History and Growth of the Town
Tiruvannamalai was known as early as the early Chola period (i.e. A.D. 871-955). The present town Tiruvannamalai is situated in Tamil Nadu which was a part of the larger administrative division called Madurantaka Valanadu, later Known as Rajaraja Valanadu. Tiruvannamalai became a “tanaiyur” Probably in the past chole period as seen from the Vijaya+nagar inscriptions in the 15th and 16th centuries A.D. The town of Tiruvannamalai grew up around inuncleus namely the Arunachaleswara temple and the temple renovated by number of rulers in different periods. These periods in which the different construction came up can be broadly mixed with the help of the inscriptions occurring in the different parts of the temple.
The name Tiruvannamalai has a legendary origin. Subsequent to the oreat Dissolution of the universe, Brahma-the creator – re- created the universe and took pride. Seeing this Vishnu, the Protector objected and claimed supremacy. There ensued a dispute and both of them approached Siva, the destroyer for decision. Lord Siva, manifested himself as a “hill of fire” and ordered lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu to go in search of the crest and feet of the cosnic fromio, Siva himself. In Tamil “Arunam” means red- here meaning fire and “Asalam” means hill. Since God manifested himself in the form of fire in this place, this name Arunachalam came to be associated with the present sacred hill. The temple is situated in the fort of the hill and the daity’s name was Annamalai. This name was subsequently attached to the village as Tiruvannamalai.
The history of the town Tiruvannamalai right from the early cholas to the British Rulers can be traced from the incrip
itions which ocntain also impormation on various aspects of the Social and economic life of the people, apart from political events, The history of this town dates from the carly chola period in the period of Aditya I and Perantaka I (AL 87-1-955) when the Cholaa Empire had expanded northvards to include practically the whole of Thondaimandalam. After parantaka I till the regim of Rajendora the Tiruvannamalai inscriptions, possibly on account of the Rashtuakute invasion and occupation of this an by Krishna III This is perhaps indicated by a single inscription of Kannaradeva found in the temple Arunchalaswara. In the year 1014 A.L. the incovery of this region by the Cholas was made by Rajendra I. Then Rajendra I and Rajandhiraja I have ruled this area which has been attested in the inscriptions. This area was again ruled after a long gap of over a hundred years. This is indicated by the absence of any Chola inscriptions till the beginning of Kulothunga III’s region (AD 1183), Large scale activities in the period of Kulothunga III and Rajaraja III are indicated by a number of records in the temple. Further the frequent references to a number of Chola feudatories of this period would also show a gradual ascendancy in their power and importance till the final establishment of independence by the Kadavaraya Cheieftains in the second quaruer of the 13th century A.D. In this connection mention may be made of an interesting inscription at Tiruvannamalai which records the agreement entered into by a number feudatory Chieftains to support one another and swearing allegiance to the ruling Chola king (Kulothunga III AD – 1210), Pointing to a period of great political tension under the late Cholas.
The inscription of Kopperunjinga clearly show that by the second quarter of the 13th century, the Kadavarayas had established complete mastery over this region leading to the final decline of Chola power. A brief period of Pandya Supremacy over this region is indicated by the inscriptions of the pandyas of the cond empire such as Tatavaraman Srivallabha and Tribhuvanachakravarthi Kulasekara in 13th Century A.D.
The Hoysalas under Vira Vallabadeva (Ballala III) also exercised sway over this area (1340 AD) indicating that the Hoysala power continued to influence Tamil polities even after the Muslim invasion of Malikkapur.
After the Hoysalas, Tiruvannamalai passed into the hands of the Vijayanagar rulers, whose southern invasions under Kampana area was well known and lead to the establishment of Vijayanagar authority over practically the whole of Tamil Nadu.
The famous Seivappa Nayaka of 17th Century carried out large scale renovation and building activities in the temple.
After Nayak rule this region seems to have gradually passed into British hands except for a period of subordination into the Mysore Odayars (1816 A.D.)