Salem, Tamil Nadu

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This article is about a city in India. For other uses, see Salem.
Municipal Corporation
Overview of Salem, with mountains in the background
Nickname(s): Steel City, Mango City
salem is located in Tamil Nadu
Coordinates: 11°39′N 78°10′E / 11.65°N 78.16°E / 11.65; 78.16Coordinates: 11°39′N 78°10′E / 11.65°N 78.16°E / 11.65; 78.16
Country India
State Tamil Nadu
District Salem
 • Type Mayor–Council
 • Body Salem City Municipal Corporation
 • Mayor S. Soundappan (All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam)
 • Municipal Corporation 124 km2 (48 sq mi)
Elevation 278 m (912 ft)
Population (2011)[1]
 • Municipal Corporation 829,267
 • Density 8,036/km2 (20,810/sq mi)
 • Metro 919,150
 • Official Tamil
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
PIN 636xxx
Telephone code +91-427
Vehicle registration TN-30,TN-52,TN-54,TN-90

Salem (About this sound pronunciation ) 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. The fifth largest municipal corporation in Tamil Nadu, after Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai , Tiruchirappalli, Salem covers 100 km2 (39 sq mi). [2]


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,[3] the Chola Nadu region was ruled by a series of twenty-eight kings before being conquered by the Cholas of Tanjore.


Salem had a population of 826,267 in the 2011 census. There were 987 females for every 1,000 males, significantly higher than the national average of 929.[4] A total of 79,067 were under age six: 40,570 males and 38,497 females. The city's literacy rate was 76.37 percent, higher than the national average of 72.99 percent.[4] Salem had 215,747 households and a total of 332,147 workers: 1,599 farmers, 3,040 agricultural laborers, 32,597 in household industries, 278,892 other workers, 16,019 part-time workers, 165 part-time farmers, 544 part-time agricultural workers, 1,937 part-time workers in household industries and 13,373 other part-time workers.[1]

Geography and climate[edit]

Salem is located at 11°40′10″N 78°08′27″E / 11.669437°N 78.140865°E / 11.669437; 78.140865,[5] at an average elevation of 278 m (912 ft). The city is surrounded by hills: Nagaramalai on the north, Jarugumalai on the south, Kanjamalai on the west, Godumalai on the east and the Shevaroy Hills on the northeast. Kariyaperumal Hill is in southwestern Salem. The Thirumanimutharu River flows through the city, dividing it in two. The fort area is the oldest part of Salem.

The city's climate is dry, except during the monsoon season. January and February are generally pleasant; the dry summer begins in March, with the year's highest temperatures during May. The weather becomes more temperate in June and July, and August is cloudy but still dry. The northeast monsoon occurs from September to November, and December is clear and pleasant.

Climate data for Salem, India
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 29.3
Average low °C (°F) 19.7
Average precipitation mm (inches) 24.9
Source: Indian Meteorological Department[6]


Municipal corporation officials
Mayor S. Soundappan[7]
Commissioner M. Ashokan[8]
Deputy Mayor M. Natesan[9]
Member of Legislative Assembly
Salem North R. Mohan Raj[10]
Salem West M. K. Selvaraju[11]
Salem South G. Venkatachalam[12]
Member of Parliament
Salem MP V. Pannerselvam[13]

Salem is the headquarters of Salem district. The town was constituted as a municipality in 1867, and was upgraded to a special-grade municipality in 1979 and to a municipal corporation on 1 April 1994. The Salem municipal corporation has 60 wards, each with an elected councillor.[14] The functions of the municipal corporation are divided into six departments: general administration and personnel, engineering, revenue, public health, city planning and information technology (IT). All six departments are governed by a municipal commissioner.[15] Legislative power is vested in the 60-member council,[16] headed by an elected chairperson and assisted by a deputy chairperson.[17]

Salem is a part of the Salem North, Salem West and Salem South assembly constituencies delineated in 2008.[18] The city elects the three members to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly once every five years.[19] Present MLAs are R. Mohan Raj (Salem North) from the Desiya Murpokku Dravidar Kazhagam party, M. K .Selavaraju (Salem West) from the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam party (ADMK) and G. Venkatachalam (Salem South), also from the ADMK party.[10][11][12]

Until 2008, the city was part of the Salem I and Salem II assembly constituencies. Since 1977, the ADMK party won the Salem I assembly seat five times (1977, 1980, 1984, 2001 and 2006); Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam won twice (1989 and 1996), and the Indian National Congress (INC) won in 1991.[20] Since 1977, the ADMK won the Salem II assembly seat three times (1980, 1984 and 1991) and the DMK also won three times (1989, 1996 and 2006); the Janata Party (JP) won in 1977 and Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) won in 2001.[21]

The city is part of the Salem Lok Sabha, with six assembly constituencies: Omalur, Salem North, Salem South, Salem West, Veerapandi and Edappadi.[22] Since 1952, the Salem parliament seat was held by the Indian National Congress eight times (1952, 1957, 1962, 1984, 1989, 1991 and 2004), by the ADMK four times (1977, 1991, 2009 and 2014), by DMK three times (1967, 1971 and 1980), and once each by an independent (1998) and the Tamil Maanila Congress (1996).[23][24][25][26][27][28][29][30][31][32][33][34][35] The current Member of Parliament from the constituency is V. Paneerselvam from the ADMK party.[13]

Salem is patrolled by the city subdivision of the Tamil Nadu Police, headed by a deputy superintendent. Special units include prohibition enforcement, district crime, social justice and human rights, district crime records and a district-level special branch headed by a superintendent of police.[36]


Salem is a major textile center in Tamil Nadu, with more than 125 spinning mills, weaving units and garment units. Although the city's history of handloom and spinning mills dates back before independence, until the 1960s it had less than a handful of spinning mills. After 1960 private handloom weaving began to increase in the region, along with large-scale cooperative handloom weaving and marketing units. Small-scale hand-dying units began in the region to support the industry. During the 1980s the textile industry grew, and major spinning mills and waste-spinning units were built to support the industry; handloom societies and dying houses were also established at this time. Power-loom units increased in Gugai, Ammapet, Attayampatti, Vennandur, Magudanchavadi, Rasipuram, Komarapalayam Pallipalayam, Jalakandapuram and Ellampillai.[37]

The Salem area also houses Tamil Nadu's greatest number of sago factories for the production of sago foods and starch. In Salem district, 34,000 hectares (130 sq mi) of land are devoted to cassava (the raw material for sago, also known as tapioca) and 650 industrial units are engaged in tapioca processing. In 1981 the Salem Starch and Sago Manufacturers Service Industrial Co-operative Society (popularly known as SAGOSERVE) was established to promote the sago industry, and nearly 80 percent of the national demand for sago and starch is met by SAGOSERVE.[38] In and around Salem cassava yields are 25–30 tons per hectare, one of the highest in the world; the national average is 19 tons per hectare, and the world average is 10 tons.[39]

The Salem Steel Plant, a unit of the Steel Authority of India, produces cold-rolled stainless steel and a hot-rolled stainless-carbon steel alloy. The plant is being expanded and modernized, with plans for steel-melting and continuous-casting facilities.[40] The Southern Iron and Steel Company (part of JSW Steel) have their first integrated steel plant in Salem for the production of TMT corrosion-resistant bars and alloy steels.[41] [42] The Salem region is rich in mineral ores, with some of the largest magnesite and bauxite deposits in India. Public and private magnesite factories include Burn Standard and Company, Dalmia Magnesites and Tata Refractories.[43]

The Leigh Bazaar is the region's largest market for agricultural products, and Narasus Coffee, Nandhi Dall Mills (an old flour mill) and BSP Refineries (Usha Refined Sunflower Oil) are in Salem.The Tamil Nadu government and the Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu are planning a 160-acre (65 ha) IT park in the city.[44][45] The Steel Authority of India is planning a 250-acre (100 ha) steel special economic zone in its Salem plant,[46] and an electrical and electronics industrial estate is in the Suramangalam area of the city.[47]

Religious places[edit]

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 Aati (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.[48]

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.[49]

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, near the District Collectorate, in the heart of Salem City, Tamil Nadu, India. The church has been serving the community for the last 140 years, since its consecration in 1875. The church services at Christ Church are conducted both in English and Tamil. The church was designed by architect Robert Fellowes Chisholm, who was a pioneer of the Indo-Saracenic architecture, and also designed the Senate House buildings of the University of Madras and the Madras Presidency College[50]

Lechler Memorial Church, the oldest church in Salem, was built in 1856 by a German missionary in Fort Salem. Infant Jesus Church is near Four Roads, the Calvary Assembly of God Church is on the Bangalore highway in Mamangam and Reformed Baptist Church is in the Yercaud foothills.[51]

Shopping and recreation[edit]

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. Retailers have recently located in the Swarnapuri area of the city, with Adidas, The Marker, Nike, Puma, Lee, Pepe Jeans, Reebok, Levi's, Basics and John Players have outlets in Saradha College Road. The Reliance Shopping Mall, Salem's largest shopping complex, opened near Five Roads. Other shopping malls are Maruthi Plaza, Ramani Shopping Plaza, Pookoodai Shopping Complex, VV Shopping Plaza, Kandaswarna Shopping Mall and Chamundi Super Market. In 2012, Reliance Greenfield Mall (under construction) was projected to have an area of 400,000 square feet (37,000 m2).[52]

Kurumbapatti Zoological Park and Anna Park are government-run parks; Anna Park is an entertainment centre focusing on children. Panamarathupatti Lake is nearby, and Paravasa Ulagam and Dream Land are amusement parks in the city.[53][not in citation given]



Main article: NH 68

Salem has six arterial roads: Omalur Road, Cherry Road, Saradha College Road, Junction Main Road, Gugai Main Road and Attur Road. Three National Highways originate in or pass through: NH 7 (Varanasi – Kanyakumari), NH 47 (Salem – Kanyakumari via Coimbatore, Kochi and Kollam) and NH 68 (Salem – Ulundurpet).[54] NH 68 is the preferred route from Salem to Chennai. All National Highways in the City have four lanes. Other main roads originating in Salem are the state highways SH 168 (Yercaud Road) and SH 18 (Tiruppattur Road). Salem is the headquarters of TNSTC Division 1, Salem (SLM-DIV-I) and Division 2, Dharmapuri (SLM-DIV-II). Salem has the second-highest number of buses to Bangalore, Mettur Dam via Mecheri, Hyderabad and Tirupati in Tamil Nadu, behind Chennai. The city has two major bus stations: the MGR Integrated Bus Terminus (Central Bus Stand) in Meyyanoor and the Town Bus Station (Old Bus Stand) in downtown Salem. Intercity and interstate routes originate at the Central Bus Stand, and local buses originate at the Old Bus Stand. The Anna Flyover is the oldest in the city, and the Trumpet Interchange was built in the realignment of NH 47 to ease traffic to Coimbatore and Cochin.


Red-and-white building with cars parked outside
Salem Junction

Salem Junction is in Suramangalam, 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) west of Salem. The station connects to Chennai, Mettur Dam, Coimbatore, Bangalore, New Delhi, Mumbai, Howrah, Trivandrum, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kollam, Rajkot, Indore, Ahmedabad, Jammu, Kanpur and Patna, Mangalore, Trichy, Tiruppur, Erode, Kanyakumari, Madurai and Karur. Salem is a main stop on the Virduchalam line. In 2005, the Railway Board approved the creation of a Salem railway division to improve infrastructure, facilities and train service. The fourth-largest of the six Southern Railway zone divisions, it was carved from the Palakkad and Tiruchirapalli divisions.[55]


Salem Airport (IATA SXV, ICAO VOSM) is on the Salem-Bangalore Highway (NH 7) in Kaamalapuram (near Omalur), about 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) from the city. Although the Airports Authority of India (AAI) had opened the airport in 1993, carriers feared low ridership. Kingfisher Airlines flew from Chennai, but ended its service in 2012 due to financial problems. TruJet has shown an interest in flying from Salem.[citation needed] The nearest major airports are Tiruchirappalli International Airport (TRZ, 152 km), Coimbatore International Airport (CJB, 159 km), Kempegowda International Airport serving Bangalore (BLR, 235 km) and Chennai International Airport (MAA, 324 km).


Salem has several educational institutions. Periyar University, founded in 1997, has a number of arts and science colleges.[56][not in citation given] Government College of Engineering, one of the oldest engineering colleges in Tamil Nadu, was founded in 1966. The GCE and Periyar are adjacent to each other on NH 7, about 10 km from the city centre. Mohan Kumaramangalam Medical College (MKMC) is a government medical college on Salem Steel Plant Road. Knowledge Institute of Technology and Sona College of Technology. a private engineering college, is on Junction Main Road. Recognized by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the college is affiliated with Anna University.[citation needed]


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External links[edit]