Otherwise called Sidharmalai lie west of Rasipuram. a saint or Sidhar is said to have been doing penance hereby the side of a spring and is believed to have disappeared in a cave nearby. A small temple has been built over the site to which a flight of rough hewn steps leads from the plains. Crowds of Hindus from the surrounding villages visit this temple on new moon days and bathe in the spring. another temple to Subramanya on the western slope of the hill also attracts a large number of pilgrims from the neighborhood during " Karthigai ".
On the Vasishtanadi, 32 miles east of Salem, is the headquarters of the taluk. The name "Attur" means the "village by the river". It is divided by the river into two parts. The eastern portion south of the river is called Pudeped and the western portion is Attur proper. It was also known as Anantagiri in olden days and the compound name Attur-Anantagiri was in vogue till the end of the Eighteenth Century.The population is for the most part dependent on agriculture, but the Mohammedans who form a fair proportion of the population are energetic traders.
In 1969 it came into the possession of Chikka Deva Raya of Mysore by the treaty concluded by "Lingurajayah with Aurachee". It formed part of Hyder's dominions till 1768 when it surrendered to Col. Wood. Hyder presumably regained it, when he wiped out Wood's conquest the same year. After the restoration of peace in 1792, Attur was garrisoned by the 23rd Madras Battalion under the command of Captain Campbell. Under Lord Clive's scheme of 1799 it was made an ordnance station and was occupied by a detachment till about 1824 when it ceased to be a military station.
North of the casishtanadi is the fort which commands the Attur pass in the Lower Carnatic. It is said to have been constructed by one of the Gatti Mudaliyars with the treasure discovered by him in a bush, while he was hunting. The iron pot in which the treasure was found still preserved. The fort is in the form of a square with batteries and bastions in the angles and sides. The glacis to the east is overgrown by trees. The south side is guarded by the river and the other faces are protected by a ditch. the outer wall of the ditch and the river bank are strongly revetted The ramparts are of cut stone well fitted with mortar. Inside is a large vaulted chamber said to have been the Kacheri of Gatti Mudaliyar. Another large building with an inner court is supposed to have been his harem and dwelling place. On the south face of the ramparts is Gatti Mudaliyar's pleasure house, a roof on pillars with obtuse pointed arches. Near this is a water gate, cunningly built and strongly defended, leading to the river, and on the north face is another, leading into the ditch. The fort also contains a Vishnu temple which is a apparently a latter construction by Gatti Mudaliyar.
There is an ancient Siva temple in the town dedicated to Kayanirmuleswara, which contains six inscriptions. Two of them, dated 1513 and 1523 A.D.relate to the reign of Krishna Deva Raya and records grants of villages to the temple.
Now this town is the headquarters of the Panchayat Union and the Tahsildar. There are two high schools, one for boys and another for girls in this town. There are two separate hostels for boys and girls. There is a Government Hospital, a Veterinary Dispensary and a rest house. The Church of South India is running boarding homes for Koravar boys and girls separately.The Kamaraj Orphanage started in 1957 has 117 inmates consisting of boys and girls of which 63 are orphans.
With the aid of the House Building Co-operative Society, a new colony is being built near the railway station.The fort on the other side of the Vashistanadhi river is preserved, but several streets and housed have sprung up within the enclosure. The shandy, which meets on Sundays, markets coir rope, Bamboo baskets and fruits of the Kalrayans, like jack and pineapple There are two permanent cinema theaters in the town and protected water supply is supplied through wells dug in the river. There is also a Milk Supply Co-operative Society in the town.
There are several sago factories and rice mills. Paddy and rice is sent to Coimbatore district. There is a glass factory manufacturing bottles and tumblers. Near this town a bone mill has been started. The Government Assistant Horticulturist supplies free of cost seedlings of jack, citrus and other fruit trees including plantains and English vegetable seeds to the hill tribes in Kolli Hills and Kalrayans. Already Potatoes and Cabbages are popular in the hills.
A scheme for the reclamation of one thousand acres of Government land in Ramanaickanpalayam at the foot of the Kalrayans near Attur has been inaugurated, for assignment later on to ladles people. The State Seed Farm on 100 acres of Government land in Mulluvadi nearby supplies improved seeds to ryots. In this Taluk there are a large number of arecanut topes which rank next to Mettupalayam.
9 1/2 miles north of Sankagiri, on the north bank of the Sarabhanganadi, was once the Kasba of a taluk under Col. Read, which was abolished in 1803. The predominant caste is that of the Sembadavars who style themselves as Bhaktars and own several oil presses and looms About a mile east of the place is the hamlet of Vellandivalasai which is a very old Catholic settlement and appears to have survived Tippu's persecution. It is famous for its Easter festival which lasts for five days and attracts a large number of pilgrims. A special feature of the festival is the nighty procession of ten images in festival cars with pyrotechnic honors. A passion play is also performed on the night of Good Friday in the open space in front of the church. Behind the church is a tomb surmounted by a Mantapam. The earth beneath the floor of the mantapam is eaten as medicine by all castes as an infallible specific against gastric pains and a considerable hole has been excavated by persons so afflicted.
This is one of the biggest panchayats in Sankari Taluk to be raised to the status of a Municipality soon, as it had a population of over 23,000 in 1951. the town has urban characteristic of a high school, police station, dispensary, veterinary center, market, bus stand, cinema theater, a milk supply co-operative society, reading room, park and a rest house. A scheme is under execution to supply drinking water from the Cauvery river barely 6 miles west. The weekly shandy meets on wednesday. It is also the headquarters of a panchayat union. There are a large number of weavers many of whom are in the co-operative fold.There is a co-operative for hand pounding of rice, for production of vegetable oils and castor oil, and for leather tanning. There are three big power looms producing art and cotton mixed sarees, towels and kerchiefs. Sugarcane is cultivated in the area from which jaggery is extracted. There are a large number of carpenters and blacksmiths who besides castering to the needs of the weavers make country carts. About 3 miles from this place, in Kullapatti, the geologists are probing the earth for atomic minerals.
This is at present the headquarterof the panchayat Union within whose limits lies the former Zamin of Kumaramangalam, a house famous for its family of distinguished leaders of political parties. The Pudupalayam Gandhi Ashram is located here. The Panchayat has a rural dispensary, a high school and a police station. It lies 8 miles from Tiruchengode on the road to Rasipuram.
The nearest shandy for this place is Vyappamalai which meets on Fridays attracting the cotton and cereals of the surrounding villages. The temple on the top of the hill dedicated to Lord Subramania is an important place of pilgrimage. There is also a high school in Vyappamalai.
14 miles south of Salem, is a place of commercial importance. Cotton clothes and imitation silk sarees manufactured here are exported to distant places. The origin of the name (which means young) is explained in the Stalapuranam of the Karapuranathar temple at Uttamasolapuram as follows. a Guru and his aged disciple were once camping on the Kanjamalai hills. One day when the former was away and the disciple was cooking his food, he made use of a stick for stirring the boiling rice. The medicinal virtue of the twig was such that it turned the old man who partook of the food, young. This village where the miracle occurred was accordingly renamed Elampillai. It contains a few old temples to Vishnu, Vinayaka and Choudeswari.
It is the headquarters of the Panchayat union comprising the villages south of the Kollo hills up to the borders of the district. It is eleven miles from Namakkal on the road to Thuraiyur. There is high school and rural dispensary.
The village of Pavitram, six miles from this place is an important centre for the sale of jack fruits and pine-apples of the Kolli hills in the shandy which meets on Mondays.
The Varadaraja temple at a height of 2,785feet above the sea level on the Talamalai hill which is six miles from this place has a flight of 4,000 steps and is an important pilgrim centre. Though it is difficult to climb up, a large number of pilgrims visit the temple on saturdays in the months of September and October. There are several springs on the hills.
The village Kulipatti in this union is famous for the Muruga temple
on the hill and the manufacture of stone mortars and grinders. The Karaipottan
river which starts from the Kolli hills and passes through this union limits,
was once the boundary of the Chera and Chola Kingdoms and hence the name.
This village is five miles north of Salem at the foot of the shevaroys. There are 8 Coffee roasting and grinding factories that supply coffee powder to Salem city. The modern theaters have their extensive studios where regular cinematograph shooting of Tamil films are taken.The M.S.P. Nadar Sons are also erecting a coffee curing works in this village for further processing of parchment coffee. There are a large number of jasmine beds in the village owned by enterprising gardeners who supply jasmine flowers to the city market.
About a mile north of this village, the Yercaud Coffee Curing
Works Limited, managed by M/S. A.V.Thomas and Company (India Limited) processes
a major portion of the coffee grown in Shevaroys hills employing over
300 men and women. The company also prepares fertilizer mixtures for use
in coffee and tea estates and other plantations. The weekly shandy meets
Fifteen miles southwest of Namakkal, is said to have been so named because of its having been the abode of Sage Kapila. But a more appropriate derivation is from the colour of the hill Kapilamalai(brown hill). On the hill is an old Subramanya temple well sculptured and surrounded by several fine mantapams erected by the Nauaka Kings of Madurai. The architecture of the temple is highly spoken of. The annual car festival held in Thai (January February) attracts a large crowd of devotees. There is a reference in the Maclean's Manual of Administration and Sewell's List of Antiquities, to the existence of two copper plates in the temple dated 1574 and 1637 A.D. one recording the building of a mantapam by the villagers and the other gift of lands to the temple by the Tirumalai Nayaka of Madurai.
This is now the headquarters of the Panchayat Union with two Weavers' Co-operative Societies engaged in producing white cloth which is sold in Erode for being dyed and printed as cheap sarees.
The deity, in a cave on the hill was worshiped by Sage Kapila according to legend. The hill itself is a mass of disintegrating rocks. There is a perennial pond on the hill, the waters of which are used for the temple purposes. It is said that the rain water does not flow down the hill perhaps due to the earth absorbing waters through the numerous clefts in the rocks.
The Kolli Malai lie partly in Namakkal, Rasipuram and Attur taluks with 14 nadus or villages. There is a ghat road recently laid from Nadukombai, 4 miles from Kalappa Naickenpatti on the Namakkal-Rasipuram road. The ghat road has been constructed tier upon tier on a single face of the hill, at a cost of Rs.22lakhs.The road winds its way up the hill for 13 miles and reaches the top, Solakkad. From the Solakkad rest house, which is at a height of over 4,000 feet, an undulating track leads to Valavandhinadu which is at a distance of four miles. Here a Christian Settlement with a number of solid buildings has been established by Mr. J.W.Brand who lived on the hills between the years 1913 and 1929. His mission was continued by his wife, Mrs. brand, who is now over 80 years of age. But for over 14 years now, she has settled down in the Kalrayans spreading Christianity among the Hill Tribes in spite of poor response form them. The credit of spreading literacy in these areas goes to these two missionaries who were responsible for the development of 30 elementary schools and three higher elementary schools. Most of the teachers in the schools are converts to Christianity from the a hill Tribes and had received their education in the plains.
The Kolli Hills range from 18 miles north to south and 12 miles east to west. Once on the hills one can travel with ease from one end to the other passing over an undulating plateau. At the bottom of the valleys there are numerous springs with the help of which wet cultivation of wheat and paddy is undertaken. The rest of the dry lands are used for the growing of dry grains like beans, cholam, cumbu, ragi and gingelly. Dry paddy is also sown in some areas. The valleys abound in trees like jack, plantains and coffee, pine-apples and cardamom plants. The jack trees are of two kinds- one used for the seeds alone and the other containing a prolific cluster of delicious fruits. Legend has it that the hills were part of the famous Madhuvvanam (honey forest) reserved by Sugriva for supply of fruits for the royal house hold. The maximum rainfall is generally about 35 inches a year. The climate is salubrious in the summer and make the hills an ideal summer resort. The area has also been freed now of the nuisance from mosquitoes by the activities of the Malaria Eradication Program. The hills are also now served by good roads and regular bus service. Its future as a summer resort is therefore very much assured.
The Malaiyalis of the hills numbering over 20,000 trace their descent from one of the three brothers who migrated from Kancheepuram and married a Devandra Pallan Girl and settled on the hills.The womenfolk of the Malaiyalis cloth themselves in single pieces of white cloth which barely covers the upper half of the body. The men wear a piece of cloth around their waists. The dress of the Malaiyalis of Peria Kalrayans is however more adequate; the men folk of the Peria Kalrayans wear a loin cloth and the women folk wear sarees which passing over their shoulders cover the entire body. So too the Malaiyalis of the Chinna Kalrayans who are in frequent contact with people of the plains, wear upper and lower garments. The most civilized of the Malaiyalis are those living in the Shevaroys whose dress is almost the same as that of the plains men. All the Malaiyalis speak Tamil with a clear accent.
The Malaiyalis from the hills of Chitteri, Pachamalai, Kollimalai, Kalrayans and the Shevaroys worship a common guru, who lives in the Chitteri range, between the Shevaroys and the Kalrayans. The customs and manners of the Malaiyalis of all regions are almost the same. The Urimai girl is bound to take her husband though he may be several years younger than her and had hardly attained adolescence. She is free to have intercourse with anyone among the tribes and be get children by them. The real husband is however bound to maintain all the children as if they were his own. It is not considered to be anything wrong if the father-in-law of a girl has intimacy with his boy son's wife. Polyandry and polygamy are the accepted practices among the tribes of the Kolli Hills. At the time of the marriage the Dorai who is the chief of a group of villages receives the dowry of bride price, the bride herself being entitled only to the traditional saree.
The duties of the barber, dhobi and midwife are done by their own caste men. They bury their dead except when one dies of epidemic of infectious diseases. Because of polyandry and polygamy venereal diseases are common among these tribesmen.
Kari-raman is the presiding deity of the tribes but Siva worship is not tabood. The temple of Sri Arapuliswaran on the Valapur Nad Hill, otherwise called Chathuragiri(square hill) lies at the north eastern part of the hills. The temple which dated back to the period of Vallal Ori has been visited by Appar and Ambalavanar, two ancient saints of the Tamils. The pujas in th temple are performed by a Brahman priest. The fishes in the stream are tame and to this day as soon as the bell of worship is struck in the temple,they assemble to partake the food given by the priests. It is said that the fishes are so tame and held so holy that they are not caught and nose screw in gold are said to be placed on the fishes in fulfillment of vows. The temple car has not been drawn for several decades as it can be done only after human sacrifice has been offered which is prohibited. Further the car now cannot be used as it has gone into pieces due to long period of disuse and neglect. In a steep rise about two miles down the temple is the beautiful cascade called Akasa Gangai, where the water fall fro a height of over 200 feet. The water of the stream above is so dispersed that when a breeze passes, the cascade actually moves from one end to the other. This phenomenon has given rise to a popular belief that the water of the falls evade sinners. The three day festival which takes place on 18th Adi of every year attracts a large number of pilgrims to the temple both from the plains and the hills.
The tribes of the Shevaroys live in round huts with a corridor alround for keeping their pigs, those of the Kolli Hills live in oblong huts with a separate enclosure for pigs. Those of the Kalrayans live in attached huts of oblong design which are quite dark inside. To this day, the tribes grind their corn in their own stone or wooden grinders. The paddy is pounded on a wooden pounder. They do not use vegetables and live on jack fruits and the meat of the pigs reared by them.
The Malaiyalis own cattle for ploughing but they do not milk the cows with a view to preserve the stock. There are several Shandies on almost all the days of the week at the foot of the hills at Nadukombai, Sendamangalam, Thammampatti, Belukurichi, Pavitram (Tiruchirappalli district) to which the tribes carry the jack fruits, pine-apples, beans, grains and wheat along bridle paths and footpaths and exchange them for clothes and essential provisions like oil, jaggery and salt.
The tribes of the Kolli Hills have no other employment except tilling the soil. The hill tribes of the Shevaroys are however prosperous on the whole as they find employment in several coffee estates throughout the year and also own lands of their own. Some members of the tribes even own small coffee estates. The hill tribes of Kolli Hills are also heavily indebted to the money-lenders of the plains owing to frequent drought. As the lands cannot be alienated to the people of the plains their debts are rarely repaid but the produce is sold by them to those money-lenders at a low price for meeting the interest charges.
With the formation of a separate Block Development office and a panchayat Union on the hills and with the opening up of regular bus routes to the hills, the lot of the tribes has improved. About fifty converts to Christianity from the tribes have already received their education in the plains and many of them have become teachers and midwives. As the English vegetables like cabbages, beans, knolkhol, tomatoes and potatoes thrive well on the hills, the Horticultural Assistant and his staff distributes free of cost, not only the vegetable seeds but also potatoes plantain suckers, pineapple suckers, jack and citrons seedlings to the hill tribes, fertilizers are also supplied. The Government of India have given a grant of 10 lakhs of rupees for the development of the hill tribes. The National Malaria Eradication Programme has brought about a significant reduction in the incidence of Malarial fevers. More and more facilities for improved living are also made available to the hill tribes. These facilities have generally improved the outlook of the Malayalis and their estimate of life and activities. It may also be hoped that in the near future Kolli Hills may develop itself into a very healthy summer resorts. With these possibilities for the development of Kolli Hills the future for the Kolli Malayalis is also no doubt bright.
This is a hamlet of Rajapalayam village, four miles from Tiruchengode.
The 'Kamala Nehru Nilayam' under the presidentship of Mrs. Seethalakshmi Ramaswami
has opened a Service Home in 1955 for young widows, divorced and deserted wives
and defamed girls. There are over 100 inmates who are given training in
tailoring and weaving. They also train them for E.S.L.C. and S.S.L.C.
examinations and secure jobs as midwives , Gramasevikas and Teachers.
There is also a maternity centre attached to this Home. It is subsidised
by the Central Social Welfare Board. The weekly shandy meets on Saturdays
This is a fast growing town with a population of over 24,000 persons. There are over 20 factories for the manufacture of carpets, furnishing fabrics, ribbons, wicks and art silk sarees and dhoties. Besides almost every house has one or two power looms engaged in the manufacture of ribbons, wicks and rayon dhoties. There are also hand looms for the manufacture of dhoties, bed sheets, carpets and sarees. The Sundaram Spinning Mills with 12,320 spindles produces yarn and silk ribbons. Just as Salem consumers the arrow-root of the WEst Coast, the rayon of Travancore is consumed in Kumarapalayam and other places in Salem district. The panchayat has a High School, a Girls training school, a hospital, a cinema theater and a library. There is a Government Training College for B.T. Course and Vidwan Training Course. The income from the panchayat is nearly one lakh. The town is provided with protected water supply. The weekly shandy meets on FRidays. the highways rest house is situated near the bridge on the banks of the river Cauvery, which flows through the town. A large extent of dry lands in this area are now irrigated by the Mettur Right Bank canal enriching the area. On the opposite bank of the river is situated the town of Bhavani, another notable weaving centre of the Coimbatore district.
A hamlet of the village of Eranapuram, is so called from a choultry built by an officer named Macdonald who was in the habit of resorting to the neighborhood of Eranapuram for Shikar. It is known in Tamil as MagadanChavadi.
The Choultry which existed formerly at a distance of 2 miles on the road to Salem from Mac Donald's Choultry Railway Station has been completely erased leaving a dilapidated well. This village which is the headquarters of the panchayat union, has a Police Station and a High school. The weekly shandy meets on Thursdays.
11 miles north-east of Tiruchengode, was once the Kasba of a taluk attached to Munro's division, but the taluk was abolished in 1796. The village owes its importance to a large irrigation tank from which apparently it derives its name. It contains a temple dedicated to Soleswara.
Two miles from this place is the hamlet of kalipatti which contains temple t Kandaswami. The annual car festival held in Taipusam (January-February) attracts a large number of pilgrims carrying Kavadi in fulfillment of their vows. The temple which is of recent origin is said to have been founded by one Palani Kavudan who, being afflicted with acute stomach-ache, devoted himself to the worship of Kandaswami and offered prayers to him night and day in a thatched shed on the site where stands the present shrine. His ache in course of time was cured and by virtue of his devotion, he became gifted with occult powers and was looked up to as an oracle throughout the country. He amassed great wealth which was devoted to the construction of the temple.
This town is populated with about 5,000 families of 'Kaikolar' weavers and has two Weavers Co-operative Societies containing seven hundred members out of 2,000 looms in this town. There is a High School, Maternity centre, and a Police station. The panchayat has a protected water supply system. There are a large number of carpenters and blacksmiths who cater to the needs of the weavers. A co-operative society of blacksmiths and carpenters has also been opened with an electric drill, saw-mill and lathe. It supplies the furniture required for schools and offices, besides making agricultural implements.
8 miles south of Salem, is an important halting place on the journey to Namakkal. About two miles north of this place on the western side of the Salem-Namakkal road is a rock known as Poy Man Karadu(False Deer Rock). It derives its name from the fact that by a curious optical illusion, the play of sun-light in the mornings and evenings in a cleft of the rock produces a fawn coloured path on a dark background which at a distance bears a most striking resemblance to a deer. The phenomenon has, not unnaturally, led to the localizing of a well known story in the Ramayana. It is said that Rama aimed his arrow at the false deer from Soragai 18 miles from Salem; that the arrow struck the false deer at Banapuram ("arrow town"), 2 miles from Soragai and that the deer fell dead at Manattal, one mile form Banapuram.
9 miles north-west of Omalur, is an important centre of trade for the north and west of the taluk. The chief trade is in grain, cloth and sheep. The name Mecheri is said to be a corruption of Mechchal Eri which means grazing tank. There is a tradition that the buffaloes of the Gatti Mudaliyars which dragged the stones for the Taramangalam temple from the quarries at Enadi were driven for pasture to a tank at Mecheri. Traces of a large tank in the neighbourhood of the village are still visible and much of the existing village site is said to lie on what was formerly its water spread. The former peta was apparently situated to the west of the present village and in the same direction there are traces of a ruined fort.
The most interesting feature of the village is worship of Bhadra Kali. The temple is surrounded by a large compound there are shrines to Virappan, Vignesvara and Bhairavar. The main gate is studded with huge nails. On festival days, sheep and goats are sacrificed and at 5 a.m. on the first day of the annual festival two buffaloes are slaughtered. The annaual festival is held in Masi (February-March) and lasts for five days. A great cattle fair is held on the occasion, which attracts a large crowd of people from different parts of the country. There are also temples in the village dedicated to Pasupathisvara, Chendraya Perumal,Kottai Mariamman and Draupadi. Guinea-worm disease is prevalent at this place during the hot season.
The panchayat has a High school, Dispensary, two Co-operative Societies for Weavers. There are over thousand looms in this village. The annual cattle fair held in February at the time of the Temple festival is an important one. The sheep of this place is of a special pedigree and are propagated throughout this taluk by the Wool and Sheep Extension Centre at Taramangalam. The weekly shandy meets on Wednesdays. There are a few families of workers engaged in the making of Soap stone vessels.
It was formerly a small unhealthy hamlet situated on the banks of the Cauvery. But during the construction of the Cauvery-Mettur project, it was transformed into an up-to-date township with all facilities of civic life. It is one of the tourists centres in the district. A panoramic of the whole surroundings with hills on all sides, the dam with water on one side and the park and hydro-electric power on the other and the location of industries can be had from the Governor's bungalow at the top of the dam. As a consequence of the availability of power, several industrial concerns have grown up and there is scope, for further industrial progress. There is a railway station and town buses ply between the railway station and the town at the bottom of the dam. The top of the dam forms part of the main trunk road. There is an idol of Muniappan near the park, below the dam, which is respected as the guardian deity of the place.
Namakkal is the headquarters of Namakkal district. It lies at the foot of a rounded mass of white gneiss on the summit of which is a hill fort. The name of the town is derived from this rock which is compared to a namam, the white streak borne on the forehead by Vaishnavites. The town is divided into the fort(Kottai) and suburb(Pettai), the former lying to the west and the latter to the east of the rock. The Kottai, except for the temple, is to some extent new, having the appearance of being built in square blocks. The town possess a certain religious interest. The Vishnu temple on the fort at the base of the rock, which is dedicated to Narasimha Swami and his consort Namagiri Amman is often visited by local worshippers especially when a devil has to be driven out; and on Fridays and Tuesdays crowds of hysterical women can be seen wending their way to the Amman shrine to be exorcised. The hall in front of the goddess is filled with their shrieks and convulsions, until a sprinkling of sacred water over their heads by the pujaris silences them. Opposite the Narasimha temple and at the end of the street, in front of the gateway, is a colossal statue of Hanuman in an attitude of worship and his eyes are believed to rest on the feet of his master Narasimhaswami.Inside the temple is a Dwaja Sthambam or pillar all covered with plates of gold, which is said to have been erected by a Mittadarini of Namakkal by name Muthiyalamman at a heavy cost. This temple and that to Ranganathan swami at the foot of the hill near the pettai are monolithic cave temples peculiar to the Pallavas. One of the inscriptions in the latter temple is in Pallava grantha characters and the lithic records in both cover the period of the later Chola and Pandya Kings, Rajaraja and Sundara Pandya being mentioned by name in them, besides local chieftains. The Gods in the temples are referred to as Singaperumal and Pallikonda Perumal.
The rock is about 200 feet high and about half a mile in circumference. Its sides contain many Jonais which are considered sacred. They doubtless had their origin in days gone by when the gaunt mass was robed in verdure and a heavier rainfall wore away these cavities where fissures in the rock favoured its entrance. People scale the steep scraps of the hill to bathe and wash their clothes in some of these tirtams. The largest of these tirtams called Kamalalayam is sacred to Lakshmi. The rock is described as a Saligramam and the cave temples are supposed to represent the interstices in the real Saligramams. A serpentine marking in the rock leads from the Kamalalayam tank into the Ranganathaswami temple and is reputed to be the great snake God Karkotaka under whose outstretched hoods Vishnu is supposed to lie. The local tradition is that Hanuman, while carrying the saligramam from the Sanjivi Hills to Lanka to revive Lakshmana who was struck down senseless, found Lakshmi doing penance in the Kamalalayam tank and that when he deposited the saligramam and approached trhe tank to drink, the stone turned into the present Namakkal which is also designated as Saligramam. This tank is the only source of supplying drinking water for the town.
The fort is most easily accessible from the south-west, on which side narrow steps have been hewn in the rock. It can also be scaled on the north by a Thirutu Vasal (secret gate) designed, no doubt, for flight or as a sally port. On the lower slope of the hill to the south and south-west are remains of a first line of fortifications. The outer walls of the true fort above are said to be in good preservation. They are made of well cut blocks of the same stone as the rock itself and are secured to the rock with mortar. No mortar has been used for the higher courses, which hold together simply by their own weight and accurate fitting. The whole is surmounted by a parapet of strong brick work, some three feet thick, serrated by machicolations and pierced in every direction for musketry. Round the interior of the ramparts runs a masonry platform to enable marksmen to reach the loop-holes. These are so skillfully made that there is not an inch of ground all round the fort which is not commanded by them. The area enclosed by the ramparts is about an acre and a half. It contains a small temple, a ruined building, said to have been once a treasury, and an old magazine. The inscriptions in the temple relate to Jathavarman Sundara Pandya and Lakshmi Kanta Ursa and to the later Pandya Kings and the Hindu Rajas of Mysore. The only tree which decks the durgam is utilized by the Muthammadans as a flag staff whence floats a flag in the name of Dastagiri.
The construction of the fort is ascribed by some to Ramachandra Nayaka, Poligar of Sendamangalam and Namakkal and by some others to Lakshminarasimhayya, a lasker(or aide decamp) of the Mysore Raja. Le Fanu doubts whether it could be of an earlier date than 1730 A.D. although the temples on the hill and at he fort must have been built and endowed in the early Chola and later Pandya times. The town with the fort does not seem to have done itself justice as a place of defence. It was taken by col. Wood in his forward movement in 1768 and lost again to Hyder in the same year. In the time of Hyder and Tippu a Killedar held the fort for Mysore. Subsequently it was garrisoned by the Company's troops, the European Commanding Officer residing in a bungalow in the Kottai near the temple.
There are a Government Hospital, a Veterinary Hospital, two High schools for boys and and one High school for girls. There are also two Hostels for boys and one for girls. There is a Government training school for girls in this town. The weekly shandy meets on Saturdays. This town is connected directly with Tiruchengode, Salem, Rasipuram, Karur, Tiruchirapalli, Musiri and Thuriyur by regular bus service. The life Insurance Corporation have opened a branch here. There is also a District Munsifs' Court and Forest Range Office. The Kamalalayam still continous to be the main source of drinking water supply to the town. The bare rock north of this tank which covers over 5 acres makes an excellent meeting place and Mahatma Gandhi when he spoke from this rock in 1933 highly appreciated the natural setting. There are four bas-relief inside the sanctum of the Narasimha temple depicting the Vamana Avatharam, Varaha Avatharam, Narasimha Avatharam and Sri Vishnu and Vaikuntar which are cutr in the monolithic cave mandapam of the principle deity. They are perfect art works of the Pallava period not found even in Mahabalipuram.
7 miles from Mecheri, at the south-west corner of the taluk, was under Tippu and Col. Read Kasba of a taluk which was amalgamated with Omalur in 1801. The name is said to be a corruption of Nangai and Pali which mean woman pond. According to the local legend, a lady of the Tottiya caste was returning to her village from Kolattur shandy in the Coimbatore district, when a stone leapt into her basket. Feeling the weight she set the basket down took the stone out and replaced the basket on her head. No sooner had she done so, than the stone returned to the basket. A second attempt to get rid of the stone met with the same result. She then threw the stone into a pond closeby. That night one of her relations was informed in a dream that the stone was the God Narasimha and that it should be placed on the spot where the temple now stands. The pond into which the sacred stone was thrown is identified with the step well which supplies the villagers with drinking water.
In former days the village site lay west of this well and was enclosed by a mud fort long since demolished. But owing to a succession of unlucky seasons people left this site and moved eastwards where the present village now stands. The four main streets in the village are regularly laid out in a square and backing on the west main street is the temple of Narasimha. The God is represented by a rough stone of irregular shape, the same that the "Nangai" threw into the well. The annual festival celebrated in Panguni (March-April) attracts a large crowd from adjacent villages. The God is specially revered by cobblers of the neighbouring villages who regard him as a family deity. The God is said to be kind to barren women. Boys born in answer to prayers offered at his shrine are named Narasimhan. The temple is said to have been built by the Tottiya who first saw the vision of Narasimha. His descendants long retained the gift of prophecy and the sick formerly resorted to the temple on Saturdays to receive divine instructions for getting rid of their ailments. The association of a Tottiya with the foundation of this temple is interesting, for the Tottiyas migrated from Vijayanagar under the Madurai Nayakas under whom they served as powerful vassals.
This village has an Elementry school. The weekly shandy meets on Sundays. The Cauvery water from Mettur is pumped into a reservoir and taken from here to Salem by gravity flow. This place is connected to Salem town by a regular bus service.
10 miles north-east of Namakkal, contains a Vishnu temple on the top of the hill, which is said to have been built by Poligar Ramachandra Nayaka. The temple is dedicated to Varadaraja and is regarded with special veneration by the people in the District who visit it in large numbers on Saturdsys in Purattasi (September-October). The hill is claimed to be the abode of the Sage Kanvar, the foster father of Sakuntala, the heroine of the well-known drama, "Sakuntala or the Lost Ring". But several villages in the ceded districts in th Andra Pradesh claim the same honour.
Though the village is an unhabited place, the weekly shandy that meets on Wednesdays is one of the biggest in the district fetching an income of Rs.8,000a year to the panchayat union. It attracts lots of people for the sale and purchase of large number of sheep and bulls besides the produce of the Kollimalais such as plantains, bamboos, cholam, cotton, cumbu, thinai, and coir goods. The shandy is held within the limits of Minnampalli village on the 24th mile from Salem on the National Highways to Namakkal. The hill which is claimed as the abode of Sage Kanvar,theforster father of Sakunthala, the mother of Bharatha, has a temple on the top dedicated to Varadaraja which attracts a large number of pilgrims on the four Saturdays of the Tamil month Purattasai(September-October).
10 miles from Salem, is the headquarters of the taluk lying between the two branches of the Sarabhanganadi (known locally as the Omalur East and Omalur West River), just above their confluence. West of the town in the angle formed by two rivers is the fort which was protected by a double line of fortification. Part of the rampart was levelled during the Great Famine. Inside the fort there are temples dedicated to Vijayaraghava, Vasanteswara and Swayambhunatha.
Commanding, as it does, the Toppur pass, Omalur was a place of strategic importance in the war between Madurai and Mysore and was held by Gatti Mudaliyar. It was captured from Gatti Mudaliyar by Dodda Devaraya in 1667. Shortly afterwards it passed from the possession of Mysore and was captured a second time in 16878-89 by Chikka Deva Raya. It surrendered to Colonel Wood in 1768, but was recaptured by Hyder in December of the same year. It was of no importance in the later wars. It was favourite halting place with Munro.
This town is now connected by the railway line from Salem to Mettur and will become a junction after the construction of Salem-Bangalore railway line. The mud fort is pradrically demolished. There is a High School for boys and a High school for girls. There is a Highway Rest House. The factory for the manufacture of abrasives has started production. The weekly shandy meets on Tuesdays.
This village is 11 miles east of Tiruchengode on the borders of the District on the banks of Cauvery river with Erode on the opposite banks. It is the headquarters of the panchayat union and a mile from the Cauvery Railway Station, next to Erode. A new bridge at a cost of Rs. 2.5 lakhs has been recently built across the river connecting Erode town which was hitherto crossed only by a ferry service. There is a High school in this village and the weekly shandy meets on Wednesdays. This place is noted for the manufacture of Jamakalams, furnishing fabrics and Art silk ribbons.
A paper mill has been started in the Private Sector opposite to the Cauvery Railway Station with a capital of 3.50 crores and will produce 18,000 tons of quality paper per year. Bagasse from Sugar mills, and pulp from the forests of Kollegal will be used in the manufacture.
South of Pennagaram in the heart of the broken country, was once a garrison town. It contains an old fort surrounded on the east, north and west by the Pambar. It is said that Gatti Mudaliyar, finding splendid pasture available for milch cattle along the banks of the Pambur, made the valley an outpost of his dominions. He built the fort and garrisoned it with a guardof Servalara Nayakkars. They, however played him false and surrounded the fort to the enemy. The mudaliyar cursed them for their treachery and since then the Nayakkars have had to earn their living by cultivation. The position of the town on the Pambar has rendered it a convenient centre for the trade of these parts.
The road from Pennagaram to Mecheri has intercepted by the canal from the Mettur Reservoir and there is a proposal to restore the use of the road by constructing a bridge and an embankment across the canal. There is a Higher Elementary School in this place.
6 1/2 miles north-west of Edappadi, on the left bank of the Cauvery, was formerly a Depot of the Porto Novo Iron Company where the Kanjamalai iron ore was smelted with fuel brought down the cauvery from Cholappadi. After the winding up of the Porto Novo Company an attempt was made to revive the industry by Stanes and Company of Coimbatore, but the enterprise was not a success. Remains of the furnaces, were once found in a ruinous condition. At present no traces of them are found. As it was a convenient place for bathing in Cauvery, the village is said to be a favourite resort of the Gatti Mudaliyars of Taramangalam. In the Siva temple there is a small figure carved on western base of the Stambam which, according to tradition, represents one of the Mudaliyars.
Just below the village the cauvery flows through a narrow rocky gorge where there is a ruined anicut which is also called Nerinjipet anicut. Traces of Channels that took off from the anicut towards the east are still visible. One of these channels gives it name to the village of Mudalkalvay. This Panchayat has a Higher Elementary School, Veterinary First-aid Centre and a weekly shandy which meets on Mondays.
16 miles from Salem, is a Municipality and the headquarters of the taluk. It is important for its grain trade. The name of the town is derived by some from the Vishnu temple dedicated to Svarna Varadarajaswami, the temple being originally called Svarna Varadarajapuram, then Vardrajapuram and then Rajapuram, a spelling adopted on the old postal seals. But Le Fanu maintains that the correct name of the place is Ghazipur and that Gha, being unpronounceable by Tamils, became an aspirate. The town lies in the hollow of a cup formed by the Alawai Bodamalai and the Kollimalai and Nainamalai hills. The four main streets of the town are laid out in the form of a rectangle and through them pass the usual car processions at festivals. The Kailasanatha temple is a complete specimen of its type. In front and on either side of the Mahamantapam is a fine pillared hall. The shrine of the temple faces west contrary to the usual practice. Near the Yaga-Salai is a shrine to Bhirava where in former days the key of the main shrine used to be laid for safety. The temple also contains a stone caricature of Ori with an arrow in hand signifying the adeptness of the king in his use of the bow and arrow. There is in the town a Roman Catholic Church dedicated to the Lady of Lourdes.
This municipality is the headquarters of the Tahsildar and the panchayat union. The Siva and Vishnu temples were once in the centre of the town. Now they are on the western limits of the town due to the development of the town eastward. The town has oil mills for the extraction of groundnut oil, sago factories and looms for the manufacture of tapes. Brass vessels are made in this place and jaggery is manufactured on a large scale especially in conical form. There are over 2,000 handlooms in this town manufacturing cotton sarees of which nearly 50 % are in the co-operative fold under two Weaver's Societies. There is a Government Hospital, Veterinary Hospital, a high school for girls and another for boys. The Boys' High School was established as early as 1918. The weekly shandy meets on Tuesdays. There are two Cinema Theatres in this town and a Government Rest House. Rasipuram butter and Ghee are famous throughout South India and its milk and curds are sold in large quantities in Salem City.
On the Tirumanimutar, at the trijunction of the Bangalore, Tiruchirapalli and Cuddalore roads is the headquarters of the district. In the beginning of the nineteenth century it was the headquarters of Col. Macleod under Col. Read. It maintained its importance as an administrative centre, but did not become the official capital of the district till 1860. It is the chief wholesale emporium in the district. The name Salem appears to have been derived from Sela or Shalya, by which term the country around is referred to in the inscriptions. According to the Malaiyali tradition, the Sela Nad is corruption of Sera or Chera Nad and was so named because the Chera King halted at Salem, and also on the Shevaroy Hills. Local tradition, claims Salem as the birth place of the famous Tamil poetess Avvaiyar though countless other places claim the same honour. It had at one time an evil reputation for malaria and cholera.
The town is surrounded by an amphitheatre of hills the shevaroys and the Nagaramalai on the north, the Jerugumalai on the south, the Kanjamalai on the west and the Godumalai on the east. It is divided by the Tirumanimuttar into two main divisions, Salem proper being on the left bank to the east and Shevapet on the right bank of the river is the fort at the north-east corner of which the river is spanned by a bridge. The fort is the oldest quarter of the town. Of its original defences, only the eastern rampart remains, which can be traced from the hospital compound up to the breached dam known as theMulai Anicut. At this corner was formerly a Teppakulam which was filled with water ponded back by the anicut and which in turn supplied the fort ditch. The fort contains a mosque and a temple dedicated to Soundararaja Perumal. There is also a dilapidated building called "Mahal", which is said to have been the Kacheri of Ismail Khan, Killedar of the fort and a Revenue Officer under Tippu. His actual residence was on aplot of high ground to the west. Close by is a grove of coconuts which was once a Nandavanam attached to the Vishnu temple.
North of the fort lie the chief public building of the town. In the triangle between the Collector's Office and the town hall, there once stood the old Billiard Room used by the European residents of the station. Its is now occupied by Christ Church consecrated in 1875. Opposite the old Collector's bungalow is a Jain figure seated in an attitude of meditation. It is now known as Talaivetti Muniappan or Muni with a broken crown and is propitiated with the blood of fowls and goats. No far from this jain statue is the shrine of Tipanja Amman, containing a round topped stone slab carved in relief with two human figures. According to a local legend the slab was erected learning the death of their husbands in battle, immolated themselves on the spot. Similar stones exist in other parts of the town. West of the fort is the spacious compound of the Church of London Mission which was built in 1856.
Shevapet lies west of the London Mission compound. The name shevapet is derived from Sevai, the planet Mars on whose day i.e., Tuesday, the Shevapet shandy is held. Near the bridge is the Roman Catholic Church. North of Shevapet is the suburb of Arisipalaiyam with the Longley Tank which saved half the town from water famine on many occasions. South of Shevapet lies Gugai with the out laying hamlets of Dadagapatti and Annadanapatti. It takes its name from a cave, the entrance to which is marked by the Muniappa temple. The cave is said to have been the abode of a Hindu hermit who for some inscrutable reason was petrified into the idol of Muniappan. The idol is seated cross-legged in the attitude of meditation and at its feet is the figure of a bearded devotee in a similar posture. In Dadagapatti, south of Gugai, are the Reserve Police Lines which were constructed after the riots of 1882. It was in this place that the garrison was formerly quartered and remains of the officers' bungalows can still be traced. Near Annadanapatti is a tope known as Arab Lines Tope where in olden days Arab horse-dealers used to stable their ponies.
Salem proper includes Ponnammapet and Ammapet on the east which are inhabited by Sale and Kaikolar weavers. West of the Victoria Market is a group of buildings which at one time formed the private residence of James Fischer and were subsequently utilized as a jail. Near these buildings is a bungalow which is said to have been the residence of E.R. Hargrave after his retirement from the Companys' service as a consequence of the frauds of Narasa Ayyar, his clerk. between the Main Bazaar Street and the river lie the agraharams. On the right bank of the river near the Salem Town Railway Station is the hamlet called the Mettur street. South of the Main Bazaar Street are Kallanguttu and Jalapura, the chief labbai quarters and south again of this liew the suburb of Kichipalayam. North of the town, on the left bank of the river,lies the Fischer's compound, so called from George Frederick Fischer, Zamindar of Salem, who came here in 1822 in the service of Joshiah Marshall Heath and subsequently acquired the latter's property in Salem and Coimbatore. He also purchased the Salem Zamindari from Nainammal, the widow of the first Zamindar, Kandappa Chetty, in 1836. The compound originally contained two bungalows, one belonging to charles Carpenter and other belonging to J.M.Health. Of these, the bungalow of Charles Carpenter has long since vanished, but Heath's bungalow still stands unimpaired. On the river bank behind the bungalow are the remains of an indigo factory and there are also traces of a coffee curing barbecue. Part of the compound was used as a bleaching ground in the days of the Company's "Investment". In the compound is a large cannon and also a sun dial bearing an inscription.
To the south-east of the town on a spur of the Jerugumalai is the conspicuous Namam painted with chunam and ochore, each prong of the Namam being 40" long and 6" wide. The sign is visible from all the country around. At the foot of the Namam ridge is an enormous boulder known as the Sanyasi Gundu. Below this boulder is a cave said to have been the abode of a muhammedan hermit. There is a Hindu tradition which connects this cave with the cave in Gugai by an underground passage, but the Muhammadans disown this connection. The cave contains an ordinary Muhammadan grave. On the boulder itself are the imprints of the foot and the two hands of the saint with which, it is said, he stopped the course of the boulder, when it came rolling down the mountain.
The Kumaragiri hill lies near the Namam hillo and rises to be a height of about 250 feet to the south of Ammapet at a distance of five furlongs. The temple of Palani Andavar adons the top and this was established in 1919 by one Karuppanasami Mudaliar. It is frequented by the weavers throughout the year and is climbed by a flight of about 600 broad steps erected by donations and is lit by electric lights, which burns throughout the night as a beacon light. A bird's eye view of the city can be had from the top of the hill.
The Yercaud Road leads from Christ Church past the hamlet of Kumaraswamipatti to Hastampatti where it quits the municipal limits. Most of the European residences are grouped round Hastampatti which is connected directly by one of the finest avenues in the District crossing the Salem-Omalur road at a spot popularly known as Char in cross. North of the municipal limits the road leads past the District Court and the District Jail. In the open country beyond the jail are the bungalows of the District Officers and the London Mission. A race course once ran in the open country round the bungalows of the District Judge and the London Mission. In the triangle formed by the Salem-Yercaud, Salem- Omalur and the cross cut road from the former to Suramangalam is the new extension called Sivaswamipuram.
About one mile north of the jail between the jungle stream that flows behind the jail and the ridge known as Nagaramalai is a tope called Periya Raja Tottam which contains a bathing tank of well furnished masonry. The quality of the workmenship is suggestive of the best Taramangalam period. The garden attached to the jail is known as Chinna Raja Tottam which also contains a tank of smaller size. There is a story that these two tanks were constructed by two brothers, Peria Raja and Chinna Raja, Hindu Raja of Salem. It is not likely that the two tanks were constructed at one and the same time. but it is by no means improbable that they at one time belonged to the palaces of local chiefs.
There are two important temples in the town. One is the Siva temple in Mettur Street dedicated to Sukavaneswara, which means, "Lord of the Parrot Forest", But in one of the inscriptions, the God is referred to as KIlivarnam Udaiyar, meaning the Parrot-coloured Lord. The temple is one of the most complete in the District. The main entrance to the temple is adorned with a fine pillared portico. North of this portico is the Kalyanamantapam presented by, and named after, W.D.Davis, Collector of the district. The space between the main entrance and the mahamantapam is covered by a hall of over 80 pillars. North of this hall is a deep circular well called Amanduga Tirtam or the "Frogless Spring", said to be frequented by Adishesha, who frightened all the frogs away. Even now if a frog is dropped into the well, it turns back and dies. The other temple is the one situated in the fort, which is dedicated to Soundararaja Perumal, who is also called Alagiriswami. It is enclosed by a large massive well and contains a Mahamantapam supported by 66 pillars. Opposite the entrance is a colossal figure of Hanuman facing the central shrine. In the south-east corner is a well with an underground passage leading to it and in the north-east corner a mantapam built by W.D.Davis. There is another temple in the Main Bazaar Street of Salem dedicated to Varadaraja. It was originally used for the worship of Virabhadra, but in the last half of the nineteenth century it was purchased by the Saurashtra community and converted into a Vishnu temple. The Sukavaneswara and the Soundararaja Perumal temple contain some 17 inscriptions mostly of Chola and Pandya Kings. The former probably belong to the latter part of the nineth century, while the latter all bear the name of Soundara Pandya Deva. IN one of these inscriptions, Salem is referred to as Rajaraya Chaturvedimangalam.
The oldest mosque is said to be that of the fort which is sometimes called the Chinna Mosque and also the Nawab's Masjid. On the left bank of the Tirumanimuttar lies the Jama Masjid built by Tippu who is also said to have offered prayer in it. THe Shevapet Mosque, the erection of which precipitated the riots of 1882, lies on the river bank near a raised causeway connecting Shevapet with Gugai. The other important mosques in the town are the MUhammadpura Mosque, constructed by a wealthy merchant called Jamal Mohideen Ravuttur and the Jalapura Mosque built by the Labbai community.
On the downfall of the Vijayanagar empire, Salem appears to have become the capital of a poligar, subordinate to Madurai. In 1624 when robert de Nobili visited Salem, it was ruled by "Salapatti Nayakar" who was one of the 72 poligars who guarded the bastions of Madurai and continued to be so at any rate till the death of Tirumala Nayaka in 1659. Among the other persons connected with the Salem chieftaincy may be mentioned Chennama Naick who founded Tenkaraikottai and Chila Nauaka, a shadowy personality or series of personalities, whose traditions hover about Tirtamalai from the close of the seventeenth century till the days of Col. Read.
Salem was taken from Hyder by Colonel Wood in the begining of 1768, but was recaptured by Hyder towards the end of that year. In 1792 it was garrisoned by a detachment of the Company's troops. Under Lord Clives in 1799, it was again occupied by a detachment of the regiment stationed at Sankaridurg and remained a military station till 1861 when the troops were altogether withdrawn.
Now the Salem Municipality covers an area of 7.89 square miles with its present population at 2,49,145 and includes 16 Revenue Villages. The new colonies of Swarnapuri and Fairlands located outside the city limits are coming up swiftly. Within the city there is a Government College, 10 High schools for boys and 5 for girls, One Senior and One Junior Basic Training school for girls and an Institute of Textile Technology. There are 48 Elementary Schools and one Middle Schools and a School for Blind boys and girls. Besides the headquarters Hospital, the Municipality runs a Hospital, 6 Dispensaries and 12 Maternity centres, besides Nursing Homes and Clinics run by Private Medical Practitioners and Christian Missionaries. The Ramakrishna Mutt runs a free dispensary and an eye-clinic. There are 75 Private Medical Practitioners in the city with experts for Ear, Nose,and Eye diseases.
The Government School for the Blind have over 60 inmates who are not only given elementary education but also are trained in Mat Weaving, Cloth Weaving and Wool Knitting. There is a District Library run by the local library authority,21 reading rooms besides the Vijayaraghava Charier Memorial Library, Literary Society Library and Tiruvallur Nool Nilayam. There are over a dozen private Institutes of Commerce, Tailoring Schools and an Industrial School of St. Theresa training boys in weaving and carpentry. There are five markets in the city.
The weekly shandy meets on Tuesdays at Shevapet, where over 5,000 people attend to purchase their requirements. There are two match factories, over 60 sago factories, the two textile mills namely Jawahar Mills and Salem Rajendra Mills. There are six tanning industries of which the Narayana Chettiar Industries is the biggest. Its products are exported to the continent. There are nearly 30 factories producing hosiery, five powerloom factories making rayon dhoties and sarees and about six firms for the manufacture of furnishing fabrics which are exported to Countries in Asia. There are nearly 30,000 looms manufacturing cotton dhoties and sarees and a few making white silk dhoties. Cotton and art silk dhoties. Cotton and art silk carpets are manufactured in large quantities and exported throughout the country. There are nearly twelve co-operative societies in the city for the production of handloom clothe of which the Ammapet Society is the biggest. It runs a free dispensary, a reading room and a library. A weavers colony with over 2000 houses in Ammapet and 94 in Gugai have been built on a co-operative basis with one-fifth of its cost as subsidy from the cess levied on the mill cloth. There are branches of all important banks in the State besides the Salem Co-operative bank and its branches. Besides L.I.C. there are insurance companies doing fire and motor vehicles insurance.
The 'Malai Murasu' is the only daily newspaper printed in the district. There are 125 printing presses in Salem town of which one is a co-operative printint press. There are twelve cinema theatres in the town and the tax collected from them contributes a good percentage of the earnings of the municipality.
The municipality own a choultry and a rest house at Shevapet and six parks. The town is provided with telephone facilities. There is a district chamber of commerce and Associations for yarn, drug gets, hotels, powerlooms, tanners, press owners, bankers, hosiery manufacturers, grain merchants, rice mill owners, lorry owners, bus owners and infact for every business. It is to the credit of the Railway Passengers Association that a foot bridge has been constructed across the Salem Town Railway Station.
The recreation is found by the elite of the Town in the Rotary Club, Theosophical Society, Sri Ramakrishna Mutt, the Sankara Mutt, the Literary Society,the District Club, the Salem Club, Y.M.C.A. and the Young Men's Club. These clubs not only provide indoor games but also serve as centres of religious and cultural activities. Besides they run eye camps, distribute clothes and food for the poor on important festival days. The Women's Association has opened a working women's hostel, a reading room, a library and classes for music, dance, tailoring, etc. The Sarada Vidyalaya and Bharati Vidyalaya run elementary schools anf high schools. The Women's Welfare Department has opened centres in the slum areas of the city for training women in the making of coarse carpets, tailoring, embroidery and other cottage industries.
The middle class population tired of their day-to-day routine work visit places of interest and religious importance. There are nine tourist services in the Salem Town who in one year have made 130 trips carrying 6,000 persons to places like Mysore, Bangalore, Madurai, Rameswaram, Cape Comorin, Courtallam, Tiruchirapalli, Chidambaram, Hogenakal, Palni, Kanchipuram, and Mahabalipuram.
The town abounds in temples and places of worship patronized by different religious sects. The Sugavaneswar temple, the Soundararaja temple, Varadaraja Perumal temple, and the Krishna temple, Kottai Mariammam temple, Muniappan temple, the Kannika Prameswari temple, the Chowdeswari temple, the palapatrai Mariamman temple and the hilltemples of Namamalai, Kumaragiri and Kariaperumal temples are the principle Hindu temples in the town. The Christ Church, London Mission Church are the oldest churches in the city. The Nawab's Masjid or Chinna Mosque in the Fort, the Jamia Masjid near the bridge the Jalal Pura Mosque, the Shevapet Mosque are very old and the first two mosques are associated with Tipu and his Commanders.
The cemetery next to the Collector's office is a historical one, containing some of the most tragic inscriptions, of men who ruled the district. The Foulke's compound at the eastern end of the town originally belonged to one Heath, a Commercial Resident in the service of East India Company, His assistant, Fischer purchased the compound from him in 1833, and in 1836 he purchased the Salem Zamindari from the widow of the first Zamindar Kandappa Chettiar. At the time of J.M. Heath one Charles Carpentar lived in another bungalow within that compound who died in 1818 and whose sister was married to the famous novelist Sir Walter Scott in 1707. When Fischer died in 1867, the property came to his only daughter Mrs. Foulkes, wife of the well known Oriental scholar Rev. Thomas Foulke's. After his death in 1900 the property was in the hands of one of his servants till it was acquired by the Government for the Handloom Parts Factory. The Foulkes bungalow is still in good use.
The town is surrounded by hills on all sides that the drainage from them fill up the taluks around the town. A large extent of about 100 acres are still used for agricultural purposes and though the tanks never serve any useful purpose, the agriculture is carried on by the rains and sewage water running in the Thirumanimuthar. As the cattle in the town have no pasture large areas within the town are cultivated with Cholam as a fodder crop.
Seven miles from Tiruchengode, derives its name from the massive hill which overshadows it on the west. The correct spelling of the name should be Sandagiri Durgam and the hill is so called because of its resemblance to the sacred conch-shell. In Col. Read's time it was called Sankledroog which was supposed to be derived from Sangili, a chain. It was the headquarters of a Tahsildar under Tippu and Col. Read and continued as a Taluk Kasba till the revision of 1860. It was also the headquarters of a Division from 1910 to 1950. It contains a temple dedicated to Someswara at the foot of the hill. There is a shrine to Fatima BI near the old Jama Masjid where fathia is offered by every Muhammadan mother on the 40th day after the birth of her child who, it is said, will then be immune from the ailments of childhood. The town is regarded as one of the health spots of the district and enjoys a high reputation for the quality of its well water. The milky water of the Pal Bavi or Milk Well, not far from the Travellers' Bungalow is romantically situated just under the Durgam on a high ground affording a good view of the country. It was originally the house of James Oram,Commandant of the Garrison who died in 1799. Near the bungalow is a remarkable boulder called "Mudaliyar Gundu" or "Mudaliyar Rock". It is said to have been a place of punishment for lazy workmen in the days when the Gatti Mudaliyars were buildidng the Taramangalam temple. The defaulter was made to ascend the rock with the help of a ladder. The ladder was then removed and the culprit had to choose whether to leap down and break his neck or remain " stepped in the sunshine burning hot" and die of thirst or sunstroke. The last of the Gatti Mudaliyars is said to have been exposed for 21 days on this rock and starved to death by Tippu Sulthan for failure to pay tribute during a year of famine.
The hill Sankagiri is a whitish mass of granite and gneiss, rising to a height of 2,345, above sea level and nearly 1,500 above the Plain. The prospect from the plateau on the top of the hill is most pleasing. To the north a vast plain with tiny hillocks peeping through the glowing haze, stretches towards Toppur, in the north-east, the Kanjamalai intercepts the line of the Shevaroys; further east is the Alawaimalai, and thin in a long slope towards the south-east are the Kollimalais crowned with verdure. On the south again the plain is broken by a few hillocks; but on the west the Nilgiris fringe the horizon with, in the near background the Bargur Hills and the Palamalis in Coimbatore; while nearer still a silver thread marks the valley of the Cauvery, the garden of the district. The upper part of the eastern face of the hill is crescent shaped in contour, the horns pointing eastward. It is on this side that the summit is most easily reached and it is on this side that the hill is defended by not less than ten lines of fortification.
The first line of fortification extends right round the foot of the hill and is entered through a gateway (Ulimigam Vasal) said to have been constructed by "Kunni Vettuva Raja". Immediately behind the fortification is the second gateway (called Diddi Vasal Kalkombai Kottai or Kalla Vasal). Beyond the third gateway (Gadiyara Vasal or Clock Gate) is a large temple dedicated to Varadaraja Perumal. A steep flight of steps leads to the fourth gateway(Ranamandala Vasal) or (Gate of Bloodshed) stronglu built of stone and topped with brick. The fifth gateway (Pudukottai or New Fort) is defended by two bastions, one square and the other semicircular. The rampart on which this gate is placed is one of the largest on the hill and is said to have been constructed by Tippu Sulthan. On the left it runs to a cave in the southern spur of the hill. This cave is sacred to a Muhammadan Saint, Shah-ha-Mardan Ghazi, who once upon a time entered the cave and never came out of it. Another flight of steps leads to the sixth gateway (Rokka Diddi Vasal). The Seventh gateway (Paval Diddi Vasal) is close behind the sixth and is about half way up the hill. Between this and the site of the next gatewayis a strongly built magazine of brick with a semicircular bomb proof roof. The eighth gateway (Ide Vilunthan Gundu Vasal) was demolished in 1880, as it became unsafe. It derived its name from a massive rock, cleft in two from top to bottom, apparently by lightning. The sixth, seventh and eighth gateways are said to have been built by one Lakshmi Kanta Raja, scion of the royal house of Mysore. The nineth gateway is known as the "White-Man's Gate" or "The Company's Gate" constructed in 1799. It is situated about three-fourths of the way up the hill and commands the point where the path reaches the brow of the Durgam skirting as it does so the edge of a precipice. After passing this gate a sharp turn in the path leads to a flight of steps cut in the rock. Though only 30 steps are visible, the topmost step of the flight is called Aruvathampadi (sixtieth step) and is popularly used, like the Aruvathampadi at Tiruchengode, for oath-taking. The steps are commanded by the last or Mysore Gate built by one of the Mysore Rajas.
The summit crowned by a small temple dedicated to Chenna Kesava Perumal. For many yards around the granite is bare of vegetation and its surface is inscribed in Telugu and Devanagiri characters. There are several rock pools, the most remarkable being the Man-Jonai or Deer-Pool. It is also overshadowed by a projecting rock that the rays of the sun never reach it. Its water is said to possess healing virtues; and officers camping at this place used to be supplied daily with drinking water from this spring. Not far away, on the verge of a precipice is a small mosque known as Dastagir Durga. On the highest peak is the usual flag staff platform. North of this is a tomb like structure reported to have been a place of execution in the days of Hyder and Tippu. There are granaries for paddy and grain and a store house with three compartments for storing gingelly, oil, and honey. Towards the south-west there is a small gate called the Mor Diddi Vasal or Buttermilk Gate in the rampart of the Mysore fort. It is said that Vellalar woman, who used to carry butter milk for the garrison from the village below, showed the English a secret path which runs up the Durg from the western side.
The fortress must have been almost impregnable in the eighteenth century. But it did not play any part either in the struggle between Mysore and Madurai or in the Mysore Wars. It is now in charge of the Public works Department, having been included in the list of ancient monuments selected for conservation. In the course of repairs in 1905, several iron shots were discovered in one of the magazines. Coins have also been picked up from time to time, but their date and description are not on record.
In the Tiruchengode inscriptions,Sankaridurg is reffered to as,"Kummatturdurgam in Kongu ailas Vira Cholamandalam". In later Vijayanagar inscriptions, it is spoken of as the headquarters of a royal Governor who is named Kummalannagal in 1538 Ramappa Nayakkan in 1540 and Dandu Bavappaiyan in 1544. It is connected by tradition with the "Vettuva Rajas" and the Gatti Mudaliyars, but there is very little support for this tradition in the local lithic records. It was added to the Mysore empire by the conquest of Chikka Deva Raja in 1688-89. In 1717 his successor, Dodda Krishna Raja, established a colony of Kanarese Brahmins at this place, nominally in honour of his marriage with his eight wives, but in reality for political reasons. The agraharam was named Aparatima Krishnarajapuram and was endowed with the villages of Taleyur and Monguttepatti. There is a copper plate Sasanam of great interest bearing on the endowment of this political agraharam.
In 1792 Sankaridurg was made the headquarters of the 22nd Madras Battalion and the chief arsenal and depot in Talaghat. It was selected by Col.Read as a suitable place for the establishment of a mint, but it is not known whether coins were ever minted there. Under Lord Civics' scheme of 1799 it became the military headquarters of the Talaghat and remained so till 1823 when Salem took precedence as the Chief military station. Sankaridurg, however, remained a cantonment till about 1832 when it was abandoned. Colonel Welsh who visited the place in 1824 gives an account of it and its former commandant in his Military Reminiscences.
This town is now the headquarters of the panchayat union and the Tahsildar. It has a Government hospital, a library, a high school and protected water supply-scheme. The weekly shandy meets on Sundays and there is a regulated market for sale of jaggery. The Mettur Chemicals obtain their supplies of lime stone from the quarries here and country limekilns are found everywhere in this area. A cement factory at padavedu four miles on the road to Kumarapalayam is to be started soon affording labour to the villagers who depend on the precarious dry crops. The railway station is situated about 1 1/2 miles south on the road to Tiruchengode. The hill fortress is mentioned in the Richard's Manual.
6 miles from Omalur became the headquarters of the Omalur taluk in 1848 and continued as such till the taluk was amalgamated with the Salem taluk in 1860. The town was once fortified, but traces of the fort no longer exist. The field to the north and south are full of potsherds and indicate the former site of an extensive peta. The town is famous for the temple of Kailasanatha, the most beautiful temple in the district. Although part of it is existed as early as 1260 A.D. it appears to have been a product of the first half of the 17th Centuary. The following usual story is told as to the origin of the temple. Gatti Mudaliyar whose cattle used to graze over the spot where the temple now stands noticed that his cows did not give milk. He beat the herdsmen and was then wanted in a dream that there, was a lingam hidden beneath the earth where the Garbhagraham now stands and that a hoard of treasure lay to the north of it. Gatti Mudaliyar dug up the treasure and utilized it in building the temple. But the local tradition states that the construction of the temple was begun by Mummudi Gati Mudaliyar and that the work was continued by his successor, Siyali Gatti Mudaliyar and was completed by Vanangamudi Gatti Mudaliyar. The origin of the temple, however, was long antecedent to any of the Gatti Mudaliyars, as it contains an inscription of Ramanatha, dated 1268 A.D.
The temple is enclosed by a lofty wall of stone sculptured with figures of tortoises, crocodiles and other denizens of lake and river. The God faces west and the main entrance is on the western side, a reversal of the usual practice. The entrance is in the ordinary Dravidan style and is surmounted with a Gopuram of five storeys. The west face of the gopuram is decorated with representations of Siva and Parvathi, the South and with Dakshinamurthi and the north with Subramanya. The lofty doors of Vengai are superb specimens of their kind and are decorated with carved panels depicting mostly the avatars of Vishnu and the adventures of Krishna. The ceiling of the entrance is carved in excellent taste. A flight of steps descends from the main entrance into the outer court. The sides of the flight of steps are carved to represent a chariot drawn by horses. In front of the horses are elephants which from the balustrade. The outer court is surrounded by a colonnade on the north, west and south. The pillars and ceiling of the mantapam which forms a canopy over the Nandhi contain carvings representing Arjuna's contest with Siva and certain adventures of Krishna. Abutting on the southern wall of the central block of buildings is an octagonal well which is connected by an underground passage with the inner court.
The inner court is entered through a sumptuously carved portico supported by six pillars, two of them represent Yalis and the other horses. The riders of the horses are carved in duplicate so ingeniously that an observer cannot detect from any point of view the fact that the figures are doubles. The mouth of one of the Yalis contains a ball of stone 4 inches in diameter, which can be moved freely but cannot be extracted. The cornice of the portico is cleverly marked with monkeys in most natural attitudes. The horse-portico opens on to the Maha-Mantapam, the finest piece of workmanship in the temple precincts. It is supported by an avenue of pillars on which are covered the figures of a few of the Gatti Mudaliyars who assisted in building the temple, and of their wives. On two of the pillars at the entrance are carved the figures of Rama with a bow and an arrow and of Vali and Sugreeva fighting. The peculiarity of these two sets of sculpture is that from the former one can see the latter, but not vice versa, an arrangement which supports the story in the great epic that Rama aimed his arrow at Vali from a place of concealment. There is a statue on the wall close by, which is said to represent the sister of one of the Gatti Mudaliyars, who was a great devotees of the temple. Beyond the Magha-Mantapam is a space roofed over by a block of stone carved in the shape of an inverted open lotus. Beyond this is the Ardhamantapam guarded by the huge demon Duvara-palakars, Vijayan and Jayan. Elegant brackets spring from each pair of pillars, to support the roof, from which hang wonderful chains carved out of solid stone. The doors of the Maha-Mantapam are adorned with 24 panels of excellent wood-carving representing surasamharam. At the back of the inner court and on either side is a colonnade which surrounds the Garbhagraham on three sides.
The last of the Gatti Mudaliyars contemplated the creation of a thousand-pillared Mantapam in front of the western entrance. Gigantic monoliths of pinkish granite were brought to the spot from Pambarapatti, a hamlet of Enadi and were carved and polished; but before the hall could be built, some political convulsion had swept the Gatti Mudaliyars into obilivion. Probably it was the capture of Omalur by Dodda Deva Raya of Mysore in about 1667 A.D. that brought the work to a stand still. The fine sculptured pillars intended for the mantapam are strewn about the village and in front of the Kailasanatha temple and also lie buried under the old taluk cutchery now used as a school. The temple was originally endowed with the villages of (1) Dasavilakku (for daily pooja), (2) Pappambadi, (3) Chinna Gurukkal Pathi (or priest's villages), (4) Kadampatti (for Brahmins uttering mantrams), (5) Elavampatti (for the celebration of the Tiruvadiraiutsavam), (6) Kongapadi (for the floating festival), (7) Chinna Soragai and (8) Periya Soragai (for other temple servants).
Behind the temple compound is the teppakulam, one of the best specimens of its kind in South India. It measures about 180 square and is surrounded with a parapet wall of reddish granite, the line of which is broken with a bathing ghat on each of the four sides. The top of the parapet is decorated at intervals with small Nandi of black stone, 36 in all. In the centre of the tank is a mantapam supported by 16 pillars. North of this large tank is a smaller tank, constructed in a similar style, the parapet wall being adorned with 20 Nandis of red granite. The smaller tank is intended for drinking purposes and the large tank for bathing. To the north-west of the town is a very beautiful octagonal well enclosed by a circular parapet wall adorned with lions carved in black stones, which at one time had movable stone balls in their mouths. Near this well is a temple dedicated to Bhadra Kali, in front of which buffaloes are occasionally sacrificed. Not far from the Bhadra Kali temple is the now disused temple of Ilamisvara, a gem of refined workmanship. Unlike the Kailasanatha temple, it is built of a dark greenish - grey basaltic rock, carved with delicacy that suggests exquisite finish of the Hoysala-Chalukyan style. The inverted lotus capitals of the plasters on the exterior of the garbhagraham and the frieze, cornice and mouldings of the interior deserve notice. Its construction is ascribed to the first generation of the Gatti Mudaliyars. The site is said to have been selected by the king who ordered seven arrows to be shot from his capital at Amarakundi. The seventh arrow fell where the temple now stands. The temple appears to have been built by one of the "Mudalis of Taramangalam" and to have been named after him. There is also a Vishnu temple in the town, dedicated to Varadaraja.
The Kailasanatha and Ilamisvara temples bear inscriptions relating to the Hoysala, Pandya and Vijayanagar periods. The inscriptions contain references to the Gatti Mudaliyars who had Taramangalam as one of their capitals. One of the inscriptions recorded a gift of land by the "Six Vellelas of Taramangalam" to the father of one Srikanta Deva, who bore the titles of Gauda Chudamani and Vidyasamudra. Another inscription dated 11290 A.D. in the reign of Sundara Oandya II, records Mudalis of each of the following villages: Amarkundi, Taramangalam, Semmanikudal, Ganapatinallur, Settimankurishi, Muppavvi-Samudram, Muppasamudram and Tiruvellaraipalli. A third inscription, dated 1544 A.D. in the reign of Sadasiva of Vijayanagar refers to the gift of a village called Vanangamudi-Samudram to Brahmins by Vanangamudi Gatti Mudaliyar who completed the Kailasanatha temple. He is described in this inscriptions as "Immadi Gatti Mudaliyar, the axe in the heards of rulers, the crest jewel of crowded (kings), who had the coloured mat the never drying garland and the tiger banner, the Mudaliyar who never bowed his head (to anybody), one of the Vellalars of Taramangalam." He is also mentioned in the two grants of Achyuta Raya dated 1538 and 1540 A.D. one of which records the grant of tolls in Elukarai Nad for the maintenance of a Saiva Mutt at Chidambaram called the Vanangamudi Mattam. A later member of the family is mentioned in the grant of 1568 A.D. as " Vanna Mudaliyar Immadi Illamanayina Mudaliyar" who endowed the two temples with a village which he named Ilamasamudram.
It appears that the Gatti Mudaliyars whosed capital was at Amarakundi were tondaimandalam Vellalars by caste; that during the 25 years preceding Talikota, they were building up a feudal chieftaincy, following the example of Viswanatha NAyaka of Madurai; that in the troubled that followed the fall of Vijayanagar, they threw in their lot with the Nadurai Nayakas and held ub field under them the march-land of Mysore; that they continued as vassals of Madurai throughout the reign of Tirumala Nayaka and ultimately succumbed to the aggressions of dodda Deva Raja of Mysore. in 1641 Kantirava Narasa Raja defeated Vanangamudi Gatti Mudaliyar and took from him Sampalli and Styamangalam. In 1667 Dodda Deva Raja wrested Omalur from him, and when Chikka Raja reconquered the Kongu country in 1688-89, the Gatti Mudaliyars had ceased to exist. It is said that the last of the line was camping at Cholappadi on the banks of the Cauvery when he was surprised and killed in a skirmish by some troopers of Mysore.
This town is now the headquarters of the Panchayat Union with high School, dispensary and a police station. The town is supplied by Cauvery water from the pipe line carrying it to Salem. The Kalrayan Hills (Attur Taluk) are geographically one with the Kalrayans of Kallakurichi TAluk in the south- Arcot district. They are divided into five 'Jaghirs'of which Chinna Kalrayan Nad and Periya Kalrayan Nad lie in the Salem district.
Periakalrayans lies to the south of the Tumbal river and is itself divided into the Melnad, the north-west portion and Kilnad, the south -east portion. The Melnad averages 2,700 feet with its chief village at Kovil Pudur with the Manu Ridge rising to 3,475 feet while the Kilnad has the highest ridge at Kovilmalai 4,256 feet and nagalur 4,229 feet. The Chinnakalrayans is an almost uniform plateau about 2,700 feet in height. A portion of this range is accessible by lorries and jeeps by forest road. The entire slopes are covered by Reserve Forests belonging to Government and are over 60 square miles.
Each of these Nads is governed by Dorai, the hereditary chieftain of the Malaiyalis within his Nad. The Chinna-Kalrayans forms the northern portion of the Attur Kalrayans, while the Periya-Kalrayan Nad lies to the south. The origin of the Kalrayan Malauyali settlement is wrapped in obscurity. According to a tradition, the hills were originally tenanted by Vedars who were subsequently conquered by Chila Nayakkan. During his rule the deity Kari Raman generated himself in the hills in the shape of a lingam; and this apparition was regarded with such terror by chila Nayyakkan that he fled away immediately. In the meantime Kari Raman appeared to the five sons of Peria Malayali of Kanchimandalam and blessing them with these hills, directed them to come and take up their residence there. The five brothers, having accordingly settled in the hills, intermarried with the females of original Vedars and lived under a sort of theocracy, of which the patron God was Kari Raman. They were the ancestors, of the present Dorais of the five Nads of the Kalrayan Hills. As proof of their origin , the Malaiyalis point to an inscription engraved on a stone near the Kari Raman temple at Kovil Pudur. This inscription shows that hese hills were assigned by Venuva Rayan, who owned a lakh of horses of each different colour, as a gift for the celebration of the car and other festivals in propitiation of Kari Raman and other dieted in the Chinna Kalrayn and Peria Kalrayan Nads. There are two other inscription found on a stone in Peria Kalrayan Nad, which record that : the Kalraya Kavundar gave Nanjai and Punjai with the four limits and all to God Kariya Perumal." But these inscriptions seem to throw very little light on the history of the Jagirs exceot to prove the antiquity of the Malayali settlements, which are also recognized in the four copper sasanams, dated, two of them in the reign of Krishna Deva Raya (1519 A.D.) and the other two in the reign of Achuta Raya (1532 A.D.)
According to their traditions, the Kalrayan Malayalis "never paid anything to the Sirkar and held the hills under the God". In fact they remained unassessed for many years after the rest of the country came under british rule. The existence of the Jagirs was brought to official notice only in 1832-33 by a suit instituted by the Poligar of Periya Kalrayans to eestablish his title to the Jaghir against a rival claimant. At the time of the inam settlement, the question of enfranchising the Periya Kalrayan and Chinna Kalrayan Jagirs came up for consideration, but it was deferred in the hope of obtaining the Jagirs in perpetual lease in order to protect the Government forests from the smuggling and illicit raids on the part of contractors of the Jagir forests. Accordingly the lease of the Periya Kalrayan Jagir was secured by the Government in 1869. The Jagir continued under their management till 1881 when it was resorted to the Pattakar in consequence of a suit filed by him for its restoration. Since then it has been held as an unenfranchised tax-free inam village, subject, by specific agreement, to the payment of land cess and village cess. The Chinna Kalrayan Jaghir was leased to the Government in 1874 for Rs. 2,000 per annum, the Pattakar being allowed three acres of land in three villages free of tax. In 1876 however, he filed suits for the cancellation of the lease, whereupon the suits were compromised and the Jagir restored in 1881. It was, however, en-franchised by the Inam Commissioner on a quit rent of Rs. 200 representing one-eighth of its estimated value. The revenues of the Jaghirs are derived from taxes on ploughs and hoes, poll-tax, tree tax and jungle rent. A sum of rupees five is levied on each plough and Rs.2 each hoe, a plough counting as 5 acres and a hoe as 2 acres. Poll tax is levied at the rate of Rs.3 on each married couple and Rs. 3 on each married couple and Rs.1-8-0 each widower; unmarried girls, little boys and widows being unassessed. Subject to the payment of this tax, each ryot is entitled to cultivate as much land as he can.
The Periakalrayans in this district has 39 hamlets with 1,376 houses and a population of 5,370 while the Chinnakalryans has 47hamlets with 1,613houses and a population of 6,587. There are only 5 or 6 Government drinking water wells in the hills for the two ranges and 7 elementary schools. The residents have to resort to streams and springs which are often infected with guinea worm. The illiteracy is so acute that even for the simple transactions the residents use stones for distribution of fines levied by them. An offender who stole a sheep was fined Rs.15 and for the distribution of the same they keep 15 small stones and divide them among the panchayatdars. The cattle -yard is never cleaned for months till the manure is required for their lands. Chemical manures and the compost pits are unknown. They use only one piece of cloth till it is worn out and a bath is a luxury. Venereal diseases and leprosy are common. In some villages when rains do not fall at the expected periods, they attribute it to a buried corpse which has been laid recently and not eaten up by the earth. Such bloated corpses are dug out and thrown out to the mercies of the vultures to ward off the evil spirits inside those bloated bodies which prevent the rains.
There are no roads to the Periakalrayans though the Chinnakalrayans which is almost level, can be reached by jeep. the living standards of the residents of the chinnakalrayans can be said to be better on account of their frequent contact with the people from the plains. But as there are no roads to the Periakalrayans and as one has to ascend steep hills, even officials hesitate to go up the hills. Thanks to the appeal by the Christian Missionary Mrs. Brand, who was not able to convert more than a dozen families for the last 14 years, the Government have sanctioned a scheme for the supply of English vegetables and potato seeds and fruit tree and saplings free of cost to the hill tribes of Periakalrayans and Kolli Hills.
The Jahir portion of the hills barring the reserved forests have been denuded and converted into charcoal and sold. The only trees found spared are the stray Jack tree, tamarind and Myrobalan trees which are fruit bearing. The Lantana plants thrive on the most barren and rocky soil and furnish a vendure to the hills which would otherwise appear bleak and dreary. The agriculture consists of wet paddy and plantains on patches of lands fed by the springs in the ravines. The rest of the area is grown with dry paddy, rgi, Cholam, arrow root which are precarious as the average rainfall is only between 30 and 35 inches a year against 50 to 60 inches in the Shevaroys.
The residents of the hills, who are timid and law abiding in nature, are given loans by the money lenders of the plains at 25 to 30 percent interest and if they fell into arrears, the moneylenders go the hills with goondas and collect their dues with interest and cost of collection by removing their pigs, sheep, cattle or grains available with them. sometimes they take one or two boys to the plains as hostages till the debt is cleared, the rest of the villagers remaining silent spectators. The Government supply the tribes with seeds and plants free of cost in order to improve the method of cultivation.
(Tiruchengode taluk-Population 21,386) 8 miles from Sankaridurg is the headquarters of the taluk. Tiruchengode is one of the seven "Sivasthalams" in Kongunadu. It is referred to as Tirukkodimadasekunrur in Thevaram. When Sambandar visited this place in the 7th Century, several of his devotees were attacked by a bad fever. But it subsided as soon as he composed a panthikam. the place was also visited by Arunagirinathar in the 15th Century. It is said to have been once fortified, but ut couls never have possessed any military strength; in fact it did not figure in the Mysore Wars. The principal streets are laid out in the form of a square enclosing the Kailasanatha temple, an arrangement which shows the antiquity of the town and its religious origin. It derives its name from the lofty hill 1,901 f. in altitude which dominated it one the southeast. The hill is precipitous and almost devoid of vegetation. The bright red and yellow colouring of the natural rocks, and of the innumerable shrines with which it is covered, makes a gorgeous picture in the sunset.
The origin of the hill is explained by the local legend as follows: Once there arose a dispute between Vayu, the God of winds and Adisesha, the Serpent king, as to which of the two was stronger. The test applied was the Adisesha ahould coil himself round the Himalayas and that Vayu should try to drag him off. Vayu blew so strongly that Gods and Saints implored Adisesha to yield. Thereupon the Serpent King raised his hood slightly when Vayu redoubling his force, dislodged one of the Himalayan peaks and tore the serpent's hood. The mountain peak stained with the serpent's blood flew through the air and alighted at Tiruchengode. The hill is therefore sometimes called Nagagiri or Serpent Hill. Subsequently Kamadhenu, the Celestial Cow, obtained from siva five peaks and set up one of them at this place. thus the hill is composed of male and female elements, the peak stained with Adisesha's blood and the peak set up by Kamadhenu a union typical of the mystical union of Siva and Parvathi in the form of Ardhanariswara whose temple crowns it summit.
Access to the Ardhanariswara temple is gained by a winding flight of over 1,200 steps. Several mantapams have been erected along the route and each mantapam has its own history. West of the Taili Mantapam is a Nandi (Bull) which is smeared with butter by devotees. The Nandi faces the hill which is regarded as Sivalingam. On a rock nearby is carved in bas-belief a gigantic five hooded serpent to which pongal and sometimes blood sacrifices are offered by the hillmen of the Kongu country to protect them against snake bite. The Singa Mantapam is well carved with the figures of lions and horses and contains some human figures which are said to represent the original builders. Between this and the nextmantapam is a fight of 60 steps known as the Sattiyapadi (oath step) of Aruvathampadi (sixtieth step). This flight of steps is one of the most famous places for oaths in South India. Monetary disputes are often settled here by one party challenging the other to swear on each step, extinguishing a light in the usual manner. Seven steps from the top of this flight is Aruvathampadi Mantapam which lies at the base of a rock called the Pandava Gundu. It is said that this rock was once fortified and that the northern gate of the forte was on the verge of the Bhairava Tirtam closeby. The space is still called Kottaivasal or fort Gate. The Gopuravasal Mantapam is said to have been begun by Siyali Gatti Mudaliar in 1654 and completed by the "Vijaya Kulattar" of Rasipuram.
Beyond this is the main entrance to the big temple of Srdhsnsriswara. The work was began, it is said one Tiriyambaka Udaiyar in 1512 and was reconstructed towards the end of the nineteenth century with the aid of the public subscriptions. The floor of the temple is 20 feet below the threshold of the entrance. The Mahamantapam is said to have been rebuilt by one Samboji, a Governor of Sankaridurg and to have been finished by Siyali Gatti Mudaliar of Taramangalam. The shrine, it is said, came to life and ate gram in the days of Virupaksha Raya of vellore, on hearing a song sung by Sanyasi of Tiruvaduthurai. The Nrittamantapam was built by Attapa Nallatambi Kangaiyan of Morur in 1599. The stone work is in the Taramangalam style and carving, notably that of the stone chains is of a high order. One of the pillars north of the Nandi is carved with the figures of Attappa Nallatambi Kangaiyan and his three wives. It is said that sufferers from fever get rid of their malady by walking thrice round this pillar and breaking coconuts.
North of the main shrine is the temple of Subramanya, which has a fine mahamantapam built by Immudi Nallatambi Kangaiyan in 1619. The construction of Vimanam is ascribed to Siyali Gatti Mudaliyar of Taramangalam, while the nrittamantapam in front is attributed to one Elaya Kavundan of Illuppili. The Tandava Pattirai Vilasam and the Vigneswara Mantapam south of the main shrine are said to have been built by Kumaraswami Kangiyan in 1627. Early in the nineteenth century this mantapam showed signs of collapse and was repaired in 1823 by W.D.Davis, who then acted as Collector. In commemoration of his act, his bas-relief with hat and walking -stick is carved on the base of a supporting pillar. East of "Davis Pillar" is another pillar carved with the figures of Kumaraswami kangaiyan and his four wives. This pillar also is said to confer the same relief as the pillar of Attappa Nallatambi Kangaiyan in the Nrittamantapam of the Ardhanariswara temple. The Nageswara temple is said to have been built by Arai Immudi Allala elayan and its Vimanam by Vettuva Sengodan of Sirumolasi in 1685.
On the summit of the hill is the Pandiswara temple, the name of which preserves the memory of the Pandya invaders in the thirteenth century. close by this temple is the celebrated Maladikal or "Barren Women's Rock". This remarkable boulder is poised on the edge of a sheer precipice with a clear drop of 800 feet and slightest breath would appear to topple it on to the town below. The approach to the rock is very difficult and in some parts risky. A collector if Salem attempted this perilous ascent and got some steps cut in various places in the way up. It is said that, if a woman who is not blessed with children crawls round this rock thrice, she will become a happy mother. Any woman who has the nerve to creep thrice between the rock and the giddy precipice deserves to become a mother. The attempt to do so led to many accidents that strong semicircular ring wall was built during the Collectorate of C.T. Longley, to prevent the self immolation od the pious. Just below the summit of the hill is a sleeping place of five Pandavas a cleft between rocks, the floor of which is roughly fashioned into three beds.
The Kailasanatha temple in the heart of the town already referred to is second only in importance to that of the Ardhanariswara temple. The basement of the entrance gopuram is said to have been built by one Kondappaiyan in 1664 A.D. In front of the entrance is a stately portico, and a Dipastambam of stone, 48 feet in height, with sides. The Amman shrine is attributed to Immudi Nallatambi Kangaiyan already mentioned as the builder of Subrahmanya mantapam in the Ardhanariswara temple.
In the temple precincts there is a well, access to which is obtained by a passage beneath a large Nandi an arrangement similar to that which once existed in the Chinna Raja Tottam in Salem. Close to the town on the Paramatti road is a temple called Malaikavalar Kovil, the temple of the guardian of the hill with a bristling forest of spears, in front of which blood sacrifices are offered. The temple is frequented by those troubled by witchaft or demoniacal possession. To them the Pujari gives a Cadjan order requiring in the name of Ardhanariswara that the devils should quit their victims house. This document is laid in a corner of the roof of the haunted house and sacred ashes are placed on two other corners, the fourth corner being left unprotected, to allow the devils to escape.
Tiruchengode is also prolific in inscriptions which are found not only in the Kailasanatha and Ardhanariswara temples, but also on several rocks in the hill. The earliest inscriptions relate to the reign of Parantaka I and Gangaikonda Rajendra Chola. Under the Cholas, it was the fashion to grant gifts of gold to feed Brahmins or provide lamps for the temple use. Under the Pandyas the temples were endowed with lands. In 1522 A.D. in the reign of Krishna Deva Raya of Vijaynagar, market tolls were made over to the temple authorities for celebrating certain festivals. Under the Nayakas of Madurai, the temples again received grants of land. In 1659 A.D. the Ardhanariswara temple was endowed with the village of Kolangandai in Parittippalli Nadu for the merit of Kumarawattu Tirumala Nayaka. Four years later the western gopuram of the Kailasanatha templs was built under the auspices of Chokkalinga Nayaka. Krishna Raja of Mysore did not forget his obligation and he too favoured the hill temple with a grant of land. The inscriptions commemorating the building and repair of shrines and mantapams are mostly in the names of private individuals, and not of kings. One of the inscriptions reveal that Tiruchengode was in Kilkarai Pundurai Nadu, a district of Kongu alies Virasolamandalam.
This Town has a District Board High School for boys, an aided Girls High School. It is the headquarters of the Tahsildar and the panchayat union. There is a police station, a sub-registrar's office, a Government Hospital, a Veterinary Hospital, and tow Cinema Theatres. There are a large number of weavers. The Pullicar Spinning Mills was established in 1938 with 466 workers and 15,636 spindles. A Co-operative Colony for weavers with 125 houses has been built. This town which is shortly to become a Municipality will be supplied with cauvery water..
A village on the Kollimalais, contains the famous Siva temple called Arappaliswaran Kovil at the head of a great ravine. The temple is regarded with great reverance not only by the hillmen of this range, but also by the Malaiyalis of Pachaimalais and of the Kalrayan Hills to the north of them as well as by the Hindus of the plains. A festival lasting for three days from the fifteenth to the eighteenth day of Adi(July-August) is held here every year. The priests in the temple are Brahmins, but water for puja is brought to the temple by the Malaiyalis with great reverence. The temple car is a fine one, but it stands uncared for outside the temple and is said to have been used only once. The Malaiyalis declare that it ought not to be used without first offering a human sacrifice, and so in the present state of law, they have to do without it. The stream near the temple contains thousands of fish which are considered holy and under the protection of the God. They are fed by pilgrims visiting the shrine. A common vow made by devotees is an undertaking to provide gold nose-ring for one of them if their prayers are answered. The fish are extremely tame and will come and take food from one's hand and every noon they are summoned to dinner by the sound of a bell. The Malaiyalis assert that near this temple lizards do not chirp, nor talai plants flower. A reference was made to this place by Appar in his Thevaram and Ambalavana Kavirayar composed a praiseworthy Sathakam about this temple. The hill on which the temple stands is the Kollimalai proper, its name being supposed to be derived from the fact that any one who commits a sin here will be killed. The place is also called the Madhu Vanam (honey forest) of the monkey king Sugreeva, mentioned in the great Hindu epic, the Ramayana. In Sangam age it was under the rule of King 'Ori'. It is said that the hill was the abode of a forest deity called "Kollipavai"
The temple can be reached now by a road from Nadukombai, a village 4 miles from Kolappa Naickenpatti, and 12 miles from Rasipuram on the road to Namakkal. From Nadukombai a motorable ghat road has been opened at a cost of 25 lakhs upto Solakad which is 13 miles long and there is a Highways Rest House newly erected there. From Solakad a forest road leads to Valavandhinad, 4 miles distant and from then a foot path covering over 6 miles. The pilgrims however reach the temple from Sendamangalam village also by a bridle path. Two sanyasis, Sri Nadanda, Sri Ramachandra Saraswathi settled here and carried on their religious activities till their death in 1924 and 1937 respectively. The temple is fairly big with an enclosure of 60 feet long with separate cells for the different deities. There are several Nagari, Pali and Tamil inscriptions, on the temple walls. The lingam bears a scar on its skull which is supposed to have been caused by a plough which hit it when it was buried in the earth. Two miles below the temple is a fine waterfall called the Akasa Gangai ("the sky Gangas") in which every pilgrim takes a bath. The Malaiyalis believe that if a sinner bathes, the water turns aside and refuses to fall upon him.
It is the headquarters of the union panchayat and lies 11 miles south-west of Salem and one mile from Veerapandi Road Railway Station on the main line. There is a higher elementary school. One mile from this village is the village of Uthamasholapuram near the Railway Station. The temple of Karpuranathasami is said to have been worshiped by sage Naradar and visited by Avvaiyar, the Tamil poetess. The Lingam is slightly bent.According to tradition a boy priest prayed God and when he found himself too short to lay the garland on the Lingam, the latter bent towards the boy to enable him to place the garland and is therefore called as Mudisaindamannar. It is on the banks of the Tirumanimuthar river which rises in Kanjamalai hills nearby. The weekly shandy meets on Saturdays where the mats produced around this place are sold.
It is the headquarters of the taluk and a tourist centre in the district. It is situated on the southern part of the plateau at an elevation of 4,500 feet above sea-level. It probably owes its existence to its proximity to Salem. The first house was built by the Rev. J.M. Lechler who visited the hills in company with H.A. Brett, then Sub-Collector. The latter who had a taste a taste for selecting charming sites, built in 1845 what is now called Fair Lawns Hotel. Shortly afterwards the Grange was built which was selected at the time of the Indian Mutiny of 1857, as a possible refuge for the European settlers on the hills, in the event of a rising in Salem. North of Yercaud is a grassy maidan situated on the shores of a picturesque pool called "The Lake" (4,448 feet) from which the town is said to derive its name. North of the lake is sacred grove containing two picturesque Malaiyali temples. The lake is fed by a stream which has cut out a well-wooded ravine running from the head of the Old Ghat. The western side of this ravine is bounded by the ridge on which are situated Prospect Point and Lady's Seat, commanding a good view of the plains.
Though Yercaud cannot be called picturesque, a stroll of a mile or two will reveal some of the grandest scenery in Southern India. The finest view can be obtained from pagoda point, so called from a group of Malayali temples on its summit. This point commands the view of the mighty ridges of the Tenandemalai and Kalrayans to the east and the whole of the Salem-Attur valley, backed by the massive bulk of the Kollimalai Pachaimalai ranges and relieved by the nearer ridges of Bodamalai and Jerugumalai. In the foreground is a splendid cliff, one of the southern buttresses of Shevaroy hill mass, and many hundred feet below is the picturesque "Bee Hive" village of Kakambadi. Lady's seat(4,548 feet), Prospect Point (4,759 feet) and Beans Hill(4,828 feet) command the great plain of Tiruchengode and Omalur taluks backed by the mountains of Coimbatore and Mysore plateau. Further away are Duff's hill with a fine westward prospect and the Shevarayan with its moss-clad temples nestling in an exquisite glen besides a sacred well of limpid water. The best view to the north is obtained from Cauvery Peak. A lovely view of the Vaniyar valley and its sister ravines can be had at the bend of the Vellalakadai road, when it doubles back from Manjakuttai. The road from Yercaud to Nagalur affords many charming glimpses of the westward hills. Yercaud being a sanitarium is a favourite is a favourite resort of missionaries, among them, Catholics, Anglicans, the London Mission, the Leipzig Lutheran Mission and the Danish MIssion, all of whom have their chapels and bungalows in the neighbourhood. It contained a Bauxite Factory, which is said to be the only one of its kind in the south. The Montfort Mission School established here is one of the most popular public schools in the region where students from all over South Asia are found.
At present the building formerly occupied by the Fair Lawns Hotel is owned by Sheveroy Bauxite Company Limited. The Grange is also in the possession of a planter by name Omalur Sait, It is on a Coffee Estate of 292 acres. This building appears to have been purchased from Government by the famous Arbuthnot and Company who had sold it in auction in 1883 to one Miss. Gompetrz from whom the present owner has purchased.
The M.S.P. Nadar and Sons, who own over 2,000 acres of Coffee Plantations, have grown on the non-plantation lands owned by them Cocoa, nut-meg, clove, oranges, peaches, plums, sappottas, pomegranates, pears, lechie, guava, figs, grapes and plantains on a small extent to experiment on their aptitude to this soil. They have also started the cultivation of about 500 acres of hybrid Eucalyptus trees on marginal lands for fuel purposes. An extent of ten acres with a spacious bungalow erected by one called Hights has been donated for use as a Children's park and holiday home. A small area with sambhar musk deer, stags, and other animals of the Shevaroys has been enclosed.