 994 and destroyed the navy of the Kera king Bhaskara Ravi Varman Thiruvadi (c. 978 – 1036 CE) in the battle of Kandalur Salai. The Kera dynasty went into a temporary decline after this defeat, although the remnants of the Keras continued to cause trouble for their Chola overlords. Rama Varma Kulasekhara (1090-1102) was the last of the Kera kings. He moved his capital to Kollam when the Cholas sacked Mahodyapuram during his reign. His death signalled the end of the Chera Kingdom, from the ruins of which arose the independent kingdom of Venad.

From about the beginning of twelfth century, southern Kerala was under Venad rulers, who asserted their independence from the main Kera rulers. They traced their descent from the Ay kings of the eighth century. A number of kings such as Kodai Kerala Varma, Udaya Martanda Varma (1175-1195), Vira Rama Kerala Varma, and Ravi Kerala Varma, ruled over the kingdom. The greatest of these was Ravivarman Kulasekhara (1299-1314). He was a feudatory of the Pandya Maravarman Kulasekara (1268 - 1311) and married one of his daughters. At the death of Maravarman Kulasekhara, he staked his claim to the Pandya throne and started issuing records as an independent sovereign. During this period, Malik Kafur raided the region and unsettled power relations. Ravivarman Kulasekhara, taking advantage of the unsettled nature of the country, quickly overran the surrounding country and brought the entire south, from Kanyakumari to Kanchipuram, under the Venad Chera kingdom. His inscription is found in Punaamalli, a suburb of Madras. His capital was Kollam. A scholar and musician himself, he patronised intellectuals and poets during his tenure. The Sanskrit drama Pradyumnabhyudayam is credited to him. Trade and commerce also flourished during his rule, and Kollam became a famous centre of business and enterprise. Soon after his death in 1314, Kerala became a conglomeration of warring chieftaincies among which by the 18th century after the subjugation of the smaller kingdoms by Calicut and Travancore the most important were Calicut in the North, Travancore in the South and Kingdom of Cochin in the middle with Cochin as the smallest of three. Though initially the larger of the small kingdoms, Cochin reduced in size by the invasions of Travancore and Calicut in 18th century. The Venad kingdom lingered on until the middle of the 18th century before it disintegrated. The Zamorins were the hereditary rulers of Calicut who traced their lineage to the old Perumal dynasty of Kerala. Calicut emerged as a major seaport during the reign of the Zamorins. Trade with foreigners, such as the Chinese and Arabs, was the main source of revenue for the Zamorins.

References

  1. ^ The Tillaisthanam Inscription indicates that he was on friendly terms with the Chola monarch.
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