Ponniyin Selvan: I, directed by Mani Ratnam, is releasing tomorrow with a powerful star cast.

The movie is based on Kalki Krishnamurthy's 1955 novel Ponniyin Selvan and chronicles the story of the great Chola emperor Rajaraja Chola I.

So here’s a gist of the history of the world’s longest-ruling dynasty.

Established in the third century BCE, the Cholas continued to be in power till 1279 CE i.e for more than 1,500 years.

They reigned supreme over the trade routes and high seas of South Asia. Their strategic geo-political positioning probably helped the empire fuel a spectacular Tamil cultural Renaissance.

King Rajaraja I is credited with expanding the Chola empire and also bringing about several revolutions in the life of the people.

One of these was building the majestic Brihadeeswara Temple in the Chola capital of Thanjavur.

They also sculpted two other massive edifices under UNESCO’s Great Living Chola Temples — Brihadisvara Temple at Gangaikondacholisvaram (built by Rajendra I) and the Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram (built by Rajaraja II) — with just hammers and chisels.

Facilities for hospitals, educational institutions, employment opportunities, art and culture, and rainwater harvesting systems were also done.

The Chola temple towns were also booming hubs of all manners of artisans and craftspeople.

The origin of the famous Kanjeevaram silk sarees can also be traced to the time when Rajaraja I invited weavers from Saurashtra to come and settle in Kanchipuram.

Women were given important roles such as those of padimagalir, — bodyguards charged with protecting the king from potential ambushes.

However, after a splendid era of the ruling, in 1279, Rajendra III lost his throne to the Pandya dynasty, marking the end of a truly remarkable reign in India’s history.