• The Chola dynasty was one of the Tamil dynasties in southern India. At its height, it ruled over an expansive maritime empire known as the Chola Empire.
  • The Chola Empire was at its peak and achieved imperialism under the Medieval Cholas in the mid-9th century CE.
  • As one of the Three Crowned Kings of Tamilakam, along with the Chera and Pandya, the dynasty continued to govern over varying territories until the 13th century CE.
  • The heartland of the Cholas was the fertile valley of the Kaveri River. They ruled a significantly larger area at the height of their power from the later half of the 9th century till the beginning of the 13th century. They unified peninsular India south of the Tungabhadra River, and held the territory as one state for three centuries between 907 and 1215 CE.
  • Under Rajaraja I and his successors Rajendra I, Rajadhiraja I, Rajendra II, Virarajendra, and Kulothunga Chola I, the empire became a military, economic and cultural powerhouse in South Asia and Southeast Asia.
  • The power and the prestige the Cholas had among political powers in South, Southeast, and East Asia at its peak is evident through their expeditions to the Ganges, naval raids on cities of the Srivijaya empire based on the island of Sumatra, and their repeated embassies to China. The Chola fleet represented the zenith of ancient Indian maritime capacity.
  • Around 1070 the Cholas began to lose almost all of their overseas territories, but the later Cholas (1070–1279 CE) continued to rule portions of Southern India. The Chola empire went into decline at the beginning of the 13th century with the rise of the Pandyan dynasty, which ultimately caused their downfall.
  • Sources
    • There is very little written evidence for the Cholas prior to the 7th century CE.
    • The main sources of information about the early Cholas are ancient Tamil literature of the Sangam Period, oral traditions, religious texts, temple and copperplate inscriptions. Later medieval Cholas also claimed a long and ancient lineage.
    • The Cholas are mentioned in Ashokan Edicts (inscribed 273 BCE–232 BCE) as one of the Mauryan Empire’s neighbors to the South (Ashoka Major Rock Edict No.13), who, thought not subject to Ashoka, were on friendly terms with him.
    • There are also brief references to the Chola country and its towns, ports and commerce in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea (Periplus Maris Erythraei), and in the slightly later work of the geographer Ptolemy.
    • Mahavamsa, a Buddhist text written down during the 5th century CE, recounts a number of conflicts between the inhabitants of Sri Lanka and Cholas in the 1st century BCE.
  • The history of the Cholas falls into four periods:
    • the Early Cholas of the Sangam literature,
    • the interregnum between the fall of the Sangam Cholas and the rise of the Imperial medieval Cholas under Vijayalaya (c. 848),
    • the dynasty of Vijayalaya,
    • and finally the Later Chola dynasty of Kulothunga Chola I from the third quarter of the 11th century.
Chola Dynasty

Early Cholas

  • It is known that the Cholas were a ruling family since very early antiquity. Along with the Pandyas and Cheras, they are first mentioned in Ashoka’s II and XIII Rock Edicts.
    • This inscription claims that the Cholas were a friendly forcein the south that existed outside of the purview of the Mauryan Suzerainty.
  • Sangam literature also provides a wealth of information on Chola chiefdoms.The best early Chola king was Karikala Chola. He is credited with establishingthe town of Puhar at the mouth of the Cauvery River and building anembankment alongside it.
    • Additionally, he demonstrated a strong interest inexpanding irrigation infrastructure and in land reclamation.
  • Even though Chola kings date back to the Mauryan era, little is known about their post-Sangam history or their relationship to the Cholas of the early mediaeval era.


  • There is not much information about the transition period of around three centuries from the end of the Sangam age (c. 300) to that in which the Pandyas and Pallavas dominated the Tamil country.
    • An obscure dynasty, the Kalabhras invaded Tamil country, displaced the existing kingdoms and ruled during that time.
  • They were displaced by the Pallava dynasty and the Pandyan dynasty in the 6th century. Little is known of the fate of the Cholas during the succeeding three centuries until the accession of Vijayalaya in the second quarter of the 9th century.
    • As per inscriptions found in and around Thanjavur, the kingdom was ruled by Mutharaiyars / Muthurajas for three centuries. Their reign was ended by Vijayalaya chola who captured Thanjavur from Ilango Mutharaiyar between 848 and 851 CE.
    • Epigraphy and literature provide few glimpses of the transformations that came over this line of kings during this long interval. It is certain that when the power of the Cholas fell to its lowest ebb and that of the Pandyas and Pallavas rose to the north and south of them, this dynasty was compelled to seek refuge and patronage under their more successful rivals.
  • The Cholas continued to rule over a diminished territory in the neighbourhood of Uraiyur, but only in a minor capacity.
    • In spite of their reduced powers, the Pandyas and Pallavas accepted Chola princesses in marriage, possibly out of regard for their reputation.
    • Numerous Pallava inscriptions of this period mention their having fought rulers of the Chola country.
    • Despite this loss in influence and power, it is unlikely that the Cholas lost total grip of the territory around Uraiyur, their old capital, as Vijayalaya, when he rose to prominence hailed from that area.
  • An early silver coin of Uttama Chola found in Sri Lanka showing the tiger emblem of the Chola and in Nagari script.
  • Around the 7th century, a Chola kingdom flourished in present-day Andhra Pradesh. These Telugu Cholas traced their descent to the early Sangam Cholas.
    • However, it is not known if they had any relation to the early Cholas.
    • It is possible that a branch of the Tamil Cholas migrated north during the time of the Pallavas to establish a kingdom of their own, away from the dominating influences of the Pandyas and Pallavas.
    • The Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang, who spent several months in Kanchipuram during 639–640 writes about the “kingdom of Culi-ya”, in an apparent reference to these Telugu Cholas.

Imperial Cholas

  • Vijayalaya was the founder of the Chola empire which was the beginning of one of the most splendid empires in Indian history.
    • Vijayalaya, possibly a feudatory of the Pallava dynasty, took an opportunity arising out of a conflict between the Pandya empire and Pallava empire in c. 850, captured Thanjavur from Muttarayar, and established the imperial line of the medieval Chola Dynasty.
    • Thanjavur became the capital of the Imperial Chola empire.
  • The second Chola King, Aditya I, caused the demise of the Pallava dynasty and defeated the Pandyan dynasty of Madurai in 885, occupied large parts of the Kannada country, and had marital ties with the Western Ganga dynasty.
  • In 925, his son Parantaka I conquered Sri Lanka (known as Ilangai). Parantaka I also defeated the Rashtrakuta dynasty under Krishna II in the battle of Vallala.
  • Rajaraja Chola I and Rajendra Chola I were the greatest rulers of the Chola dynasty, extending it beyond the traditional limits of a Tamil kingdom.
    • At its peak, the Chola Empire stretched from the northern parts of Sri Lanka in the south to the Godavari-Krishna river basin in the north, up to the Konkan coast in Bhatkal, the entire Malabar Coast (the Chea country) in addition to Lakshadweep, and Maldives.
    • Rajaraja Chola I was a ruler with inexhaustible energy, and he applied himself to the task of governance with the same zeal that he had shown in waging wars.
      • He integrated his empire into a tight administrative grid under royal control, and at the same time strengthened local self-government. Therefore, he conducted a land survey in 1000 CE to effectively marshall the resources of his empire.
      • He also built the Brihadeeswarar Temple in 1010 CE.
    • Rajendra Chola I conquered Odisha and his armies continued to march further north and defeated the forces of the Pala dynasty of Bengal and reached the Ganges river in north India.
      • Rajendra Chola I built a new capital called Gangaikonda Cholapuram to celebrate his victories in northern India.
      • Rajendra Chola I successfully invaded the Srivijaya kingdom in Southeast Asia which led to the decline of the empire there.
      • He also completed the conquest of the Rajarata kingdom of Sri Lanka and took the Sinhala king Mahinda V as a prisoner, in addition to his conquests of Rattapadi (territories of the Rashtrakutas, Chalukya country, Talakkad, and Kolar, where the Kolaramma temple still has his portrait statue) in Kannada country.
      • Rajendra’s territories included the area falling on the Ganges-Hooghly-Damodar basin,[59] as well as Rajarata of Sri Lanka and Maldives.
      • The kingdoms along the east coast of India up to the river Ganges acknowledged Chola suzerainty.
      • Three diplomatic missions were sent to China in 1016, 1033, and 1077.
  • The Western Chalukya Empire under Satyashraya and Someshvara I tried to wriggle out of Chola domination from time to time, primarily due to the Chola influence in the Vengi kingdom.
    • The Western Chalukyas mounted several unsuccessful attempts to engage the Chola emperors in war, and except for a brief occupation of Vengi territories between 1118 and 1126, all their other attempts ended in failure with successive Chola emperors routing the armies of the Chalukyas at various places in many wars.
  • Virarajendra Chola defeated Someshvara II of the Western Chalukya Empire and made an alliance with Prince Vikramaditya VI. Cholas always successfully controlled the Chalukyas in the western Deccan by defeating them in war and levying tribute on them.
  • Even under the emperors of the Cholas like Kulothunga I and Vikrama Chola, the wars against the Chalukyas were mainly fought in Chalukya territories in Karnataka or in the Telugu country like Vengi, Kakinada, Anantapur, or Gutti. Then the former feudatories like the Hoysalas, Yadvas, and Kakatiyas steadily increased their power and finally replaced the Chalukyas.
  • With the occupation of Dharwar in North Central Karnataka by the Hoysalas under Vishnuvardhana, where he based himself with his son Narasimha I in-charge at the Hoysala capital Dwarasamudra around 1149, and with the Kalachuris occupying the Chalukyan capital for over 35 years from around 1150–1151, the Chalukya kingdom was already starting to dissolve.
  • The Cholas under Kulothunga Chola III collaborated to the herald the dissolution of the Chalukyas by aiding Hoysalas under Veera Ballala II, the son-in-law of the Chola monarch, and defeated the Western Chalukyas in a series of wars with Someshvara IV between 1185 and 1190.
    • The last Chalukya king’s territories did not even include the erstwhile Chalukyan capitals Badami, Manyakheta or Kalyani. That was the final dissolution of Chalukyan power though the Chalukyas existed only in name since 1135–1140. But the Cholas remained stable until 1215, were absorbed by the Pandyan empire and ceased to exist by 1279.
  • On the other hand, from 1150 CE to 1280 CE, Pandya became the staunchest opponents of the Cholas and tried to win independence for their traditional territories.
    • Thus, this period saw constant warfare between the Cholas and the Pandyas.
    • Besides, Cholas regularly fought with the Eastern Gangas of Kalinga. Moreover, under Chola’s protection, Veng remained largely independent.
    • Cholas also dominated the entire eastern coast with their feudatories, the Telugu Cholas, Velananti Cholas, Renandu Cholas, etc.. These feudatories always aided the Cholas in their successful campaigns against the Chalukyas and levying tribute on the Kannada kingdoms.
  • Furthermore, Cholar fought constantly with the Sinhala kings from the Rohana kingdom of Sri Lanka, who repeatedly attempted to overthrow the Chola occupation of Rajarata and unify the island.
    • But until the later Chola king Kulottunga I, the Cholas had firm control over the area. In one such instance, the Chola king, Rajadhiraja Chola II, was able to defeat the Sinhalese, aided by their traditional ally, a confederation of five Pandya princes, and kept the control of Rajarata under Cholar rule.
    • His successor, the last great Chola monarch Kulottunga Chola III reinforced the hold of the Chola territories by quelling further rebellions and disturbances in the Rajarata area of Sri Lanka and Madurai.
      • He also defeated Hoysala generals fought under Veera Ballala II at Karuvur. Furthermore, he also continued holding on to traditional territories in Tamil country, Eastern Gangavadi, Draksharama, Vengi, and Kalinga.
      • However, after defeating Veera Ballala II, Kulottunga Chola III entered into a marital alliance with him through Ballala’s marriage to a Chola princess, which improved the Kulottunga Chola III relationship with Hoysalas.

Overseas conquests

  • During the reign of Rajaraja Chola I and his successors Rajendra Chola I, Virarajendra Chola and Kulothunga Chola I the Chola armies invaded Sri Lanka, the Maldives and parts of Southeast Asia like Malaysia, Indonesia and Southern Thailand of the Srivijaya Empire in the 11th century.
    • Rajaraja Chola I launched several naval campaigns that resulted in the capture of Sri Lanka, Maldives and the Malabar Coast.
    • In 1025, Rajendra Chola launched naval raids on ports of Srivijaya and against the Burmese kingdom of Pegu.
Chola dynasty

Later Cholas (1070–1279)

  • The Later Chola dynasty was led by capable rulers such as Kulothunga Chola I, his son Vikrama Chola, other successors like Rajaraja Chola II, Rajadhiraja Chola II, and Kulothunga Chola III, who conquered Kalinga, Ilam, and Kataha.
    • However, the rule of the later Cholas between 1218, starting with Rajaraja Chola II, to the last emperor Rajendra Chola III was not as strong as those of the emperors between 850 and 1215.
    • Around 1118, they lost control of Vengi to the Western Chalukya and Gangavadi (southern Mysore districts) to the Hoysala Empire.
    • However, these were only temporary setbacks, because immediately following the accession of king Vikrama Chola, the son and successor of Kulothunga Chola I, the Cholas lost no time in recovering the province of Vengi by defeating Chalukya Someshvara III and also recovering Gangavadi from the Hoysalas.
  • The Chola Empire, though not as strong as between 850 and 1150, was still largely territorially intact under Rajaraja Chola II (1146–1175) a fact attested by the construction and completion of the third grand Chola architectural marvel, the chariot-shaped Airavatesvara Temple at Dharasuram on the outskirts of modern Kumbakonam.
  • Chola administration and territorial integrity until the rule of Kulothunga Chola III was stable and very prosperous up to 1215, but during his rule itself, the decline of the Chola power started following his defeat by Maravarman Sundara Pandiyan II in 1215–16. Subsequently, the Cholas also lost control of the island of Lanka and were driven out by the revival of Sinhala power.
  • In continuation of the decline, also marked by the resurgence of the Pandyan dynasty as the most powerful rulers in South India, a lack of a controlling central administration in its erstwhile-Pandyan territories prompted a number of claimants to the Pandya throne to cause a civil war in which the Sinhalas and the Cholas were involved by proxy.
    • Details of the Pandyan civil war and the role played by the Cholas and Sinhalas, are present in the Mahavamsa as well as the Pallavarayanpettai Inscriptions.

Chola: Polity and Administration

  • The administration under the Cholas was first-rate.
  • At the top of the hierarchy was the emperor or king. The king is typically referred to as Ko (king) or Perumal Adigal in Chola inscriptions (the great one).
    • The Chola throne was hereditary. The Chola royal family followed the principle that the eldest son of the king should succeed to the Chola throne. Yuvaraja was the name of the heir apparent.
  • The early Chola kings’ unobtrusive titles were swapped out for pompous ones. Additionally, he was given more opulent names that denoted his status as a ruler, such as Raja-Rajadhiraja and Ko-Konmai-Kondan, both of which mean “king of kings.”
  • According to the inscriptions, the king was a great warrior and conqueror, adefender of Varnadharma, a slayer of the Kali Age’s evils, a generous giver of gifts, and a great patron of the arts.
  • He was also described as having a beautiful physical appearance. Kings were frequently compared to the gods, sometimes in a direct way and other times using a double extender.
  • Rajaraja, for instance, is referred to as “Ulakalanda Perumal” (the great one who measured the earth). During this time, the cult of the God-king was given the proper respect and importance. The worship of dead kings’ images and the construction of temples over their graves provide ample evidence to support the aforementioned claim.
  • In carrying out his duties, the king was supported by an army of officers or a council of ministers known as Udankuttam.
  • The priest of the royal family known as the Raja Guru was crucial to Chola politics. He served as the king’s temporal and spiritual advisor.
  • The information provided by the inscriptions makes it clear that some of the Chola kings were interested in exploring the realm. They typically spend the night in the temples while on their tour. These visits will give the kings a chance to stay in touch with the general public and to directly monitor how his officials are carrying out their duties.
  • The Cholas had a sophisticated and convoluted administrative structure or bureaucracy that included officials of various ranks.
    • The status of Perundanam was enjoyed by the higher officials, and Sirudaram by the lower officials.
    • The officers were rewarded and encouraged by titles in addition to being paid by land assignments.
  • The tiger was the royal emblem of Chola kings.

Provincial Government:

  • The Chola empire was divided into principalities (under Vassal Chiefs) and Mandalams (Provinces under Viceroys who were primarily royal princes), with additional divisions of the provinces into Valanadus, Nadus, and Villages, for administrative convenience.
    • The fundamental administrative unit was the village.
    • Towns had their own independent administration. The town was governed by a council known as Nagarattar and was known by the name Nagaram.
  • The Chola Empire comprised of nine provinces. They were also known as mandalams. The viceroy was the province’s ruler. Viceroys were appointed by close relatives of kings.
    • The Viceroys were always in contact with the Central Government. The king gave orders to viceroys.
    • They responded to the king on a regular basis. The viceroys were assisted in their administrative duties by a large number of officials.
  • The existence of Sabhas and Assemblies to oversee the administration of these territorial divisions was the most notable aspect of the Chola polity.
    • There were various assemblies in various units, including Nadu, Kurram, and Grama.
    • Inscriptions occasionally make mention of the gathering of all the inhabitants of a province.

Divisions of Administration:

  • The Chola administration’s success was more dependent on the administrative division’s smooth operation.
  • Generally, mandalams were named after the Chola kings’ original names or titles.
    • Each mandalam was subdivided into Kottams or Valanadus.
    • Every kottam was further subdivided into nadu.
    • Each nadu was further subdivided into (Urs) villages, which formed the final administrative unit.

Administration in the village (local self-government):

  • The self-sufficient villages and the administrative structure that controls them were two of the most striking characteristics of the South Indian polity.
  • The level of autonomy at the village level was incredibly high by modern standards.
  • The fundamental tenet of the emerging form of village autonomy was that the villagers should run the village themselves. A village assembly was established for this reason, and power was given to it.


  • The rural administration of the Chola era was overseen by three different types of assemblies (Sabhas, Urs and Nagaram) and their committees (Variyams). The village assemblies were called Ur, Sabha, and Nagaram.
    • Ur
      • It is a village assembly made up of all socioeconomic groups with stakes in the community or village residents who pay taxes.
    • Sabha
      • The Sabha was only present in the agrahara or Chaturvedimangalam of the villages of Nagaram and was solely a Brahmin assembly.
      • It was a gathering of business people. Since it primarily served the needs of mercantile interests, it was more frequently found in trade centres.
  • The Ur and Sabha can occasionally be found in the same village. It suggests that non-Brahmins, or the Ur, who had land holdings, were the original villagers incharge. The Brahmins were later granted the villages as an agrahara.
  • In general, all of these assemblies, which served as the localities’ main legislative bodies, oversaw all of their shared issues. Committees with authority over a variety of activity spheres assisted these assemblies.
  • The primary source of data to reconstruct the village administration of the Chola period is the Uttaramerur inscriptions, which were written by the Chola monarch Parantaka I between 919 and 921 CE and found in the Vaikunta Perumal temple at Uttaramerur in the Chengalput district of Tamilnadu.
  • The conclusion of the two Uttaramerur inscriptions states that new guidelinesfor the committees were established so “wicked men might perish while good men might prosper.”
  • The aforementioned statement implies that the village’s administration became disorganised as a result of dishonest men joining the committees. Due to the corrupt elements that crept into the village committees, the Chola king Parantaka I issued these two inscriptions to improve village administration.
    • The Uttaramerur inscriptions provide comprehensive information on the type of committee composition, the requirements for membership in these committees, and the process used to choose these committee members.
      • The first inscription established the procedures for the selection of the various committees,
      • and the second inscription, which was plated two years later, changed these procedures in order to address some operational issues that had arisen during the committees’ operations.
  • According to the rules of 921 CE, each of the village’s thirty wards was required to nominate candidates who met the following requirements:
    • Ownership of more than one-fourth Veli (roughly oneacre and a half) of land
    • Residency in a home constructed on one’s site
    • Agebetween 35 and 70 understanding of Vedic literature The following individualsare ineligible:
    • Those who have served on any committee for the previous threeyears;
    • Those who have served on a committee but have failed to submit theirfinancial reports along with all of their respective relatives;
    • Those who havecommitted adultery or other serious sins along with their relatives;
    • Those whohave stolen another person’s property.
  • One was to be chosen for each of the thirty wards out of those who had been duly nominated by Kudavolai (pot ticket) or lot for a year in the manner specified.
    • Variyaperumakkal was the name of the committee,
    • Perunguri was the name of the Mahasabha,
    • and Perumakkal was the name of the members.
  • Typically, the assembly convened in the village temple, though it would also occasionally gather outside or by the tank’s banks.
  • In general, neither the royal nor the central authority had any influence over the assemblies. The officers of the central government did, however, attend these meetings when important business was conducted by these assemblies, such as a change in the constitutional procedure or a change in land rights that affected the king’s revenues. But rather than serving as administrators, they advise and watch over village affairs.
  • The Uttaramerur inscriptions reveal that village committee members were not eligible for a salary or other form of payment for the services they provided. No committee member was expected to devote more than a portion of his time and effort to the position because it was an honorary one.
  • The great men in charge of the village assemblies and committees were to uphold the ideals of sacrifice, duty, and the welfare of the village community.
  • The village assembly more or less had sovereign rights, some of which are listed below:
    • It had the authority to levy taxes for village purposes and to remittaxation in special circumstances;
    • It had the authority to seize the land of thosewho did not pay the land tax;
    • It resolved local disputes and declared the guiltor innocence of the parties involved, even though the punishments were handeddown by royal officials;
    • It was in charge of the charitab.
  • Village Assemblies effectively managed village administration with the help of variyams. These variyams were made up of male members of society.
  • The composition of these variyams, as well as the qualifications and durations of membership, varied from village to village.
  • Every village had a plethora of variyams.
    • Thottavariyam looked after the flower gardens, while Niyaya variyam administered justice. The Dharma variyam was in charge of charities and temples.
    • Erivariyam was in charge of the water tanks and supply. The finance was overseen by the pon variyam. The Gramakariya variyam was in charge of overseeing the work of all committees.
  • These varivams’ members were dubbed “Varivaperumakkal.” They performed honourable service.
    • The village officials were either paid in cash or in kind.
  • The effectiveness of these variams increased the efficiency of Chola local administration.

Agricultural Organization and Fiscal Policy:

  • Like all South Indian kingdoms, the Chola kingdom was based on agriculture. The main source of income was land revenue.
  • The Chola kings showed enough interest in the advancement of irrigation and agricultural infrastructure.
    • The kings and feudatories frequently engaged in the reclamation of waste land and the clearing of forests.
  • The existence of a permanent method of assessing land tax is indicated by the systematic land surveys conducted at regular intervals. Int his context, peasants and workers were grossly exploited.
    • It was possible to pay the tax in kind or in cash. According to most estimates, it represented one-third of the produce, which is high by any measure.
    • The state used to impose a number of taxes in addition to land taxes. Animals, pasture lands, roads, oil refineries, forests, salt, different professions, markets, etc. were all subject to taxes.
    • The state’s other potential sources of income were the judicial fines. The fact that a death duty was levied during this time is very intriguing.

Military Management

  • Elephants, cavalry, infantry, and a navy made up the Cholas’ regular army. Inscriptions list up to 70 regiments with names derived from royal titles.
  • Their instruction, discipline, and the so-called “Kadagam” cantonments all received attention. There were 60,000 elephants in the Chola army. To strengthen the cavalry, expensive Arabian horses were imported.
  • The Cholas typically had two different types of soldiers:
    • Kaikkolar,” who were royal troops paid on a regular basis by the treasury,
    • and “Nattuppadai,” who were militia men used only for local defence.
    • The Velaikkarars were the most dependable soldiers in the royal service within the Kaikkolar, prepared to defend the king and his cause with their lives. The Cholas gave their navy special attention.
  • There were regiments of bowmen and swordsmen while the swordsmen were the most permanent and dependable troops. The Chola army was spread all over the country and was stationed in local garrisons or military camps known as Kodagams.
  • The Chola rulers built several palaces and fortifications to protect their cities. The fortifications were mostly made up of bricks but other materials like stone, wood and mud were also used.
    • According to the ancient Tamil text Silappadikaram, the Tamil kings defended their forts with catapults that threw stones, huge cauldrons of boiling water or molten lead, and hooks, chains and traps.
  • Kallar served in the armies of the Chola kings.
  • A martial art called Silambam was patronised by the Chola rulers.
    • Ancient and medieval Tamil texts mention different forms of martial traditions but the ultimate expression of the loyalty of the warrior to his commander was a form of martial suicide called Navakandam.
      • The medieval Kalingathu Parani text, which celebrates the victory of Kulothunga Chola I and his general in the battle for Kalinga, describes the practice in detail.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments