The Pallava temple of Pallavaram was built by Mahendravarman I, one of the kings of the Pallava dynasty. He ruled in the region from around the 5th to the 9th centuries A.D. with Kanchipuram as the capital.
The Pallava temple was built on the southern slope of a hillock among the excavation hills east of the present day settlement. The hillock is known as `Panchapandava Malai` by the Hindus and the Muslims call it `Maula Ka Pahad`. This temple was constructed in typical Pallava style with huge pillars. The Pallava temple consists of five sanctums or cells cut into the back wall. The central sanctum of the temple is slightly projected in the front. The gods Brahma, Siva and Vishnu are supposed to stay in the middle three cells and the two corner cells were meant for other deities. All the five sanctums of the temple face south and any other direction and it is one of the unique features of the temple.
The Pallava temple was also called as the `Panchapandava Cave Temple` after the five Pandava brothers of Mahabharata. But till today, there is no historical basis of any link of the Pandavas with this temple. Now, the temple is being used as a Muslim dargah. It has been painted and renovated in recent years beyond any recognition. The Pallavaram cave temple is one among a series of such durable rock-cut temples constructed by Mahendra throughout his kingdom. Some other such temples were built at the places like Dalavanur, Tiruchi or Tiruchirapalli, Mandagapattu, Kilmavilangai, Mamandur and Tiru-kazhukunram.
Earlier, before the rule of Mahendra, the temples were constructed with fragile materials such as brick, timber, metal or mortar. Therefore, these temples could not survive the tortures of nature and have diminished. The Pallava temple was fully built by the Pallavas alone and they used durable and strong materials in construction.