History of Tiruvannamalai

Tiruvannamalai, the sacred temple town is regarded as one of the most revered religious sites in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. The word 'Annamalai' in Tamil language means an inaccessible mountain and the word 'Thiru' was attached to represent its glory and grandness, and together, the place is called as Tiruvannamalai.

What is more, the holy town is one among the most ancient heritage sites and is a significant center of the Saiva religious belief in the country. The much revered Arunachala hill and its surroundings are held in distinguishing esteem by the Tamil speaking population, living all over the globe.

Ancient History of Tiruvannamalai

The history of the temple town goes back to the 9th century, as found from an engraved inscription belonging to the Chola dynasty (one of the longest-ruling dynasties of South India), inside the Arulmigu Arunachaleswarar Temple complex. More epigraphs created prior to the 9th century suggest the sovereignty of the Pallava dynasty, whose home base was Kanchipuram (formerly known as Conjevaram). The 7th century Nayanmars (saint poets) of Tamil Nadu , Thirugyana Sambandar and Appar Tirunavukkarasar Nayanar wrote about the Arunachaleswarar Temple in their literary work Tevaram - a collection of Tamil Saiva devotional verses.

History of Tiruvannamalai


The renowned scholar of Tamil Shaiva Siddhanta, Sekkizhar, the writer of the celebrated Tiruttontarpuranam (popularly called as Periyapuranam) shows both Appar Tirunavukkarasar Nayanar and Thirugyana Sambandar revered Arunachaleswarar in the Tiruvannamalai temple. The rulers of the Chola dynasty governed the area for more than four hundred years and were frequent visitors of the Tiruvannamalai temple. The epigraphs belonging to the Chola dynasty indicate that assorted gifts like oil, cow, land and so on were gifted to the Annamalaiyar Temple marking several triumphs of the Chola kings.

Medieval History of Tiruvannamalai

Some of the epigraphs found in Tiruvannamalai also indicate the mastery of the Pandyan Dynasty in the region. Commencing from 1328, the kings of the Hoysala empire (Kannadiga Empire of South India) named Tiruvannamalai as their home base. Several epigraphs belonging to the Tuluva Dynasty, Sangama Dynasty and Saluva Dynasty of the Vijayanagara Empire also known as Karnata Empire (1336–1646) indicate the various gifts to the Annamalaiyar Temple from their kings.

The engraved inscriptions inside the Annamalaiyar Temple complex belonging to the Vijayanagara kings show the significance on administrative affairs and many other concerns, unlike the epigraphs of the same kings in other Hindu religious sites like the Tirumala Sri Venkateswara Temple. During the Vijayanagara Empire, Tiruvannamalai was a crucial town, linking various pilgrimage sites and routes of the armed forces. Furthermore, a few ancient records indicate Tiruvannamalai as a city, with the urban center rapidly growing around the Annamalaiyar Temple.

Modern History of Tiruvannamalai

The 17th century in the history of Tiruvannamalai witnessed the region commanded by the Nawab of the Carnatic (also known as Nawabs of Arcot). With the Nawab losing command of the temple town, there were several Islamic and Hindu leaders administrated the Tiruvannamalai temple. When European incursions got along, the sacred town was attacked by the French and the English. The year 1757 marks the French invasion followed by the British in 1760.

Tiruvannamalai Temple

During the year 1790, Tipu Sultan, the Tiger of Mysore, conquered Tiruvannamalai. Finally, the region came under the might of the British during the first half of the 19th century. Following the British mastery, the municipality of Tiruvannamalai was set up in 1896. After Indian independence, the Tiruvannamalai municipality was elevated to a send grade municipality (1959), first grade municipality (1974), selection grade municipality (1998) and special grade municipality (2008). At present, the town is administrated by the special grade municipality of Tiruvannamalai.

Must Read: Tourism in Tiruvannamalai

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