Most of the early known history of the far south of the Indian Peninsula is about the rivalries between three clans – the Cholas, Cheras and Pandyas. The Cholas had their heartland in the Kaveri delta; the Pandyas were further south near Madurai & the Cheras along the Kerala coast. The three clans battled each other for around fifteen centuries from 300 BC to AD 1200.
Ancient Sangam literature is full of northern influences. Far from being Dravidian purists, ancient Tamils credited the sage Agastya, a northerner, with formalizing Tamil grammar. The great Tamil kings similarly took great pride in building linkages with the epics. In other words, the very earliest Tamil texts suggest a people who were very proud of being a part of a wider Indic civilization. Sangam literature celebrates interactions with the rest of the world with descriptions of bustling ports with foreign trade.