Pallava Dynasty

The Pallava Dynasty is known to have flourished in and ruled parts of South India. Their empire flourished between the early fourth and the later ninth century and Kanchipuram (or Kanchi) was their capital. This empire primarily constituted of the northern parts of present day Tamil Nadu and the southern parts of present day Andhra Pradesh. Because of the lack of historical evidences, the early history of the Pallavas is still in contrast. All concrete documentation discovered on the name of early history of the Pallavas is the three copper-plate grants written in Prakrit. These copper-plate grants belong to the period of Skandavarman-I and consequently most historians believe him to be the first ruler of the Pallava Dynasty. He is believed to have extended his kingdom’s boundaries to the Krishna in the north, Pennar in the south and to the Bellary in the west.
The Pallavas established their prominence in South India between 275 and 350 AD and by the start of the seventh century; they were one of the most potent empires in the southern part of India alongside the Pandyas and theChalukyas.  Initially, the Pallavas ruled as the feudatories of the Satavahanas of Andhra and later proclaimed their independence after the Satavahanas declined. They gradually expanded their empire and established Kanchipuram as their capital in fourth century AD. Under the reign of the Pallava rulers, Mahendravarman-I and Narasimhavarman-I, the empire grew wealthier and attained supremacy in South India. Mahendravarman-I ruled the empire between 571 and 630 AD while the rule of Narasimhavarman-I lasted between 630 and 668 AD. The later rulers of the Pallava Dynasty maintained this supremacy till the end of the ninth century.
Though the Pallava Empire gained supremacy in South India, but peace was never on their cards. Throughout their existence, the Pallava rulers remained in steady conflicts with their neighbors including the rulers of Chalukyas Dynasty in the north and the Tamil kingdoms of the Cholas and the Pandyas in the south. They brought the Chalukyas of Badami to an end and were themselves eliminated by the Chola kings in eighth century AD.

Religions in Pallava Dynasty

The Pallavas had their faith in Hinduism but their kingdom was secular in spirit. They were not only tolerant to other faiths but also respected them. Xuanzang, a monk from China, who visited the Pallava Empire during the reign of Narasimhavarman-I, reported the existence of about 100 Buddhist monasteries and 80 temples in the city of Kanchipuram, the capital city of the Pallavas.
The Pallavas were strongly connected to the religion and many Pallava rulers are known to have performed Aswamedha and other Vedic sacrifices.

Pallava Architecture

Architecture is one aspect which distinguishes the Pallava Dynasty from all its contemporaries. The Pallava Dynastyhas long been speculated for their contribution to the Dravidian architecture. The impulsive sculptures and the splendid shrines constructed by the rulers of this dynasty are known to have laid the foundation of the Dravidian architecture. Between the timeframe of 610 and 690 AD, the Pallava rulers mainly constructed the rock-cut cave temples while their focus shifted to constructing structural temples between 690 and 900 AD. Inscriptions of Mahendravarman-I and his successors can still be witnessed at a number of rock-cut cave temples build during this era.
The rock-cut temples at Mahabalipuram, known as rathas in Mahabalipuram, are considered as the greatest construction of the Pallavas. Other renowned constructions of the Pallavas include the Shore temple, Kailasanatha temple, Tondeswaram temple, Koneswaram temple, etc.

Kanchipuram – The Pallava Capital

Kanchipuram, famously known as Kanchi, was a significant ancient city in India especially because of its trade associations with China since as early as second century BC. It is also the city where Manimekalai, the great Tamil epic, was set. In its entire history, Kanchipuram remained a secular place where all religions including the Hinduism, Buddhism and the Jainism co-existed in peace. The city is known to have expanded significantly after it became thePallava capital.
Kanchipuram is described as a lotus shaped city in the sangam poems and as per the Tamil text; the city outgrew its lotus shape to attain the shape of a peacock by the twelfth century. Varadharaja temple is known to be the head of this peacock while the vicinity around the Ekambaranatha temple was the plumage.

Kanchipuram is famously known for its architecture. Amongst the famous constructions of Kanchipuram, the Kalisanatha temples is known for its architectural virtues while the Vaikuntaperumal temple is acknowledged for the sculptures illustrating the history of the Pallava Dynasty.


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