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Pandyas
பாண்டியர்
Pandya territories.png
Extent of the Pandya Territories c. 1250 C.E.
Official language Tamil
Capitals Korkai
Madurai
Government Monarchy
Preceding state Unknown
Succeeding states Delhi Sultanate, Nayak, Vijayanagar

The Pandya dynasty was an ancient Tamil dynasty of South India, one of the three Tamil dynasties, the other two being the Chola and the Chera. The kings of the three dynasties were referred to as the Three Crowned Kings of Tamilakam.

The Early Pandyas ruled parts of Southern India from at least 4th century BCE. Pandya rule ended in the first half of the 16th century CE. They initially ruled their country Pandya Nadu from Korkai, a seaport on the southernmost tip of the Indian Peninsula, and in later times moved to Madurai. Pandyas had diplomatic relations as far as Rome. The country of the Pandyas was described as Pandaie by Megasthenes, Pandi Mandala in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea and described as Pandya Mediterranea and Modura Regia Pandionis by Ptolemy.

The Pandya empire was home to temples including Meenakshi Temple in Madurai, and Nellaiappar Temple in Tirunelveli. Jainism, Shaivism, and Vaishnavism flourished during the reign of the early Pandya kings, but after the revival of the Pandya power by Kadungon, the Shaivite Nayanars and the Vaishnavite Alvars rose to prominence and the non-Hindu sects declined. Strabo states that an Indian king called Pandion sent Augustus Caesar "presents and gifts of honour".

Traditionally, the legendary Sangams were held in Madurai under their patronage, and some of the Pandya Kings were poets themselves. The early Pandya Dynasty of the Sangam Literature faded into obscurity upon the invasion of the Kalabhras. The dynasty revived under Kadungon in the early 6th century, pushed the Kalabhras out of the Tamil country and ruled from Madurai. They again went into decline with the rise of the Cholas in the 9th century and were in constant conflict with them. The Pandyas allied themselves with the Sinhalese and the Cheras in harassing the Chola empire until they found an opportunity for reviving their fortunes during the late 13th century. The Later Pandyas (1216–1345) entered their golden age under Maravarman Sundara Pandyan and Jatavarman Sundara Pandyan (c. 1251), who expanded the empire into Telugu country, conquered Kalinga (Orissa) and invaded and conquered Sri Lanka. They also had extensive trade links with the Southeast Asian maritime empires of Srivijaya and their successors. The Pandyas excelled in both trade and literature. They controlled the pearl fisheries along the South Indian coast between Sri Lanka and India which produced some of the finest pearls in the known ancient world.

During their history, the Pandyas were repeatedly in conflict with the Pallavas, Cholas, Hoysalas and finally the Muslim invaders from the Delhi Sultanate. The Islamic invasion led to the end of Pandya supremacy in South India and in 1323, the Jaffna Kingdom of Sri Lanka declared its independence from the crumbling Pandya Empire. The Pandyas lost their capital city Madurai to Madurai Sultanate in 1335. However, they shifted their capital to Tenkasi and continued to rule the Tirulnelveli, Tuticorin, Ramanad, Sivagangai regions. Meanwhile, Madurai sultanate was replaced by Nayaka governors of Vijayanagara in 1378. In 1529 Nayaka governors declared independence and established Madurai Nayak dynasty.

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