Tiruvannamalai is one of the most venerated places in Tamil Nadu. It is locatedin the south west part of Kalrayan and Jawadhi hills. In ancient times, the term “Annamalai” meant an inaccessible
mountain. The word “Thiru” was prefixed to signify its greatness, and coupled with the two terms, it is called Tiruvannamalai. In ancient period, the present areas of Tiruvannamalai district is called Thondaimandalam, in medieval period these areas are under Nadunadu.
Tiruvannamalai or Arunachala is a temple town established by Paramaśiva Himself is the birthplace of The Avatar, His Divine Holiness Nithyananda Paramashivam. Arunācala is the Hill-form of Paramaśiva around which the temple and settlement happened here. It is the promise of Paramaśiva that He will be available in three forms continuously for humanity in Tiruvannamalai; mountain-form called Arunachala, worshippable Shiva linga-form called Arunachaleshwara, and as a living incarnation to guide humanity. The Avatar is the current incarnation of Paramaśiva who assumed the human form in Tiruvannamalai.
The important archaeological evidences are found in the banks of Thenpennaiyar, Cheyyar and Palar rivers. Paleolithic tools like Axes, cleavers and other tools are found in a channel leads to Palar river in Pillanthangal village in Vembakkam Taluk. The 5000 years old Neolithic tools and traces are found in Pathiri and Kizhanoor villages, megalithic burial sites like Carin circle, Cist, Dolmens are found in Mel Sipili, Kanamalai and many more places in Jawadhu malai region. Megalithic sites are found in various places in the district like T.Mottur, Tanagoundan Pudur, Veeranam, Sambandanur, Thondamanur.
In Malaipadukadam, a Sangam work mentions about Nannan a chieftain of Palkundrakottam who ruled this area including Naviramalai. Some scholars have opinied that the present Parvatha malai as Navira Malai and few others opinioned that the entire Jawadhu hills as Navira Malai.
Many archaeological evidences are found in the banks of Thenpennaiyar. The 1st centuray tamil bhrami a one line inscription is found in Jambai Village in Tirukoilur Taluk which mentioned the name of Adiyaman. It is one of the important inscription of Tamil History.
Chengam pass lies between West and Southern region of Tamil Nadu. Andipatti, a village near Chengam was excavated and found many artifacts, potsheds are found along with 143 coins of sangam age and the tamil brami inscription “ Adinnan Ediran Senthan” was inscribed in these coins.
The important places of Pallava period are found in Tiruvannamalai District. Pallavas are pioneers in building temples in Tamilnadu. Mamandur cave temples, the Chitramega thadagam a large lake were build by the Pallavas in the 7th century. Important pallava inscription and Tamil Brahmi inscription of 2nd Cen CE are found in this area. Kuranganil muttam cave temple is a masterpiece of Pallavas architecture. Seeyamangalam near Desur in Vandavasi Taluk has a famous cave temple for Stampaeswarer which was extened in later period. Thellar war was fought between Pallavas and Cholas which is also located in Vandavasi taluk.
The famous “Chengam Nadukarkal” are found in the area of Chengam Taluk and Thandrampet taluk. These herostones are very important in the field of Epigraphy as well as the local history of this region. The inscription in the herostones gives enlightment in the period of 6th cen. to 9th cen. CE and plays important role in the history of Tamil Nadu.
The present Tiruvannamalai District was under the rule of Chola. Many lakes, Ponds were build during their reign. They gave preferences for Kudimaramath works. The Temples in Avur,
Tiruvannamalai, Thamaraipakkam, Tirumalai, Palankoil, Chengam, Tiruvottur, Brammadesam, Koolamandal, Madam are important centers of Cholas period.
After the fall of Chola kingdom in Tamil nadu the Chieftains of Cholas became the ruler of their region. One among the cheftain was Sambuvaraya who ruled this area with Padaivedu as its headquarters. Tiruvannamalai, Kanchipuram, Villupuram districts were under the control of Sambuvarayas. Even though they ruled for short span of time, their rule was recorded in the histroy of Tamilnadu. In the excavation at padavedu reveals ruined part of temples, fort, coins and jewellaries of Sambuvarayas.
Kanyakumari takes its name from the Kumari Amman or Kanyakumari Temple, situated in the town, on the sea-shore, the very confluence of the three water-bodies – Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea. In his work on ancient India, Ptolemy had identified Kanyakumari (Cape Comorin) along with the Gulf of Mannar as a centre for pearl fishery. He also identifies Korkai, a place to the east of Kanyakumari as an emporium of pearl trade,also Travancore Census
1931 says that Paravars ruled that Coast and built the temple for their reverence to Sea Goddess.
According to the legend, once upon a time, the Asuras got supremacy over the Devas, leading to Adharma, ignorance and injustice. Banasura, the king of demons, was playing havoc, driving away Devas from heaven and meting out cruel punishments to saints and rishis. Unable to stand the agony, Mother Earth sought the help of Lord Vishnu, the Protector of the Universe. The Lord advised that the Devas should propitiate Parashakti, who alone was capable of destroying Banasura. Accordingly, the Devas performed Yagna to propitiate the Goddess, who appeared before them and promised to annihilate the evil forces headed by Banasura. She came to Kanyakumari in the form of Virgin girl and began her penance. Meanwhile, Lord (of nearby Suchindram temple) fell in love with her, and arrangements were made for their marriage.
According to the legend, once upon a time, the Asuras got supremacy over the Devas, leading to Adharma, ignorance and injustice. Banasura, the king of demons, was playing havoc, driving away Devas from heaven and meting out cruel punishments to saints and rishis. Unable to stand the agony, Mother Earth sought the help of Lord Vishnu, the Protector of the Universe. The Lord advised that the Devas should propitiate Parashakti, who alone was capable of destroying Banasura. Accordingly, the Devas performed Yagna to propitiate the Goddess, who appeared
before them and promised to annihilate the evil forces headed by Banasura. She came to Kanyakumari in the form of Virgin girl and began her penance. Meanwhile, Lord (of nearby Suchindram temple) fell in love with her, and arrangements were made for their marriage.
According to another Hindu legend, Lord Hanuman dropped a piece of earth as he was carrying a mountain with his life-saving herb, Mrita Sanjivani from the Himalayas to Lanka (Sri Lanka) during the Rama-Ravana war. This chunk of earth is called Marunthuvazh Malai, which is literally translated to “hills where medicine is found”. This is said to be the reason for the abundance of unique native medicinal plants in the area.
The sage Agasthya, who was himself an expert in medicinal herbs, is believed to have lived around this site in ancient days. The reason why, some believe, so many medicinal herbs are to be found on these hills near Kanyakumari. There is even a village by the name Agastheeswaram close to the town, named after the sage.
From the legends and traditions existing in these regions, it has to be believed, beyond doubt, that a great city flourished in these regions during the megalithic or early historic period and that it might have been similar to the one which existed in Mohanjadaro and Harappa. Since, the relics of this period remained in the sea bed, it has to be believed that this civilization was wiped out due to sea erosion.
The Phoenicians were the first among the foreigners to mention about the present Kanniyakumari District area. In the account of Eratosthenes who visited India in about 276 B.C. Kanniyakumari is mentioned. In this Komari is mentioned as a harbor and the land upto komari is said to be the part of Pandian Kingdom.
Kanyakumari has been a great centre for art and religion for centuries. It was also an area of great trade and commerce. It was ruled by the Cholas, the Cheras, the Pandyas and the Nayaks. The architectural beauty of the temples in the area are the works of these rulers. Later Kanyakumari became part of the Venad kingdom with its capital at Padmanabhapuram. The king of Venad, Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma, established Travancore by extending his domain further north up to Azhva, during his reign from 1729 to 1758. By this, the present Kanyakumari District came to be known as Southern Travancore. In 1741, Maharaja Marthanda Varma defeated the Dutch East India Company at the famous Battle of Colachel.
Vivekananda Rock Memorial
Vivekananda Rock Memorial is another place in Kanyakumari which attracts large number of tourists. As its name implies, it is essentially a sacred monument, built by the Vivekananda Rock Memorial Committee to commemorate the visit of Swamy Vivekananda to “Shripada Parai”.
From very ancient times, the rock has been regarded as sacred place. In Puranic tradition, it has been known as “Sripada Parai: meaning the rock that has been blessed by the touch of Shripada feet of the godless. On the rock, is a projection similar in form to a human feet and a little brownish in complexion, which has traditionally, been revered as a symbol of Shripadam. According to legend, it was on this rock that Goddess Kanyakumari did Tapas.
The memorial consists of two main structures, viz (i) Vivekananda Mandapam and (ii) Shripada Mandapam.