The origin of the Pallavas has been much debated but unfortunately no unanimity of opinion has been arrived at. A critical study of the ancient Tamil literature shows that the Pallavas were originally connected with Ceylon. The term Pallava means creeper and is a Sanskrit version of the Tamil word Tondai which also carries the same meaning. The Pallavas were possibly a local tribe who established their authority in the Tondainadu. The Satvahanas conquered Tondamandalam and Pallavas became a feudatory to the Satvahanas. After the collapse of Satvahana Empire in about 122 AD the Pallavas became independent. The Pallavas rose to prominence about AD 325 on the east coast in the country between the mouth of the Krishna and Godavari Rivers. About 350 AD the Pallavas established themselves on the east coast and occupied the famous city of Kanchi. There was lot of literary activity during the period. Sanskrit was the official languages of the Pallavas.
Most of the inscriptions of the Pallavas were written in Sanskrit and Kanchi was the seat of Sanskrit learning in the south.Dandi was the court poet of Narshimha Varman II.During the Pallava rule the Jain and Buddhist teachers lost their importance.Shaivism and Vaishnavism gained importance. Most of the Pallava kings were devotees of Shiva, the exception being Simhavishnu and Nandivarman who were worshippers of Vishnu. The art and architecture of the Pallava dynasty constitutes a most brilliant chapter in the history of the South Indian Art. The rock-cut temples were unique specimen of the time. The Kailashnath temple bears eloquent testimony of the unprecedented progress of art and architecture. Paintings also developed considerably during the Pallava period.