While kingdoms rose and fell in the north of
India, the south remained generally unaffected by
these upheavals. Religions like Jainism and
Buddhism gradually became popular in the centre
and north of India, but Hinduism continued to
flourish in the south.
The prosperity in the southern parts of the
country was based upon the long-established trade
links of India with other civilisations. The
Egyptians and Romans had trade relations with
southern India through sea routes and later,
links were also established with South-East Asia.
Other outside influences in the south included
the arrival of Saint Thomas in Kerala in 52 AD,
who brought Christianity to India.
dynasties that rose in the south were the Cholas,
Pandyas, Cheras, Chalukyas and Pallavas. These
empires constantly vied with each other for
supremacy. The Chalukyas ruled mainly over the
Deccan region of central India, although at
times, their reign extended further north.
Further south, the Pallavas pioneered Dravidian
architecture with its exuberant, almost baroque
style. They also took Indian art forms and
Hinduism to Java in Indonesia, Thailand and
In 850 AD, the Cholas rose to power and
gradually superseded the Pallavas. They too were
great builders, and their architectural styles
can be witnessed at the temples in Thanjavur.
Under the rule of Raja Raja Chola, the Chola
empire spread all over southern India, the
Deccan, Sri Lanka, parts of the Malay peninsula
In Kerala, the Cheras acted host to an influx
of Arab traders who had discovered a fast sea
route to India using the monsoon winds. Some of
them settled here permanently, and were allowed
to freely practice their religion.