Narasimhavarman I (A.D 630 -668)

Narasimhavarman I was the son and successor of Mahendravarman I. He had surpassed his father in all respects. His military achievements as well as his contribution to the art and architecture are commendable.

Narasimhavarman I Wars

The copper plate of Kooram say that he defeated often Chera, Chola, Pandiya and the Kalabharas.  He fought many wars and he wrote the word, “Victory” on the back of Pulikesi as the fled from the battles of Pariyalam, Manimangalam and Sooramaram.

Vaathapi Kondan

The Pailava-Chalukya conflict had continued during this period Narasimhavarman I had defeated the Chalukyan ruler Pulakesin II at Manimangalam. Then, he marched with his army towards the Chalukyan kingdom. The commander in chief of the Pallava army was Paranjothi. Pulakesin II was defeated and killed in the battle. The Chalukyan capital Vaathapi was set to fire and destroyed. After this victory, Narasimhavarman I had assumed the title Vaathapi Kondan.

The copper plates of Udayendram and Velur Palayam speak of his victory of Badami in A.D. 642.  The inscription of Thirukazhukundram celebrates him as the one who captured Badami.  Periyapuranam says that Paranjothi, the army chief of Narasimhan, captured and destroyed Badami.

Expeditions to Ceylon

Narasimhavarman I had sent two expeditions to Ceylon and helped his friend Manavarman to get back his kingdom. Mahavamsa of Sri Lanka, says that Manavarman, the Prince of Sri Lanka, was driven away by his foe Attathathan and Manavarman took refuge under Narashimhavarman and helped him in the war of Badami.  It adds that Narasimhavarman sent his forces to Sri Lanka and conquered Attathathan for the second time and coroneted Manavarman. The copper plate of Kasakudi compared the Sri Lanka victory of narasimhan to that of Rama in Sri Lanka.

Vikramadithan, the son of Pulikesi II says in his Kurnool copper plate that he was defeated by his tree foes i.e., Narasimhan, a close kin and the king of North Pallavandau, Manavarman, and Hiranyavarman. The statue of Badami Ganapathy was brought by Narasimhan after defeating Badami.  The victory inscription of Narasimhan is on the rear wall of the temple of Mallikarjuna Devar at Badami which is in a dilapidated condition.

The copper plate of Chinnamanur says that Nedumaran, the Pandiya King, defeated narasimhavarman, the Pallava King at a place called Sankaramangai.  But the Kooram plates claim that king Narasimhan conquered the Pandiya King.  It is possible that when the Pallava forces invaded Badami, the Pandiya King defeated the border forces of Pallava King at Sankaramangai.  But Narasimhan sent Paranjothi, his army chief to Badami and he with a huge force must have conquered the Pandiya King Nedumaran and his allies.

There was a battle for power between Adhithavarman and Vikiramadithan the sons of Pulikesi II, the latter sought the help of his maternal grandfather, Durivnedhan, the king of Ganga. It seems Adhithavarman beseeched the help of Narasimhavarman who might have sent his force and Durvinedah defeated that force. The inscription of Nagari says that Durvinedhan defeated Kuduvetti of Kanji, who was feared as the Ravanan of Kanji and crowned Jayasimhavarman his grandson by his daughter as the king of Chalukya country.

Periyapuranam says that Paranjothi, Narasimhavarman’s army chief, gave up warfare and became a saivite saint and was called Siruthondar. Nilakanta Sastri and T.V. Mahalingam say that Siruthondar was contemporary of Paramesvaravarman but this view is not acceptable.

Visit of Hiuen Tsang

During the reign of Narasimhavarman I. the Chinese traveler Hiuen-Tsang visited the Pallava capital Kanchi in 640 A.D. He had stayed there for some time and studied in the Buddhist Kadigai. He had given detailed information regarding the greatness of Kanchi in his travelogue. Hiuen Tsang has praised Kanji in his treatise Siyuki Kanchi that the city had spread out 20 miles towards the sea.  He also noted that many ships sailed to Sri Lanka.

Appar and Sambandar refer to the famine of Pallavanadu. According to Huan-Tsuang, Narasimhan was tolerant and all regions equally. He further stated that both Buddhist and Samana (Jain) monasteries existed at Kanchipuram but Buddhism was in Shambles and on its decline in Pandiyanadu. Narasimhavarman carved cave temples for Lord Siva and Thirumal.

Narasimhavarman I had assumed many titles such as Mamallan, Sribharan, Srimehan, Srinithi and Vadhya Vidyatharan.

Art and Architecture

Narasimhavarman I had continued and improved the work of his father in the sphere of art and architecture. His monolithic temples, rock-cut mandapas and portrait sculptures at Mamallapuram speak the glory of the Pallava art and architecture.

Narasimhavarman, like his father Mahendravarman carved cave temples.  The temples he built are more beautiful than his father’s.  The cave temple at Kudumiyamalai and the Perumal temple at Thirumaiyam near Pudukottai were carved by him.

Narasimhan had the title Mamallan.  Since he beautified Kadalmallai it came to be known as Mamallapuram.  The Mahishasura Mandabam and the hall for the trinity Gods was built at Mamallapuram by him.  The temples he carved out on separate rocks later came to be called the cars of Pandavas.  He carved the puranic stories on the rocks.  The story of Kannan holding Govardhanagiri as an umbrella and the scene of the Ganga with the penance of Arjuna are the excellent among the sculptures.

Among the forts of Narasimhavarman, the one at Pallavaram near Lalgudi and the other at Kanji were the best ones.  He was conferred with the titles such as Mamallan, Sriparan, Srimohan, Srinidhi, Ranajayan, Adhyanthakaman, Ameyamayan and the conqueror of Badami (Badami Kodan).  Pulikesi II, Vikkramadityan, Durvinedhan, the king of Ganga and Nedumaran were his contemporaries.

Narasimhan ruled approximately for 40 years successfully and efficiently.  He continued his father’s services to all the temple though he followed Saivism, as he was tolerant to other religions as well.

End of the Pallava rule

Narasimhavarman I was succeeded by Mahendravarman II, Parameshwaravarman I, Narasimhavarman ii (Rajasimha) and others. Later, the Beemavarman line of the Pallavas had ruled Kanchi. The most important of them were Nandhivarman, Daudhivarman, Nirupathungan and Aparajithan.

After the rise of the Later Cholas the Pallava kingdom had lost its prominence. In the historic battle of Thirupurambiyam in A.D. 895, Aparajitha, the last of the Pallava kings had emerged victorious. But, soon the Chozha prince Adhithiya killed him. That was the end of the Pallava rule. The Cholas had annexed the Thondai Mandalam region.