(Last Updated on : 06/04/2009)
The Pallavas were a celebrated dynasty that ruled South India for virtually 500 years and have left an enduring smear in the field of art and architecture. Feudatories of Andhra Satavahanas, the Pallavas grew to be autonomous subsequent to their decline at Amaravati. They progressively moved southwards and instituted their capital at Kanchipuram
in the 4th century CE. The rule of Mahendravarman I
(571 - 630 CE) and Narasimhavarman I
(630 - 668 CE) witnessed the augment in the wealth and vigor of the Pallava realm. They subjugated the Telugu
and northern parts of Tamil
region until the closing stages of the 9th century, for about six hundred years.
Throughout their supremacy they were in steady conflict with both Chalukya Dynasty
in the north and the Tamil kingdoms of Chola
in the south. The Pallavas were occupied in continuous combat with the Chalukyas of Badami
and lastly concealed by the Chola kings in the 8th century CE.
The Pallavas are typically distinguished for their benefaction of Dravidian architecture, witnessed even today in Mahabalipuram
. These influential rulers, who left behind implausible sculptures and splendid shrines, standing strong even today, instituted the foundations of classical Dravidian Architecture
. Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang who visited Kanchipuram
during the Pallava statute and adorned their benevolent decree, depict Bodhidharma
, the initiator of the Chan (Zen) school of Buddhism
in China, as a prince of the Pallava empire, a contemporary of Skandavarman IV, Nandivarman I and the son of Simhavarman II.
War with the Chalukyas:
Kanchi or Kanchipuram was a significant city comprising of trade associations with China as early as second century B.C. Sangam poems illustrate the city as lotus- shaped, and Manimekalai the great Tamil epic was set in this city. Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism co-existed, and Huien Tsang, the Chinese traveler, records the presence of Buddhist structures in Kanchi. The city expanded significantly when Kanchipuram became the Pallava capital.
Kanchi had outgrown its lotus shape and, as a 12th century Tamil text describes, the place attained the shape of a peacock. The head of this peacock was the Varadharaja temple
and the plumage was the vicinity around Ekambaranatha temple. Of all the temples, Kalisanatha and Vaikuntaperumal are best known for their architectural virtues. The Vaikuntaperumal
shrine is a multi-storied temple built in the 8th century A.D and is acknowledged for the sculptures illustrating the history of the Pallavas.
Religion of the Pallava Dynasty
The early Pallavas styled themselves as Brahma Kshatriyas (Brahmins in Pursuit of arms). Shortly by the 5th century CE, the Pallavas were considered Kshatriyas belonging to Kuruba or Kurumbar of Tamil Nadu. They were supporters of Sanatana Dharma
. In line with the prevalent customs, some of the rulers performed the Aswamedha and other Vedic sacrifices. They offered gifts of lands to gods and Brahmins. Later, Mahendravarman I and possibly his father were aficionados of the Jain faith. Mahendravarman later switched to Hinduism under the authority of the Saiva saint Appar.
More about Pallava Dynasty:
Origins of the Pallava Dynasty
Kings of Pallava Dynasty
War between Pallavas and Chalukyas