Rajendra Chola I learned the skills of leadership and empire building under his father, Raja Raja Chola I, and took the remarkable accomplishments of his father one step further. His father, Raja Raja Chola I, has been consider by many historians as the greatest leaders of the Chola dynasty. He successfully fought his neighbors on the Indian subcontinent, while sending his son, Rajendra Chola I, on the first overseas imperial campaign in India's history. Raja Raja Chola I established himself as a leader of tremendous religious faith and devotion, building monumental temples dedicated to Siva, Vishnu, and even Buddhism.
Rajendra Chola I took over leadership of the Chola empire from his father in 1014 C.E. He extended his father's empire to the banks of the river Ganges in the north and across the ocean to coastal Burma, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Maldives, while conquering the kings of Srivijaya (Sumatra, Java, and Malaya in Southeast Asia) as well as the Pegu islands. Rajendra established himself as a naval commander, able to voyage great distances and wage successful campaigns.
Like his father, Raja Raja Chola I, Rajendra Chola I possessed skills beyond military leadership. Rajendra established himself as an outstanding city builder and builder of monuments in his father's tradition. To commemorate his victories expanding the empire overseas, Rajendra built a new capita city, Gangaikonda Cholapuram, building a temple dedicated to Siva similar to Tanjore Brihadisvara that his father had built. To commemorate his successful campaign north to the Ganges, he built another temple dedicated to Siva, Gangakkondacholeswaram, which became the traditional place to crown Chola kings. With Rajendra Chola I's reputation firmly established, the final years of Rajendra Chola I's rule proved the most splendid. His, and his father's, imperial rules had been considered benevolent, respecting the rulers of Pandya, Kerala, and Srivijaya. The tradition of living as a king dedicated to his religion had been continued.