Copper Plates: An Inevitable Source Material to Reconstruct the Hineage and Historicism of the Pallavas

  • S Meenakshi Assistant Professor, Department of History, School of Social Sciences, Tamil Nadu Open University, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Keywords: Pallavas, Kanchipuram, Thondaimandalam, Svaskandavarman, Velurpalaiyam Plates, Nandivarman III, Kumaravishnu II, Vikramaditya II, Western Chalukya, Matrimonial Alliance, Kendur Plates


The Pallavas rose to power in the Krishna-Guntur region after the fall of the Ikshvakus of Vijayapuri. They moved further south and established their capital at Kanchipuram in Thondaimandalam, which forms the northern part of Tamil Nadu and ruled from there for nearly six centuries from the middle of 3rd century A.D. to the first decade of the 10th century A.D. There were many debates among scholars regarding the origin of the Pallavas. Prof. S. Krishnaswamy Aiyangar also refuted the theories of the foreign origin of Pallavas and says that the two terms Pallava and Pahlava refer to historically different people and draws his support from a ninth century work Kavyamimamsa. The Hirahadagalli plates issued during the eigth regnal years of Sivaskandavarman < I (330 A.D.-350 A.D.) seem to hint at the imperial status attained by him after the overthrow of the Ikshvakus, as known from his title dharmamaharajadhiraja and the performance of vajapeya and asvamedha sacrifices. Regarding the rise of Pallavas as an independent power, Dr. T. V. Mahalingam relies on the account mentioned in the Velurpalaiyam plates of Nandivarman III (846 to 869 A.D.), and says that ‘considering the political situation during the aftermath of the fall of the S~atavahana power, it is not unlikely that Virakurca by a matrimonial alliance with the Cut/u-Nagas of Vanavasi was able to become an independent ruler’. The Velurpalayam plates of Nandivarman < III credit Kumaravishnu II and his son Buddhavarman < to have regained Kanchi from the Telugu-Cholas, who seem to have defeated the Pallavas and occupied Kanchi for some time during the early days of the reign of Kumaravishnu II. According to the Honnur plates of Chalukya Vikramaditya I, dated in his 16 regnal years (670 A.D.-671 A.D.), he camped in Malliyur on his way to Kanchipuram and with the help of the Gangas of Talakkad defeated the Pallavas.

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