Ancient History / Post-Guptan Era
Pallavas ruled during the period from 550 AD to 897 AD. The founder of Pallava dynasty is Simhavishnu. Though earlier
Pallava kings ruled from 3rd century AD, it was Simhavishnu who revived the dynasty. The capital of Pallavas was Kanchi or Kanchipuram.
Rulers of Pallava Dynasty
- Simhavishnu - He was the first king and Pallava dynasty founder, who was a Vaishnavite but all other later Pallava rulers were Shaivites except a king named Nandivarman II.
- Mahendravarman I - He was also known to be called Vichitrachitta, who was a great scholar in Sanskrit. He wrote a drama in
Sanskrit named Mattavilasa Prahasana (A Farce of Drunken Sport). He also wrote one more play named Bhagavadajjuka.
- Narasimhavarman I - He had two titles namely Vatapikonda (Conqueror of Vatapi) and Mahamalla / Mahabali, after this title, he built
a new Pallava capital called Mahabalipuram / Mamallapuram.
- Narasimhavarman II - He was popularly called Rajasimha Pallava. He built number of Ghatikas (educational institutions
as part of Hindu temples) in Kanchi.
- Nandivarman II - He was a Vaishnavite. He performed Asvamedha Yaga.
- Nandivarman III - According to one tradition, there was a Tamil scholar named Perundevanar, who was contemporary to this king.
Perundevanar translated Mahabharata into the Tamil language.
- Aparajithavarman - He was the last ruler of Pallava dynasty. One of the feudatory king named Aditya Chola I killed him at
Tanjore and the Pallava empire was replaced by Chola empire. Cholas ruled from Tanjore.
- The official language of Pallavas could either be Sanskrit or Prakrit as most of their inscriptions are written in these languages. Two
great Sanskrit scholars were patronized by Pallavas.
- Bharavi - He was in the court of Simhavishnu. He wrote a book named Kiratarjuniya.
- Dandin - He was in the court of Narasimhavarman II. He wrote a book named Dasakumaracharita, which was being translated into
- Two sacred texts (Vedas of Tamil) were written during this period.
- Tevaram (Shaiva Literature) - They were the first seven books of the Tirumurai, which is the collection of twelve-volume Shaiva
devotional poetry. They were composed by 63 Nayanars (Tamil Saiva poet saints).
- Nalayira Divya Prabandham (Vaishnava Literature) - It is a collection of 4000 Tamil Vaishnava verses. They were composed by
12 Alvars (Tamil Vaishnava poet saints)
Pallava Art and Architecture
There were 4 kings who mainly contributed to the art and architecture of Pallava kingdom.
- Mahendravarman I -
- He built Shaiva cave temple (having Presco paintings) at Sittanavasal, Pudukkottai
- He also built Ananthasayana (Vishnu) cave temple (4-storeyed cave temple) at Undavalli, Guntur, Andhra Pradesh and one more cave temple at
- Narasimhavarman I -
- He built many Pallava temples at Mahabalipuram (more than 12) of which the most important one is Monolithic Chariots, which are popularly
known as Pandava Rathas or Pancha Rathas.
- A beautiful sculpture at Mahabalipuram in which a Muni is in deep meditation and Shiva and Parvati watching him from Kailash. Ganga is
flowing from Kailash to the Muni. Local people call him Arjuna. This sculpture is called Arjuna's Penance or Descent of the Ganges or Ganga
- Narasimhavarman II -
- He was the first king to build structural temples during Pallava dynasty with new temple architecture known as Dravidian Architecture.
- He built a temple at Mahabalipuram known as Shore Temple. In this temple, there are two sanctum sanctorums, one for Vishnu and the
other is for Shiva. It was built on seashore.
The waves of the sea touch the temple and go back. It is the first temple in Dravidian
style. Mahabalipuram is the birthplace of Dravidian style of Architecture.
- He built one more temple at Kanchi known as Kailasanathar Temple (also called Rajasimheswara Temple). It is the best temple of
Ancient period. The other temple he built was Airavatesvara Temple at Kanchi.
- Nandivarman II -
- In Kanchi, he built Mukteswara Temple, Matangeswara Temple (Both are Shaiva temples) and Vaikunta Perumal Temple (Vishnu temple).
- He also built Parasurameswara (Mukhalingam) Temple at Gudimallam, Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh. Here, we can find a Shiva Linga (country's
first Shiva Linga, 2nd Century BC). It is Ekamukhalinga in which Shiva is on one side of the Shiva Linga.