Kadava 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.
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, Cholakon and Nilagangaraiyan.
- 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.