In Indian history, King Raja Raja Chola occupies a special place. A fierce warrior, a brilliant architect, a great philanthropist, but most of all, a man whose death is shrouded in mystery. He is known as the first Dravidian king who documented almost his entire life on stone inscriptions and copper plates, but no information is available about his death. It almost feels like a great king simply vanished into thin air, after a certain point in time.
Watch the video above or continue reading belowWell, I am gonna show you my search for the grave & nature of death of Raja Raja. I was told that his tombstone lies in the small village of Udayalur, in Tamil Nadu. This is where he is rumored to have been buried or cremated. When I visited this place, I was surprised to see a rather small, but beautiful lingam. This could be of priceless historic value, so I took careful measurements. It is exactly 2 feet 3 inches tall and has a diameter of 18 inches.
|The purported grave of King Raja Raja Chola in the village of Udayalur near Kumbakonam, India|
|A closeup of the back of lingam shows no carvings and chipping at the top. Did Raja Raja die here?|
|The inscription on the pillar at Paalkulathu Amman temple shows the word "Raja Raja" in Tamil|
|Above: English translation of the Tamil inscription, which shows it has nothing to do with Raja Raja Chola's death|
|Above: The first part of line by line translation of the pillar inscription, from Tamil to English. Click picture to enlarge|
|Above: The second part of line by line translation of the pillar inscription, from Tamil to English. Click picture to enlarge|
This raises the question of what happened to Raja Raja, how did he die? Where did his funeral take place? Think a moment, there are hundreds, if not thousands of stone inscriptions and copper plates about Raja Raja's accomplishments, how he conquered various territories, how he built the great temple and even when he was born. But there is no information whatsoever about when or how he died and where he was cremated. Or he could still lay buried in a large earthen pot called Mudhumakkal Thazhi, which is the ancient funeral custom of Tamils. So I decided to go back to Thanjavur to find out more about his death, which was the capital of Chola empire until he died.
|Brihadeeswarar temple in Thanjavur, declared a world heritage site - built by the great king Raja Raja Chola|
The locals tell a very different, but consistent story. I have given an example of this account in my video, around the 4:24 mark. It turns out that Raja Raja was actually murdered by a woman from Sri Lanka. In 993 A.D, Raja Raja conquered half of Sri Lanka and the defeated King Mahinda V fled to the south, to avoid being captured. Unable to defeat Raja Raja in the battlefield, King Mahinda sent a Buddhist woman from Sri Lanka who slowly got into the inner circle of Raja Raja. When Raja Raja was standing on the 8th floor inspecting the progress of the Big Temple, she simply pushed him down. This fall killed him instantly. People claim this is why the temple was not properly finished, a fact confirmed by archeologists. Some of the unfinished paintings in the upper levels show Raja Raja's international connections, like the mysterious French King sculpture on the outside. We might have also gotten more information about the Chola drilling technology, had the temple been finished.
|Experts say this sculpture shows Rajendra Chola being crowned by Lord Shiva, instead of his father Raja Raja|
|Maaligai Medu, the royal palace of Rajendra Chola, now in ruins near Gangaikonda Cholapuram|