Pre Historic Period
Tiruvannamalai District is located in the south west part of Kalrayan and Jawadhi hills in the part of Eastern Ghats. 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 T.Motter a very rare Anthropomorphology figure of mother goddess is located, which is of archaeological importance.
In ancient period, the present areas of Tiruvannamalai district is called Thondaimandalam, in medivial period these areas are under Nadunadu. 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 brami 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.
Pandiya and Hosalayas
Some parts of this district were under the rule of Pandiyas. The inscriptions of Pandiyas period are found in Tiruvannamalai Temple, Madam and some other part of this district. These inscriptions mentions about the donations made by Pandiyas. Vikkarma Pandiyan Thiruveethi inscribed stone is located in the Girivalam path.
Tiruvannamalai was the second Headquarters in the period of Veera vallala in medivial period. He was treated as the father of Annamalaiyar. In memory of Veeravalla, during masimagam as the Titi given by Annamalaiyar at Sambandanur is celebrated every year.
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.
The invasion of Kumarakambanna in Tamil nadu was another important event in the History of Tamils. Kumarakampanna invaded Madurai after seige of Padavedu and killed Rajanarayanan in 1363. This incident introduced Vijayanagar rule in Tamil land. After that the rule passed over to Nayakas. Vellore, Gingee and Madurai nayakas ruled in their respective areas.
Vijayanagara Empire Period
After the defeat of Vijayanagar empire at Talikotta war in 1565, the nayakas who were appointed by Vijayanagar Emperors were freed and ruled their area independently. During that period there were many cultural and political changes were taken place. Agriculture, Weaving were developed, art and architecture of Temples were also changed . They build large temples with huge prakaram, Kalayanamandapam, Rajagopuram were the style of Vijayanagar, these types of temples can be seen at Tiruvannamalai, Devikapuram, Nedungunam.
There were much evidences found in this district related to wars and battles during the period of Mugals. In 1693, there was war between the Mugal and the Marathas in Desur and there was another war at Arni in 1696. There was a slow spread of British company rule during the period of Mugals. Evidences of invasion of Bejapur Sultans, Marathas were recorded in the history. Arni war was fought between British General Robert Clive and Nawab of Arcot ,In 1760 during Wandiwash War between Sir Eyre coote and Counti Lally at Wandiwash, the British won the battle and estabilshed their rule in India. A battle between Hyder ali against the British was fought at Tiruvannamalai and Chengam pass areas in 1767.
The area of carnatic of Arcot Nawab was handed over to British East India Company. In 1801 due to administrative reason the British East India Company divided the district into North Arcot and South Arcot. Further the boundaries of the district were realigned and restructured frequently. In 1911 Chitoor district was formed from North Arcot District and in the same year Tiruvannamalai Taluk from South Arcot district was included with the North Arcot District.
After a long period of time, due to administrative reasons Tiruvannamalai District was formed from erstwhile North Arcot District on 30th Sep 1989 and named as Tiruvannamalai Sambuvarayar District with 6 taluks viz., Tiruvannamalai, Arni, Vandavasi, Cheyyar, Polur and Chengam. In 1997, the name of the District was further renamed as Tiruvannamalai District.
After Independence, there is a increase in the number of Schools, Hospitals and other Government services. At present there are One Govt. Medical College in Tiruvannamalai, one Govt. Engg. College at Thachur, Govt Arts College at Tiruvannamalai, Cheyyar and Thennangur, Govt Polytecnic at Karapattu and other Private Educational Institutions are functioning in Tiruvannamalai District.
Agricuture and Weaving are the main livelihood of the people of this district. Apart from this Sugar Mills, Small Industries, Tanneris , Automobile Accessories industries at SIPCOT Cheyyar provides employment for the people of Tiruvannamalai.
There are many famours Temples, Forts present in this district and it was the birth place of Arunaginathar, Appaiya Dekshithar, Saiva Ellappa Navalar and other Scholors of Jain Scriptures.
The famous Sathanur Dam constructed in the river of Thenpennaiyar, Kuppanathar Dam at Cheyyar River and Mirugandadam and Senbagathope Dam are the major irrigation sources of this district.
Tiruvannamalai district comprises a total area of 6188 sq.km and total population of 24,64,875 and is the fourth largest district in Tamilnadu. At present for easy and effective administrative purpose, the district is divided into 3 Revenue Division and 12 Revenue Taluks.