Perhaps the earliest mention of the Salvas as a tribe is found in the Gopatha Brahmana, where they appear in connection with the Matsyas. The Matsyas were inhabitants of the region identical with the kingdom of King Virata of the Mahabharata, and the Matsya capital has been identified with Virat in the Jaipur State; and the Salvas probably occupied the territory which is now occupied by the native state of Alwar. According to the Mahabharata, the Salva country was situated near Kurukshetra and was the kingdom of the father of Satyavan, husband of Savitri. The capital of the Salvas seems to have been Salvapura, which is also called Saubhaganagara. King Salva's kingdom or territory was also known as Marttikavata or Mrittikavatl. Salva is said to have attacked Dvaravati, but to have been killed by Lord Krishna.
It has been said in history that in the great Kurukshetra war the Salvas along with the Matsyas, Kekayas, Ambasthas, Trigarttas, and others had lent their support to the army of Duryodhana against the Pandavas, and, along with the Ambasthas and Trigarttas had formed a unit of the army led by Bhisma.
In the Udyoga Parva of Mahabharata they are associated with the Panchalas, Kekayas, and Surasenas; and with the Malavas. In the Bhisma Parva, the Salvas, Matsyas, Ambasthas, Trigarttas, Kekayas, Sauviras, and six other tribal states are said to have arrayed themselves by the side of Bhisma. History says that the mighty Salva king is said to have been laid low on the battle-field by Bhimasena. The Salvas several times have been referred to in the Mahabharata as Danavas and Daityas, i.e. demons probably because of their fabled enmity to Lord Vishnu who is termed ' Salvari', foe of Salva.
The Vayu and Matsya Purana locate the Salvas amongst the central people; but the Vishnupurana places them in the extreme west, along with the Sauviras, Saindhavas, Hunas, Sakalas, Madras, etc.; and the Brahma Purana has also located them in the Aparanta or western country. In the Bengali recension of the Ramayana also they are classed among the western nations.