Pallavas of Kanchi: The Pallavas were the first well-known dynasty in the history of South India after the fall of the Satavahanas. Their origin is shrouded in mystery. According to some scholars they came from the north and were of Brahmanical origin. But most of the scholars think that the Pallavas were the original settlers of South India. A distinct feature of the Pallava dynasty was a perennial war with the Chalukyas in the earlier part and with the Rashtrakutas in the later part of the rule of the Pallava Empire.
The earliest Pallava king referred to in a north Indian record was Vishnugopa of Kanchi who was captured and then liberated by Samudragupta. The history of the dynasty became more definite from the reign of Simhavishnu who came to the throne in the second half of the sixth century.
Mahendravarman I: He was the son and successor of King Simhavishnu. Mahendravarman I was the first great king of the Palava dynasty. He was a versatile genius. He was famous for his many public works. Mahendravarman was a powerful ruler. But he was defeated by the Chalukyan king Pulakesin II who wrested Vengi from him. It started the long-drawn Pallava-Chalukya hostilities.
Narasimhavarman I: Mahendravarmana was succeeded by his son Narasimhavarman I who was the most successful and distinguished king of this dynasty. He avenged the defeat of his father and won back Vengi. He defeated the powerful Chalukya king Pulakesin II and occupied his capital Batapi. In this struggle Pulakesin was killed. After this, Narasimhavarman I assumed the title of “Victor of Batapi”. This victory made the Pallavas the most dominant power in southern India.
Like his father, Narasinhavarmana also was a great patron of art and architecture. He laid the foundation of a new city which is known as Mahamallapuram (Mahabalipuram) and which he adorned with beautiful rock-cut Rathas or ‘Seven Pagodas’.
Paramesvarvarman I: Paramesvarvarman I (670-695) was next important king of the dynasty. During his reign the old enmity between the Pallavas and the Chalukyas was revived. Both sides claimed victories for themselves. From the evidences received it may be reasonably presumed that neither of the antagonists was able to have a decided advantage over the other. Paramesvarvarman I was a devotee of Siva and built a number of fine Siva temples in his realm.
Nandivarman II: The last important king of Pallava dynasty was Nandivarman II (730-800). During his reign there was a renewal of Pallava Chalukya struggle for supremacy. Though initially hardly pressed, he was finally able to recover the lost ground. He also resisted the invasion of a league of southern states. Possibly he suffered a setback at the hands of Rashtrakuta monarch Dantidurga. But during his life time the Pallava power remained almost intact.
Aparajita: He (876-895) was the last ruler of Pallava dynasty. He was defeated by the Cholas and his territory was annexed by them. Thus the Pallava dynasty came to an end.