Kadava (Tamil: காடவர், Kaadavar) was the name of a Tamil ruling dynasty who ruled parts of the Tamil country during the thirteenth and the fourteenth century CE. Kadavas were related to the Pallava dynasty and ruled from Kudalur near Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu. The Kadava kingdom was at the height of their power briefly during the reigns of Kopperunchinga I and Kopperunchinga II. These two rulers were powerful enough to challenge the waning Chola dynasty during the reign of Rajaraja Chola III and Rajendra Chola III. The two Kopperunchingas have left a large number of inscriptions mostly in the North and South Arcot districts and in the Chingleput district.
Origins of Kadava
The title Kadava is found among the several titles assumed by Mahendravarman I, Narasimhavarman I and Narasimhavarman II. The Kadava name with Tondaiyar and Kaduvetti, is found in Tamil literature to refer to the Pallavas. The relationship of the Kadavas to the main Pallava dynasty is documented in an inscription in Kanchipuram. The kings of the collateral line of the Pallavas who were descended from Bhimavarman, the brother of Simhavishnu, are called the Kadavas. The Pallava king Nandivarman (Pallavamalla) is praised as 'one who was born to raise the prestige of the Kadava family'. The title Kaduvetti is also used in some inscriptions to denote the Pallavas.
However Noboru Karashima believes that epigraphic evidence proves that leaders of the Kadava dynasty were Vanniyar by caste. He says "We have three more inscriptions of Kulottungachola Kadavarayan, which are found in Viriddhachalam (SII, vii-150: SA, 1148), Srimushnam (ARE, 1916-232: 1152), and Tirunarunkondai (SITI-74:SA, 1156). In the first two he is described as a Palli". Karashima also refers to other Kadava chiefs, being Kachchiyarayan and Cholakon.
Rise of Kadava power
The Kadavas, who must have been minor chieftains under the Cholas, began to raise in power during the reign of Kulothunga Chola III (1178-1218 CE). We have very little reliable information on the various chieftains of the Kadava dynasty. In 1186 CE a Kadava chieftain named Virasekhara occupied Kudalur. Another chieftain Manavalapperumal, possibly the heir of Virasekara, was identified as a feudatory of Kulothunga Chola III. Koppernchinga I was probably Manavalaperumal's son and heir.
Kopperunchinga I (reigned c.1216 - 1242 CE), who was related to the Cholas through marriage, was an officer in the court of Kulothunga Chola III. When the Pandya army invaded the Chola country in 1216 CE, Kopperunchinga I strengthened his position by garrisoning the town of Sendamangalam. From this opportunity, the Kadavas gradually increased their power until Kopperunchinga I could defeat and imprison the Chola king Rajaraja Chola III with some help from the Lanka king Parakrama Bahu II. Under the reign of Kopperunchinga I's son and successor Kopperunchinga II (c.1243 - 1279 CE), the Kadava power further expanded. Hoysalas, who were the allies of the Cholas were absent from the Tamil country, removing one of the major influences in the region. The last Chola king Rajendra Chola III (1246-1279 CE) came to power with Kopperunchinga II's help. Their relationship was one of alternating friendship and hostility.
The Kadava kings have donated generously to various temples. They constructed and expanded many temples and shelters, opened up new roads, founded villages and made other benefactions which are remembered in names of temples, gardens, etc.Some of these are Alappirandisvaram-Udaiyar, Alagiya-Pallavantoppu, Alagiya-Pallavan-sandi, and Kopperunjigan-teru. The fort ruins at Sendamangalam, with rampart walls, moat, palace buildings and bathing pools is an example of the past glories of this small but important Kadava principality which flourished in the 13th century CE.
- Nilakanta Sastri, K.A. (1955). A History of South India, OUP, New Delhi (Reprinted 2002).
- Archaeological Survey, of India. "A.R. No. 232 of 1916 and A.R. No. 137 of 1900". Archaeological Survey of India. Retrieved 5 June 2011.
- Karashima, Noboru (2009). South Indian Society in Transition: Ancient to Medieval. New Delhi: OXFORD. pp. 139, 140. ISBN 978-0-19-806312-4.