Cumbum is located at 9.73°N 77.3°E. It has an average elevation of 391 metres (1282 feet). One can see the backdrop of Kodaikanal Hills from Cumbum. Apart from that Cumbum has most vigorous activity in agriculture.
Cumbum town is located in the Theni District of Tamil Nadu, near Kerala State, geographically located between 9°30′N and 10°11′N, and between 77°E and 77°30′E. It is the third largest town in Theni district after Theni and Bodinayakanur. The soil in this region is mostly red soil in nature. Agriculture plays a vital role for its developmental activities. Crops like Paddy, Coconut, Groundnut and various kinds of fruits and vegetables are being cultivated in this area.
It has many worship places, among them Sri. Kambaraya Perumal Kovil, Sri. Gowmariyamman Kovil, Sri. Nandha Gopal Samy Kovil, Mosques, three churches are situated for a prolong period. The town is well connected by the district roads with nearby urban and Rural Town and villages but not connected by Railways. Average maximum temperatures are 41.6 °C and 31.6 °C respectively. The average annual rainfall is around 836 mm with the town getting its share if rainfall during the Southwest Monsoon.
The major source of water for drinking and agriculture comes from the Periyar River which flows Diverted from the state of Kerala. Suruli Falls which is 10 km from Cumbum is surrounded by mountains The nearest airport is Madurai and Kochi International Airport (Kerala) which is 175 km by road. Thekkady (Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary Kerala) which is a tourist destination in Kerala state, is 30 km from Cumbum, near Kumily which is a border town between the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
Cumbum is a valley, surrounded by hills. The eastern side of the hills constituting seven dams on the hills. In the South, the famous tourist attraction, "Thekkady" is situated Kerala. Cumbum is famous for its coconut & cardamom trading market.
The name Cumbum has derived from the famous temple of Lord Narayana (Cumbaraya Perumal) around which the town has been built. Viswanatha Nayak wanted to build a temple for Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu at a single site.
The newspaper Dhinamalar quotes " A king ruling this region then desired to build a temple for Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu at a single site. Perumal appeared in his dream and said that there was a stone post at the foot hills of western ghats and that His idol was there. The king found Perumal there and installed Him here. As the Lord was found under a stone post (Cumbam), He was named Kambaraya Perumal and the place Cumbam. He also brought a Shivalinga from Kasi-Varanasi and built the Shiva temple. He celebrated the consecration of the temples the same day. The Holy tree Vanni is worshipped as Lord Brahmma. People thus have the opportunity of worshipping Lords Shiva, Vishnu and Brahmma in a single temple. "  This temple is considered a popular holy place in Theni District.
The caste present day cumbum is vellars(pillai),mukkulathor and seizable population belongs to Vokkaliga Gounders or Gowders community and historically they started clearing forests and tilling the land. During the British period, after the enactment of the Criminal Tribes Act, several settlements were created by the government and members belonging to the notified communities were uprooted from their original habitations and settled here. The British officers posted in the area started regularizing land holdings based on good faith and track record. Cumbum is famous for the bullock cart (rekhla) racing heritage. Every year during the Bagavathi Amman temple festival, bullock cart races takes place. Till 13th century, Cumbum was ruled by Cholas. However afterwards they were weak and subsequently Vijayanagar dynasty conquered this area. In 1374, "Sambanar" a king of Vijayanagara dynasty conquered the then Chola kings. In remembrance of that he built a fort which is now the Kambarayar temple.
Viswanatha Nayakkar a representative of Vijaya Nagara dynasty when ruled Madurai, constructed temple for Kambaraya Perumal and Kasi Viswanathar inside the fort. This area was once ruled by kambalathars, Kamba Nayakkar and Uthama Nayakkar. This also cited as one of the reasons for the name of Cumbum. It was one of the 72 Palayams formed by Viswanatha Nayakkar. There were high rise walls around the fort to monitor enemies which can be seen even now. Now it is called as Mottaiandi temple. The gates of the forts are historic symbols today.
In Silappathigaram, when Kovalan was executed, Kannagi walked along the river of Vaigai and came to Cumbum, Gudalur and from a rock from there, she went to the sky. So, this area was initially called "Vinnaethi Parai" - A rock from where sky was reached. Later the word got changed to "Vannathi Parai". In remembrance of Kannagi, a river is named after her which is now called "Koothanatch river".
Another historical temple is Nandha Gopalan temple. Mattu Pongal is very famous in this temple. All the nearby villagers come here with Bullock carts. We can get clay made bullocks during this festival.
The people of kambam and near by villages played a vital role in the Construction of Mullai periyar dam. When Colonel Pennycuick decided to divert the west-flowing Periyar (river)'s culmination in the Arabian Sea towards the East so that it could irrigate lakhs of acres of dry land depending only on Vaigai river. Though Pennycuick and other British Engineers went ahead with the construction, braving the nature's fury and the dangers of poisonous insects and wild animals, the construction works were disrupted by relentless rain. Large number of sand bags kept for the construction of the dam was destroyed due to severe flood. Since he could not get adequate funds from the British government, Pennycuick went to England and sold his family property to mobilize money to fund the project (Citation Needed) and also the local Land lords from Kambam,Gudalur provides the fund and manpower to construct the dam and it was completed in 1895. Pennycuick used lime stones and surki paste for construction taking into consideration the gravitational force this allows the dam to withstand tremors and remain strong.There was a shortage of Lime stones Pennycuick met Kathiraiya gouder and asked for the fund which will help to manage the further construction. Kathiraiya gouder provided the materials and asked the people of kambam to ship those materials to the forest area where the construction is going on. For this contribution Pennycuick honoured Kathiraiya Gouder by giving the name kallu Gouder means who provided the stones for the construction. People in this area are worshiping Colonel John Pennycuick as a God. Every Year 15 January Pennycuick Birthday is celebrated in grandly manner in Kambam and its surroundings.