Chidambaram Natarajar temple – the cosmic dancer


Chidambaram Natarajar temple
“the cosmic dancer”

        OM Namashivaya Vazhga Nanthanthazh Vazhga Imaipoluthum Yen Nanjil Neegathan thal Vazhga – Thennatudaya Sivane Potri Yennatavarukum Iraiva Potri Potri

Thus Shiva puranam hails the praise of Lord Shiva “The slayer of Evil’. There are surplus Siva temples located all over the world and mainly throughout India. People of Indian subcontinent revere Lord Shiva with utmost dedication. This God of Eternity is known for his miraculous deeds and omnipresence.
Visiting all Shiva shrines is a herculean task, but some of the Shiva shrines are must to visit in our lifetime. One such remarkable Shiva temple is Chidambaram Natarajar temple. “The Cosmic dance” Natarajar graces here and showers his blessings to all the faithful devotees.

Chidambaram Natarajar temple

About the temple

Chidambaram Natarajar temple is one of the icons of Tamilnadu located in the centre of Chidambaram city. This ancient temple in one among the Pancha Bootha Sthalas that represtent the element Air ( Akasha). The other temples that repreent remaining four elements are Thiruvanaikaval Jambukeswara,Trichy (water), Kanchi Ekambareswara (earth)Kanchipuram, Thiruvannamalai Arunachaleswara (fire),Thiruvanna malai and Kalahasti Nathar (wind),Kalahasti.
The Temple complex sprawls across an area of 50 acres right at the heart of the city. The peculiarity of this temple is that this in one among very few temples that house both Lord Shiva ( Lord Natarajar) and Lord Vishnu ( Lord Govindarajar perumal).

Meaning of Chidambaram

The Word Chidambaram is derive from Chit Which means “ Consciousness” and Ambaram which means “ Sky”. These both words combine together as Chidambaram that means “ the sky of consciousness’ which is the ultimate goat of every human soul according to the Vedas. Yet another meaning of the name suggests that Chitu – Ambalam, Chitu manes the “celestial dance” and Ambala means “ the stage”. And so the Lord here is found in a cosmic dance position.

Uniqueness of this temple

Mystery is entwined with this temple. The whole temple is built in way that it has numerous secret rooms, tunnels and lockers. This temple is one of its few kinds where lord Shiva graves in the bejewelled image of Natarajar rather that the classic anionic Lingam. This posture represents the cosmic dance of Lord Nataraja. This celestial dance symbolises the motion of the universe as sustained by Lord Shiva.

The Myth behind this temple

The Lord here is also known as the “Thillai Natarajar” and this is because many thousand years ago this part of Tamilnadu was filled with Thillai trees. The legend has it that, in this Thillai forest a group of arrogant rishis resided with their families. There were very proud of their incredible skills in Vedas and magic. In order to kill their pride, Lord Shiva disguised as petite beggar seeking for alms, accompanied by Lord Vishnu disguised as Mohini. The rishis and their wives are enchanted by the brilliance and the beauty of the handsome mendicant and his consort. This evoked the rage of rishis to see their womanhood being mesmerised by these two invaders. To teach them a lesson all rishis raised a yahas and through with thousands of vicious snakes (nagas) came out to devour the ladies. The Lord as the mendicant lifts the serpents and dons them as ornaments on his matted locks, neck and waist. This again raised the anger of the rishis, and they invoked a fierce tiger, which Lord Shiva dons as the waist dress. Enraged rishis finally invoked a powerful demon named Muyalakan. Lord shiva simply stamped on this demon, immobilises him and performs the Anandha Thandavam and finally discloses his true form. Seeing this miraculous sight all the rishis surrender, realizing that this Lord is the ultimate truth and he is beyond magic and rituals.
Another lore states that, in the ancient days Chidambaram city is widely known as Thillai as it was then a wide mangrove forest with Thillai trees. The legend has it that many thousand years ago there was a small Shiva temple near a water tank, in this temple two very pious saints named Vyagrapada and Patanjali did severe penance on Lord Shiva. After their constant prayers and penance, Lord Shiva was please by their penance and as a symbol of acceptance he did his sacred cosmic dance before them.

The cosmic dance and its significance

This cosmic dance posture of Lord Shiva is one of the famous postures known around the world. This celestial dance position shows the perfect and the toughest posture in the Bharatanatyam dance. Each part of the Natarajar statue signifies something.

  • The demon under his feet symbolised arrogance and pride.
  • The fire in his hand represents the power of destruction (destroyer of evil)
  • The raised backward hands signify the supremacy of Lord Siva over the world
  • The sacred ring at the back represents the cosmos
  • The drum in the hand signifies the origin of life and the rotation of earth

Best time to visit

Summer (March-May)
Monsoon (June – September)
Winter (December – February)
Summer (March-May)

• Temperature ranges between 30°C and 41°C

• Climate is so hot

Monsoon (June – September)
• Beautiful showers enrich the place
Winter (December – February)
• Temperature ranges between 21°C and 30°C

How to get there

By Air

Nearest airports are

• Tiruchirapalli (TRZ) -195 km away

• Chennai (MAA) – 245 km

By Rail

Chidambaram is exactly located on the
Chennai-Tiruchirapalli line of the Southern Railway. It is well connected with
all the cities of India.

Tiruchirapalli – 95 km   Chennai – 245 km Madurai
– 335 km

Rameswaram – 575 km Bangalore – 340 km 
Tirupati – 290 km

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