The name 'Salem' appears to have been derived from the word ‘Sela’ or ‘Shalya’ which refers to ‘the country around the hills’, as in the inscriptions. Local tradition claims Salem as the birth place of the Tamil poetess Avvaiyar.

The town is surrounded by an amphitheatre of hills - the Nagarmalai in the north, the Jeragamalai in the south, the Kanjanamalai in the west and the Godumalai in the east. It is divided by the Thirumanimuthar in the main division. The fort is the oldest place of the town.

Salem was taken from Hyder by Colonel Wood in the beginning of 1768. But it was recaptured by Hyder towards the end of the year 1772. Under Lord Clive in 1799, it was again occupied by a detachment of the residents stationed at Sankari Durg and remained a military station till 1861 when the troops were altogether withdrawn.

Geographical Position
North Latitude Between 11 14` and 12 53`
East Longitude Between 77 44` and 78 50`
Area 5205 sq.km
Population 3016346 (2001 census) ;Density 580 per sq.km
Language Tamil
Climate Summer (38 degree C max)
Winter (18 degree C min)
Monsoon (October-December)
Rain Fall (IN M.M.)
Season Normal 2002 2003
Winter (Jan-Feb) 22.6 mm 4.4 mm 1.7 mm
Summer (Mar-May) 175.6 mm 143.0 mm 182.8 mm
South West (Jun-Sep) 380.0 mm 255.4 mm 431.0 mm
North East (Oct-Dec) 347.0 mm 220.9 mm 360.9 mm
Annual Total 925.2 mm 623.7 mm 976.4 mm
Best Time to Visit October to February
Nearest Airports Chennai, Bangalore, Thiruchirapalli, Madurai, Coimbatore, Cochin
Nearest Towns Yercaud, Erode, Namakkal, Hogenakkal, Mettur Dam
Tourist places around Salem

1. Yercaud (30 km from Salem)

Situated 1,515 metres high in the Shervoroy Hills, in the state of Tamil Nadu, the peaceful hill station of Yercaud nestles among coffee plantations and thickly forested slopes. It is a good place for trekking and boating. Some people believe that these hills were part of the ancient megalith-builders' domain which stretched from Cornwall through Brittany and Iberia to India. Clearly visitors have been streaming into Yercaud from well before recorded history.

Before getting into this coffee-plantation hamlet, you have to drive through the textile town of Salem. If you browse around the shops, you might pick up bright handloom fabrics at half the price you would pay elsewhere.Just before the road begins to climb up the mountains to Yercaud, do look out for an interesting group of brightly coloured idols to the left of the road.

yercaud  hills

These guardian deities, found only in Tamil Nadu, are worshipped as protectors of villages and are often known as Aiyanars. On the way up the winding hill road with its 20 hairpin bends, stop at a thatched wayside stall selling 'Fresh Garden Produce': packets of cloves and pepper. Then come the coffee plantations before entering cottage-dotted Yercaud. You can amble around leisurely, or do a tandem tour of the lake in a pedal boat, or hire a taxi to 'do' the sights. 3 km away is the rocky escarpment overlooking the plains. It is known as the ‘Ladies’ Seat’ and some wag has named another viewpoint as the ‘Gents’ Seat’.

The Pyramid point, 3 km away, has cairns of stones and was once a Stone Age fortress shrine before the new temple was built. 7 km from the lake is the Shervoroyan Temple with a modern, striped facade leading to an old cave temple.Once you get into this soothing, lake-centred, quiet and undisturbed green place, you don't have to do anything but unwind .

2. Hogenakkal (65 km from Salem)

River Cauvery flows through Hogenakkal, making it abundant in water resources. It has one of the most wonderful water falls in Tamil Nadu. It is situated about 250 metres above sea level. The main attraction is the bath in the falls, dropping vertically from a height of 20 metres with a thundering sound. A sacred bathing place, Hogenakkal is well known for the power of healing water. It is located 65 kms from Salem and 133 kms from Bangalore. Hotel reservations can be made through the TTDC.

Hogenakkal, Dharmapuri
3. Mettur Dam (55 km from Salem)

One of the largest of its kind in the world, the Mettur Dam was completed in 1934. The total length of the dam is 1700 meters. The Mettur Hydro- Electrical power project is also quite large. The dam, the park, the major Hydro Electric power stations and hills on all sides make Mettur a good tourist attraction.

Mettur Dam
4. NAMAKKAL (50 km from Salem)

Namakkal is a sacred city located near Salem of Tamil Nadu in South India. Its population comes around nearly half a lakh. The city has a hill named Shyla Malai at the center, which is also called Namagiri or Namakkal. Near that, the famous historical site named Kamalalayam is located. Namakkal is famous for Sri Anjaneya worshipping Sri Narasimha Perumal on the open plains.

The Greatness of Lord Anjaneya:

It is said that Lord Anjaneya brought the Salakrama Hills from Nepal as instructed by his guru Narasimha Murthy and named it as Namakkal. The Lord presents Himself in Vishwarupa Dharshan with His hands worshipping in the open terrace, exposing Himself to natural calamities like flood, hot sun and storm. It is believed that He keeps on growing height wise. The people of Namakkal pray to the Lord for blessing them with good sense, health, boldness, success, wealth and fine speech.

Anjaneya god, Nammakkal