The name 'Salem' appears to have been derived from Sela or Shalya by which the term refers to the country around the hills, as in the inscriptions. Local tradition claims Salem as the birth place of Tamil poetess Avvaiyar.
The town is surrounded by an amphitheatre of hills, the Nagarmalai in the north, the Jeragamalai in the south, the Kanjanamalai on the west and Godumalai on the east. It is divided by the Thirumanimuthar in the main division. The fort is the oldest place of the tow
Salem was taken from Hyder by Colonel Wood in the beginning of 1768. But it was recaptured by Hyder 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of the residents stationed at Sankari drag and remained a military station till 1861 when the troops were altogether withdrawn.