Salem has several competing meaning and Origins. The chief among them are the following five terms: Cheram, Sailam, Salya, Seylai and Seelam. The word cheram (or keralam or seram) indicates that this was the land of the cherams..
Salem is a weaving centre. Most of the weaving in Salem is still concentrated in producing Saeylai (the Tamil word for sari) the one/piece garment worn by women therefore, Salem is supposed to mean the place where Saeylais are produced.
The city contains two major temples dedicated to Sukavana Isvarar and Soundhararaja Perumal, both on the right bank of the river. A number of Mari Amman and Kali Amman temples are found in almost all parts of the city.
Arts and literature flourished and patronized by the rulers of the hills and plains. Avvaiyar and other Sangam poets of Salem were renowned and well respected.
Yercaud in the Servarayan Hills (Shevaroy Range) of Salem District. It is a quite pleasant hill resort in Tamil Nadu. The name is derived from the Picturesque Yeri (Lake) once surrounded by Kadu (forest). Yercaud is a Beautiful hill station with a pleasant cool climate. Yercaud’s temperature never rises above 30 C or falls below 13 C . This is one hill station where one does not feel the biting cold of winter. With such a salubrious climate, Yercaud can be visited round the year. It is 30 Km from Salem and is the least expensive hill station in India.
THE ANNA PARK
This is a lovely garden, near the lake, maintained by Horticulture Department.
Natural Seat on a rock overlooking a steep drop of many hundred feet. It overlooks the winging ghat road and provides a breath-taking view. This view is spectacular at night with the twinkling lights of Salem town in sight. The Tourist can have a panoramic view of the plains below through the telescope mounted at the Lady’s seat. Looking through the instrument, one can obtain a clear view of the magnese deposits of the chalk Hills.
Pagoda point or Pyramid Point named after the ancient pyramidal cairns found here. Around the ridges of the crest are four cairns stones resembling temple towers (Pagodas) In the centre of the open space is a shrine dedicated to two anionic stones held sacred by the local Malaiyalis.
The castle like building built by the then Collector of Salem. Mr.M.D.Cockburn who first introduced coffee from Arabia and Apples and other fruits from South Africa between 1820 A.D. and 1829 AD. in Yercaud is said to have played an important role in the revolt of 1958 A.D.
THE BEAR’S CAVE:
It is situated near the Northern Bungalow on the way to Servarayan temple. It is an important tourist spot.
THE SERVARAYAN KAVERI AMMAN TEMPLE:
A Malaiyalai tribal temple dedicated to Lord Servarayan also known as Ramaswamy. It is located in a narrow and dark cave on the tallest peak (5,342′) on the Servarayan mountain. The annual festival held in May is very popular and attracts thousands of Malayali pilgrims. The mouth of the cave is built up like a Hindu shrine. The God Servarayan and Goddess Kaveri representing the Servarai Hills and Kaveri River respectively are seated in the temple.
THE MONTFORD SCHOOL
The Montford School and the Sacred Heart Convent are the two famous educational institutions at Yercaud imparting education to boys and girls respectively. The Montford school is named after the founder Saint Louis Merie Grigmon de Montford. A fair number of students came from foreign countries.
Started in 1945 by the Brothers of Don Bosco. This institution serves as a Novitiate House where students of the religious order stay and study.
OTHER PLACES OF INTEREST:
Ornamental plants at Green House. Orchard-cum-Nursery of rose plants. Silk Farm, Horticulture Research Station, Orchidorium, Lake park, Salem view (between 16th and 17th bends) are other places of interest.
An historically and commercially important town 30 k.m. from Salem. It is renowned for the beautiful Kailasanathar temple. Legendarily, the goddess Sivakami was given away to Siva in a thaarai ritual. Another source for the name is the belief that there was a forest of tharuka trees in the area.
PLACES OF INTEREST:
A Siva temple, perhaps the most beautiful of its kind in Salem District. Parts of it existed as early as the tenth century: as it stands now, it is the product of the Gatti Mudhali dynasty of the seventeenth century. Reconstruction and elaboration of the old temple was begun by Mummudi, continued by Siyazhi, and was brought near completion by Vanangamudi.
This west facing temple is enclosed by a massive stone wall measuring 306′ by 164′ reportedly built in the thirteenth century. The main entrance tower ( 5 storeys 90’high) is conceived as a chariot on wheels, drawn by elephants and horses. The huge entrance doors, made of vengai ( pterocarpus marsupium) wood, are studied with untrusting iron knobs each of a different pattern. Their panels are decorated with wooden carvings depicting incarnations of Vishnu.
The entrance to the inner sanctum is through a portico supported by six sumptuously carved stone pillars. The scenes of tiger hunting by princes seated on horses and accompanied by footmen are depicted very realistically and with great sensitivity. A pillar of yazhi ( a mythical animal combining features of the lion and the elephant) is so ingeniously carved that a stone ball ( 4 ‘ diameter) in its mouth can be freely rolled but cannot be rolled out. The wooden doors of the portico are adorned with twenty four panels of excellent carving, some of which have been vandalized. The motifs for these carvings are drawn from the divine exploits of Siva and scenes from the daily lives of ordinary people.
The great hall is a fine gallery of sculptures of men, women, and Gods among which the sculpture of the voluptuous rishi pathini ( sages wife) is notable .
The ceiling is supported by rows of stone pillars from whose capitals hang elegant chains carved out of solid stone. The ceiling in front of the main shrine is covered by a block of stone seven feet in diameter carved in the shape of an inverted open lotus with parrots. This carving is surrounded by the Gatti Mudhali insignia. The outer walls of the inner most sanctum are covered with inscriptions. Twice a year, during August-September and February – March for three days in succession, the rays of the evening, sum shine through the entrance tower, the portico, and enters the sanctum sanctorum and falls on the deity, an anionic stone. The consort of Kailasanathar is Sivakami.
Several gigantic monolithic pillars of pink granite carved, polished, and ready for erection in the proposed Thousand Pillar Hall lie outside the temple. More are said to be under the ground. Before this project could be completed, Vanangamudi was killed in 1667, leaving the foreground of the temple littered with ruins of a noble dream.
A temple tank (about (180′ 180′) is one of the finest of its kind in South India. Thirty Six Nandhi Sculptures (2’ high) of black stone sit at intervals on top of the parapet wall whose inside holds 365 lamp niches. One for every day of the year. Only once in 1873 the pool was cleaned by the Salem Local Fund Board.
Mettur is a picnic spot situated 60 k.m. from Salem. An industrial town on the west bank of the Kaveri. The river fish caught here are exported as far as Calcutta.
METTUR CHEMICAL AND INDUSTRIAL CORPORATION:
A heavy chemical industrial company. It was established by V Seshasayee in 1941 and is generally known by its abbreviated name METCHEM. It produces bleaching powder, carbon terachloride, caustic soda, chloroform, hydrochloric acid, liquid chlorine, methyl chloride, methleyne chloride, and silicon. The success and products of this company have attracted other companies to Mettur of which Chemplast Chemicals, Plastics India, Madras Aluminum(MALCO) and Micopharm Chemicals are notable. In 1988 Chemplast absorbed METCHEM and the operations of both have been integrated. The Mettur chemical has installed a captive generating set of 6.5 MW for overcoming power shortage. This will ensure manufacture of polyvinyl chloride resins, water treatment chemicals, caustic soda, chloromethanes, and refrigerant gases without interruption.
An irrigation and hydroelectric power production system built around the Mettur Dam and the Stanley Reservoir. The irrigation system supplies water and controls irrigation works ( Grand Anaikat and Vadavar canals of the Thanjavur District.
METTUR THERMAL POWER STATION:
A new electric power generation system to augment the existing Mettur Hydro Electric power production system. It is designed to meet the energy needs of the state in general and industrial and agricultural requirements of Mettur and Salem in particular.
The major Dam ( 5,300′ long, 176′ high) of the state, across the Kaveri. It was built between the hills of Seetha Malai and Palamalai during the late 1929s. The water in its reservoir ( 5,46,000 cubic feet) is primarily intended for irrigation. A portion of its is let down for generating electricity.
A beautiful park opposite to Dam was formed with Lawns, fountains. This park attracts large number of tourists from nearby districts.
MUNIAPPAN (OR) AIYANAR TEMPLE:
Muniappan ( or) Aiyanar Statue is situated near the Dam park near the river.
Adiperukku Festival is Celebrated in Mettur every year in the month of August
(Tamil month Adi eighteenth day) Large number of tourists visiting Mettur and have a holy tip in the Kaveri River.
Utthumalai is situated 6 K.M from Salem. Viewing Salem from this point is pleasant memory.