Kulasekhara or Later Chera dynasty was a classical Hindu dynasty founded by the saint King Kulashekhara Varman. The dynasty ruled the whole of modern Kerala state (Malabar or Kudamalainadu), Guddalore and some parts of Nilgiri district and Salem - Coimbatore region in southern India between 9th and 12th centuries AD mostly from the outskirts of the sea port Muziris, called Mahodayapuram, on the banks of River Periyar. The Kulasekharas traces their ancestry back to the powerful Chera dynasty of the Tamil Sangam Age. The age of Kulasekharas of Mahodayapuram is known in history as the Golden Age of Kerala.

The kings took the title of Perumal during this period and patronised Vaishnava community. The Kulasekharas were from the Villavar martial clan and the Chera king had the title Villavar Kon indicating Villavar clans founded theancient Chera Kingdom and supported by Paluvettaraiyar, Vanavar and Malayar and other ethnic Tamil clans. The Later Cheras had a second interior capital at Udagai in the Kongunad. They shared the present day Kerala state with the Mushikas in the north and the Ays in the south and other Chieftains ruling small regions of rest of the region. The kingdom was in continues wars with the neighboring Chola dynasty and the Rashtrakuta Empire leading the way for enormous increase in the power of Namboothiri Brahmins in the socio-economic life. And as a result of continuous wars with the Cholas, the education institutes and temples were progressively neglected. Centres of education were converted to Kalaries for imparting military training by Kalari experts. Suicide squads were set up to meet the challenge. Rama Varma Kulashekhara (r. 1090–1102), the last of the Kulasekharas and the first Kulasekhara Venad ruler moved his capital to a provincial capital Kollam when Later Chola king Kulothunga Chola I sacked Mahodyapuram. The death of Rama Varma Kulashekhara signalled the end of the Mahodayapuram Cheras and from the ruins of which arose the Kulasekhara state of Venad and hence the kingdom of Travancore.

In spite of these political disturbances, there was intense religious activity in Kerala during the Kulasekhara ages. While Jainism and Buddhism declined, Hinduism made phenomenal progress.