Tiruvannamalai in Tiruvannamalai District, Tamil Nadu is Tiruvannamalai District’s administrative headquarters. This town is famous for its Annamalaiyar Temple.
Tiruvannamalai is rich in history and the Annamalai temple is mentioned in Tevaram by Appar and Sambandar who are believed to have worshipped Shiva here around the seventh century. Tiruvannamalai was under the rule of the Pallavas who were defeated by the Cholas in the ninth century and the Cholas ruled here till 1280 AD. After the Cholas lost their prominence Tiruvannamalai became a part of the Hoysala Empire and was their capital from 1328 AD.
After the fall of the Hoysalas, Tiruvannamalai was ruled by different rulers including the powerful Krishnadeva Raya, till it was captured by the Nawab of Carnatic in the 17th century who ruled this place with support from the Mughals. After the Mugal Empire fell the Nawabs were not able to exercise control over this place and were routed following which numerous battles were fought for control of Tiruvannamalai. Eventually British and French also struggled for power here and British emerged victorious and controlled this place from 1760 AD till Tippu Sultan captured it in 1790. The British established their rule here in 19th century and ruled here till India’s Independence.
The Annamalaiyar Temple is a famous Shiva temple here with 4 Gopurams of which the tallest one is 66 meters high and faces east. This temple is a Pancha Bootha Stala (Shiva temple representing a natural element) in which Shiva is represented as fire. Karthikai Deepam is the most important festival in this temple and about three tonnes of ghee are used to light a dheepam during the festival in this temple.
Four Jain caves which date to about 12th Century are found at Tirumalai which is near Tiruvannamalai. The 4.9 meter sculpture of Neminatha at Tirumalai is the tallest Jain sculpture in Tamil Nadu.
Tiruvannamalai is located at 12°13'30.5"N 79°04'33.4"E and the average elevation of Tiruvannamalai is 200 metres.
The weather here is hot-dry with highs of 41 oC and lows of 19 oC reached during summer (April – June) and winter (November – January).Tiruvannamalai receives about 815 mm of rain annually and its average elevation is 200 meters above mean sea level. Most of the rain here is brought by the North East Monsoon between October and December.
There are about thirty schools here where students are taught in English and Tamil. The most prominent schools here are Om Sakthi Matriculation school at Vengikkal, SRGDS school in Girivalam road, Mount saint Joseph Matriculation higher secondary school in Avalurpettai road, Danish Mission higher secondary school in Kattabomman street, Government Girls Higher Secondary school in Car street, Kendriya Vidalaya, M.A.Khader Sait Memorial Muslim High School in Mugalpura Street, Government Boys Higher Secondary School and Dr.V Genguswamy Naidu School.
The colleges in Tiruvannamalai are Annamal Institute of Hotel Management, KAMALAKSHI PANDURANGAN COLLEGE OF PHARMACY in Ayyampalayam, SRI VENKATESWARA COLLEGE in Avalurpet Road, Government arts college in Chengam road, Shanmuga Industries Arts and Science College in SH 9 and Vignesh nursing college.
The population of Tiruvannamalai is about 1.6 lakhs (0.16 million) at present with most of the population speaking Tamil. About 80 % of the population here are literate and most of the people here follow Hinduism.
Religious Tourism and Agro based industries are the main source of income for the people.
Tiruvannamalai is well connected to Chennai and other part of Tamil Nadu by roads. National highways like NH234 (Mangalore-Villupuram) and NH66 (Pondy-Krishnagiri) pass through here.
Tiruvannamalai railway station lies in the Villupuram-Vellore rail line and passenger trains runing daily between Villupuram and Vellore stop here. A train from Madurai to Tirupathi which runs twice a week in both directions also stops here.
The nearest airport is the Chennai International airport which is 176 km from here when taking NH 45 and NH 66 and is 183 km away when travelling via NH45 and SH 115.
The area under Tiruvannamalai form a part of the Tiruvannamalai Assembly Constituency (where people elect their representative to Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly) and a part of Tiruvannamalai Lok Sabha Constituency (where people elect their representative to the Lok Sabha).