The Chidambaram Nataraja Temple in Chidambaram in Tamil Nadu is one of the Pancha Bhoota Stalas (the five Shiva temples). The main deity is in the form of Spatika Lingam – the sky element. Also, the 9 gateways of the temple signify the 9 orifices in the human body.
What is the history of Chidambaram Nataraja Temple?
The history of Chidambaram Nataraja Temple starts with the legend of Lord Shiva strolling into the Thillai Vanam. Vanam means forest and Thillai trees are a species of mangrove trees. In the Thillai forests lived sages who believed that God can be controlled using mantras and rituals.
Lord Shiva walked in the forest with great beauty, assuming the form of Bhikshatana, a simple mendicant seeking alms. Vishnu followed him as Mohini.
The sages and their wives were enchanted by the beauty of Shiva. On seeing their womenfolk enchanted, the rishis got angry and invoked scores of nagas by performing magical rituals. However, Lord Shiva lifted the serpents and donned them as ornaments on His locks, neck and waist. Further enraged, the sages invoked a fierce tiger. But Shiva used its skins and dons as a shawl around His waist.
The rishis then gathered all their spiritual strength and invoked a powerful demon Muyalakan – a symbol of complete arrogance and ignorance. Lord Shiva wore a gentle smile, stepped on the demon’s back, immobilized him and performed the Ánanda Tandava (the dance of eternal bliss). It then disclosed his true form. Hence, the sages surrendered.
Adhisesha, the serpent who serves as a bed for the Lord, hears about the Ananda Tandava and yearns to see and enjoy it. The Lord blesses him, beckoning him to assume the saintly form of ‘Patanjali’. He then sends him to the Thillai forest, informing him that he will display the dance in due course.
When was Chidambaram Nataraja Temple constructed?
This temple is significant to the shaivites and is famous for its grand architecture. Also, the Sangam classics refer to Viduvelvidugu Perumtaccan as the chief architect of the temple complex. There have been several renovations in its history, particularly during the days of Pallava or Chola emperors in ancient and pre-medieval periods.
Perumtaccan of the respected clan of Vishwakarmas constructed and maintained the early structure of Chidambaram temple. The Chola king, Parantaka I laid the golden roof of the Chitambalam. In those flourishing times, kings Rajaraja Chola I and Kulothunga Chola I made significant donations to the temple.
he temple sculptures depicting the Thillai trees date back to the 2nd century CE. The word “Koyil” or temple in the Tamil Shaivite tradition refers to none other than the Thillai Natarajar Temple.
What is the significance of Chidambaram Nataraja Temple?
The significance of Chidambaram Temple is that it is one of the Panchabootha Sthalas and worships the Lord as sky or Aagayam. It is here that the hymns of three great Shaivite Saints were discovered. It is located at the Lotus heart of the Universe”: Virat hridaya padma sthalam.
Moreover, Lord Shiva is in three forms in Chidambaram, as visible idol form, formless as Akasha or space and form and formless as a Spatika Linga..
The spot where the Lord displayed the Ananada Tandava, the Ponnambalam/ Porsabai (Pon meaning gold, Ambalam/Sabai meaning stage) houses the Lord Shiva in his dancing form. The Lord is also hence famous as the Sabhanayakar, meaning the Lord of the Stage.
The Garbhagriha is a stage of the temple and houses the Lord in three forms. The “form” refers to the anthromorphological form as an appearance of Lord Nataraja, called the Sakala thirumeni; the “semi-form” – the semi-anthropo-morphological form as the Crystal linga of Chandramouleswarar;
the “formless” – as the Space in , an empty space within the Garbhagriha, the Nishkala thirumeni.
What are the timings of Chidambaram Nataraja Temple?
The timings of Chidambaram nataraja temple are:
|Morning Darshan||6 AM||12 PM|
|Evening Darshan||5 PM||10 PM|
|Pal Nivedhayam||6:30 AM|
|Maha Arati||7 AM|
|kalashandhi Pooja||7:45 AM||9:45 AM|
|Irandam Kalaam||10 AM||11 AM|
|Uchhikalam||11:30 AM||12 PM|
|Saayarakhshai||5 PM||6 PM|
|Irandam Kalaam||7 PM||8 PM|
|Ardhajanam||9 PM||10 PM|
Which festivals are celebrated at Chidambaram Nataraja Temple?
Some festivals celebrated at Chidambaram nataraja temple are:
The 10 day Margazhi festival in December-January is one of the most important festivals that begin on the day prior to Tiruvadhirai star day with flag hoisting. The importance of the festival is that it is for Saivite Saint Manickavasagar.
The Vidayathi festival is both for the Lord and the saint.
The 10 day Aani Tirumanjanam festival begins with flag hoisting. It takes place 10 days earlier of Uthira star day. Also, from day one to the eighth day of the festival, procession of deities like Somaskanda, Shivananda Nayaki, Vinayaka, Subramania and Chandeswararm (panchamurthis) takes place in silver and gold vahans.
How to reach Chidambaram Nataraja Temple?
Here’s how to reach Chidambaram Nataraja Temple:
- Air: The nearest airport is Trichy that is 195km away and Chennai that is 235 km away.
- Rail: Local trains connect Chidambaram to Trichy and other major cities of Tamil Nadu.
- Road: There are requent buses from Andhra, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu to Chidambaram. Locally auto rickshaw is the best mode of transport.
Where to stay near Chidambaram Nataraja Temple?
Some places where one can stay near Chidambaram Nataraja Temple are:
- Hotel Akhshaya at Gandhi Nagar, Chidambaram has comfortable accommodations for tourists visiting Chidambaram. It is 1.8km away from the Chidambaram railway station. Also, it has a wide range of comfort delicacies.
- Hotel Lakshmi Vilas Heritage at T Neduncheri, Chidambaram is has a big complex. The hotel gives the tourists a chance to enjoy living in pollution free atmosphere. It is only 12 km away from the Chidambaram railway station.
What are some temples near Chidambaram Nataraja Temple?
Some of the temples near Chidambaram nataraja Temple:
- The Thillai Kali Amman Temple is famous for its presiding deity who is Goddess Parvathi in the form of Mahakali. Moreover, the idol is truly lively and magnificent to look at.
- The Tiruvetkalam temple is adjacent to the Anamalai university complex. It is also a great place to visit for its peaceful and resplendent structure.