Monday 30 September 2013

Horseman Coin of Raja Raja I

Raja Raja Horse Man Coin

Obv: King sitting on galloping horse facing right.

Rev: Sitting King besides the letter “ Ra” means Raja Raja

Metal: Copper

Weight: 13 grams

The above shown coin is with the author’s collection. The above coin has been listed out in

“Chozhar Kasugal”, a well illustrated book in Tamil published by well known Numismatist

Arumuga Seetharaman. Coin No.51 & 52 shown above has interpreted in his book as a coin

issued to highlight the horsemanship of Raja Raja I ( 984-1015 AD ). Biddulph C H and all other

numismatists attributed these horseman coins to Raja Raja I.

It is probable that these coins (Horseman coins) might have been issued to commemorate

some important political event. Raja Raja I issued all his commemorative coins other than the

regular coins, based on some important events only.

For example:

Coins with Fish Motiff – Victory over Pandyas

Coins with Padam ( Foot ) – Victory over Cheras

Coins with Varaha (Boar ) – Victory over Chalukyas

Coins with Conch – Victory over Srilanka

Thus this coin also might have some important reason to issue, it cannot be an Aswametha

type coin since Raja Raja I never performed Aswametha Yaga. It cannot be a case of issuing a

coin merely exhibiting horsemanship talent. Then what can be the other reason for issuance of

these coins? A perusal of literary evidence gives us the answer to this question.

Jayamkondar a famous Tamil Poet, in his work Kalingathuparani refers to an important event

in the political life of Raja Raja I. He defeated the Cheras at Uthagai and celebrated his birthday

Sathaya Thirunaal in occupied Chera land. Ka.Appadurai, a Tamil Writer, described in his

work Thennattu Porkalangal, when Raja Raja I heard a shocking news that his ambassador-
against all diplomatic etiquette-was illegally arrested and detained and imprisoned at Uthagai

Fort by the Chera King Bhaskara Ravi Varman, he rushed with his army on a rescue mission

lead the army on his horse back with a short period of twelve hours pass the eighteen thick

forest and attacked enemy’s fort. The Ambassador was rescued and released. The fort was

tottally destroyed. This fact is borne out by an inscription found at Thirukovalur. It was one of

the Military Feats to rush at that high speed. Destroyed Uthagai fort is now called Karkulam

near present day Nagercoil. (The distance between Thanjavur and Karkulam is around 400 KM

) After the destroy of Uthagai fort, Raja Raja I continues the military campaign. The famous

Tamil Poet Ottakoothar, in his work Moovar Ulaa, describes in details about Raja Raja’s military

exploits in Chera Nadu. Raja Raja I went ahead and defeated the Chera King at Kanthaloor

Salai. The victory in the battle of Kanthaloor Salai was crowning glory. Very first Royal title

(Meikeerthi ) reads as “Kanthaloor Salai Kalamarutharuli” In those days Kanthaloor Salai was

on the West Coast, an important Fort Town in Chera Nadu ( Now we are not in a position to

identify the place). The Chola king used both land force and Naval force to capture Kanthaloor

Salai. The simultaneous attack was effective and the fort town fell to Raja Raja Chola.

In my opinion, based on the above facts, this horseman coin might have been issued to

commemorate the storming and capture of the strong Uthagai Fort, first step to Kanthaloor

Salai victory.


1. Chozhar Kasugal by Arumuga Seetharamn

2. Coins of the Cholas by Biddulph.C.H., NSI, Varnasi.

3. Kalingathu Parani by Pulyur Kesikan

4. Thennattu Porkalangal by Ka.Appadurai

5. Raja Raja Chola-A collection of Seminar Papers by Authors Guild of India Madras


Thanks Mr. M K Chandrasekhar for your valuable contribution on this article.

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