According to history, the central temple in Tiruvarur was installed by Muchukanta Chola. Tiruvarur is also associated with another legendary king, Manuneedhi Cholan.
Tiruvarur is mentioned in the works of Thirugnana Sambanthar and Tirunavukkarasar, the foremost Saivite saints of 7th century CE. Tirunavukkarasar mentions several Tiruvarur temple traditions, such as Marghazhi Aathirai Vizha, Panguni Uttirai Perunaal and Veedhivitakanin Veedhi Panni. The granite structure of the Tyagarajaswami temple was first constructed by Aditya Chola I in 9th century and revamped during the reign of Rajaraja Chola I. The temple was upgraded and rebuilt with stone by Rajendra Chola I. The royal patronage continued and the town flourished as a cultural centre during the rule of the Nayaks, Vijayanagar kings and Marathas. This temple is one of the biggest in the country and this has the biggest temple chariot in Tamil Nadu. The chariot is very beautiful and Arulmigu Thyagarajaswamy Car festival celebrated here in months of March -April attracts large crowds. Tiruvarur car is very famous one and it is called as 'Aalithre' in Tamil meaning car like ocean.
In this temple there is an excellent and unique musical instrument called "Panchamuga Vadyam" with five faces. Each face is ornamented; one with a snake, another with lotus and another one is plain without decorations. One has a Swastik sign. Over each face leather is spread and over the central one Deerskin is spread. It is said that Nanchi Devi played on this instrument when Lord Shiva danced.
The current Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Dr. M.Karunanidhi, was born in the village of Thirukuvalai, near Tiruvarur, and spent his childhood here.
Tiruvaur was part of the Thanjavur District until 1991 and Nagapattinam District until 1997. Tiruvarur was made the headquarters of Tiruvarur District when it was carved out of Nagapattinam in 1997.
A region inside the town called Kodikkal Palayam and Adiyakkamangalam forms a major Muslim dominated area.
Thiruvarur car festival 2008 was celebrated very grandly.The people came from all the surrounding areas.
Tiruvarur is located to the east of Tamil Nadu, roughly halfway between the northern and southern borders. It has an average elevation of 3 metres (9 ft). Tiruvarur is situated at a distance of 24 km from Nagapattinam, 40 km from Karaikal, 40 km from Mayiladuthurai, 40 km from Kumbakonam, 56 km from Thanjavur, 27 km from Mannargudi and 28 km from Thiruthuraipoondi.