Medieval India - Pallava Lion
Narasimhavarman I (630-667 AD)
A small dumpy silver coin with a lion standing left with front paw rasied as in the Lankan Flag. Issued by Narasimhavarman I (ca.630-667 AD), of the Pallavas.
Alloy Ag Type Struck Diameter 14.2 mm Thickness 4.5 mm Weight 4.79 gms Shape Round DieAxis -20° Mitchiner 696-700
Obverse : Lion standing left with rasised right paws and tail double bent over back within a double dotted border.
Reverse : Stylized Devanagari Text. NA/RASIM DE/VA, sun and moon flanking the letter "VA".
These Northern style drachms were probably struck after Narasimhavarman's occupation of Badami (between 642 and 655 AD) from the Chalukyas.
The Pallavas appear on the Tamil horizon around the close of the 3rd century A.D. They dominated the northern parts of Tamil region till the end of the 9th century, for about six hundred years. The early rulers are represented by their Prakrit charters. But from about the middle of the sixth century, lithic records begin to appear in considerable numbers, giving an insight into the economic and commercial activities of the period. The early copper plate charters of the Pallavas give very little information about the coinage of the period. But most of the early Pallavas, claim to have performed the ‘Bahusuvarna’ sacrifice, gifting several gold pieces(1). Whether these were gold coins or just globules we do not know. The Omkodu grant prescribes fines for offenders and stipulates hat the fine should be proportionate to the crime(2). It is possible some form of currency was in use.
Recently the Tamil Nadu State Archaeology Department brought to light many hundred hero stones, some of which are dated in the reign of Simhavarman and Simhavishnu(3). But being memorial stones, they do not mention anything about coinage.
A few copper coins bearing on the obverse a bull and on the reverse a tree, a ship, star, crab, or fish, said to have been found near the Mahabalipuram region are assigned by Rapson to the early Pallavas(4) (2nd-4th century A.D.). But it is not unlikely that these are coins of the later Pallavas. Only one group of coins which has any claim to be coins of the early Pallava period, are the lead coins found in the Kanchipuram excavations. They are said to have been found immediately above the Satavahana phase(5), in the stratigraphic context. “On the obverse of the coin is found standing bull facing right and on the reverse a symbol or lotus”. The use of lead for the coinage, a Satavahana tradition and also the stratigraphic position clearly indicate that they were the early coins of the Pallavas of probably the 4th century A.D. In all seven such coins have been reported.
A group of coins, a dozen in number, found in Gurzala in Guntur district(6) made of copper weighing about 15 to 25 grains, bear symbols of a standing or couchant bull. The reverse symbol is read as “a Sivalinga flanked by two curves”(7). A coin in the collection of Ramayya, said to belong to the same group, bears on the reverse a Trisula i.e. trident(8). A few letters are said to have been identified as ma vi by Subrahmaniam(9) who ascribes them to Madhavavarman or Vikramendravarman. But as suggested by Rama Rao, they seem to be issues of the Pallavas(10). Ramayya’s date of the fourth century A.D., needs more positive evidence.
Similarly a hoard, found in the excavation of Yelleswaram, depicting a standing bull and the reverse showing an inscription reading Vikrama may also be considered Pallava issues.(11). There are altogether 49 coins in this hoard, made of copper or zinc. Except one coin which bears the lion motif, all the rest are of the bull type. The lion type is of course an issue of the Vishnukundins.
The series of coins illustrated by Elliot, deserve consideration(12). They are said to have been obtained from the Coromandal coast. They are copper coins, carrying a standing bull on the right and on the reverse a number of motifs. Some of the coins bearing a few letters read as ‘Sataka’ ‘Kamitha’ etc., should be rejected and equally their attribution to some of the feudatories of the Pallavas of Kanchi, 150-250 A.D. should be considerable fanciful.
Whereas the bull appears on the obverse of all these coins, the symbols on the reverse show many variations like wheels, masted ships, tortoises, crabs, single or double fish, umbrellas, bows and double chauris etc. We are unable to suggest any reason for the appearance of such varying numbers of symbols, but male some tentative suggestions. Most of the symbols found on the back show their connections with the sea, like the conch, fish, ships and crabs. It might show the Pallava;s preoccupation with sea trade. It is also possible, concerning at least a few of the symbols, like bow, fish, crab etc., that they are zodiachal signs representing Dhanus, Mina, Kataka etc. This suggestion is prompted by the presence of crab, the Kataka.
A point to be considered now is whether all the coins bearing the bull device also is to be considered Pallava. That the bull is the ‘lancana’ (royal emblem) of the Pallavas, has been emphasized by earlier scholars. I would like to add that the Pallavas have shown preference for a particular breed of bull in sculpture, seal and coin. The bull has a long curved face, smooth contours and short horns. In almost all Pallava sculptures Nandi of this breed is portrayed so often that it is no exaggeration to say that by a mere look at the bull, one can say whether it is a Pallava bull or not. It is the same breed which is found in all the royal seals as well. It is not different in the representation of coins. In identifying the coins, as the issues of the Pallava, one would not be wrong to look for a Pallava bull. For example 56 & 57 of Plate II of Elliot, are undoubtedly Pallava bulls. But the bull represented in some of the Yellesvaram hoard(13) does not bear any resemblance to the Pallava bull and we will not be wrong if we doubt their origin.
In some of the coins which could be considered of definite Pallava origin, we find the representation of a tree within the railings resembling the Asvattha or Bodhi tree of the Budhists. One of the early Pallava ruler, Simhavarman, was a great devotee of Buddha. When he visited Dhanyakataka (Amaravati) he paid obeisance to Buddha and gifted wealth to the Chaitya. That Pallavas held sway over the famous Buddhist sites of Amaravati is well known. Yuvamaharaja Sivaskandavarman issued a royal order to his officers at Dhanyakataka as the Mayidavolu charter says.(14) The presence of the Bodhi tree on the coins of the Pallavas may be due to this influence. Another explanation would be that the Pallavas equated themselves with the ‘Vasa Vrksha’ (Kalpa Vrksha, the all yielding tree) to learned men. ‘Vasavrksha Vidvat Janasya’(15) This being a coin the emblem might also be taken as a Vasu Vrksha.
A second point of interest is the legend on some of the coins read as ‘Sribhara’, ‘Srinidhi’ and ‘Manabhara’. Dr. Minakshi attributes these coins with the legend ‘Srinidhi’ and ‘Sribhara’ to Rajasimha.(16) This is the most convincing identification of the titles ‘Srinidhi’ and Sribhara which are found in all the known inscriptions of Rajasimha. Chattopadhyaya is right when he states that “the attribution of any of these types to Mahendra is not at all certain”.(17)
Another group of coins is said to bear the legend ‘Manapara’, describing this coin, Minakshi says,(18) “These coins bear on the obverse the bull over which the legend Manapara is seen. The legend is very distinct in Elliot’s drawing. The emblem on the reverse, according to Desikachari is a chank on a pedestal within a rayed circle, but Elliot describes it as a Maltesse cross (san) enclosed within a circle and surrounded by dots, probably representing stars. So far Manapara is not found among the birudas of Rajasimha, but it is not likely that he assumed this among his innumerable surnames as Atimana”.(19)
Not having seen the coin myself, I am unable to say anything definite. But judging from the illustration of Elliot, the reading Manapara seems to be acceptable. But Minakshi attributes the issue to Rajasimha with hesitation, for the title Manapara is not found for Rajasimha. The title ‘Manapara’ does occur in literature, not for Rajasimha but for Nandivarman, the victor of Tellaru.
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The coin with the legend ‘Manapara’ may thus be assigned the Tellarrerina Nandi.
A number of Pallava coins, bear the bull on the obverse and a vase on the reverse. The vase has a long neck, sometimes even mistaken for a conch. It is often represented clearly in the hands of Agastya and Brahma. The portrayal of the pitcher in Pallava coins seems symbolic. The Pallavas called themselves pitcher-born(21). The seal of the Pallan Koil copper plates of Simhavarman seems to carry an inscription ‘Patra Skalitta Vrittinam’. The vase symbol on the coin is perhaps an indication of this idea.
There are a number of coins bearing the figure of a lion on the obverse and radiating circles on the rear(22). But the coins bearing the lion motif are not Pallava coins, but probably belong to the Visnukundins.
The early copper plate charters of the Pallavas do not mention any type of currency, though they, refer in general terms to exemptions of various kinds of taxes. However in the seventh century, the word Kanam is used in connection with taxation. Paramesvaravarman I’s Kuram grant refers to the tax, Kattikkanam. A land was bought and endowed to a temple and the purchase price is mentioned as Vilai Kanam. That the kanam was the main currency is reflected in a number of taxes mentioned in inscriptions of the eight century A.D. The following are the taxes thus mentioned.
1 Tattak kanam 11 Ettak kanam 2 Brahmanarasak kanam 12 Manjadik kanam 3 Sengodik kanam 13 Viratukkak kanam 4 Kallanak kanam 14Urik-kanam 5 Kannituk kanam 15 Parik-kanam 6 Kadirk kanam 16 Kalkottuk kanam 7 Visak kanam 17 Attuk-kanam 8 Kusak kanam 18 Vannarak-kanam 9 Parutik kanam 19 Thirumukhak-kanam 10 Kuvalaik kanam 20 Paraik-kanam
Such a large number of taxes levied in terms of Kanams and the absense of the word kasu as a tax in any of the Pallava charters shows the coinage went in the name of Kanam by and large. While other taxes are named in kinds the word Pon occurs in three instances as Tengam Pon, Seyivu Ponga Sirntha Pon (Pullur) and Puravu Pon (Velur palayam)
The taxes mentioned above have been discussed by Dr. Minakshi and others. Some of hem are clearly professional taxes, the Kusak kanam (Potter’s tax), Navitak kanam (Barber’s tax) Vannara Kanam (washerman’s tax). Dr. Minakshi considers tattik kanam (called Tattak-kanam in the Royakkottai plate) and Tattar pattam in Chola epigraph a tax on goldsmith. Kallanak kanam was a tax on marriages. The term Kannittuk kanam is not very clear; Kadik kanam was a tax on grains Kuvalaik kanam on Kuvalai flowers. It may be necessary to deal in a somewhat separate manner with other Kanams dealth with in these records.
Hultzsch took Brahmanarasak kanam as “the share of the Brahmin and of the king”, K. V. S. Iyer takes it as “tax on the profits of the Brahmins (Brahmanar & asak kanam). Dr. C. Minakshi was nearer the mark when she said, “Instead of taking this term to mean cash or fee payable for the Brahman and for the king, we may easily understand it to mean cash or fee payable by the Brahmin to the king”(25). She concluded that the term Brahmanar meant Brahmin priest. But I think this interpretation could be improved. It is certainly the fee paid by the Brahmins to the king and not to the Brahmins by the king as held by others. But I would split the word Brahmanarasa Kanam as the tax levied on Brahmin chieftains (leaders). There were many Brahmins who received the titles like Brahmanarasa, Brahmadhi raja, Brahmaraya etc. They were conferred the right of leadership (or we may call chieftaincy) over a group of Brahmin families and were gifted one or a group of villages. The recently found Thiruttani copper plate of Aparajita mentions that one Brahmin was given leadership over the village Velanjeri(26). In all likelihood the tax was on such Brahmanarajas and not on all Brahmin priests.
Dr. C. Minakshi takes Visakkanam is a tax payable to the Viyavan or village headman.(27) The word Visa is taken to stand for Viyavan’, the village headman. But Visa also stands for a merchant or a tradesman. So Visak kanam might mean a tax on traders life Kusa kanam, Napitak kanam, etc. Pattikai kanam is taken by Minakshi to stand for a tax on boats. But it is not known whether it is a tax on drafting legal deeds, for the record deeds are called Pattika. Parik kanam might represent the levy on horse. Kudiraivari of later inscription.
There is an interesting tax called ‘Manjadi-kanam’ Manjadi is a weight as well as a coin. It is not known whether it is used here in the sense of coin. If so it would probably indicate a tax similar to Ponvari of later age. Kal kottuk kanam is probably a tax on planting posts for erecting Pandals during festivals or other celebrations. Or is it a tax on stone quarying? There are other taxes which it is needless to go into in detail. The point of interest is that all these taxes were realised in terms of Kanams.
We have an interesting inscription dated in the reign of Pallava Kampavarman, 9th century A.D. From this record we learn that one Kalanju gold equalled 20 manjadi and one Kalanju gold yielded 3 manjadi gold as annual interest, which amounts to 15 percent annual interest. The record also states that the interest should be paid once in six months. 15 Kalanju of gold was deposited according to the record, for a perpetual lamp, one Kalanju yielding 3 manjadi interest and it fetched 1 1/8 gold (Pon) per six months(28). Another record of the same ruler refers to 60 Kalanju deposited as an endowment, to yield a 3 manjadi interest on each Kalanju gold. It fetched 9 Kalanju gold.(29)
Interesting references to ‘Kasu’ come from the sacred hymns of the Saivite saints. Sundaramurti Nayanar was a contemporary of the Pallava king of the eighth century A.D. He says that the Lord will punish those who do not pay the taxes due to the Pallava. In his hymns he refers to the episode of Pugalunai Nayanar. Pugaltunai was a Brahmin priest in a siva temple. At one stage, there was a drought and he could not get adequate food. He became so weak that one day as he was worshipping the Lord, he dropped the abhisheka vessel on the Linga itself. To save his devotee the Lord gifted him daily one Kasu which used to appear on the Pitha. Sundaramurti refers to this miracle in a hymn. This was elaborated later by Sekkilar. This indicates that the Kasu had become the main medium of exchange by then.
From a few inscriptions we understand that the coins under circulation were Kalanju, Kanam and Manjadi. An inscription of Dantivarman from Tondur(30) refers to the gift of 16 Kalanju Pon to the Goddess Bhatari and failure to observe the endowment, will entail a fine of ¼ (25%). The inscription will relate to 800 A.D. About 30 Kalanju of gold was found to be standard endowment for one perpetual lamp in the reign of the same ruler(31). That the same rate continued in the reign of Tellarerinda Nandi, is seen from an inscription of Thirupparaiturai(32). Even in the reign of Aparajita, the rate continued to remain the same i.e. for one perpetual lamp 30 Kalanju of gold-called ‘Urkal Chemmai’ tested in the village standard touch stone. It is mentioned that thirty Kalanju were deposited for one perpetual lamp. The rate of interest was fixed as 3 manjadi for Kalanju to be paid once in six months, at the rate of 3 manjadi as interest per Kalanju. This epigraph makes explicitly clear that Kalanju was equal to manjadi(33). The same rate of interest of 3 manjadi per Kalanaju, is mentioned in another inscription of the same ruler Aparajita from Thiruvorriyur(34). Interestingly this epigraph also shows that the interests were collected once in six months 8 ½ Kanam was fixed as a fine, in case of failure to pay regularly the interest. I shows that Kalanju, Kanam and manjadi were in circulation in late Pallava period. An inscription of Nrpatunga, refers 5 Kalanju of tested gold (Urkal Cemmai) were gifted, to the same temple. A sum of 4 ½ Kanam was fixed as fine for default. It is interesting to note that the fine is in multiples of 4 ½, 8 ½ Kanam.
Some coins approximately 1.5 c.m. square, bearing on the obverse a bull, fairly in bold relief are found at Karur. The bulls are perfectly in Pallava form and seem to be reclining. No other symbol is seen on the obverse. In one specimen the bow and arrow and ankusa are seen on the reverse but in the others the emblem is not visible. Two such coins were examined by me. Sir T. Desikachari, has illustrated a few such bull type coins under the Pandya coinage(1). Commentting on these coins, Desikachari states Those which appear to be the earliest issues do not bear the emblem of the fish but are square pieces, bearing well executed figures of the elephant and the bull(2). The reverse of these coins bear the triangular diagram identified with stylised fish.
While the bull found on the Karur coins bear close resemblance to the Pallava Nandi in Tondaimandalam, the bull from the Pandya region with the triangular diagram on the reverse, has no such resemblance. This needs explanation.
Circular coins, both inscribed and uninscribed of the Pallava's have also been found in considerable number in Karur.
Uninscribed circular coin, probably leaded bronze is larger and of considerable thickness. It shows on the obverse the Pallava type of bull standing. There is no other symbol or legend on the obverse. The reverse has two circles.
Inscribed Coin: I have examined three coins with inscriptions from Karur. It is the usual pallava type, on this sheets. On the obverse are seen a bull standing within a circle with a legend above reading Sri-Bha-ra-h. The legend is absolutely legible. On the reverse of the coin are two well executed fishes within a circle. The outer side of the circle has semi circular decoration all round. Though the coins are of the same size and metal, and bear the same legend, a careful examination of the bull form reveals that they are minted in two different dyes. In one, dots are seen on the body of the bull.
Karur under the Pallavas
The Pallava Power was extended upto Trichy on the banks of the river Kaveri under Simhavishnu, the father of Mahendra I. Simhavishnu's conquest of the region may be placed around 575 .a.d.(3). Though there is no definite reference to the conquest of Karur by any Pallava, it appears as a territory under Nandivarman Pallava Malla in the 8th cent(4). It seems therefore possible, that the conquest of Kaveri region by Simhavishnu, included Karur for it is hardly 40 miles away from Trichy. It was obviously under the Pallavas from the 6th to 8th century. In the time of Pallava Nandi II (mid 8th cent.), we find bitter fights between the Pallavas and the Pandyas taking place in and around Karur. That the Cheras, frequently called Keralas, had by then settled themselves in the West is suggested by the Sivaramangalam plates(5). The Keralas are said to have come from the western direction, whereas the Pallavas came from the east towards Pugalur - Karur, to help the Atiya, who was being driven by the Pandya. A certain Atiya(6) is seen at Namakkal excavating two cave temples(7) - one to Anantasayi Vishnu and the other to Narasimha. The cave temple to Vishnu at Tantonirmalai hill at the outskirts of Karur is also ascribed to the Atiya by H. Sarkar(8). Atiya's titles suggest that he was closely related to Rajasimha Pallava 725 a.d.(9). The fact that he embarked on excavating the two great cave temples indicate that he wielded considerable power in the region. So the Pandya Parantaka chose to drive him out and inflicted a defeat on the banks of river Kaveri at Ayiraveli Aiyilur and Pugaliyur. These places are very near Karur. The Pugaliyur referred to here is the Pugalur where the Chere inscriptions in Tamil Brahmi legend are found(10). That, Karur is hardly 12 miles from Pugalur has been noted already.
Alwar Thirumangai says that the Pallava defeated the Pandya at Karur(11). The Dalavaypuram copper plates state that the Pandya defeated the Pallava at Karur(12). Evidently the battle of Karur between the Pallava and Pandya was severe, both sides claiming victory over the other. This should be placed around c. 775 a.d. For the next hundred years, Karur should have changed hands between the Pallava and Pandya. By 875 a.d., the place had passed on to the Imperial Cholas under whom it remained atleast upto 1200 a.d.
Two types of Pallava coins are found at Karur - the square coins and the circular coins. From the history of Pallava coinage so far known(13), it is seen that only circular coins were issued since the time of Mahendravarman I (590-630). Coins of 'Sribhara')14) the issues of Rajasimha Pallava have been found in Karur-725 a.d. The square coins with the Bull emblem of the Pallavas should therefore be considered pre 7th cent. (pre Mahendra I) age. They may be assigned to the age of his predecessor Simhavishnu. A point of interest in the square bull coins is the occurrence of the Chera royal crest the bow and arrow, and ankusa. Obviously to be accepted as a legal tender in the Chera region, the Pallavas used the bow and arrow emblem on the reverse. These coins may therefore be called the Karur issues of the Pallavas. Later in the 7th and 8th centuries circular Pallava coins issued from Kanchi were also in circulation at Karur.
The Karur issues of the Pallavas also give a clue to the dates of the square coins found at Karur(15). At present it is considered by all scholars, that all the square coins, the elephant or Caitya type were issued during the Sangam age. This view is not necessarily correct.
That square coins continued to be issued till the end of the 6th cent., is now proved by the square Pallava coins. It is not unlikely that many of the Karur square coins were issued upto 6th cent. a.d. However it is difficult to assign any chronology to them, in the absence of any inscribed or stratigraphically known coin.
The Pallava kingdom was an ancient South Indian kingdom. The Pallavas, feudatories of Andhra Satavahanas, became independent after their decline at Amaravati. They 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. 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.
Origin of Pallava
The word Pallava means bud or branch in Sanskrit. The word is rendered as Tondaiyar in Tamil language. The Pallava kings at several places are called Thondamans or Thondaiyarkon. The territory of the Pallavas is still known as Thondaimandalam literally meaning The region of Thondai in Tamil .
The Chola king Karikala Chola annexed the region now referred to as Tondaimandalam after overthrowing the Kurmubar sovereignity and gave it to his valiant son Athondai Chakravarti. The region henceforth came to be known after the king Athondai.
Thus the Pallavas were an offshoot of the Cholas and the dynasty is named Pallava derived from the Sanskrit word Pallavam meaning bud or branch and refers to the separate branch of dynasty founded by the Karikala Chola's son Athondai Chakravarti.
There have been a number of other theories regarding the origin of the Pallavas. According to Dr Jouveau Dubreuil, the Pahlavas migrated from Persia to India and founded the Pallava dynasty of Kanchi. They first occupied Anarta and Konkan and later entered southern India via Kuntala or Vanavasa.
"The Pallavas were immigrants from north, or properly speaking from Konkan, Tenugu and Anarta into Deccan. They came into south India through Kuntala or Vanvasa..." (Jouveau Dubreuil).
"The Pallavas of Kāñcīpuram must have come originally from Persia, though the interval of time which must have elapsed since they left Persia must be several centuries. As the Persians are generally known to (p.220) Indian poets under the name Pārasīka, the term Pahlava or Pallava must denote the Arsacidan Parthians, as stated by Professor Weber." (Venkayya 1907, p.219-220)
Dr V. A. Smith says:
"It is possible that the Pallavas were not one distinct tribe or class but a mixed population composed partly of foreigners and partly of the Indian population but different in race from Tamils and taking their name from the title of an intruding foreign dynasty (Pahlava) which obtained control over them and welded them into an aggressive political power" (Early History of India, 1924, Dr V. A. Smith).
(ii) 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.
There are other opinions supporting their indigenous origins state that they were hereditary feudatory rulers under the Vakatakas.
The pallavas were followers of Sanatana Dharma. In line with the prevalent customs, some of the rulersperformed the Aswamedha and other Vedic sacrifices. They had made gifts of lands to gods and Brahmins.
Later Mahendravarman I was initially patron of the Jain faith. Mahendravarman 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 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 Prakrit and the Sanskrit charters on which we base our knowledge of these early Pallavas merely mention the royal names, their non-political grants and nothing about their reign or their political achievements. The earliest documentation we have on the Pallavas is the three copper-plate grants. All three belong to Skandavarman I and written in the Prakrit language.
Skandavarman seems to have been the first great ruler of the early Pallavas. He 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. At the beginning of their rule, Manchikallu, Mayidavoiu, Darsi and Ongolu were the centres of their activity. Kanchipuram gained prominence as the centre of their political and cultural activity by the second quarter of the fourth century CE.
Vishnugopa (350-355 CE), was defeated by Samudragupta around 350 CE. With Samudragupta's expedition, the Paliava 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. These are in the Sanskrit language. They are all dated in the regnal years of the kings.
With the accession of Nandivarman (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.
With the accession of Simha Vishnu father of Mahendravarma I, probably in 575 CE, the glorious imperial Pallava phase begins in the south.
The following chronology is gathered from these three charters:
Simhavarman I 275 - 300 CE
Visnugopa 350 - 355 CE
Kumaravishnu I 350 - 370 CE
Skandavarman II 370 - 385 CE
Viravarman 385 - 400 CE
Skandavarman III 400 - 436 CE
Simhavarman II 436 - 460 CE
Skandavarman IV 460 - 480 CE
Nandivarman I 480 - 510 CE
Kumaravishnu II 510 - 530 CE
Buddhavarman 530 - 540 CE
Kumaravisnu III 540 - 550 CE
Simhavarman III 550 - 560 CE
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. Pallavas exercised control over their southern neighbours of Cholas and Pandyas. But their history is marked by the continuous conflict with the Badami Chalukyas. Narasimhavarman I and Paramesvaravarman I were the kings who stand out with glorious achievements in both military and architectural spheres.
Simhavishnu 555 - 590 CE
Mahendravarman I 590 - 630 CE
Narasimhavarman I (Mamalla) 630 - 668 CE
Mahendravarman II 668 - 672 CE
Paramesvaravarman I 672 - 700 CE
Narasimhavarman II (Raja Simha) 700 - 728 CE
Paramesvaravarman II 705 - 710 CE
Nandivarman II (Pallavamalla) 732 - 796 CE
Thandivarman 775 - 825 CE
Nandivarman III 825 - 869 CE
Aparajitha Varman 882 - 901 CE