Salem is a city in Salem district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is located about 160 kilometres (100 mi) northeast of Coimbatore, 186 kilometres (116 mi) southeast of Bangalore and about 340 kilometres (210 mi) southwest of the state capital, Chennai. Salem is the sixth largest city in Tamil Nadu by population and covers 91.34 km2 (35.27 sq mi).
Cheralam, Shalya, Kurukshetra, Sayilam and Sailam are found on inscriptions referring to the country around the hills: Nagarmalai in the north, Jeragamalai in the south, Kanjamalai in the west and Godumalai in the east. Salem is claimed as the birthplace of the Tamil Avvaiyar poets. It and the surrounding hilly regions were part of the Chera dynasty, and the city was ruled by kings known as the Kurunila Mannargal. Salem was later ruled by Gatti Mudalis, Poligars who built temples and forts in and around the city.During the early 18th century, after the Mysore-Madurai war, the region was ruled by Hyder Ali. Salem was taken from Hyder Ali by a Colonel Wood at the beginning of 1768, and recaptured by Ali in late 1772. Under Robert Clive it was occupied by a detachment of a regiment stationed at Sankagiri Durg, remaining a military station until 1861. Salem and Sankagiri were the sites of battles between Kongu Nadu soldiers led by Dheeran Chinnamalai and the British. Chinnamalai was hanged in the Sankagiri fort, which became the British army headquarters. According to volume five of Edgar Thurston’s Castes and Tribes of Southern India,the Chola Nadu region was ruled by a series of twenty-eight kings before being conquered by the Cholas of Tanjore.
Salem has a number of Hindu temples. The Kottai Mariamman Temple, dedicated to the goddess Mariamman, has an annual five-day festival during the Tamizh month of Aadi (mid-July to mid-August). The temple’s gopuram is made up of seven tiers. Sugavaneshwarar Temple is dedicated to Shiva, and according to mythology the sage Sugha Brahmarishi worshiped here. Arunagirinadhar sang a song about Muruga in the temple, which was built during the 13th century by Mamannan Sundara Pandiyan. Kottai Perumal Temple, Skandhashram, Kothandaramar Temple and Sithar Koil are also in Salem. Oothumali Murugan Temple, Pandurangan Hill Temple, Kumaragiri Hill Murugan Temple and Kariperumal Karadu Hill Temple are in the hills in Salem. The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) has built a temple in Karuppur, near the city.
Jama Masjid, on the southern bank of the Thirumanimutharu River in the heart of the city, is Salem’s oldest mosque. It was reportedly built by the Mysore ruler Tippu Sulthan, who is said to have prayed here. The masjid inam granted to the mosque in 1862 was confirmed by the British with a special resolution in 1880. Christ Church is located on Fort Road and the church was consecrated in 1875. The other popular churches in and around the city includes Lechler Memorial Church, the oldest church in Salem, was built in 1856 by a German missionary in Fort Salem. Infant Jesus Church near Four Roads, the Calvary Assembly of God Church on the Bangalore highway in Mamangam and Reformed Baptist Church in the Yercaud foothills are other churches in the city.
Salem’s traditional shopping areas are in the Town area, with major retailers in Bazaar Street, Car Street, First Agraharam and Chinna Kadai Street. Shevapet and the Fort area are noted for hardware and furniture, and Leigh Bazaar in Shevapet is the main wholesale market. Reliance Shopping Mall, the city’s largest shopping complex is situated near Five Roads.Kurumbapatti Zoological Park and Anna Park are government-run parks. Paravasa Ulagam and Dream Land are amusement parks in the city.Mookeneri Lake is located in Kannakurichi Salem which is recently renovated by Salem Citizen’s Forum is a new attraction for Salem city residents.
Salem has several educational institutions with arts and science colleges affiliated to Periyar University founded in 1997. The Government College of Engineering was founded in 1966.