Udayar - a book tribute to Raja Raja Chola

Historical fiction is a genre, that makes the reader learn history through literature. It creates curiosity for readers to search more on the proportion between the history and the fiction in the novel. I read such a book called Udayar by Balakumaran. It is a voluminous historical fiction about Raja Raja Chola I. To know more about the book and the interest it creates, read the following article in detail.

Raja Raja Chola is a renowned King in the history of Chera, Chola, and Pandya kingdoms. Many remember Kalki's Ponniyin Selvan novel as a great literature work on Raja Raja Chola's history. Balakumaran's Udayar is more like a sequel to Ponniyin Selvan. It starts from where Ponniyin Selvan ends and also clears the mysteries that arise in Ponniyin Selvan. This novel consists of 6 volumes. This article is the review of part 1 only.

Sequel of Ponniyin Selvan

Kalki's Ponniyin Selvan ends with the mystery of Aditya Karikalan's death and Madhurandagan's coronation. It gives a lead to Raja Raja Chola's rule in the synopsis at the end. Though it appears to be a sequel of Ponniyin Selvan, it is not a must to read Ponniyin Selvan before reading this book. Both are from different authors, but both give a literature version of Raja Raja Chola's kingdom in their books. Ponniyin Selvan has 5 volumes, Udayar has 6 volumes. This review is for 1st part only.

To know more about Ponniyin Selvan, Book Review: Ponniyin Selvan by Kalki

How does Udayar carry forward Ponniyin Selvan?

Udayar 1 talks about Aditya Karikalan. His love for war, reasons for assassinating Pandya King Veera Pandiyan, which in turn became the reason for his assassination, etc. From Ponniyin Selvan, we understand that Madhurandagan was crowned as a Chola King after Sundara Cholan (Father of Raja Raja Cholan). The author justifies the political situation to crown Madhurandagan instead of Raja Raja Cholan. Approximately after 15 years of this coronation, Raja Raja Chola became the King of Chola Kingdom with the public support. Soon after his coronation, Raja Raja Chola opened his brother's assassination case and had taken revenge for it. The key people behind Aditya Karikalan's assassination were found living in Kanthaloor Saalai, Kerala (Chera kingdom). They were exiled and the place was destroyed. This is still a remarkable history in Chera, Chola, and Pandya kingdoms as the battle of Kanthaloor Saalai.

Is that the end of the story?

Keeping the construction of Tanjore Periya Kovil in the present timeline, the story stretches to the past and the present. In the past timeline, the author narrates Aditya Karikalan and his assassination, in the present timeline he narrates, how does Aditya Karikalan's assassination impacts the Kingdom of Raja Raja Chola. The exiled community plans for revenge against Raja Raja Chola and his kingdom.

What did they plan? Did they succeed? How did Raja Raja Chola overcome the hurdles and construct the world-famous monument for Lord Shiva? Hope 5 more volumes of Udayar will give answers to all of the above.

Key characters of Udayar 1

Panjavan Maadevi

She was the 4th wife of Raja Raja Chola. She was from the Devaradiyar community. Raja Raja Chola, who was a devotee of Lord Shiva got impressed with her performance on the life story of Sundara Naayanar. Compared to other wives of Raja Raja Cholan, she was actively involved in politics and her views were considered in political decision making.


His full name was Mummudi Chola Brammarayar Krishnan Raman. He was the chief commander in Chola kingdom. His ancestors were from Jaggannathpur. His son Arunmozhi, the sishya of Karuvoorar was also involved in the war and considered eligible to become a chief commander in the Chola Kingdom. Brammarayar had his separate spy team and played a vital role in the welfare of the Chola kingdom.

Karuvoor Devar

He was a Siddhar and a guru to Raja Raja Cholan. He stood as hope to Raja Raja Cholan in all his difficulties. Only on his advice, Raja Raja Chola initiated the Tanjore Periya Kovil construction. His predictions and proactive decisions saved the Chola kingdom from many difficulties.

About the author

Balakumaran was a Tamil author, lived between the year 1946 and 2018. He had written more than 200 novels, 100 short stories and 23 screenplays for movies. He had contributed to famous magazines like Kalki, Ananda Vikatan and Kumudam. In the introduction to his book Udayar, Balakumaran mentioned that he had always felt goosebumps and love for Raja Raja Chola and his monument. This made him to search more about Raja Raja Chola's history and thus he came up with this historical fiction.


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