This temple has been mentioned in the Sangam period work Tirumurugaatruppadai composed by Nakkeerar.Legend also has it that Indra the king of the Gods gave his daughter Deivayanai in marriage to Skanda, and along with her presented his elephant Airavatam as part of his dowry offering. Upon Airavatam's departure Indra found his wealth waning. Subramanyar is said to have offered to return the white elephant, however Indra bound by protocol refused to accept a gift that he had made, and insisted that the elephant face his direction, hence the image of the elephant in this temple also faces the east.
Apart from its puranic greatness, Saint Arunagirinathar has praised this hill as the chosen place for worship by devas and the favorite abode of saints performing prolonged tapas. He also compared this hill to Sivaloka (Bhuloka) and as the very soul of the world. Sri Muttuswami Deekshitar, who lived 200 years ago (one of the trinity of Carnatic music) had his inspiration in Tiruttani when the Lord (in the guise of an old man) met him on the steps and sweetened his tongue with the prasadam of this temple, which impelled him to compose and render his first krithi "Shri Nathadhi Guruguho Jayathi Jayathi"(song) on Lord Murugan of Tanikai. The temple vimanam was covered by gold
Besides the monthly Krittikais which attract a large number of devotees to this shrine, the two outstanding annual festivals are the Aadi Krittikai and the 31st of December New Year Step Festival. The float festival is celebrated in the month of Aadi, Bhramotsavam in the month of Maasi, during which Valli Kalyanam is celebrated on the 8th day, and the Skanda Sashti is celebrated in the Tamil month of Aippasi.
Aadi Krittikai festival (in July–August) lasts for three days with Float Festival when hundreds of thousands of devotees come to this holy place from far and near. The streets are thronged to the full. About one fifty thousand flower kavadis (which increase with each year) are offered to the deity. The sight of the devotees who carry them, uttering the sacred and inspiring "Haro Hara!" as they march and dance in long rows touches the very core of devotees' hearts and makes them spellbound.
When the new year srikes on 31st dec midnight, hundreds of thousands of devotees are present on the sacred Tanikai hill to have the darshan of their Lord. They come to Tiruttani to offer their heart-felt prayers to our Lord on that day and night to be blessed with peace and plenty during the New Year. This festival came into vogue during the British Raj when the famous Vallimalai Swamigal persuaded his followers to offer their homage first to Lord Tanigesan, the giver of all good, and only then to their official bosses. On this day, numerous bhajana parties gather and ascend the hill, singing the melodious Tiruppugazh songs and burning camphor on each of the hill's 365 steps, one for each day of the New Yea