The Cholas ruled in South India from the 9th century to the 13th century. Along with the Pandyas they defeated the Pallavas, who finally disappeared after 300 years. This period also saw the crystalization of the tamil culture. The chola culture ruled the regular life styles of the people thus making it the Classical era.
This is a mural depiction of Rajaraja Chola with Guru Karuvurar at the Brihadeshwara temple at Tanjore.
The chola empire extended further to the south east Asian countries like Java etc. Politically the Cholas have ruled in Tamil Nadu since the first century AD but came into the lime light of historical importance when the first ruler Parantaka 1 defeated the Pandhyas and established his rule over the south. He was later defeated by the Rashtrakutas. The Cholas rule did have its ups and downs but rose again when they reclaimed their territories from the Rashtrakutas, who by then had faced enough harassment from the Chalukyas. This time the Chola empire came to be more stable under the rule of Rajaraja 1 (985- 1014) is son Rajendra Chola.
Commerce flourished under the Cholas and they were very well aware of their competition in the Arab traders who were supported by the rulers of Kerala. Hence the Cholas went and conquered the Malabar coast and monopolized on this. Further they had ties with China and other south east Asian countries. Indeed a politically very well knit state!