960 AD, in Thanjavur the Chola king Sundara Chola ails while his elder son, crown prince Aditya Karikalan frets in Kanchi, his second son Arulmozhivarman wars in Sri Lanka and his daughter Kundhavai holds her own counsel in Pazhaiyarai.On the banks of the Veeranarayana Lake, a city celebrates Aadi Perukku on the 18th day of Aadi (Tamil month). Watching this celebration is the resourceful young man, Vanthiyathevan carrying two messages sent by Karikalan. One for his father, the King and the other for his sister.
There, he meets the mysterious Vaishnavite Alwarkadiyan Nambi.There is a political intrigue as coups are planned and set into place. Periya Pazhuvettarayar plans to crown the cousin of Sundara Cholan, Madurantakan, instead of the emperor’s son, Karikalan.Nandini along with a group of deadly assassins, the Abathuthavigal and their leader Ravidasan, plot to ruin the Chola empire, to avenge the death of their king Veerapandian at the hands of Karikalan.Vanthiyathevan meets the beautiful Kundhavai and falls in love with her.
She sends him to Sri Lanka to bring back her younger brother Arulmozhivarman also called “Ponniyin Selvan”. Vanthiyathevan convinces Arulmozhivarman to return to Thanjavur.Back in Kadumbur, Karikalan meets Nandini, his former love, who is now his uncle’s wife. But his love for Nandini and his past where he beheaded Veerapandian catch up with him. However, Karikalan is killed by the Abathuthavigal. The kingdom mourns. His brother Prince Arulmozhivarman “Ponniyin Selvan” is crowned as Raja Raja Chola!.The Arts, Culture and religion of the Chola kingdom flourishes thereafter..