A geologist’s paradise, Salem is surrounded by an amphitheatre of hills – the Nagarmalai in north, the Jeragamalai in south, the Kanjanamalai in west and the Godumalai in east.
Salem, located at the foothills of the Yercaud Hills in Tamil Nadu, is as dynamic as it is steeped in traditions. Lose yourself in the bustling streets of this idyllic and graceful city to soak the aura of divinity clubbed with nature’s bounty. The city is dotted with temples and has emerged as a popular tourist destination in South India.
The name ‘Salem’ appears to have been derived from the word ‘Sela’ or ‘Shalya’ which refers to ‘the country around the hills’. In Salem, the existence of human civilisation can be traced back to the stone age. Touches of dung ash heap found are testament to the existence of the place since the Paleolithic Age. Later, Salem witnessed the rise and rule of several dynasties. The region was a part of the Chera Dynasty and was later governed by Poligars, who were responsible for several architectural wonders that exist till date in and around the city. It became a part of the Vijayanagara empire before being captured by Hyder Ali during the early 18th century, after the Mysore-Madurai war. Salem was taken from Hyder Ali by Colonel Wood in the beginning of 1768. But it was recaptured by Hyder Ali 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.
Places to visit
Yercaud is an exquisitely picturesque summer resort in Salem. Situated at an altitude of 1515m above sea level, the natural beauty of the region is enhanced by the presence of dense forests surrounding the Yercaud Lake. Admire the natural beauty of the hills and verdure valleys at Yercaud or offer prayers at the numerous temples dotted all over the place – a trip of Salem is bound to make your feel more rejuvenated.
Located 38 km from Salem, Sankagiri Fort is a historical fort maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India. It was built in the 15th Century by the Vijayanagar Empire. It has 12 fort walls built on and built by the British. The fort served as a British tax storage facility for Kongu Nadu. It was an important military base for Tipu Sultan and later for the British army.
Some other notable places to visit in Salem are Mettur Dam and a number of religious shrines that include the Kottai Mariamman Temple, Siddhar Temple and the famous ISKCON Temple.
Salem is famous for its coffee plantations and orange groves. Mango fruits from Salem are much sought after, specially the variety Malgoa – which is the pride of Salem besides a number of other newly introduced hybrid varieties.
Apart from being an industrial centre, Salem is also known for its Indian Institute of Handloom Technology. Known for its handloom and silk industry, a visit to the Silk Farm in Salem is a must. Here one can observe the process of silk worm rearing and silk textile production. one can find out how silk worms are cultivated on mulberry leaves and how do they build cocoons and how the farmers extract the silk fiber. This fiber then contributes to the production of the silk textile. Visitors can also buy different items of silk fabric to take with themselves.
The city is revered for its life size terracotta horses. Each terracotta horse is created individually. The city is also famous for glass painting, handmade handicraft, fabric painting which is exported all over the world. Coconut coir rope making is another major cottage industry of Salem. These ropes are known for its high strength and durability and Salem is the leading exporter and supplier of coir ropes.