Pallava kingdom c.645 CE during Narasimhavarman I
|Official languages|| Tamil|
|Preceding state||Satavahana, Kalabhras|
|Succeeding states||Cholas, Eastern Chalukyas|
The Pallava kingdom Tamil: பல்லவர்) was an ancient South Indian kingdom. The Pallavas who were feudatories of Andhra Satavahanas, became independent after the decline of that dynasty in Amaravati. Initially they ruled southern Palnadu (Guntur district in South India. Later they extended their rule to further south and established their capital at Kanchipuram around the 4th century CE. They rose in power during the reign of Mahendravarman I (571 – 630 CE) and Narasimhavarman I (630 – 668 CE) and dominated the Telugu and northern parts of Tamil region for about six hundred years until the end of the 9th century.
Throughout their reign they were in constant conflict with both Chalukyas of Badami in the north and the Tamil kingdoms of Chola and Pandyas in the south and were finally defeated by the Chola kings in the 8th century CE.
Pallavas are most noted for their patronage of Dravidian architecture, still seen today in Mahabalipuram. The Pallavas, who left behind magnificent sculptures and temples, established the foundations of classical Dravidian architecture. Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang visited Kanchipuram during Pallava rule and extolled their benign rule.
Some sources describe Bodhidharma, the founder of the Chan (Zen) school of Buddhism in China, as a prince of the Pallava dynasty, a contemporary of Skandavarman IV and Nandivarman I, and the son of Simhavarman II.
There are other opinions supporting their indigenous origins state that they were hereditary feudatory rulers under the Vakatakas. Nilakanta Sastri states that "they appear.. to have been a dynasty of North Indian origin that moved to the South and there adapted local traditions to their own use."
Dr V. A. Smith says:
Yet another link between the Pahlavas of the North and the Pallava rulers of Kanchi may be found in a legend which, according to Victor Goloubew, takes its origin from the Scythians and plays a paramount part in the lands penetrated by the Pallavas and their culture. The Nagi legend of the Scythians which is connected with legends in Tamil literature and Pallava copper-plates as well as the annals of Cambodia carries a special significance here.
The rule of the Pallavas apparently starts as early as 275 CE, but their greatest epoch corresponds to the 7th and 8th century.
The history of the early Pallavas has not yet been satisfactorily settled. The earliest documentation on the Pallavas is the three copper-plate grants, belonging to Skandavarman I and written in Prakrit. Skandavarman appears to have been the first great ruler of the early Pallavas, though there are references to other early Pallavas who were probably predecessors of Skandavarman.
Skandavarman extended his dominions from the Krishna in the north to the Pennar in the south and to the Bellary district in the West. He performed the Aswametha and other Vedic sacrifices and bore the title of 'Supreme King of Kings devoted to dharma'.
An absence of documentation about the Pallavas following Skandavarman is broken by the Allahabad pillar inscription of Samudragupta, which indicates that he defeated the Pallava Vishnugopa (350–355 CE). With Samudragupta's expedition the Pallava eclipse set in.
In the reign of Simhavarman IV, who ascended the throne in 436 CE, the fallen prestige of the Pallavas was restored. He recovered the territories lost to the Vishnukundins in the north up to the mouth of the Krishna. The early Pallava history from this period onwards is furnished by a dozen or so copper-plate grants in Sanskrit. They are all dated in the regnal years of the kings.
With the accession of Nandivarman I (480-500 CE), the decline of the early Pallava family was seen. The Kadambas had their aggressions and even the headquarters of the Pallavas was occupied by them. In coastal Andhra the Vishnukundins established their ascendency. The Pallava authority was confined to Tondaimandalam.
The incursion of the Kalabhras and the confusion in the Tamil country was broken by the Pandya Kadungon and the Pallava Simhavishnu. The Pallava kingdom began to gain both in territory and influence over the South Indian peninsula and were a regional power by the end of the 6th century. The Pallavas exercised control over their southern neighbours of Cholas and Pandyas. But their history is marked by the continuous conflict with the Badami Chalukyas.
They were, however, tolerant of other faiths. The Chinese monk Xuanzang who visited Kanchipuram during the reign of Narasimhavarman I reported that there were 100 Buddhist monasteries, and 80 temples in Kanchipuram.
Mahendravarman I was initially a patron of the Jain faith. He later re-converted to Hinduism under the influence of the Saiva saint Appar with the revival of Hinduism during the Bhakti movement in South India.
The Pallavas were instrumental in the transition from rock-cut architecture to stone temples. The earliest examples of Pallava constructions are rock-cut temples dating from 610–690 CE and structural temples between 690–900 CE. A number of rock-cut cave temples bear the inscription of the Pallava king, Mahendravarman I and his successors.
The greatest accomplishments of the Pallava architecture are the rock-cut temples at Mahabalipuram. There are excavated pillared halls and monolithic shrines known as rathas in Mahabalipuram. Early temples were mostly dedicated to Shiva. The Kailasanatha temple in Kanchipuram and the Shore Temple built by Narasimhavarman II are fine examples of the Pallava style temples.
La creation d'une iconographie sivaite narrative: Incarnations du dieu dans les temples pallava construits.(Book review)
Jul 01, 2011; La creation d'une iconographie Sivaite narrative: Incarnations du dieu dans les temples Pallava construits. By VALERIE...