Chidambaram Temple

About The Temple

The temple is more than three thousand and five hundred years old. Origin of the temple is shrouded in the mystery, but there are legends that explore its connections with the Patanjali saint. The latter happens to be the founder father of Yoga. According to the classical account of the Sangam, Viduvelvidugu Perumtaccan, was the chief renovator of this Pancha Bhuta Sthala. The temple had undergone a sequential series of renovation, some of which had taken place during the Chola reign. In fact, the temple in its existing form testifies to the high-end planning and exemplary craftsmanship of the Chola dynasty.

Spiritual and historical relevance of the temple

The southern part of the country boasts of five acclaimed Shiva temples. Each is a representation of the natural elements that comprise the Mother Earth. Chidambaram Temple Tamil Nadu is the representation of the ether element. The respective courtyards signify the earth, water, fire, air and the ether elements. You may be interested in visiting a Pancha Bhoota Sthala. In that case, you should make it a point to visit the temple as it is the symbolic representation of the ether element.

Presiding deity of the temple

Thillai Koothan or the Master Dancer happens to be the presiding deity of this particular temple. Thillai Koothan or Thillai Natarajah represents the Lord as the master dancer. It is the only temple that upholds the anthropomorphic form of the Lord Shiva, where the Lord finds himself in the middle of the cosmic activities. The predominant deity has a consort in the form of the Shivakami Amman. Nataraja embodies the cosmic energy while the Amman happens to be the representation of the female energy. The dancing pose of the deity has inspired the classical dance form of the Bharatnatyam.

Description of the deities

A bronze image represents the cosmic essence of the Lord. The inscription is essentially Tamilian, and the sculpture signifies the style statements of the Chola architecture Chidambaram Temple Tamil Nadu. In fact, the bronze motif that represents cosmic brilliance of the Lord has become the standardized symbol of the Hindu and Shaivite religious faith.

Existence of several shrines

The temple doesn’t have one but several shrines of different types. The shrines are grand to look at, and include other deities such as Ganesha, Vishnu, and Murugaan.

Worshipping procedures and rituals

The daily cycle of ritual consists of seven different offerings. Since there are seven distinct offerings that are made in the course of a day; you should take note of the different slots that exist in the Chidambaram Temple timing. Proceeding for the day, starts off at quarter to seven in the morning. Proceedings begin with the performance of the awakening ceremony. The official closure takes place at half past ten in the night, with the Lord being taken across in a palanquin to his bed chamber. Fire sacrifice and holy ablution take place after the completion of the awakening ceremony. Around twelve in the noon, the priest performs the main puja protocol by burning lamps and making offerings in silver. An umbrella in silver apart from a lamp is extended to the cosmic figure of Nataraja.

Special occasions celebrated

Chariot Festival of the Lord Nataraja is one of the major hallmarks of attraction. The midwinter festivity attracts tourists and pilgrimage, in large numbers. The festival brings to light the cosmic force of the divine deity. In this context, it is worth noting that the Chidambaram Temple is responsible for leading the festive spree that takes place with the emergence of the Arudra star. The temple channelizes yet another festive occasion that calls itself as the Ani Tirumanjam. The latter covers a time frame of eleven days. The proceedings start off with the ceremonial flag hosting. The performance of yoga, in the course of daily procession that takes place, is the leading point of attraction. The procession upholds the five images of the Lord that are placed atop specially designed palanquins.

Pilgrimage value of the temple

The temple finds its esteemed presence in the “Virat Hriday Padma Sthalan”. The place is supposed to be the representation of the universe’s lotus heart, where the Lord once performed his cosmic dance. It is auspicious to be at one with the place where the Lord gave expression to his ultimate blissfulness. The temple is also supposed to be a holy representation of the Pancha Bhootha Sthala. The fact that you can get a feel of the five main cosmic elements is another proposition that adds to the pilgrimage value of the South Indian temple.

How To Reach

The abode of the Dancing Shiva (Nataraja) is the leading hotspot of attraction. Your visit to the regions of Chennai or that of Pondicherry will remain incomplete if you don’t explore the architectural and the religious exuberance of the Chidambaram Temple. It isn’t difficult to access the temple either from Chennai or Pondicherry.


  • By train: There are regular train services connecting Chidambaram to the surrounding regions of Chennai, Kumbakonam and Tanjore. From Chennai, it takes six hours’ journey; while from, the other two places, it takes two and four hours journey to reach the temple destination at Chidambaram.
  • By airway: The region is yet to have an air terminal of its own, but you can approach Chidambaram via the nearby terminals of Pondicherry and Tiruchirapolly. The temple destination is fifty-one kilometers away from the Pondicherry Airport, and 127 kilometers away from the Civil Airport of Tiruchirapolly.
  • By road: As long as you are in the state of Tamil Nadu; it doesn’t matter where you are. Almost from every single spot, you will avail of bus routes that serve as the connective link to Chidambaram.


Attractive hotspots in and around Chidambaram

You may have decided to channelize your touring itinerary, either from or Bangalore or from Chennai. In that case, it will not be wise to give a miss to Chidambaram. Aside from the temple that happens to be the fulcrum of attraction; the place is replete with a diverse array of sightseeing options. The destination is not only safe but also appropriate for taking a break with the friends and family.

  • As a pilgrimage to the religiously vibrant state of Tamil Nadu; do make it a point to pay a visit to the Vaitheeswaran Koil. Much in the vein of Chidambaram Temple, the former also celebrates the divine essence of Lord Shiva. But here, in the Vaitheeswaran Koil, you will come across the healing essence of the Lord.
  • The devout worshippers of Lord Shiva and the Goddess Kali will love visiting Thillai Kali Amman Temple here in Chidambaram. It finds its location on the northern side of the Chidambaram Temple. Goddess Kali of this particular temple has four separate faces. The particular feature happens to be the distinguishing hallmark of the Thillai Kali Amman Temple.
  • There are lots more to wait and expect from the religiously significant destination of Chidambaram. The place is strewn with the traditionally architected South Indian temples including Shivakamiaman temple, Chathapurinathar temple, Tiruvektalam temple, Vaideeswarn temple and the Tirunelvayil Temple. Incidentally, most of these temples celebrate the multifaceted essence of Lord Shiva.
  • You can give a diversified edge to your traveling plan by visiting Neyveli (a lignite mine), Annamalai University and the deals and details of the ancient Danish settlement at Tarangambadi.

Historical cultural and the mythological significance

The temple is also designated as the Thillai Natarajah Temple. Incidentally, Thillai happens to be a botanical specialty of the mangrove forest. There is an interesting legend that finds an association with the Vanam of Thillai (the mangrove forest that houses the Chidambaram temple). The forest has a pond of lotus, and the pond encloses the Swayambhu linga-the phallic representation of Lord Shiva. It is said, that the Swaymbhu linga came into the existence, on its own. Swaymbhu that essentially implies self-existence justifies the natural origin of the phallic representation. It had come into being, as a result of the action and the interaction of the five elements of the nature.

There is another legend that happens to be an integral part of the Chidambaram Temple history. As per the story, Lord Shiva, in the form of a mendicant was taking a stroll around the forest that shone and dazzled in its resplendent beauty. In the course of his strolling, the Lord assumed the form of a mendicant. Lord Shiva in the form of mendicant also had Lord Vishnu as his accompaniment and consort. The two holy saints also visited the forest. One of the saints was Patanjali; while the other was Vyagrapada. Both belonged to the different places, but both received the same premonition. As part of the foretelling, they were asked to pay deep obeisance to the Swaymbhu linga. Upon the payment of deep respect to the linga, they would get to witness the cosmic dance of the Lord Shiva. So, the leading purpose was to see the cosmic danseuse formation of the Lord Nataraja.

Eventually, on an auspicious Thursday, the Lord came to perform his holy dance. The Saints managed to placate the lingam essence of the Lord Shiva, and after watching the cosmic performance, both of them acquired liberation. The Chidambaram Temple secret Tamil Nadu revolves around this story. It also justifies the origin of the Nataraja, who happens to be the presiding deity of the respective temple.