The Pallavas

The Pallavas – Part 3

This is third and last article of our study. In our last article, we temporarily fixed the genealogy till Rajasimha Narasimhavarman II. In this article we will put the rulers which came after this king. Rajasimha can be attributed as one of the greatest king of this dynasty as we observed a great fervor and momentum in artistic activities during his rule. Kailasanatha temple at Kanchi was the pinnacle of this movement. Keeping focus on genealogy, the following epigraphs are consulted, Kanchipuram inscription on Mahendra’s shrine, Udayendiram Plates, Kasakudi Plates, Tandantottam Plates, Velurpalaiyam Plates. Details of these epigraphs can be viewed here:

Chronology as per Velurpalaiyam grant

Our enhanced genealogy looks like this:

Virakurcha (190 CE) (215 CE)
Skandavarman I (215 CE) (240 CE)
Kumarvishnu I (240 CE) (240 CE)
Buddhavarman I (265 CE)
Skandavarman II (290 CE)
Kumarvishnu II (315 CE)
Vishnugopa I (340 CE)
Skandavarman III (365 CE)
Viravarman (390 CE)
Skandavarman IV (415 CE) (403 CE)
Yuva-maharaja Vishnugopa (never reigned as a king)
Simhavarman I (440 CE) (436-477 CE)
Skandavarman V (465 CE) (477 CE)             Vishnugopa II
Nandivarman I (490 CE) (502 CE)
Simhavarman II (515 CE) (527 CE)
Simhavishnu (540) (550-580 CE)                                          Bhimavarman
|                                                                                                  |
Mahendravarman I (565) (580-629 CE)                              Buddhavarman
|                                                                                                  |
Narasimhavarman I (590) (629-668 CE)                           Adityavarman
|                                                                                                   |
Mahendravarman II (615) (668-670 CE)                            Govindavarman
|                                                                                                   |
Parameshvaravarman I (640) (670-690 CE)                    Hiranyavarman
|                                                                                                   |

Narasimhavarman II (665) (690-728 CE)                                       |
|                                                                                                   |
Mahendravarman III (690) (720-728 CE)                                       |
|                                                                                                   |
Parameshvaravarman II (715) (728-731 CE)                                 |

Nandivarman II (740) (731-796 CE)
Dantivarman (765) (796-847 CE)
Nandivarman III (790) (847-863 CE)
Nrpatungavarman (815) (863-904 CE)   Kampavarman (863-895 CE)
Aparajitavarman (840) (890-908 CE)

Matching of Final Direct Genealogy

We do not have any grant, which gives genealogy of the Pallava kings, of later Pallava kings after Nrpatungavarman. Genealogy after Nrpatungavarman will be discussed later in this article, for now we will try to assign time periods to the above kings. As stated in previous two articles, we can put 340 CE against Vishnugopa I, based upon the Samudragupta’s Allahabad pillar inscription. With this date fixed, we will move up and down the genealogy line taking 25 years reign for each king on average. This calculation has been carried out in the above list already.

Virakurcha, the first royal person of this dynasty got assigned to 190 CE. We now know that Kanchi was not with the Pallavas from the start, contrary to what we thought earlier in our first article.If Kanchi would have been with them from the start then why in Velupalaiyam plates there is a mention of victory over Kanchi by Kumarvishnu. Another think we know is that Dhannakada (Amravati) was with Pallavas during  Skandavarman I time. We already discussed this in detail in the first article. From this all we infer that the Pallavas got Amravati from the Andhras (Satvahanas) after their fall in 236 CE. As Skandavarman I (Siva-skandavarman of Hirahadagalli grant) issued his grant from Kanchi, so we may conclude that perhaps Skandavarman I of our list is same as Kumarvishnu I of the list. If we merge these two kings then Virakurcha’s time is 215 CE which is almost near to the fall of Andhras in about 236 CE.

We ave discussed in our first article about a Jaina work, Lokavibhaga, where mention of Simhavarman was made. His consecration year came out to be 336 CE from this work. It almost matches with time assigned to Simhavarman I of our list.

Now we will look upon the major Pallava rulers and update the time assignment in our above list. The corrections in the assignment will be written against the first assigned time, without deleting the previous assignment. The assignments done here are tentative, and subject to change in the light of fresh discoveries and interpretations.

Virakurcha (215 CE) – Leaving the mythological genealogy, Virakurcha seems to be the first king of the Pallava dynasty as Velurpalaiyam grant tells that Virakurcha grasped the complete insignia of royalty after marrying a Naga princess. Rayakota plates says that Ashvattaman begot Skandasisya through a Naga girl. On the other hand Kaskudi plates describe that Ashvattaman begot his son Pallava though an apsara, Menaka. Two inscriptions talking about the Pallava association with some Naga princess, so there might be some truth in this. Probably it would have been like this, Virakurcha was some petty chief under Andhras or some other dynasty and he got married to a Naga lady, Cutu-Nagas of Vanavasi, which gave him either some part of land or importance within the kingdom. Cutu-Nagas of Vanavasi were feudatories of Andhras, and they had an imperial connection as well with them. This connection perhaps gave him the royal status. As soon as Andhras were disintegrated in about 236 CE, Virakurcha got hold of Amaravati. All these three plates, Velurpalaiyam, Rayakota (?) and Kasakudi, are of period Nandivarman, which is almost 500 years from the probable origin of the Pallava dynasty. We can doubt the information supplied by these, however as these are our only source so we must trust these with an open mind. Hence we accept the statement of Velurpalaiyam grant for Virakurcha  as the first established ruler of the Pallava dynasty.

Kumarvishnu (240 CE) – Kanchi was not with the Pallavas initially as Velurpalaiyam grant states that Kumarvishnu seized Kanchipuram. Omgodu A grant tells that Kumarvishnu performed ashvamedha which might have been performed on this occasion. This Kumarvishnu is the grandson of Virakurcha as per Velurpalaiyam grant and Vayalur inscription. Whereas his father is Skandasisya as per Velurpalaiyam and Skandavarman as per Vayalur inscription. Skandasisya seized a ghatika in Kanchi. Ghatika was essentially an educational institution. Probbaly seizing ghatika in Kanchi refers to seizing Kanchi itself. Hence this Skandasisya of Velurpalaiyam grant could be same as Skandavarman I of our list.

Kumarvishnu is assigned to 240 CE in our list, which seems correct as the Andhra (Satvahana) dynasty came to an end in about 236 CE and as per Maidavolu grant, Dhannakada (Amravati) was under the Pallavas. So it is very probable that the Pallavas got Amravati after the end of the Andhras. Which could be in 240 CE or slightly before. The Prakrit records, Hirahadagalli and Maidavolu grants were issued from Kanchi, it suggests that probably Siva-skandavarman of these plates was same as Kumarvishnu. Hirahadagalli plate states that Siva-skandavarman performed Vajapeya, Agnisthoma and Ashvamedha yajnas. These three yajnas (sacrifices) could have been done to corroborate the victory over Kanchi. Hence I am very much inclined to the proposition of Skandavarman I = Kumarvishnu I as this will fit many of our epigraphs into the proposed genealogy. In that case we should replace Skandavarman I with Skandasisya Why Maidavolu and Hirahadagalli grants are silent on victory over Kanchi will remain a mystery till any further discovery.

Vishnugopa (340 CE) – Samudragupta’s Allhabad pillar inscription mentions this king of Kanchi. Though their is no mention of his Pallava connection in that inscription, however Kanchi was with the Pallavas at that time. We also see instances of this name in earlier genealogy given from Vayalur inscription. There are inscriptions which suggests that Kanchi was not with the Pallavas for some time. The reason of this loss may be attributed to the defeat of Vishnugopa in the hands of the Gupta king. Keeping all these references in mind, we keep this king in our genealogy.

Simhavarman I (436-477 CE) – Omgodu B grant was issued from some victorious camp, Pikira grant was issued from Menmathura, Mangalur grant was issued from Dasanpura, Vilavetti grant from Paddukkara, all these grants of Simhavarman were issued from some other place than Kanchi. It suggests that perhaps Pallavas did not have Kanchi for some time. Vesanta grants, issues in nineteenth year of Simhavarman, was issued from Kanchi. It suggests that he should have got back Kanchi by that time. Two grants of this king, Omgodu A grant issued in thirty-third regnal year and Sarkepatna grant issued in forty-first regnal year were issued from Tambrapa and Maundgali respectively. Does this suggest that Kanchi was again lost?  The first loss would have been in the reign of Vishnugopa when he lost against Samudragupta. However the second loss is not very clear, if ever this happened.

In the first article of this series we talked about Jaina work Lokavibhaga, from which we assigned 436 CE to Simhavarman. This fits with our assignment of 440 CE to Simhavarman I. However we should retain the Lokavibhaga date instead of our guess work.  Penukonda grant of the Ganga king Madhava II states that his father was installed by a Pallava king named Simhavarman. As per the study of this plate, this event would have happened in about 440 CE, which falls within the assigned reign of our list for Simhavarman I.

Mangalur and Pikira grant tell sthat Simhavarman was a staunch Vaishnava (Param-bhagvata). Last dated epigraph of Simhavarman I, Sarkepatna plates were issued in his forty-first year of reign. Hence the end date of this king should be 477 CE.

Skandavarman IV (403-436 CE) – As we have fixed the period of Simhavarman I, it needs adjustment on previous assignments now. Last dated inscription of Skandavarman IV is of his 33 regnal year. If we take as his last year then his consecration would have been in 403 CE. This 33 year of reign is larger than our average of 25 which also probably hints why Vishnugopa was always reigned as a Yuva-maharaja.

Yuva-maharaja Vishnugopa – Two grants issued by this Pallava prince, Nedungaraya and Uruvappalli, were issued from Palakkada. We also find reference of this Pallava prince in Omgodu B grant, Pikira grant, Mangalur grant and Vilavetti grant which were all issued by the Pallava king Simhavarman I. As he is always referred as a yuva-maharaja (heir-apparent) so it seems that this prince never ruled as a king.

Nandivarman I (502 CE) – Udayendiram grant of this king were issued from Kanchipuram in his first year of reign. Hence Kanchi which was lost in the last years of Simhavarman was regained by Nandivarman in his first year or probably it was already won during the last years of Simhavarman I. Whichever way it may be, this achievement is never referred in any of the later grants. Why so, was this not a big thing to talk about? Again a riddle perhaps.

Simhavishnu (552 – 600 CE) – Simhavishnu seems to have ascended the throne when the Pallavas dynasty was quite stable. Hence he decided to extend his empire. His feats are well described in Velurpalaiyam and Kasakudi grants, where the first states that he seized the country to the Cholas embellished by the daughter of Kavira, river Kaveri, while the later gives more elaborate description of his conquests that  he won over Malaya, Kalabhra, Malava, Chola, Pandya, Simhala and Kerala kings. With all these conquests, he borne the title of ‘Avanisimha’, ruler of the earth. As all these places and kingdoms are south of Kanchi so he would have carried out this expedition in one go probably. It is not clear whether he won the Cholas over their capital, however he would have won the Chola region of the north of Kaveri, in his conquests.

Once he was done with southern part, his attention moved to the northern part, country of Vishnukudins. However he did not get success there, as Indrapalanagara grant of Vishnukudin king Vikramednra-Bhattaraka II tells that he gained victory over the Pallava king Simha in Saka 488 (566 CE). This Pallava king Simha would have been Simhavishnu probably.

When Simhavishnu was busy with south-eastern part, another empire was taking shape in south-west of India, the Chalukyan empire. It was founded by Pulakesin I (534-566 CE) who built a strong fortress at Vatapi. He was succeeded by his son Kirtivarman I (566-597 CE). None of the Pallava records talk about clashes between Simhavishnu and the Chalukyas, however there might have been some clashes as both were ambitious in extending their empire. One such reference comes from Mangalesa’s Mahakuta Pillar Inscription, in which it is stated that Kirtivarman I conquered many hostile kings such as of Anga, Vanga, Magadha, Kerala, Pandya, Choliya, Dramila etc. This Dramila could have been meant for the Pallavas.

Avantisundarikathasara of Dandin puts Durvinita (529-579 CE), Vishnuvardhana and Simhavishnu contemporary. Simhavishnu’s mother allowed some grants to a Jaina temple in twelfth regnal year of Avinita as per Hosakote plates. Udayendiram grant tells that Simhavishnu was a devout worshipper of Vishnu. We can put his reign from 550-580, though T V Mahalingam puts this to 550-610 CE and K R Srinivasan puts to 550-580 CE.

Mahendravarman I (580 – 629 CE) – Mahendravarman was the initiator of the stone and cave architecture in Tamilnadu. Many of his cave shrines have survived with his foundation inscriptions. During the study of his shrines, we see a repetitive and definitive style employed. This style has been names as Mahendra Style by many eminent scholars. As per a theory, proposed by G Jouveau-Dubreuil, Mahendra got the inspiration of the cave architecture from Undavalli and Bhairavakonda caves at Krishna river basin as his childhood was spent in there. Mahendra got a vast empire in heredity from his father, in which part of Andhra country was also included. We have an inscription of him in Chezrala, which suggests that he was active in that part however whether his childhood was spent there is not very clear. But to get such an inspiration he needed not to spend his childhood there, spending some time or just a cursory look over those monuments would have been enough. Our genealogy differs with Professor Dubreuil’s in this reference. Where he created a branch at the level of Simhavarman I, yuva-maharaja Vishnugopa as his bother ruling over Andhra country. Simhavarman II came from yuva-maharaja Vishnugopa’s branch in his genealogy.

Mahendravarman did not restrict his capabilities in architecture, but he was a very good composer as well. We have two of his compositions, Mattavilasaprahasan and Bhagavadajjukam. He has eulogized his father, Simhavishnu, in invocation  part of Mattavilasaprahasana. His talent and expertise in music is also shown through his inscriptions. Though we are not sure who was the author of Kudumiyanmalai musical inscription, however many of the scholars have assigned this to Mahendravarman. In his other inscriptions, we find mention of ‘Sankiran-jati’. This ‘sankirna-jati’ is taken as a musical raga (composition). We also see mention of musical instruments in his inscriptions. This suggests that he was interested in music as well.

Periya-puranam narrates a story where a Pallava ruler came to saint Appar and fell in his feet. It says, “The Pallava, who all along had performed evil deeds, following the cruel minded Samanas and whose own pasa of old deeds was now removed, reached Adigai, saluted Appar, and abandoning the bad company of the Amanas, fell at the feet of lord Shiva”. The name of the Pallava king is given as Gunadhara. Gunabhara is one of the title of Mahendravarman, found in many of his inscriptions. Probably Gundhara of Periyapuranam and Gunabhara of the inscriptions is the same. This story has been supported by an inscription of Mahendravarman I in Trichy Upper Cave where he wrote that he has turned to Shiva from some other opposite faith. As per R Nagaswamy, in his article on the date of Appar, he concluds that Appar was contemporaneous of Mahendravarman and Mahendravarman was converted by him from Jaina to Shaivism. But Periyapuranam is the work of thirteenth century, and it is very much probable that the author of this work was aware of this inscription and he created a story around this. If we accept this story, then probably this Jaina connection of Mahendravarman might have come from his mother as in Hoskote plate of Simhavishnu, she granted land to worship and maintenance of Jaina temple of Yapahavaniya Sangha. But then, I am still perplexed that why his earlier cave temples were not dedicated to Shiva. Being newly converted to Shaivism, his shrines should have been dedicated to Shiva.

As per Kasakudi grant, Mahendra annihilated his chief enemies at Pullalura. This chief enemies should be the Chalukyas only. Now who could be his chief enemy? I can think of two options, either it was Chalukyas or Cholas. Mahendra’s father, Simhavishnu, had fought with the Cholas and got their land, northern part of Kaveri region. It is very much probable that Cholas were eager and waiting to get this lost part from the Pallavas. And for that they would be trying very hard. Does this put the Cholas as the chief enemy?

On the other hand, the Chalukyas were very new in the western region and were recently got stabled. Pulakesin II, ruler of that time, was an ambitious king and he had defeated Harsha, ruler of the north India, in his expeditions. However there is no record of clash between these two dynasties before Mahendravarman. In this case should this be taken as the start of war between the Chalukyas and the Pallavas?

In my opinion, yes, Kasakudi grant refers to the Chalukyas as chief enemy. First thing to be noted is that Pullalura is identified with a village of same name, 25 km north of Kanchi. If Cholas would have been involved then I expected that the battle should have been fought somewhere south of Kanchi, not in its north. Second thing, this inscription, Kasakudi grant, was of period of Nandivarman II and by his time, Chalukyas were the main enemy of the Pallavas. The same relation was maintained from Chalukays side where they refer Pallavas as their natural enemy.

Aihole inscription (Meguti Temple) of the Chalukyan King Pulakesin II states that ‘he caused the splendor of the lord of the Pallavas, who had opposed the rise of his power, to be obscured by the dust of his army, and to vanish behind the walls of Kanchipuram’. Some scholars took this as a victory of Pulakesin over the Pallavas. However the inscription does not specify any such thing. It just says that Pulakesin restricted the Pallavas within its walls. So it would have been like this, Pulakesin II came towards Kanchi, winning over the land behind. However he was sent back or routed to another route at Pullalura by Mahendravarman.

Badami inscription of Narasimhavarman, dated 642 CE, states that he conquered Badami in his thirteenth year of reign. This means that He would have been consecrated in 629 CE. Hence 629 CE would be the last regnal year of Mahendravarman. So Mahendravarman ruled from 600 CE to 629 CE. T V Mahalingam puts him for 610-630 CE while K R Srinivasan assigns him to 580-630 CE.

Titles (birudas) of Mahendravarman –  As many of the inscriptions of the Pallava kings are with their titles and not names, so study of their titles is very important. Below are given various titles, used by Mahendravarman in his inscriptions.

Abhimukha, Aharyyabuddhi, Akari, Akaruna, Alarvale, Aluptakama, Amkhapasunru, Ananya, Anityaraga, Anumana, Arkkapasumbu, Asitti, Avanibhajana, Ayamti, Bujjankanthu, Branta, Calambu, Calisappuruttu, Ceruluccempruru, Cethakari, Chitrakarapuli, Cilundu, Cumbu, Curimbu, Dandikkalla, Darppavisa, Davagni, Dunuvaryya, Drdhabhakti, Emuku, Ethi, Eththu, Eri, Gunabhara, Istadustabhrstacarita, Itukari, Kalahapriya, Kaku, Kamarjjva, Kasta, Kaththu, Katuh Kramka, Katunterambu, Kathumpu, Katumktayum, Katuntarambu, Kilambu, Kuchagrana, Kurrambu, Kuthaka, Lalitankura, Laksita, Mahamegha, Mahendravikrama, Mahiceththakari, Mamku, Manpravu, Marumarra, Mathumatha, Mattavilasa, Mayamakkaru, Mlayu, Midelcuri, Moggara, Mukhavajja, Naihikamutrika, Narapasa, Naruku, Nathuku, Nayambu, Nilvuleneyyambu, Nirapeksha, Nityavinita, Nivambu, Otha, Oththu, Palapati, Pakali, Pasarambu, Patusiddha, Pavithu, Perinthi, Pinapinakku, Pisugu, Pituvari, Prakarana, Pravttamatra, Pukapiduku, Sankirnnajati, Sarvvabhata, Satyasandha, Satrumalla, Srididhabhakti, Talvi, Tanumpunomi, Tarudanda, Tathudanda, Teththa, Teppu, Terra, Tetha, Toruka, Tota, Toththu, Tukanu, Uddhati, Udukasitti, Ummamkudu, Upamana, Vambara, Vamkambu, Vamka, Vamkiru, Vampu, Vanjavalava, Vaverati, Vayiventi, Vesari, Vesatha, Ventulavittu, Vethirucutho, Vicitracitta, Vileyala, Virasa, Vitemaya, Vlasu, Vnarapegu, Vuka, Vunatha, Vusatha, Vyvasaya, Vyavasthitha, Yamuku

Narasimhavarman I (629-668 CE) – Narasimhavarman succeeded his father, Mahendravarman I, on the throne of Kanchi. He proved to be a true successor and continued the patronage towards art and architecture. He was a good warrior also, and he proved this at many occasions.

The most important event in his life was, perhaps, was conquest of Vatapi (current Badami), the capital of the Chalukyas. The Chalukyan king, Pulakesin II, was at war with Mahendravarman I however he was not able to conquer Kanchi. Hence he tried another time after the death of Mahendravarman I. It seems that he tried several times as we see reference of his defeat at various locations in the hand of Narasimhavarman I. As per Udayendiram grant, he frequently conquered Vallabharaja at Parilaya, Manimangala, Suramara and other locations. Vallabharaja is also known as Pulakesin II. After defeating Pulakesin II at various places, Narasimhavarman tried to put an end this chapter so he chased Pulakesin II till his capital city, Vatapi. As per Kuram, Udayendiram, Kasakudi and Velupalaiyam grants, Narasimhavarman destroyed Vatapi (current Badami) as Sage Agastya destroyed the demon Vatapi. A rock inscription of Narasimhavarman at Badami proved that he won that city in thirteenth year of his reign. After conquering Vatapi, he assumed the title of ‘Vatapikonda’. Velurpalaiyam grant further states that he took the pillar of victory standing in the center of the town of Vatapi after defeating his enemies and compared him with Upendra (Vishnu). It is not very clear whether Pulakesin II survived in this war, however as we do not get any of his inscriptions after this war so it is assumed that he was killed. Last year of Pulakesin II is assigned as 642 CE. As Narasimhavarman conquered Vatapi in his thirteenth regnal year, hence he would have been consecrated at 629 CE.

As per Gadval grant, Vikramaditya I fought with Narasimhavarman I and also with his two successors. The only probability of this fight is if Vikramaditya I acted as a general of his father. None of the inscriptions at Pallava side, talks about direct clash between Vikramaditya I and Narasimhavarman I.

Kuram grant states that Narasimhavarman sent a naval expedition to Ceylon (Sri Lanka). In Kasakudi grant, it is stated that he surpassed the glory of the valor of Rama by his conquest of Lanka. The conquest over Ceylon is also confirmed by Singhalese Buddhist work, Mahavamsa. In its 47th chapter, it is stated that Singhalese prince Manavamma lived in the court of king Narasimha of India and helped him in fighting against king Vallabha. Narasimhavarman supplied Manavamma twice with an army and he got success in second attempt. As per Mahavamsa, the coronation of Manavamma happened at 691 CE. However scholars suggests a correction of 24 years in this calculation, as dates given in Mahavamsa, for before tenth century needs a correction of 24 years. In that case, this coronation would have happened in 667 CE.

Based upon his successful military conquests, he was worthy enough to celebrate ashvamedha yajna (sacrifice). As per his Sivanvayal inscription, he did perform ashvamedha and bahusuvarna sacrifices. Many scholars have agreed that Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram) was founded by Narasimhavarman and named on his title, Mamalla. Though the town was in existence earlier than his time, however renaming was probably done during his reign. Due to this theory, many of the monuments of Mahabalipuram are assigned to this Pallava king.

As per Gadval plates, Vikramaditya I fought with Narasimhavarman, Mahendravarman II and Parameshvaravarman. This grant is dated 674 CE. It means that Narasimhavarman’s reign should be before 674. So, we need to place Narasimhavarman I between 629-674, and also there are two more rulers to accommodate, Mahendravarman II and Parameshvaravarman. Hence we assume that probably the successful Ceylon expedition was the last year of Narasimhavarman. As per K R Srinivasan and T V Mahalingam, reign of Narasimhavarman I was between 630-668 CE.

Mahendravarman II (668-670 CE) – There are not many inscriptions of this Pallava ruler. The only one inscription, probably, of this ruler is found in Adi-Varaha cave of Mahabalipuram. This inscription just gives the name of the ruler without any other information. Mahendravarman II would have a short reign as Vikramaditya I fought a war with his successor Parameshvaravarman in 674 CE. Vikramaditya I was raised on the Chalukyan throne and he proved to be a worthy successor of his father, Pulakesin II. He started consolidating the Chalukyan empire and in this he won back the regions which were taken by the Pallavas during the conquest of Vatapi by Narasimhavarman I. This assumption is strengthen by Gadval grant where he mentioned that he fought with three Pallava kings and ruined the family of Mamalla. In his conquest, he fought with Mahendravarman II however was not successful to win Kanchi.

There is a reference of war between him and Siladitya, son of Jayasimha and nephew of Vikramaditya I in Gaddemane inscription. It is assumed that perhaps he lost his life in this war. T V Mahalingam put him between 668-669 CE while K R Srinivasan puts him between 668-674 CE. It is clear that his reign was of short period, however how much short is not very clear.

Parameshvaravarman I (670-700 CE) – Parameshvaravarman I succeeded Mahendravarman II, probably after his sudden demise in a war. As soon as he got the throne, he had to face the hostility of the Chalukyan king, Vikramaditya I. As per Honnur plates, issued by Vikramaditya I and dated in sixteenth year of his reign, 670-71 CE, he was camping at Malliyur on his way to Kanchi. He would have defeated Parameshvaravarman I probably with the help of the Gangas of Talakad however he returned to his capital without going further to Kanchi. Parameshvaravarman wanted to take revenge of this defeat and hence he attacked over the Gangas to teach them a lesson for helping the Chalukyas. However he was defeated in the battle at Vilande, as Hellegere grant states that the Ganga king Bhuvikrama not only defeated Parameshvaravarman I but also snatched the royal necklace which contained in it the gem known as Ugrodaya.

This act of the Pallava king probably provoked the Chalukyan king Vikramaditya I to again attack over Kanchi. This time Vikramaditya I defeated Parameshvaravarman, seized Kanchi and destroyed the family of Mahamalla (Narasimhavarman I), as supported by his Gadval grant dated 674 CE. It seems that after getting Kanchi, Vikramaditya I moved further south to challenge the Cholas putting his camp at Uragapura. This Uragapura may be identified with Uraiyur, the capital of the Cholas. In Raghuvamsham of Kalidasa, we also see a mention of city Uraga as the capital of the Pandyas.

When Vikramaditya I was camping near Uragapura, Parameshvaravarman I was trying to gain his strength to give a fight back. Even though he lost his capital city, Kanchi, Parameshvaravarman I mustered all his strength to wage a decisive battle against Vikramaditya I. This battle was played at Peruvalanallur, a village near Uraiyur in the Chola country. Parameshvaravarman I won this battle and Vikramaditya I suffered a huge loss. Kuram grant of Parameshvaravarman I gives a vivid picture of this battle stating that Vikramaditya I whose army consisted of several lakhs of men was forced by Parameshvaravarman I to take to flight covered by a rag.

To take revenge of the conquest of Kanchi from the Chalukyas, Parameshvaravarman I sent his army to Vatapi under the able command of his able general Paranjoti,  who later was canonised as Siruttonda, one of the Nayanars. They captured Vatapi and brought the spoils back to Kanchi. This second invasion of Vatapi and temporary occupation by the Pallavas created again some time of confusion in the Chalukyan politics. This invasion would have been carried out in about 679 CE and temporary occupation would have lasted for about two years. Vinayaditya, son and successor of Vikramaditya, was consecrated on the Chalukyan throne in about 681 CE. Probably to commemorate this victory, he performed ashvamedha as stated in Reyuru grant of his son Narasimhavarman II.

His Vunna Guruvaplem plates are dated in his nineteenth year of reign. Hence his period can be taken from 670 to 690 CE. K R Srinivasan puts him between 674 and 700 CE whereas T V Mahalingam has assigned him for 669 to 690 CE.

Many of the scholars have assigned few of the monuments at Mahabalipuram to Parameshvaravarman I. Among these, Ganesha Ratha is one of the most important monument. A structural temple at Kuram should also be constructed during his reign as we have an inscription of his there. This should be taken as the first attempt in structural temples in Tamilnadu area.

Titles of Parameshvaravarman I – Atyantakama, Citramaya, Ekamalla, Gunabhajana, Kamaraga, Lokaditya, Ranajeya, Sribhara, Srinidhi, Tarunankura, Ugradanda, Vidyavinita

Rajasimha Narasimhavarman II (690-728) – Rajasimha, Narasimhavarman II, succeeded his father Parameshvaravarman I. His reign was very peaceful as we did not see any reference of major war during his time. Main enemies of the Pallavas, the Chalukyas, were busy in regaining their strength after the strike of Parameshvaravarman I hence there was no threat from their side of Rajasimha. However he is praised in many of his inscriptions as the conqueror of crowds of hostile kings, but no specific war is mentioned and also no identity of the enemy is given.

There are proofs which suggest that his influence, if not rule, was extended beyond the boundaries of Tondaimandalam (North part of Tamilnadu). Usage of phrase Dvipalaksam suggests that his influence was extended to Lakshadvipa. K A Nilakanta Sastri, in his Foreign Notices of South India, writes that Rajasimha sent an embassy to China to inform the Chinese emperor of his intention to employ his war elephants and his cavalry to chastise the Ta-che (Arabs) and T’ou-po (Tibetans) and request the emperor to give a name to his army. The emperor praised it greatly and named his army, ‘the army which cherished virtue’. This embassy was sent in about 720 CE. He further writes that the Chinese emperor sent an ambassador to confer by brevet the title of king of the kingdom of South India on the king of the kingdom of South India, Che-li-Na-lo-seng-k’ia pao-to-pa-mo (Sri Narasimha Potavarman). It is also noteworthy that Narasimhavarman II built a temple on account of the Chinese empire and asked a name for this temple from Chinese emperor. He sent a inscribed tablet reading Koei-hoa se, ‘which cause to return virtue’.

Narasimhavarman II was devout worshiper of Shiva, Vishnu and Subramanya as per his Reyuru grant. All of his temples are dedicated to Shiva which suggests that he was more inclined to Shiva worship. As his reign was comparatively peaceful hence we see tremendous growth in temple architecture and building activities. Shore Temple at Mahabalipuram, Kailasanatha Temple at Kanchipuram and Talapurishvara temple at Panamalai are few of the marvels of his period. He would have also constructed a Buddhist vihara at Nagapattinam, which he probably had done for the Chinese emperor.

He had more than one queen and his chief queen would have been Rangapataka who constructed a small shrine in Kailasanatha temple and as per inscription, she being the wife of Rajasimha, claims superiority above Parvati and Lakshmi. His another queen was Lokamadevi who probably was the mother of Mahendravarman III, his son and successor.

Titles of Rajasimha – Rajasimha engraved many of his titles in his Kailasanatha temple at Kanchipuram. He has more than hundred of distinct titles. All of his titles, taken from different inscriptions, are stated below:

Abhayankura, Abhayarasi, Abhimana, Abhirama, Acarapara, Adbhutacarita, Adharmmabhiru, Adhhutasakti, Agamanusari, Agamapramana, Ahatalaksana, Ahavabhima, Ahavoddhura, Ahitantaka, Ahvadhira, Ahvakesari, Ajanrasa, Ajayya, Ajimarddana, Ajnalankata, Akalanka, Akhandasani, Akhandasasana, Akutobhya, Amitramalla, Amitramarddana, Amitrantaka, Amitraprabhava, Amitrasani, Amoghavana, Amoghvikrama, Anabhravrsti, Anantmandala, Anavagraha, Anavagita, Aninonyacarita, Anugrasila, Anunayasaddhya, Anugrasila, Aparajita, Aparvikrama, Apatadurddhara, Apratihata, Apratima, Apratimalla, Aprativiryya, Aratilaka, Arikarikesari, Arimardana, Arinasa, Arttayana, Asabiyi, Asahyakopa, Asahyamarggana, Asapara, Ascaryyaviryya, Asritavatsala, Asvapriya, Atanupratapa, Atiranacanda, Atisahasa, Atoddhatumburu, Atulabala, Atyantakama, Atyudara, Avandhyakopa, Avanibhajana, Avanidivakara, Avaritviryya, Avihatasakti, Aviratdana, Avismita, Bahidakshina, Balaprama, Bhayarahita, Bhimakammuka, Bhimakanta, Bhimavikrama, Bhisanacapa, Bhuridana, Bhuvanibhajana, Candadanda, Candasani, Candrasekhara-sikha-mani, Capadvitiya, Caracaksu, Caranavira, Caruvilasa, Chakravarti, Chalarahita, Chayavrksha, Chinnasamasya, Citrakarmukha, Damittavyala, Danavarsa, Danusura, Daridranukampi, Desavardhana, Devadevabhakta, Devagni, Dharanitilaka, Dharmmakavaca, Dharmmanitya, Dharmmasetu, Dharmmavijayi, Dharanicandra, Dharanitilaka, Dhavalsaya, Diptapurusha, Drptasasana, Duradasi, Duradurita, Durutsaha, Durvvakhega, Dushtadamana, Ekadhanurddhara, Ekaraja, Ekasundara, Ekavira, Gandhahasti, Garvittadamana, Gnanasagara, Gunalaya, Gunavinita, Gunonnata, Ibhavatsaraja, Ibhavidhyadhara, Icchapura, Iddhasasana, Ilaparamesvara, Indralila, Isanasarna, Istavarsa, Isvarabhakta, Itihasapriya, Itisatana, Jatigambhira, Jayanidhi, Jnanankusa, Jyapara, Kalakala, Kalakopa, Kalankarahita, Kalankavarjjita, Kalasamudrah, Kalavasana, Kalavikrama, Kamalalita, Kamaraga, Kamavilasa, Kamuka, Kanchimahamani, Karnakopa, Kaviprabodha, Kharavikrama, Khinnanukampi, Kstracudamani, Ksatrasimha, Kstravidravana, Kuladhvaja, Kulatilaka, Lalitavilasa, Lokasikamani, Mahamalla, Mahanubhava, Mahaprabhava, Mahendraparakrama, Manucarita, Mattapramatta, Mattavikara, Mayakara, Nagapriya, Narendracudamani, Narendrasimha, Narasimhavishnu, Nayanmanohara, Nayanusari, Niraggala, Niramitra, Nityatsaha, Nityavarsa, Pallavaditya, Paracakramarddhana, Parahita, Parantapa, Parapara, Parjjanyarupa, Partthivasi, Pativallabha, Patthavikrama, Pravrttacakra, Prthvisara, Pratibhaya, Punyasloka, Purusasima, Rajakunjara, Rajaraja, Raksamani, Ranabhima, Ranacanda, Ranadhira, Ranajaya, Ranavikrama, Ranavira, Rsabhadarppa, Rsabhalanchana, Samaradhananjaya, Sangramadhira, Sangramarama, Sankarabhakta, Sarvvabhauma, Sarvvatobhadra, Sastradhrsti, Sivachudamani, Sribhara, Sribahunaya, Srimegha, Sri Udayabhaskara, Srivallabha, Suragraganya, Taptasarona, Tatvavedi, Tivrakopa, Trailokyanatha, Tribhuvandipa, Tungavikrama, Tusnapurana, Ucchitavityya, Udayacandra, Udayonnata, Udayatunga, Udayavasanta, Udhhatavisikha, Uditambhava, Uditakirtti, Uditaprabhava, Uditodita, Udvrttadamana, Ugadhagamnhiryya, Ugradanda, Ugrapratapa, Ugrasasana, Ugrasayaka, Ugraviryya, Unnatmana, Unnatarama, Unnateccha, Upayanipuna, Upendravikrama, Urjjita, Utkhatkhandaka, Utsahnitya, Utthanasila, Uttarottara, Vadhyavidhyadhara, Varanabhagadatta, Vikramakesari, Vikrsavilasa, Vilasa, Vinanarada, Virakesari, Yuddharjuna, Yugantaditya

Mahendravarman III (720-728) – Mahendravarman probably never ruled as a king, as he was deceased during the time of his father, Rajasimha. As per a Ganga inscription, the Ganga king Sripurusha killed the king of Kanchi and assumed the title of Permanadi. As per inscription, the name of the Pallava king is Kaduvetti, who probably is Mahendravarman III who was ruling as a yuva-maharaja (heir-apparent). There is a panel in Vaikuntha Perumal Temple at Kanchi, where a wounded soldier was brought on a hammock in presence of king Rajasimha, this wounded soldier might be Mahendravarman III.

We have two inscriptions of this kings, both found within Kailasanatha Temple built by his father. He added one shrine in front of the main temple and gave its his name. Mahendravarman III and Parameshvaravarman II were brothers, begot from queen Lokamadevi by Rajasimha. Though Mahendravarman III died before his father, he was survived with two sons, Jaya Pallavadhiraja and Vrddhi Pallavadhiraja.

As he died within the reign of his father, hence we keep his end date same as that of his father. K R Srinivasan puts him between 720-728 CE.

Parameshvaravarman II (728-731 CE) – Parameshvaravarman II succeeded Rajasimha. K R Srinivasan writes that the relation between these two is not very clear and former might be a younger brother of the later or some member of collateral family. Whereas T V Mahalingam writes that Mahendravarman III and Parameshvaravarman II both were sons of Rajasimha from his queen Lokamadevi. Whatever be the relationship they had, it is clear that Parameshvaravarman II succeeded Rajasimha in about 728 CE. This date is supported by Ulchala inscription of Vijayaditya, dated in his thirty-fifth year.

He did not reign for a long period, as the Chalukyan king Vikramaditya II invaded Kanchi. We see here that the Chalukyas took almost forty-five years to wait for a right opportunity for their strike. And they got this opportunity when Parameshvaravarman II ascended the throne. Vikramaditya won over Kanchi defeating Parameshvaravarman II and levied heavy tributes. Though he left Kanchi, but this treaty was done at a very heavy cost.

The only inscription of this king is found at Virattaneshvara temple at Tiruvadi. It was engraved in his third regnal year. We take this third year as his last year and come to 731 CE as end of his rule. K R Srinivasan and T V Mahalingam, both assigns this ruler to 728-731 CE.

Nandivarman II Pallavamalla (731-796 CE) – With Nandivarman II, we enter into an era which was full of confusion and wars. This is the era in which we witness aggression, aspirations and complex politics among various dynasties of south India. Parameshvaravarman II was subdued by the Chalukyan king Vikramaditya II. On this victory, Vikramaditya II installed a viceroy of his choice on Kanchi’s throne. This viceroy would have been one of the sons of Mahendravarman III. This arrangement did suit to the Chalukyan victor but Pallava courtiers, mattras, ghatikayars and mulaprakrtis. They all wanted to have a pure bred successor from both side, maternal and paternal. Hence they all went to consult this with Maharaja Hiranyavarman. Hiranyavarman was a descendant of the branch of Bhimavarman, younger brother of Simhavishnu. There is still debate on for which part of country Hiranyavarman was ruling over. Some scholars suggests that it was some part of south-east Asia while some scholars put this to northern part of Andhra.

When this contingent requested Hiranyavarman to take over Kanchi, then he refused to take up this responsiblity as he was probably quite old. However he consulted first with his Kulamallas and then his four sons if anyone was interested in taking up this tasks. All of them refused except his youngest son, Pallavamalla, who was only twelve years old at that time. Though Hiranyavarman was afraid that his sone is very young to take up such a task but when his guru, Tarandikonda Posar, favored Pallavamalla’s decision, Hiranyavarman accepted it. Pallavamalla started his journey towards Kanchi with the contingent of Kanchi. He was also accompanied by Udayacandra of Pu-ca race who had been in the uninterrupted service of the king. On reaching the outskirts of Kanchi, he was welcome by a Pallavadi-araiyar who installed him on back of an elephant and entered the city of Kanchi.

All the courtiers, mahasamantar, nagarattar and mulaprakrits of the Pallava court, welcome this prince on his arrival in the city. A Muttariyar chief named Kadaka also welcome the prince. Later they anointed him on the throne of Kanchi as ‘chosen by the subjects’ with coronation name of Nandivarman II. It seems that the current ruler, probably Chitramaya, was busy somewhere else hence Pallavamalla did not face much difficulty in reaching Kanchi.

However this coronation did not please the Chalukyan king Vikramaditya II. He invaded, second time, Kanchi in support of his viceroy, Chitramaya. Probably Ganga king Sripurusha helped Vikramaditya II in this fight. This invasion would have been carried out in 741-42 CE as stated in Narwan plates. Nandivarman II was defeated and lost his royal insignia. He fled from the scene and took rest at some friendly location. Vikramaditya II entrusted the throne to his protege, Chitramaya. His inscription in Kailasanatha temple suggests that he did not destroy the city but in turn he made beneficiary gifts to the temple as well returned all the wealth of the temple.

Though Pallavamalla was ousted from Kanchi, he was still the choice of his subjects. He consolidated his strength and started wining and taking control over parts of the Pallava empire. This advance of his again caught the eyes of the Chalukyans. The Chalukyan yuvaraja Kirtivarman II, son of Vikramaditya II, took permission from his father to check the growth of Pallavamalla. This was the third and the last invasion in the time of Vikramaditya II and this probably happened in his last years 746-747 CE. Rastrakuta chief Dantidurga helped Kirtivarman II in this invasion. Bagumra grant of Rastrakuta king Indra III states that Dantidurga defeated the king of Kanchi. Pallavamalla was again defeated in each quarter and he took refuge in some fort.

Rashtrakutas were feudatory of the Chalukyas however after this war their position was strengthened. They wanted to gain independence from the Chalukyas hence it appears that though they helped the Chalukyas in their fight against Pallavamalla but later they took his help to gain their independence and as well helping him in getting Kanchi back. Their relations were strengthened by matrimonial alliance where Nandivarman II married with his daughter, Reva as stated in Velurpalaiyam plates. Dantidurga with the help of Pallavamalla, probably via his able general Udayachandra, defeated the Chalukyas and established the Rashtrakuta dynasty in western-south India.

Pallavamalla was not only had to fight with the Chalukyas in west but he had to deal with the Pandyas in south. After the defeat of the Chalukyas in the hands of Dantidurga, Chitramaya lost the support from their side. However he found a new friend in the Pandyas who were ready to help him against Pallavamalla. As per Udayendiram plates, Pallavamalla was besieged near Nandipura by Chitramaya and the Pandyas. Udayachandra, on hearing this, rushed to help his master and he killed Chitramaya with a dagger. He bestowed the whole Pallava kingdom to his master. In process of this he defeated the Pandyas at Mannaikkudi. However before this final victory by Pallavamalla, he was defeated many a times by the Pandya king Maravarman Rajasimha as claimed in Velvikudi grant. Though he faced defeat at many times, it seems, in the last he was able to conquer over Pandyas. This final victory would have happened before his twenty-first regnal year, so we may put this to 750-51 CE. It took about twenty years for Nandivarman II and his general Udayachandra to fix all the troubles and secure the Kanchi throne.

After removing all the external troubles to his kingdom and consolidating his rule, Nandivarman II started his vengeance. The spurious Manne grant of the Ganga king Sivamara II states that he was anointed by the hands of the Pallava king Nandivarman and the Rashtrakuta king Govindaraja (Govinda III). However while editing Sravana-belgola epitaph of Marasimha II (EI, Vol V, 18), J F Fleet states that the statement of Manne grant is not correct as Nandivarman and Sivamara II were not contemporary. However it might be possible that Nandivarman anointed the Ganga king Sivamara I. Whether he did help the Ganga king Sivamara I or not, he was not cordial with his son, Siripurusha. He attacked the Ganga king, Sripurusa, sometime before 764 CE. Though he won on many front but was not able to recover the lost gem, Ugrodaya, which was lost to the Gangas by Parameshvaravarman I.

Though Nandivarman II was cordial with the Rashtrakutas, but after the death of Dantidurga, their relations were not very good. Rastrakuta king, Krsna I, attacked the Ganga country in about 768 CE however Sripurusa was able to resist this attack but this gave him a chance to think for a better relationship with the Banas and the Pallavas as if the Rashtrakutas attacks next time, it will be hard to resist them. Before the Rastrakutas attack the next time, they got an internal trouble of succession between Govinda II and his younger brother Dhruva, son of Krsna I. The Pallavas joined hands with the Gangas to support Govinda II however Dhruva came victorious.

Dhruva started his expedition to punish all those who were against him. His first strike was at the Gangas, where he attacked Gangavadi in 783 CE and defeated the Gangas. The Ganga crown prince, Sivamara, was taken prisoner and Dhruva installed his son, Stambha, as a viceroy. Then he routed to the Pallavas. Nandivarman II tried to resist this invasion but it went in vain. He has to buy peace from the Rastrakutas by offering an indemnity in form of war-elephants. A hero-stone inscription from Kulidikki, states that Gangadiyaraiyar, Vanaraiyar, fought against Rastrakuta, to help NandivarmanII, when they attacked the Pallava country. However he died on the occasion.

Nandivarman soon recovered from this blow and he started his planning to get back the lost gem, Ugrodaya, from the Gangas. The Ganga king, Sripurusa, was ruling as nominal ruler and Rastrakuta prince, Stambha, was also present as the viceroy. Rashtrakutas were busy in their north Indian expedition, which provided an opportune time for Nandivarman II to attack the Gangas. He with the help of Bana feudatory Jayanandivarman attacked Gangavadi and recovered the lost gem, Ugrodaya. Tandantottam grant, issued in the fifty-eighth year of Nandivarman II’s reign, describes this victory over the Gangas. He also got a majestic elephant, Pattavardhana. The Gangas were supposed to be the experts in elephant science hence they possessed many of the majestic elephants. This battle would have fought before 789 CE. On this victory, Nandivarman II, assigned Gangavadi province authority to the Bana ruler Jayanandivarman.

Though the early years of Nandivarman II’s reign were filled with lots of trouble, however in later part of his reign, his kingdom was quite stable and consolidated. During this time, his interests were diverted to architecture and art. Vaikuntha Perumal temple at Kanchi was constructed during his reign. Mukteshvara temple in the same city was built by his queen. Probably Matangeshvar temple was also of his reign. He was a devout Vaishnava however he was soft to other religions as well. Twelfth and the last alvar, Tirumangai Alvar, was his contemporary.

He got a son, Dantivarman, from his Rastrakuta queen, Reva. His reign was the longest reign among all the Pallava rulers. Though he started in very early age, of twelve years, but he was successful in removing and securing the kingdom from all the troubles. As per Udayendiram grant, he performed ashvamedha sacrifice, which he would have done probably after defeating Chitramaya and the Pandyas.

We have an inscription of Nandivarman, engraved in his sixty-fifth regnal year, in a slab of Adi-Varaha temple. If we take this as his last regnal year then his reign can be put between 731 and 796 CE.

Dantivarman (796-847 CE) – Nandivarman II had a son, Dantivarman, from his Rashtrakuta queen, Reva, who succeeded him on the Pallava throne. Though he got a very stable empire from his father however emergence of many new dynasties created lots of trouble and confusion during his time as well. His last inscription is dated in his fifty-first regnal year hence we can surely say that he ruled for at least fifty one years. However we do not have any inscription of his between his twenty-first and forty-ninth year of reign. What did happen in this period, was he deprived of his empire during this time, let’s try to find out possible circumstances of this.

As per Manne grant of the Rashtrakuta king, Govinda III, Dantivarman was subjugated and was paying tribute to the Rashtrakutas. Dantivarman was the son of the Rashtrakuta princess, then why Rashtrakutas tried to subjugate him? A probable reason may be that Dantivarman acted against the Rashtrakutas in some manner. Govinda III, son of Dhruva, and Stambha, elder brother of Govinda III, were contesting for the Rastrakuta throne after the end of Dhruva. As per Navasari inscription, Govinda III defeated the alliance of twelve chiefs headed by Stambha. The Ganga king Shivamara II helped Stambha in this battle. It is most likely that Dantivarman also supported Stambha in this battle against Govinda III, and that’s why Govinda III took revenge of this after his victory in that battle. Govinda III defeated Dantivarman in about 803 CE. Though Dantivarman continued to rule at Kanchi, but he accepted sovereignty of the Rashtrakuta king.

This Rashtrakuta dominance did not last long as during the change of power from Govinda III to his son Amoghavarsa in about 814 CE, Dantivarman also took advantage of this transition period and get himself released from the Rashtrakuta influence.

However he suffered another loss soon, probably in the hands of Telugu-Chodas. This is the loss which could be the reason for no inscription from his twenty-first year to forty-ninth year. Hence this could have happened in about 817 CE when Telugu-Choda ruler Srikanta attacked at Kanchi and removed Dantivarman from there. Srikanta probably installed another branch of Pallava, Abhimanasiddhi on Kanchi throne. We have an inscription of Abhimanasiddhi Pallavan in Vaikuntha Perumal temple at Kanchi to support the view that Kanchi was under him for few years. Dantivarman took shelter in Kadamba kingdom, with whom he was related matrimonially. Srikanta probably had Pandya assistance in this war as he was the grandfather of Parantaka Viranarayana and nephew of Pandya king Maravarman.

As per Velurpalaiyam plates of Nandivarman III, Dantivarman got a son, Nandivarman III, from his Kadamba queen, Aggalanimmadi. With the assistance of his son, Dantivarman took his kingdom back in his forty-ninth regnal year, probably with the help of the Kadambas. However he only got the northern part of his kingdom, as the southern part was still with the Pandyas.

Though not much is seen in the field of art and architecture in his reign but mention of two monuments should be made. Probably he constructed Kailasanatha temple at Alambakkam, after naming the village Dantivarman-mangalam. During his reign, Muttaraiyar chief named Kuvavan-Sattan excavated a marvelous cave temple at Malaydipatti. This gives us his hint of the extent of his presence in the Chola country. Also the Chola chief named Ulagaperumanar was his subordinate which explains his influence in the Chola country.

K R Srinivasan and T V Mahalingam both has put Dantivarman’s reign from 796 to 846 CE.

Nandivarman III (847-869 CE) –  Nandivarman III was the son of Dantivarman from his Kadamba queen. He succeeded his father in about 847 CE. During the closing years of the reign of Dantivarman, Nandivarman III played an instrumental role in getting back the lost kingdom. As Pandyas were the chief allies of Abhimanasiddhi, so Nandivarman III waged a war against them to take his part of country back and as well teach a lesson.

As per his Tiruvorriyur inscription and Lalgudi inscription, he defeated his chief enemies at Tellaru. His chief enemies were Pandyas of course. However, when he tried to proceed further in south, he was stopped by the Pandya king Srimara Srivallabha. As per a Pandya inscription, Srimara defeated Nandivarman III in the battle of Kumbhkonam in about 854 CE.

Banas kept the position of a feudatory to the Pallavas. Bana chief, Vikramaditya, was contemporary of Nandivarman III as many of his inscriptions are dated in the regnal year of this Pallava king. Probably Banas also helped Nandivarman in his conquests with Pandyas and others.

Nandivarman III’s relation with the Rashtrakuta-s were cordial. As per Bahur grant, Nandivarman III married Rashtrakuta princess, Sankha, the daughter of Amoghavarsa. He got a son, Nripatungavarman, from Sankha, who succeeded him on the Pallava throne. Nandivarman III also had another queen, Adigal Marampavai, as stated in Tiruchchennampundi inscription.

Pandya king Maranjadaiyan alias Varaguna II and Nandivarman III were contemporary as Lalgudi inscription of Varaguna II talks about a donation from the Pallava king Tellarrerinda venra Nandippottaraiyar. Initial years of Varaguna II are fixed to 862-63 CE from his inscription at Aviramalai. Hence though the last found inscription on Nandivarman III, Gudimallam inscription, is dated in his twenty-third regnal year, we need to place him after 863 CE.  K R Srinivasan puts Nandivarman III in between 846-859 CE while T V Mahalingam assigns the period of 846-869 CE.

Vishnu temple at Kiliyanur, mukhamandapa of a Shiva temple at Pallikkonda and a Shiva temple at Srikkattuppalli are some of the monuments built during his reign.

Nrpatungavarman (863-904 CE) – Before succeeding his father, Nandivarman III, Nrpatungavarman might have helped Pandya king Varaguna II in his capacity as heir-apparent. As per his Bahur grant, he supported a Pandya king whose name is not given. Though events preceding the accession of Varaguna II are not very clear however a possible theory could be like this. Varaguna II’s father Srimara Srivallabha defeated Ceylon king Sena I. Sena II, after succeeding his uncle Sena I, invaded Pandya kingdom to take revenge. Srimara Srivallabha was defeated and he fled from the battlefield and probably died. Sena II installed his viceroy and left to his country. Varaguna II had to fight with this viceroy to get Pandya kingdom back. In this Nrpatungavarman helped him. Varaguna II ascended the throne in 862 CE, as per his inscription at Aviramalai.

This timely help from the Pallava king made Varaguna II a faithful friend in war and peace. This theory is supported by Varaguna II’s inscriptions in Pallava country which were dated in the reign of Nrpatungavarman. Tiruvadi inscription in Tiruvirattanesvara temple records a gift made by Varaguna-maharaja in eighteenth regnal year of Nrpatungavarman.

While Nrpatungavarman and Varaguna II were busy with their personal affairs, the Chola country witnessed the emergence of new power under the lead of Vijayalaya, the founder of the later Chola empire. However he was not successful to carve out a separate kingdom, and acted as feudatory of the Pallavas or Pandyas at times.Aditya I, son and successor of Vijayalaya, was an able and ambitious monarch. This made the conflict between the Pallavas and the Chloas inevitable. As per Bahur grant refers to a victory of Nrpatungavarman over a confederation of enemies on the bank of the river Aricit in his eighth year of reign, 877 CE. In this battle, Nrpatungavarman was supported by the Pandya king Varaguna II. The enemies in this battle could be the Cholas. Inscriptions of Nrpatungavarman, found in the Cholas region near Thanjavur, supports the view that he held an influential position over that part of the country. Tiruchchennampundi inscription in Sadaiyar temple located in Thanjavur taluk and Tirukkodikkaval inscription in Tirukkodisvara temple located in Kumbhkonam taluk, both inscriptions of Nrpatungavarman were engraved in his twenty-second reganl year and lies in the Chola region.

Banas kept their feudatory status in Nrpatungavarman’s reign as they did with his predecessors. Gudimallam inscription in Parasuramesvara temple records a donation from Vanavidyadhara-Mahabali Vanaraya was dated in twenty-fourth reganl year of Nrpatungavarman.

There is a mention of a battle at Sripurambiyam between Aparajitavarman and Nrpatungavarman in which the latter one was defeated. This battle may have happened in 895 CE, after twenty-sixth regnal year of Nrpatungavarman. We have not found any inscription of his between twenty-sixth and forty-first regnal year. This period of about fifteen years is perhaps the reign of Aparajitavarman. It is quite possible that he tried to regain his empire back from Aparajitavarman, however was not able to hold for a long time and was probably defeated by the Cholas, who were the formidable power by that time in South India.

The latest found inscription of this Pallava king, Mathavalam inscription in Govardhanathesvara temple, is dated in his forty-first regnal year. This makes his reign to last till 910 CE if his accession is stated to be in 869 CE. T V Mahalingam assigns 869-910 CE however K R Srinivasan puts him in between 859-899 CE. We accept the time line as per T V Mahalingam’s assignment.

Nrpatungavarman had at least two queens, Viramahadevi and Kadavanmadevi, as both appears in his inscriptions as donors.In his architectural contribution, the rock-cut shrine at Namakkal excavated by Muttaraiya chief Sattan Paliyili and a Vishnu temple built at Ukkal, can be quoted.

Kampavarman (863-895 CE) – The relation between Kampavarman, Nrpatungavarman and Nandivarman was not very clear till the discovery of Tiruttani plates. Many scholars proposed various possibilities in establishing the relationship between Nrpatungavarman, Kampavarman and Aparajitavarman.  E Hultzsch, while editing four inscriptions of Solapuram, suggested that Kampavarman was one of the son of Nandivarman, and this made him the brother of Nrpatungavarman. This hypothesis was based upon similarity of language and alphabets of Kampavarman’s inscriptions with that of Nrpatungavarman and Nandivarman III. A Shiva temple at Solapuram was named as Nandikampisvara which suggests that Nandivarman and Kampavarman may have father-son relationship.

While T V Mahalingam agreed with the theory proposed by Hultzsch but K R Srinivasan did not. He suggested that there should be a king with name Nandivarman (IV) who would have ruled after Aparajitavarman. Kampavarman might be the son and successor of Nandivarman IV. His argument rests majorly on two evidences. First comes from the Madras Museum plates of the sixteenth year of Uttamachola, corresponding to 984-85 CE. In this plates are listed past grants to the temple, and a grant made in the ninth year of Kampavarman is placed after a grant made by Parakesari Parantaka in his twenty-second year which corresponds to 928-29 CE.

Second evidence comes from Karandai plates of Rajendra Chola I in which it is mentioned that Parantaka vanquished Pandya, Pallava and Ceylon rulers. If Aditya I had already finished with the Pallavas after defeating Aparajitavarman, then which Pallava ruler Parantaka defeated. It suggests that the Pallavas re-surged after the defeat of Aparajitavarman and this probably made Parantaka to subdue the Pallavas again.

He further states that Kannardeva-Prithivigangaraiyar mentioned in Solapuram Inscription D is same as Prithivigangaraiyar of Solapuram Inscription A.  This comparison puts Kampavarman’s reign to about 948 CE. However this comparison is not accepted by T V Mahalingam. As per T V Mahalingam, Kamparavarman was son of Nandivarman III and brother of Nrpatungavarman. He suggests that both may have ruled together in separate regions.

Discovery of Tiruttani plates discarded all the above hypothesis and clarified the relationship between these three Pallava kings. It states that Aparajitavarman was the son of Kampavarman through a Ganga princess, Vijaya. Kampavarman seized the throne from Nrpatungavarman with glory. It further states that Aparajitavarman destroyed the elephants of the Bana ruler, captured Karanai,the Pandya city, and won a great battle against the Chola at Chirrarrur.

It is clear from this grant that Kampavarman took the throne forcibly from Nrpatungavarman. A possible theory sugegsted by R Nagaswamy is that Nrpatungavarman and Kampavarman were brothers and sons of Nandivarman III. As stated above, Nandivarman III got Nrpatungavarman from his Rashtrakuta queen. In all probability Kampavarman would have been from his Tamil queen. It is also stated above that Nandivarman III put Nrpatungavarman early on the throne. A reason behind this might be the Rashtrakuta influence and support to Nrpatungavarman. Kampavarman might have been given a small territory as a viceroy. As soon as Nandivarman III would have died, Kampavarman seized the opportunity and snatched the throne from Nrpatungavarman. This would have taken place in twenty-first regnal year, 884 CE, of Nrpatungavarman.

His Kodungalur inscription is dated in his thirty-second regnal year hence he would have ruled for at least these many years. As he would have started ruling with Nrpatungavarman, in 863 CE, so his rule extends till 895 CE.

His contribution in architecture can be defined with Lakshmi Narayan temple at Kavantandalam, Vishnu temple at Caturvedimangalam, Narayana temple at Solapuram and a temple at Tiruvorriyur.

Aparajitavarman (890 – 908 CE) – As per Udayendiram grant of Ganga king Prithivipati II Hastimalla, Ganga king Prithivipati I died in the battle of Sripurambiya fighting against the Pandya king Varaguna II, but only after granting victory to Aparajita. Nrpatungavarman and Varaguna II were friends and allies hence it is very  possible that Varaguna II was fighting to assist his friend Nrpatungavarman as suggested by T V Mahalingam. Bana and Pandya were friends with Nrpatungavarman and probably helped him during the battle of his with his step-brother Kampavarman. Tiruttani plates states that Aparajita defeated Bana and Pandya rulers. The reason of this could be traced to the battle between his father and Nrpatungavarman. As Kampavarman got Aparajita from a Ganga queen hence Ganga ruler Prithivipati helped Aparajita in his conquests.

Takkolam inscription of twenty-fourth regnal year of Aditya I, Prithivipati II appeared as donor. This inscription was dated in 895 CE as per the given astronomical details. This suggests that the battle of Sripurambia was fought before 895 CE. Kampavarman would have placed Aparajita on throne during his reign only. Prithivipati II made a grant to commemorate the martyrdom of his grandfather, Prithivipati I. Prithivipati II’s father, Marasimha, is supposed to be predeceased during the reign of his grand-father, Prithivipati I.

Aditya I’s, the Chola king, role in the battle of Sripurambia is not very clear. However it is widely believed that he helped Aparajitavarman. This is reflected in his Tillaisthanam incription (SII, Vol III, No 89), in which he assumed the title of ‘Tondai-nadu-paviya’. Aditya I was a vassal of the Pallavas as we have many Pallava and Pandya inscription in the Chola country when Aditya I was ruling as a subordinate. However after this battle, he became very influential and started dating his inscriptions in his regnal years.

Though Aparajita won the Pallava throne, however he did not get the southern part of that country which was with Aditya I. Tiruvalangadu grant of Rajendra Chola I, states that Aditya I defeated the Pallava king Aparajitavarman and captured the Pallava country. The reason for this fight is not very clear however it is very probable that either Aparajita tried to regain his southern region or Aditya attacked to consolidate his position in that region.

Last inscription of Aparajitavarman is dated in his eighteenth regnal year. Hence we may take this as the last year of his reign, which comes out to be 908 CE. In his architectural contribution, Virattanesvara tenple at Tiruttani was constructed by Nambi Appi in the eighteenth year of Aparajita. This temple is very interesting as this reflects the transition from Pallava style to Chola style.


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Web References:

  1. Nagaswamy, R. Thiruttani and Velanjeri Copper Plates. Retrieved from on 09.01.2011
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  • Stephen Barr

    I am in the finishing stages of my giant history of India for my website. Am now bogged down with the Pallavas: I have four different sources (yours is one) with four different lists of Early Pallavas. I would like to send my analysis to you so that we can figure out which to use. Where do I send it? I can send it Open Office, Word or pdf. (Your “Website” box doesn’t think my URL – – is valid)

    • Dilip

      you may want to check the app named glory of india on itunes