Ancient India Simplified: Pallava Dynasty (275 AD TO 897 AD)

The Pallavas were the first well known dynasty which came into power in the south after the fall of Andhras (Satavahanas). They established themselves on the east coast of India between the Krishna and Kaveri rivers. Pallavas ruled from Kanchi and Mahabalipuram/Mamallapuram as their capital.

Important Rulers of this dynasty 

Mahendra Varman I(600 A.D. to 630 A.D.)1. Vichitrachitta and Mattavilasa were titles used for Mahendravarman I.
2. According to the Aihole Inscription, Mahendravarman I was defeated by Chalukya King Pulkeshin II.
3. Formerly was a jain and later converted to Shaivism and he built a large number of rock-cut temples at Dalavanur, Pallavaram, Vallum etc in honour of Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma.
4. It was Mahendravarman I who introduced the practice of having temples cut out of solid rock in Southern India.
5. Mandagapattu inscriptions mention the beginning of constructions of rock-cut temples.
6. Also built many tanks and reservoirs for irrigation purposes.
7. He was a versatile genius having expertise over painting, music and literature; composed a satirical drama Mattavilasa Prahasanam in Sanskrit.
Narasimha Varman I(630 A.D. -668 A.D.)1. Assuming the title of Mamalla (great wrestler).
2. Narshimhavarman I defeated the Chalukya King Pulkeshin II at the battle of Manimangalam as per the Kuram copper plate inscriptions.
3. On conquering Badami (Vatapi), he assumed the title of ‘Vatapikonda’. 
4. Chinese traveller and Buddhist monk Hieun Tsang visited Kanchi during his reign.
5. Great builder like his father, he built many rock-cut temples and  laid the foundation for a new city of Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram.
6. He got “Five Rathas”(named after five Pandavas) excavated out of boulder-like-rocks standing on the sea-shore at Mahabalipuram.
Rajasimha Varman or Narasimha Varman II(690 A.D. – 720 A.D.)1. He assumed titles of Shankar Bhakta, Agmapriya etc.
2. The structural shore temple at Mahabalipuram and Kailash temple at Kanchi were built during his reign.Dandin- Sanskrit scholar lived in his court.
3. Patronised Perundevannar who translated Mahabharata in Tamil and named Bharathavenba.

Administration, Socio-economic and cultural conditions of during the reign of Pallavas

Pallava Administration1. Pallava kingdom was divided into Kottams.Group of villages were called as ‘Nadu’ and Group of Nadus were called as ‘Nagaram’ (Organisation of merchants) and Group of Nagarams were called as ‘Manadalam’.
2. In Pallava administration land grants were given to Brahmans (Brahmadeya) and to temples Devadhana and were exempted from taxation.
3. Sabhas (assemblies) consisting of brahmin land owners functioned through smaller assemblies/committees that looked after irrigation, agriculture, roads, and temples.
4. Non- brahmin land owners’ assemblies were called ‘Ur’.
Economic conditions Pallavas promoted agriculture and sea-trade and collected huge wealth which is reflected in the grand temple-architecture of this time.
Society and Religion1. Brahmanas occupied the dominant position as Pallava were orthodox Brahmanical Hindus. Hence the Four–fold caste system became rigid.
2. Bhakti Movement received promotion under Pallavas.
3. The Bhakti movement was promoted by two branches of Bhakti Saints: Nayanars and Alvars.
4. Nayanars: Worshippers of Shiva (Important Nayanars: Thirunavukkarasar or Appar, Sundarar or Sundaramurti, Sambandar, Manikkavsagar)
5. Alvars: Worshippers of Vishnu (Important Alvars: Perialvar, Andal-poetess, Nammalvar, Kulashekhar).Hence the Pallava period witnessed the rise of Saivism & Vaishnavism and decline of Jainism & Buddhism.
Art and Culture1. Kanchi developed as a great centre of education, culture and trade. 
2. The Ghatika (centres of learning) at Kanchi was very popular.
3. Patronage to the Bhakti saints yielded in the form of development of religious literature.
4. Tamil language and literature along with Sanskrit flourished under Pallavas.
5. Divya-Prabandham: Collection of songs in love and devotion of Vishnu by Alvars.
6. The Tirumurai: Collection of works of Nayanars.The Sittannavasal paintings belonged to this period.

Pallava dynasty and the start of Dravidian style of Temple Architecture

The Topic is elaborately explained in the next unit.

Ancient India Simplified: Pallava Dynasty and the start of Dravidian style of Temple Architecture

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *