Tiruvannamalai is an ancient city which records show to have existed since the 8th Century. Ellappa Nayanar the 16th Century Tamil scholar, wrote extensively about Tiruvannamalai in his Tamil work, the Arunachala Puranam. There is a literary work in Sanskrit called the Arunachala Mahatmyam which is believed to have been written a few centuries previously.
         Unlike the Sanskrit version, the ancient Tamil scholar Ellappa Nayanar has extensively archived information about King Vallalan of the Hoysala Empire, who some say is regarded of the founder of Tiruvannamalai. The king contributed in spreading the benefits of Girivalam and of Arunachaleswarar Temple which subsequently helped in the expansion of the town. King Vallalan ruled South India from the Deccan Plateau, with Dwarasamudra as capital (known in current days as Halebid, which is located northwest of Mysore). One can see the richness of Hoysala art and architecture with its unique style distinguished by a high density of details and embellishments, amongst the remains of Halebid.
          Until that time, the history of Tiruvannamalai can be sporadically tracked among Chozha, Pandiya Tamil literature ranging from the 6th to the 8th Century. The eldest script is believed to be a 6th Century Tamil script written on the walls of the Madurai Meenakshi Temple. That script refers to the ruler of Madurai meeting Sundara Pandiyan (who liberated Madurai from Kulesekara Pandiyan II), and mentions that the name of Tiruvannamalai at that time was Thiruvanangum Malai, and part of  the Madurai Kingdom.


King Vallalan Founder of Tiruvannamalai Town
King Vallalan's devotion and piety are celebrated in chapter seven of the Arunachala Puranam, written in the 16th Century by Ellappa Nayinar. The work is based on the Arunachala Mahatmyam, written several centuries before in Sanskrit, but the chapter dealing with King Vallalan and his exploits in Tiruvannamalai can only be found in the Tamil version. To find out why he is so revered in Tiruvannamalai, and indeed, why he was in Tiruvannamalai, it is necessary to go back a few years and give an account of his family history.


Tiruvannamalai History in Arunachala Puranam

King Vallalan succeeded his father Narasimha and later expanded his territory to Tiruvannamalai by taking over his father brother's kingdom on the 31st January, 1292. He was thirty years old when crowned king. But he was Later to lose most of his ruling territory to Delhi Sultan Ala-u-din Khaliji, who kept Tiruvannamalai as one of his major towns.