It was not just the fact that they built magnificent temples or made exquisite idols, the Cholas also came up with an excellent system of governance and administration. While it was a monarchy, like most other kingdoms of that era, there was a serious attempt to decentralize, and provide self government right at the local level. The empire was divided into provinces called Mandalams, and each of those Mandalams, further into Kottams, which again had districts, called Nadus, that had Tehsils usually a group of villages. While Tanjore and Gangaikonda Cholapuram were the main capitals, there also existed regional capitals at Kanchi and Madurai, where courts were occasionally held.
Their major achievement though was the local self government during their times, where villages had their own self governance. Depending on the area they covered, villages again could be Nadu, Kottram or Kurram, and a number of Kurrams made up a Valanadu. The village units had the power to administer justice at the local level, and for most crimes, fines were imposed, which went to the state treasury. Death penalty was given only for crimes that amounted to treason.