Settlements of peasants, known as ur, became prosperous with the spread of irrigation agriculture. Groups of such villages formed larger units called nadu.
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Sculpture, Agriculture and Administration of Chola empire:
- The big temples of Thanjavur and Gangaikonda-cholapuram, built by Rajaraja and Rajendra at that time.
- Chola temples often became the nuclei of settlements which grew around them. These were centres of craft production.
- Temples were also endowed with land by rulers as well as by others. Temples were not only places of worship; they were the hub of economic, social and cultural life as well.
- Amongst the crafts associated with temples, the making of bronze images was the most distinctive. Chola bronze images are considered amongst the finest in the world.
- While most images were of deities, sometimes images were made of devotees as well.
Agriculture and Irrigation:
- Many of the achievements of the Cholas were made possible through new developments in agriculture.
- The river Kaveri branches off into several small channels that channels overflow frequently, depositing fertile soil on their banks and provides the necessary moisture for agriculture, particularly the cultivation of rice.
- Although agriculture had developed earlier in other parts of Tamil Nadu, it was only from the fifth or sixth century that this area was opened up for large-scale cultivation.
- Forests had to be cleared in some regions; land had to be levelled in other areas. In the delta region embankments had to be built to prevent flooding and canals had to be constructed to carry water to the fields.
- In many areas two crops were grown in a year. In many cases it was necessary to water crops artificially. A variety of methods were used for irrigation.
- In some areas wells were dug. In other places huge tanks were constructed to collect rainwater. Most of the new rulers, as well as people living in villages, took an active interest in these activities.
The Administration of the Empire:
- The village council and the nadu performed several administrative functions including dispensing justice and collecting taxes.
- Rich peasants of the Vellala caste exercised considerable control over the affairs of the nadu under the supervision of the central Chola government.
The Chola kings gave some rich landowners titles like muvendavelan (a velan or peasant serving three kings), araiyar (chief), etc. as markers of respect, and entrusted them with important offices of the state at the centre.