Economic Life In Pallavas


The Pallava rule had witnessed a drastic change in the social and economic life of the people. The emergence of the Bakthi Movement had significantly changed their way of life. It was further stimulated by the temple-building activity of the Pallava kings. There was also a remarkable growth of economy during this period. In general, there was a tremendous change in the society and culture during the Pallava rule.

The creation of the Brahmadeya villages had started during the Pallava period. The Brahmins began to settle in these villages and they were exempted from paying taxes. The lands denoted to the temples were called as Devadhan. The number of villages had increased during the Pallava rule. Arid lands were reclaimed and cultivated. The Pallava kings had cut several irrigation tanks. For example, Mahendravarman I cut the Mamandur tank. It was called Chithra Mega Tadakam. A number of such tanks were constructed during the Pallava period and they facilitated to the growth of agriculture. In turn, the economy flourished.


The crafts of the Pallava period include weaving, stone cutting, pottery, carpentry, ivory works, etc. Cotton clothes were exported to China, Babylonia and Egypt. Kanchipuram had remained an important centre for silk weaving.

Internal Trade

The increase in production and the expanding economy under the Pallavas led to the growth of trade and commerce. Both internal and external trade flourished during this period.
There was a remarkable growth in the internal trade. The regular markets had gradually become urban centers. Various commodities were brought from villages to these markets for sale. There were excellent highways to transport goods from one place to another. The capital city, Kanchipurarn had remained an important trading centre.
The merchants of the Pallava period had to obtain license to keep shops and they were also asked to pay taxes. The barter system of trade was generally prevalent. Later, the Pallavas had issued gold and silver coins, which had resulted in the expansion of commerce. The merchants had also formed their own organizations called Manigramam.

Foreign Trade

We have already studied about the overseas commerce between South India and the West during the Sangam period. It had declined after the Sangam Age. During the Pallava rule trade with foreign countries had been revived. Spices, cotton textiles, precious stones and medicinal plants were exported to the countries like Java, Sumatra, Kadaram, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, China and Burma. The foreign merchants were known as Nanadesi. Mamallapuram, Vasavasamudram and Mylapore were the important seaports of the Pallavas.

Weights and Measures

Lands were measured with the units called Uzhavu, Nivarthanam or Pattiga. The term Hala also refers to a unit of land. Plough was used for measuring the land.

Paddy and rice were measured by Chudunazhhi. The other units such as Videl, Vidugu and Uzhakku were also used for measurement. Pidi was the smallest unit. The units such as Aazhakku, Uzhakku, Uri and Nazhi were used to measure items like milk, ghee and oil. Gold was measured by the units called Kazhanju and Manjaadi.