The city was founded by Rajendra Chola I to commemorate his victory over the Pala Dynasty. The name means 'the town of the chola who took over Ganga' (water from Ganga) or who defeated (the kings near) Ganga. It is now a small village, its past eminence only remembered by the existence of the great Lord Maha Shiva Temple. The Chola empire included the whole of southern India to the river Thungabadhra in the north. For administrative and strategic purposes they built another capital and named it Gangaikondacholapuram.