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|Reign||c. 720 – c. 796 CE|
|Pallava Kings (200s–800s)|
Accession to the Throne
That their enemies would not utilize the opportunity to invade the country, the military leaders (dandanayakas), scholars and representatives of mercantile and peasantry formed an entourage and undertook "a long journey" to reach the kingdom of Kambujadesa (कम्बोजदेश; "land of Kambuja") – modern day Cambodia and Vietnam – ruled by a certain Kadavesa Hari Varma, who stemmed from the Pallava lineage and was 6th descendant of Bhimavarman, the brother of the great Simha Vishnu. The king had four sons. The first three (Kshatriyamalla, Sangramamalla and Rajamalla) declined the offer. The last one by name Pallava Malla Parameswara also known as Nandi Varman, who was then 14 years old, accepted the request. Nandivarman's becoming a king at such an early age is referred to in many inscriptions and contemporary literature (referring to him as "The one of strong arms who got the kingdom at a tender age" or the one who became king at an early age).
Rule and conquests
Nandivarman was an intellectual with aptitude in many arts like writing, poetry, music and philosophy. Like his predecessor Rajasimha, he is credited with augmenting temple dramatized dance worship like Kutiyattam and chakyar koothu with many plays of his own. He is known to have composed the same in Tamil, also, as can be seen from the poem "Nandikkalambakam" that celebrates his erudition in Tamil, while also hailing his great conquests. Nandi varman is also known to have had expertise in the work of karnisuta a magnum opus in sanskrit dealing with crimes and punishment. The alwar saint Tirumangai Alwar, who was a contemporary of this Pallava, also dedicates several verses in his Divyaprabhandam to describe successful wars at Thellaru, Nellai (Tirunelveli), Urayur and Karur and kalikottai(kozhikode) of tamil chera kingdom in kerala. He is also known for his good looks and liking for training in gymnastics.
Nandi varman inherited a kingdom that was made strong by the efforts of his illustrious predecessors like parameswaravarman and Rajasimha. The Deccan enemies of the Pallavas, who had for long been at the receiving end from successive Pallava kings, used the opportunity resulting from the anarchy and seem to have attempted to march against the Pallava kingdom. Nandivarman, then only 13 years old, was not equipped physically and mentally to command an army, nor was he allowed to take to the battlefield as per war rules and thereby the naturally imperialist Pallavas for the first time in their illustrious history made a tactical wait and watch. This, however, did not have any consequence and the Pallava territories were never endangered. The previously mentioned enemy also is known to have been further defeated decisively during an invasion by the benevolent pandyan Srivallabha Pandiyan in whose kingdom the alwar saint Periyalwar (Vishnuchittan) lived and composed. As noted from many of his inscriptions, the period witnessed general peace and trade flourished. The poem Nandikkalambakam, which informs us of his great servitorship to saivite tradition, also says that "ships from faroff continents, loaded with great wealth, creaking to the point of breaking, sailed into the kingdom regularly". Nandi varman was successful in defeating many of his foes, who mainly ruled states in the Deccan (a copperplate reports that he took the kingdom of a certain vishnu Raja in the Deccan) with the help of his brave commander called Udayachandran, who was a part of the entourage that accompanied him from Kambujadesa and "who had long been serving in the king's special forces" in 731 A.D. The previously mentioned king had alongside a king called prithvivyaghra nishadaraja (king of forest tribes) had arrogantly seized the horse let loose by the pallavas in course of their aswamedha sacrifice. He was also a very pious man noted for his munificence to temples at Karkudi (the temple still bears his name as Uyyakondan Tirumalai and is mentioned in Tevaram hymns), vennainallur and parameswara vinnagaram in Kanchipuram. The Pandyan kingdom also came under pallavan rule after their defeat in the war at nellai or tirunelveli. several other saiva and vaishnava exponents like purushottama nambikal, nakkeera devar, tirukanna nambikal etc. lived during nandivarman's period and composed several hymns to their lord.A temple for goddess Bhagavati (Durga) was built in Nagercoil by Nandivarman and this shows that the Pallavas reigned supreme in the south during his period. He died in 796.