Thillai Nataraja Temple is popularly known as- Chidambaram Temple. This is a famous Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva located in the heart of the temple town of Chidambaram,Tamil Nadu).The temple , 78 km south of Pondicherry and 235 Km from Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu state of southeastern India. The Sangam classics refer to Viduvelvidugu Perumtaccan, respected clan of traditional Vishwakarmas, as being the chief architect of the temple renovation. There have been several renovations in its history, particularly during the days of Pallava/Chola emperors in ancient and pre-medieval periods. Chidambaram is one of the five holiest Shiva temples, each representing one of the five natural elements; Chidambaram represents akasha (aether). The other four temples in this category are: Thiruvanaikaval Jambukeswara,Trichy (water), Kanchi Ekambareswara (earth)Kanchipuram, Thiruvannamalai Arunachaleswara (fire),Thiruvanna malai and Kalahasti Nathar (wind),Kalahasti.
A unique feature of this temple is the bejeweled image of Nataraja. It depicts the Lord Shiva as the Lord of the dance Bharatanatyam and is one of the few temples where Shiva is represented by an anthropomorphic murthi rather than the classic, anionic Lingam. The Cosmic Dance of Lord Nataraja symbolises the motion of the universe as sustained by Lord Shiva. The temple has five courts.Aragalur Udaya Iraratevan Ponparappinan (alias Vanakovaraiyan) rebuilt the Siva temple at Chidambaram around 1213 AD. The same Bana Chief also built Tiruvannamalai temple.The temple has been traditionally administered by an endogamous group of shiavite brahmins called Dikshitar, who also officiate as its priest.
MahaShivratri is celebrated with
a great show and pomp annually to pay homage to Shiva. A single Darshan of
Vishweshwara Jyotirlinga on this auspicious day is considered to merit more
than the Darshan of other jyotirlingas, scattered in various parts of India.
People also gather to commemorate various other occasions such as- Shrawan
Maas,Deepawali and Holi with a great zeal.
How To Reach:
The temple is 78 km south of Pondicherry and 235 Km from Chennai which is the capital of Tamil Nadu state of south-eastern India. It is easily accessible through rails, flights, cabs and buses.
Literature talks of a tradition of Shiva (Nataraja) worship in existence even as early as the Sangam period .The later Chola Kings adorned the roof of the shrine with gold, and the other Chola Kings treated Nataraja as their guardian deity and made several endowments to the temple.The Pandya Kings who followed them, and the later Vijayanagar rulers made several endowments to the temple.
Legends associated with this temple: Aadi Sesha, the serpent (couch) of Vishnu, heard from Vishnu the grandeur of Shiva's cosmic dance and Nataraja: The dance of bliss, or the Ananda Tandavam of Shiva is said to symbolize the five divine acts (pancha krityas) of creation, sustenance, dissolution, concealment and bestowment of grace.
Inside the temple complex, the main is in 50 acres in the heart of the city. It is a very sacred, ancient and historic temple dedicated to Lord Shiva Nataraja and Lord Govindaraja Perumal, one of the few temples where both the Shaivite and Vaishnavite deities are enshrined in one place. This temple is gold-roofed stage and the sanctum sanctorum of the Chidambaram temple houses the Lord in three forms:
the first one is in the anthromorphological form as an appearance of Lord Nataraja, called the Sakala thirumeni.
thesecond one is in
"semi-form" – the semi-anthropomorphological form as the Crystal
linga of Chandramouleswarar, the Sakala nishkala thirumeni and the last one is
"formless" – as the Space in Chidambara Rahasyam, an empty space
within the sanctum sanctorum, the Nishkala thirumeni.