Tiruvannamalai is a town in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The town covers an area of 16.33 km2 (6.31 sq mi) and had a population of 144,278 as of 2011. It is the administrative headquarters of Tiruvannamalai District. Roadways are the major mode of transport in Tiruvannamalai, while the town also has rail connectivity. Chennai International Airport is the nearest domestic and international airport to the town. Tiruvannamalai is named after the central deity of the Annamalaiyar Temple, Annamalaiyar. The Karthigai Deepam festival is celebrated during the day of the full moon between November and December, and a huge beacon is lit atop the Annamalai hill. The event is witnessed by three million pilgrims. On the day preceding each full moon, pilgrims circumnavigate the temple base and the Annamalai hills in a worship called Girivalam, a practice carried out by one million pilgrims yearly.Located on the foothills of Annamalai hills, Tiruvannamalai has been ruled by the Pallavas, the Medieval Cholas, the Later Cholas, Hoysalas, the Vijayanagar Empire, the Carnatic kingdom, Tipu Sultan, and the British. It served as the capital city of the Hoysalas. The town is built around the Annamalaiyar Temple like other Nayak capitals. Tiruvannamalai is administered by a special-grade a municipality constituted in 1886. Tiruvannamalai has an average elevation of 200 metres (660 ft) and experiences a hot and humid climate. Being a pilgrimage town, most of the people are employed in the teritiary sector. There are 25 elementary schools, nine high schools, 18 higher secondary schools, four arts & science colleges, one government medical college and four engineering colleges in the town.