Karur District has a very long history and has been sung by many poets of Sangam period. In history, it has been the battle ground of various Tamil Kings like Chera, Chola, Pandya and Pallavas because of its strategic location. The district has a very rich and varied cultural heritage.

The name Karur may have derived its name from Karuvoor Thevar, one of nine devotees who sung Thiruvichaippa, a divine music. He is the single largest composer among the nine authors of Thiruvichaippa. He lived during the reign of the great Raja Raja Chola-I. In addition to the famous Siva temple, there is a Vishnu temple at Thiruvithuvakkodu, a suburb of Karur, sung by famous Kulasekara Alwar [7-8th century AD] who was the ruler of Kongu nadu. The same temple is presumably mentioned in epic Silappadikaram as Adaha maadam Ranganathar.

Karur is one of the oldest towns in Tamil Nadu and has played a very significant role in the glorious history and culture of the Tamils. Its history dates to centuries before Christ and has been a flourishing trading centre even in the early Sangam days. Epigraphic, Numismatic, Archaeological and Literary evidence has proved beyond doubt that Karur was the capital of early Chera Kings of Sangam age. It was called Karuvoor or Vanji during Sangam days. There has been a plethora of rare findings during the archaeological excavations undertaken in Karur. These include mats, designed pottery, bricks, mud toys, Roman coins, Chera Coins, Pallava Coins, Roman Amphorae, Russet coated ware, and rare rings etc.

Karur has been built on the banks of river Amaravathi that was called Annaporunai during the Sangam days. The names of the early Chera kings, who ruled from Karur, have been found in the rock inscriptions in Aru Nattar Malai close to Karur. The Tamil Epic Silapathikaram mentions that the famous Chera King, Cheran Senguttuvan, ruled from Karur. After the early Cheras, Karur was conquered and ruled by Pandyas followed by Pallavas and later Chloas. Karur was ruled for a long time by Chola Kings, and the Naickers followed by Tippu Sultan also ruled Karur. The British added Karur to their possessions after destroying the Karur Fort during their war against Tippu Sultan in 1783. There is a memorial at Rayanur near Karur for the warriors who lost their lives in the fight against the British in the Anglo Mysore war.

Thereafter, Karur became part of British India and was first part of Coimbatore District and later Tiruchirappalli District. On 30th September 1995, Karur district was formed by trifurcation of Tiruchirappalli district.