In Tiruvannamalai, town headquarters of the Taluk, the population is mainly Hindu, with a fair sprinkling of Muhammedans and Christians. The name means "holy fire hill" and is derived from the isolated peak at the back of the town 2,668 feet above sea level, which is a conspicuous object for many miles around. The Hill and temple, commanding the Chengam Pass into the (important) town of Salem, played an important part in the Wars of the Carnatic. Between 1753 and 1790 they were subject to repeated attacks and captures. From 1760 the place was a British post and Colonel Smith fell back upon it in 1767 as he retired through the Chengam Pass before Haidor Ali and the Nizam. In 1790, Tipu attacked the town and captured it. Cholera used frequently to break out at the annual festival and be carried by fleeing pilgrims far and wide through the district. The great want of the place was a proper water supply, and lengthy experiments have now matured in a waterworks.
-- Notebooks Category 15: The Orient > Chapter 2: India > # 58