The Pandyas are one among the great Moovendars of the Tamil country. The Pandyas who ruled Tamil country during the sangam period, are called sangam Pandyas. After defeating the kalabhras the Pandya rulers ruled between 550 AD to 950 AD. They were called as first Pandyas. After the fall of the great pallavas and the cholas once again the Pandyas ruled the Tamil country from 1190 AD to 1310 AD. They were called as second Pandyas. Totally the Pandyas ruled the Tamil country three times for about 460 years. Madurai was the capital of the Pandyas. Fish was the royal emblem of the Pandyas.
We have studied that in the post-Sangam period, the Kalabhras had occupied the Tamil country. The Pandyan rulers were reduced to the position of local chieftains. The period of Kalabhras had lasted for about three centuries. The Pandyan ruler Kadungon played an active role in eliminating the Kalabhras. He restored the Pandyan rule in the Tamil region by the end of the Sixth Century A.D. was considered as the founder of the first Pandyan Empire.
The first Pandyan Empire continued till the beginning of the Tenth Century A.D. The Cholas defeated the Pandyan ruler, Rajasimha II. Later, Veerapandya (A.D. 946-966), the last ruler of the first Pandyan Empire had been defeated and killed by Adhithya Chola. It was the end of the first Pandyan Empire .
Kadungon (A. D. 575 - 600) was succeeded by Maravarman Avani Sulamani (A. D. 600-625). He was given the title Sadayavarman. The copper plates refer him as Friend of Truth. The next ruler of the Pandyan Empire was Chezhiyan Sendhan (A.D. 625-640). He was also called Vaanavan. This title indicates his success against the Cheras. He had also assumed other titles like Maaran Sendhan and Vendar Vendan. He was responsible for the carving of a cave temple at Malaiyidaikkurichi in Tirunelveli District.
Maravarman Arikesari (A. D. 640-670)
Maravarman Arikesari was the most famous king of the first Pandyan Empire. He had assumed the title Parangusan. He was also widely known as Koon Pandyan. The Periyapuranam hails him as Nhiraseer Nedumaran. He invaded the Pallava kingdom and defeated the Pallavas at Nelveli after which he assumed the title Nelveli Nedumaran. He was an ardent devotee of Saivism. He was also the contemporary of the. Saiva Saint, Thirugnanasambandar, who converted him from Jainism to Saivism.
Kochadayan Ranadhira A. D. 670-710)
Kochadayan Ranadhira had waged aggressive
wars against the Cheras and Cholas and defeated them. He had assumed titles
like Mannar Mannan, Vanavan Sembiyan, Madura Karunatakan and Kongar Koman.
During his rule, the Saiva saint, Sundaramoorthi Nayanar visited Madurai.