They seem to have been great patrons as well, of religion and art. With the accession to power of the great dynasty of the Pallavas beginning with Simhavarman and his son Simhavishnu they extended their power southwards and brought it up to the banks of the Kaveri. As a matter of fact, Simhavishnu is stated to have taken possession of the country of the Kaveri. Throughout this region we see evidence of the work of his son Mahendra-Varman, otherwise called Mahendra-Vishnu. The tanks, the cave temples, and some even of the smaller temples are ascribable to him. A Sanskrit burlesque ascribed to him and called Matta-vilasa-prahasana is not merely evidence of what may be regarded as partiality for Sanskrit literature, but it also throws considerable light upon the religious condition of the times. The purpose of the work is to bring into ridicule the votaries of the various cults that prevailed at the time. An ascetic Pasupata, a Kapalika and his wife, and a Buddhist mendicant are brought into colloquy in the play and held up to ridicule. The omission of the Jain in this group may lead to the inference that at the time he composed the work Mahen-dra was a Jain, and might thus lend support to the Saiva tradition that rather late in his life he was converted to Saivism by the Saint Appar.

That a work of the character of Matta-vilasa-prahasana should be composed in Kanchi for the purpose for which it should have been intended, is evidence of a certain degree of prevalence of Sanskrit learning. This position of Kanchi is supported by its having been a Ghatika of the Brahmans at an earlier period, and by the fact that Mayura Sarma of the Kadambas found it necessary to go to Kanchi to complete his Vedic studies. Mahendra seems to have been a patron of music as well, and a short musical treatise referable to his time is inscribed on the face of the living rock in the great Siva temple at Kudimiyamalai in the Pudukotta state so that Mahendra in particular was a patron of art as well as of religion.