The Pallavas (6th to 9th CE)

Pallava History:

  • Their origin is obscure.
  • They defeated the Kalabras and occupied the country around  Kanchi, while the Pandyas established themselves at Madurai.
  • They became the new forces in the history of Tamil Nadu with the effective disappearance of the Kalabras.
  • Dynasty founded by Vishnugopa who was captured and then liberated by Samudragupta. But the definite history of the dynasty begins with the accession of Simha Vishnu in the second half of 6th Century.
  • They issued their inscription first in Prakrit and later in Sanskrit and Tamil.
  • Their capital was Kanchipuram and their royal symbol was Lion.

Political History:

Simha Vishnu:

  • He and his successors are known as the great Pallavas.
  • The age of Pallavas of the Simhavishnu line is regarded as the formative period in South Indian culture, though it was more of  Vedic and Sanskritic rather than Dravidian and Tamil in character and content.
  • He was a Vaishnavite.
  • He was patron of  Bharavi, the author of  Kiratarjuniya.

Mahendra Varman-I  (610 to 630 C.E)

  • He also known as Mahendra Vikrama.
  • This period was marked by bitter rivalry between the Pallavas of  Kanchi and the Chalukyas of  Vatapi for supremacy in South India.
  • He was defeated by Pulakesin II (Chalukya of  Vatapi), who occupied some of the northern Pallava provinces.
  • In the beginning he was a Jaina but was converted to Shivism by a nayanar saint Appar.
  • He wrote a play Mattavilasa Prahasana.
  • In the first finest rock cut temples at Mahabalipuram were constructed by himself. He began the tradition of constructing rock cut monolithic temples.
  •  Associated with the musical inscription of   Kuddumiamalai.
  • He adopted the title Vichitrschitt , Mattavilasa, Chittrakarapuli.

Narasimhavarman-I (630  to 668 CE)

  • The greatest among the Pallava  ruler was Narasimha Varma,the son and successor of Mahendra Varman.
  • He was widely known as Mamalla and Vatapi Konda.The Pallavas reached the height of their glory under the rule of this able monarch.
  • He defeated the Chalukyan King Pulakesin –II and captured the Chalukyan Capital Vatapi. Hence he assumed the title of Vatapikonda.
  • He sent two navel expeditions to Ceylon and helped his ally, a Ceylon Prince Maravarman to capture the throne of Ceylon.
  • Hiuen Tsang visited Kanchipuram, he called Pallava country as Tailopicha and Kanchi  as Kinchipulo.  
  • The reign of Narasimhavarman was noted for growth of trade and construction of Temples. As a result cities came up.
  • Kanchi was a great city and Mamallaapuram was a great emporium in South India.
  • The cave temples of the period were marked by ornamental facades and pillars of elegant shapes.
  • The Mamallapuram Dharmaraja Ratha is attributed to his reign.