and parts of southern Tamil Nadu
formed the erstwhile Chera kingdom with Tiruvanchikulam near Cranganore as its main capital. They rivaled the neighboring dynasties of
in prosperity. Cheras had strong overseas trade links with Romans in natural produce such as spices, ivory and sandal.
The earliest ruler of repute of Cheras was Udayan Cheralatan. The most renowned Chera ruler was Senguttuvan, literally 'the red one.' He is also thought of as a legend borne out of the exploits of Kadolotiya Vel Kelu Kuttuvan mentioned in the local ballads. Around 150 AD the Cheras faced the Cholas in a major battle. The Cheras killed Karikalan, the Chola king, but also lost their own king. They had the famous harbor towns of Tyndis and Muziris (the present day Kodungallur) on the
Arabian coast for trade with the Romans.
The last known Chera ruler,
Cheraman Perumal converted to Islam and built the first mosque in India. The Cheras faded out of history by the 8th century AD.
Emperor Ashoka refers to Cheras as 'Keralaputras' (Children of Kerala) in his rock edicts. Texts written during the Sangam era are the major source of information, though scanty, about this dynasty.