The reigns of both father and son were taken up with extensive campaigns in almost every direction. Rajaraja began by attacking the alliance between Kerala, Ceylon, and the Pandyas, in order to try to break the monopoly of western trade held by these kingdoms. The Arabs were by now well-established as traders on the west coast of India and had the support of the rulers of Kerala.
The Cholas were aware of Arab competition in the south-cast Asian trade and tried to strike at the root of this competition by bringing Malabar under their control. At a later date, Rajaraja conducted a naval attack on the Maldive Islands, which had assumed importance in the Arab trade, and annexed it. The Cholas, although unable to strike directly at the Arab trade, caused havoc in Ceylon with a devastating campaign when the existing capital, Anuradhapura, was destroyed and the Cholas moved the capital to Pollonnaruva.
Apart from his military conquests Rajaraja I was an exemplary adherent of art and architecture. The magnificent Brihadeshwara temple, built by Rajaraja at Thanjavur, shows the splendour of Chola rule. It was a shrine and fortress combined, and was dedicated to the god Shiva. The surface displays detailed carvings and frescoes (wall paintings), including a portrait of the king and his chief priest, Karur Thevar. The tower over the central altar is 64 metres high.
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