Thiruvarur was one of the five traditional capitals of the Chola Empire. Thiruvarur district is popularly known as “the Granary of South India”. The name originally attributed to the composite Thanjavur district. Lying in the delta region of the famous river Cauvery, this district is rich in paddy fields, tall coconut groves and other verdant vegetation. The river Cauvery popularly called as “Mother Cauvery” makes this land fertile with her tributariesThiruvarur is mentioned in the saiva canonical work, Tevaram by Thirugnana Sambanthar, Tirunavukkarasar and Sundarar, the foremost Saivite saints of 7th–8th century and classified as Padalpetrastalam. Tirunavukkarasar mentions several traditions of the temple like Marghazhi Aathirai Vizha, Panguni Uttirai Perunaal and VeedhivitakaninVeedhi Panni. The granite structure of the temple was first constructed by Aditya Chola I in the 9th century and revamped during the reign of Rajaraja Chola I. The temple was upgraded and rebuilt with stone by Rajendra Chola I. The temple has inscriptions from both the emperors, later Cholas and Pandyas.
Inscriptions from the temple indicate Thiruvarur as the capital of Kulothunga Chola I, during which the district emerged a centre of saivism. After the fall of Cholas during the reign of Rajendra Chola II in the 13th century, the district was caught under a power struggle between Pandyas and Hoysalas. The royal patronage continued and the district flourished as a cultural centre during the rule of the Nayaks, Vijayanagar kings and Marathas. During the period of Marathas, the district became a temporary home to the Nataraja of Chidambaram temple. The district was briefly captured by French troops lead by Lally in 1759. The Thyagarajar temple was ransacked in a failed attempt to discover hidden treasure. During the attempt, six Brahmins of the temple, suspected to be spies of the British, were killed in an encounter. After independence, Thiruvaur continued to be a part of the Thanjavur district and Nagapattinam district till 1991 and 1997 respectively.
Historically, Thiruvarur has been a centre of eminent people in religion, arts and science. Famous historical temples are located in Thiruveezhimalai, Thirupamparam, Thirumeichur, Shrivanchiyam, Thillaivilagam and Thirukkannamangai. At Jambavanodai near Muthuppetai, there is an ancient and glorified dargah, a mosque. The triumvirate of Carnatic music, Shri Thiyagaraja Brahmam, Shri Muthuswamy Dheekshathar and Shyma Shastri were born here and this adds admiration, dignity and glory to this district.
Agriculture is the principal occupation in Thiruvarur district. More than 70% of the total work force is dependent upon agriculture. Paddy is the principal crop of the district. This district forms part of the rice bowl of Tamil Nadu. The district has occupied a predominent place in agricultural sector due to its alluvial soil blessed by “Mother Cauvery” and her numerous branches, which serve as main source of irrigation.
The mangrove forests in Muthuppettai, occupies an important place among the nature’s beauty of this district. The government declared the Muthupettai mangrove forest as revenue forest in February 1937 and, accordingly, the mangrove forest was handed over to the forest department of the Madras presidency. The forest is maintained by the Tamil Nadu Forest Department.
Thiruvarur district was created as a separate district on 1.1.97 as per G.O.M.S. No. 681/ Revenue Department, dated 25.7.1996 by carving out 9 Blocks from the composite Nagapattinam district and 1 Block from Thanjavur district with Thiruvarur as district headquarters. Thiruvarur district is divided into 2 Revenue Divisions; 8 Taluks, 10 Blocks and 573 Revenue Villages.