Monday, 18 November 2013

Chidambaram Natraja Swamy Temple (Aakasa Lingam)


Chidambaram or more correctly—Chittambalam (the atmosphere of wisdom).This is the temple dedicated to Lord Shiva found in his famous dancing pose with one leg in the air and consisting of four arms. The temple is honoured to Lord Shiva in his aspect of Nataraja or the form of the celestial Dancer. Lord Shiva is seen in the Ananda Tandavam dancing position. The position is taken from his victory upon Goddess Kali whom he defeated in the competition at the Tillai forest judged by Lord Vishnu himself.
 Here the Lord danced while blessing saints Patanjali and Vyagrapada, who were doing penance in the Thillai forests. The Cosmic Dance is a symbolic representation of the five-fold activities of God - Creation, Preservation, Destruction, Veiling (Maya) and Blessing. Sri Nataraja's Thandavams include Ananda Thandavam, Urdhwa Thandavam, Bhujanagatrasa Thandavam and Ajabha Thandavam. To the left is the Chidambara Rahasyam or the abode of akasha Lingam. Only a Prabha or circular arch and a Vel (spear) with a golden Bilva mala are worshipped. This is one of the Pancha Bhutha Lingams representing Akasha or Ether. This shrine remains curtained. The five silver-plated steps leading to the shrine represent the mystic five letters of Namasivaya. The shirne of Govindaraja Perumal is close to the Chit Sabha.

There is Akasa lingam in Chidambaram. Lord Nataraja, the presiding Deity of the temple is in dancing pose. His left leg is raised. The idol of Nataraja is enshrined in the Holy Sanctum, known as the Chit Sabha. There is a curtain behind the idol of Nataraja. This is removed on special occasions of worship. There is mere space which represents Nirguna Brahman, devoid of all names and forms. This is the Chidambara Rahasya. Lord Nataraja has come out of the attributeless Brahman.
There is a chakra (Chidambara Chakra) which contains the Panchakshara or five-letters of Lord Siva—Nama Sivaya—on the wall to the back of this idol.
There are five courts or Sabhas in the temple viz., the Chit Sabha, Kanaka Sabha, Raja Sabha or Durbar, the Nritta Sabha and the Deva Sabha.

Significance of Chidambaram temple:-

The Sangam classics which is referred 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 among the five holiest Shiva temples, each representing one of the five natural elements; Chidambaram represents akasha (ether). The other four temples in this category are the Thiruvanaikaval Jambukeswara,Trichy (water), Kanchi Ekambareswara (earth) Kanchipuram, Thiruvannamalai Arunachaleswara (fire),Thiruvannamalai and Kalahasti Nathar (wind),Kalahasti.

Chidambaram temple is one of the most ancient and most celebrated of shrines in India. It has been of great religious as well as historic and cultural significance. Chidambaram temple is mainly associated with Nataraja, or Shiva in his Ananda Tandava pose (the Cosmic Dance of bliss) in the cosmic golden hall and the hall of consciousness (Chit Sabha).

(Meaning of Chidambaram):-

The word Chidambaram may be derived from chit, meaning "consciousness", and ambaram, meaning "sky" (from aakasam or aakayam); it refers to the chidaakasam, the sky of consciousness, which is the ultimate aim one should attain according to all the Vedas and scriptures.Another theory is that it is derived from chit + ambalam. Ambalam means a "stage" for performing arts. The chidakasam is the state of supreme bliss or aananda and Lord Natarajar is the symbolic representation of the supreme bliss or aananda natanam. Saivaites believe that a visit to Chidambaram leads to liberation.Yet another theory is that it is derived from the word chitrambalam, from chithu meaning "play or dances of God" and ambalam meaning "stage"

Special features:-

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.

About Temple:-

The Shri Shiva Nataraja temple, also called Shri Sabhanayaka temple, Chidambaram, India. Notes by Raja Deekshitar.

The temple of Shiva Nataraja (Shri Sabhanayaka) of Chidambaram is one of the great temple complexes of South India. Chidambaram is situated some 250 km south of Chennai, about 10 km from the Bay of Bengal. (11½24½ North and 79½43½ East). The temple is the heart of the town with the complex measuring 18 hectares in total. The temple is a living religious institution, and it is therefore still developing.

The complex has a rectangular shape and is orientated on the cardinal directions. It is structured as five concentric courtyards or prakaras, four of which are accessible to the public, the fifth being only accessible to the priests as it lies within the walls of the main sanctum. The prakaras are separated by approximately 10 meter high granite walls . The two outermost walls have four entrance ways in each of the sides. But whereas the gateways and gopurams of other South Indian temples are orientated aligned into a cross, here the gopurams are placed in an asymmetrical pattern.

The fifth prakara, between the outer (fourth) wall and the third wall of enclosure, is in use for gardens. The four gopurams, pyramidal shaped temple gateways, are situated in the fourth prakara wall. Within this wall we find the main temple as well as the sacred tirtha or water place, and many subsidiary shrines and buildings.

Although the earliest historical references to the temple go back to the 6th century CE, there is now nothing within the complex that can be dated to before the 12th century with any certainty, except for the main sanctum, the Cit Sabha (Hall of Consciousness). This wooden structure on a granite base, covered with a gilded roof, is unique. Very unlike the garbhagriha (womb-house), the square sanctum sanctorum of other Hindu temples. It is rectangular and with a roof that is shaped with an unusual slant. Within the wooden walls lies the first prakara, a U shaped circumambulatory passage constructed of granite. This passage encloses the actual sanctum which houses the Shiva Nataraja Murti, the presiding deity of the temple, as well as several other divinities.

In front of the Cit Sabha we find the Kanaka Sabha (Golden Hall). This is a structure with a granite base, slightly lower than the base of the Cit Sabha, wooden doors and a copper covered wooden roof supported by granite pillars. Here many of the rituals of worship are performed, but at certain times devotees are allowed to have close darshan (viewing of, audience with) of the Nataraja in the sanctum from here. These two sabhas are at the centre of the central courtyard which is enclosed by a cloistered veranda. Around this veranda there are several shrines. A shrine to Govindaraja, the reclining form of Vishnu and one dedicated to Brahma-Chandikeshvara are also situated in this courtyard.

From this courtyard two entrances, on the East and on the South side, lead to the third prakara. Here we find the third sabha of the complex, the Nritta Sabha (Hall of Dance) a shrine in the form of a ratha or chariot; the Deva Sabha (Hall of Deities); a shrine for Mahalaksmi; the Mulasthana shrine, where Shiva is worshipped as Linga; a Kalyana Mandapa used for festivals; and a Yaga Shala where Vedic fire rituals are performed. Long hallways of high pillars capped by granite slabs turn this prakara into a cool shaded space reminiscent of a cathedral. This prakara has gates on the East and the West side to the fourth prakara. Flights of steps connect the two spaces, as the inner courtyards are as much as three meters lower then the surrounding courtyard, which has a pavement on street level.

In the fourth prakara we find the Raja Sabha (Royal Hall), also called 1000 Pillar Hall; a Hundred Pillars Hall; the Mukkuruni Vinayaka temple; the Sivakamasundari (Amman or Goddess) temple; the Pandya Nayaka or Subrahmanya temple; a shrine dedicated to nine Lingas, worshipped by the nine planets or Navagraha; a small Ganesha shrine; and a shrine dedicated to Sundaresvara and Minakshi, the presiding deities of the temple in Madurai.

From the fourth prakara four gopuras or temple gateways lead to the fifth prakara. The wall has a fifth passage next to the East gopuram, which is used for the festival processions.

Of the buildings found in the fourth prakara the Nava Linga shrine and the Mukkuruni Vinayaka shrine are ancient shrines but have undergone renovation in the later 19th century and no longer represent ancient architecture. The pillared passages of the third prakara also belong to this period of building, as does the cloister around the central courtyard. The Mulasthana shrine possibly belongs to the same period, or to the 18th century.

The Sivakamasundari temple, the Raja Sabha, the 100 Pillars Hall and the cloister and steps surrounding the Shivaganga tirtha (sacred water place) are generally attributed to the time of the later Cholas, (late 11th to 12th century CE) on the basis of epigraphical evidence. This agrees in general with the architecture as we can see it today. The small (1 pillar mandapam) Ganesha temple by the side of the 100 Pillars Hall also was build around this time.

The Nritta Sabha is also a building from the later Cholas. The kings of this period build many of this kind of ratha (chariot) shaped halls. The Deva Sabha is known to have been covered by a copper roof in the same period, but its architecture has not been analysed. Both shrines existed in some form before this time, as is known from tradition and historical sources.

The Govindaraja shrine in its present form was (re)estabished under the kings of Vijayanagara.

Three of the four towers or gopurams recieved their present form during the last phase of the Chola empire in the 13th century. The North gopuram was either build or renovated by Krishnadevaraya, a king of Vijayanagara, in the 16th century. The gopurams have a rectangular granite base, with granite representations of various deities in the niches. While the seven tapering upper storeys are made of bricks and decorated with lime-work. The eastern gopuram maintains the original abstract structure of embedded miniature shrines while the other three have representations of deities and mythological scenes.

Although the Nataraja temple of Chidambaram is one of the most intensively studied and described temples of South India, much of its history remains undiscovered.

Legends associated with this temple:-

 Aadi Sesha, the serpent (couch) of Vishnu, heard from Vishnu the grandeur of Shiva's cosmic dance. Filled with irrepressable desire to witness this dance in person at Chidambaram, Seshan descended to the earth as Patanjali (the one who descended). Vyagrapaadar, another devotee of Shiva prayed to obtain the tiger's claws so that he could obtain with ease the sacred Bilva leaves meant for Shiva's worship at Chidambaram. At the appointed hour, Shiva (with Sivakami) granted to Patanjali and Vyagrapaadar, a visual treat in the form of his Cosmic Dance of Bliss, to the accompaniments of music played by several divine personalities in the Hindu pantheon. This Dance of Bliss is said to have been witnessed by Vishnu, and there is a Govindaraja shrine in the Natarajar temple commemorating this. The dance of bliss of Shiva, is also said to have been enacted upon Shiva's (Bhikshatana) victory over the married ascetics of Daruka Vanam.

Yet another legend, commemorating the dance duel between the doyens of dance Shiva and Kali is associated with Chidambaram. Shiva is said to have lifted his left foot towards the sky in the Urdhuva Tandava posture, a definite male gesture, which out of adherence to protocol, Kaali could not reciprocate, thereby causing Shiva to emerge victorious, delegating Kaali to the status of a primary deity in another temple in the outskirts of Chidambaram. This legend is portrayed in the Nritta Sabha, one of the halls within the Chidambaram temple.

There is another recent legend associated with this temple. The sacred Tamil works of the Nayanmaars had been missing for several years, and it was during the period of Raja Raja Chola (the builder of the Grand temple at Tanjavur) that formal research was initiated to trace these fine works of devotional literature. These works of the Saivite Saints - rich in musical content were recovered in a dilapidated state in one of the chambers in this vast temple, after the monarch brought images of the Saint trinity in procession to the temple.


 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. The dance of Shiva has been frozen in metal and held in worships in Nataraja Sabhas, in virtually all of the Saivite temples in Tamilnadu. Five of the foremost Sabhas (Pancha Sabhai) are at Chidmbaram (Kanaka Sabhai the hall of gold), Madurai (Rajata Sabhai the hall of Silver), Tiruvalangadu near Chennai (Ratnasabhai the hall of rubies), Tirunelveli (Tamrasabhai the hall of copper) and Kutralam near Tirunelveli (Chitrasabhai the hall of pictures). Other dance halls of significance are Adri Sabhai (the Himalayas), Aadi Chitsabhai (Tiruvenkaadu near Chidambaram) and Perur Kanakasabhai (Patteeswarar temple at Perur near Coimbatore).

About Idol:-

The idol of Nataraja is enshrined in the Chit sabha. Behind this idol, is a black screen, which is considered to cover the Akasa Lingam. There is no Lingam, but we are made to believe that there is an invisible Lingam, with golden vilva garlands, i.e stressing the belief that there is everything in nothing. There are five silver plated steps to reach the Chit Sabha, representing the Panchakshara mantram - Na ma si va ya. The embossed images of the saints Vyagrapada and Patanjali, are to be seen on the doors. Both these saints had been blessed with the sight of the cosmic dance of Shiva. Lord Vishnu also is said to have witnessed this scene.


If Chidambaram figures in your itinerary, it is because you want to visit its Shiva temple! For Chidambaram is a small town, barely 5 sq km in area with nothing to recommend it xcept the temple. But what a temple! This famous shrine is dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, known as Nataraja, Lord of Dance when he performs the tandava, the cosmic dance of destruction.

The architecture of the temple, the exquisite beauty of its icon makes it the highlight of the temple circuit. Shiva is the third member of the divine trinity that includes Brahma the Creator and Vishnu the Preserver – and upon Lord Shiva is enjoined the task of Apocalypse. An enraged Shiva unleashes total destruction when he performs the Roudra Tandava, the devastating dance of death that not merely destroys but sets the scene for the creation of a new universe.


The gold-roofed stage or dancing hall is the sanctum sanctorum of the Chidambaram temple and houses the Lord in three forms:

-          the ‘form’ or anthropomorphic form of Lord Nataraja, called the Sakala thirumeni

-          the ‘semi-form’ or semi-anthropomorphic form as Crystal linga Chandramouleswarar, the Sakala nishkala thirumeni

-          the ‘formless’ as the Space in Chidambara Rahasyam, an empty space within the sanctum sanctorum, the Nishkala thirumeni

 Dancing Lord:-

“Every part of the Nataraja image is directly expressive not of any superstition or dogma, but of evident facts. No artist of today however great, could more exactly or more wisely create an image of that energy which science must postulate behind all phenomena. It is poetry; but nevertheless science”.

The Chidambaram Temple is unique since the presiding deity worshipped is a metal icon of Lord Nataraja in contrast to statues of deities made of stone found in other temples. But in the same sanctum, the ethereal or Akasa linga is present and is worshipped along with the Nataraja. There is also a Spatika Linga for which the six daily kala poojas are done.

Chidambara Ragasiyam/Rahasyam (Tamil for "secret of Chidambaram") is a Hindu belief that there is a secret message conveyed through the embossed figure near the shrine of Shiva in Chidambaram temple.

Since ancient times, it is believed that this is the place where Lord Shiva and Parvathi are present, but are invisible to the naked eyes of normal people. In the Chidambaram temple of Lord Nataraja, Chidambara Ragasiyam is hidden by a curtain (Maya). Darshan of Chidambara Ragasiyam is possible only when priests open the curtain (or Maya) for special poojas. People who are privileged to have a darshan of Chidambara Ragasiyam can merely see golden vilva leaves (Aegle Marmelos) signifying the presence of Lord Shiva and Parvathi in front of them. It is also believed that devout saints can see the Gods in their physical form, but no such cases have been officially reported.

The phrase "Chidambara Ragasiyam" really means something different. The pharse literally means a secret associated to Chidambaram - the place. Behind this is a real meaning to a secret. As described above there is a particular curtain kind of curtain which when removed enables us viewing the secret. The real significance of doing so is that, when the curtain which is "maya" is removed one can see his real self. And the seeing of oneself removing the curtain of maya is viewing the secret. According to legend, "Chidambara Ragasiyam" will never be revealed as it is the secret relating to a particular person who sees it removing the screen of "maya". In the temple, when the poojas are performed and the screen is removed, one will be able to see the secret only when he applies this to his mind and soul.
The Dikshitars or Hereditary Priests: The temple is managed and administered hereditarily by the Chidambaram Dikshitar – a class of Vaideeka Brahmins whom, legends say, were brought here, from Mt. Kailas, by Saint Patanjali, specifically for the performance of the daily rituals and maintenance of the Chidambaram temple.
 These Deekshithars follow the Vedic rituals, unlike the Sivachariyars or Adhisaivars – who follow the agamic rituals for the worship of Lord Shiva. The rituals for the temple were collated from the Vedas and set by Patanjali, who is said to have inducted the Deekshithars into the worship of Lord Shiva as Nataraja.
  The Chidambaram Mahatmyam recounts of their arrival in Tillai just as Lord Nataraja started his dance there. Thus they were the chosen guardians of the Lord’s worship and of the temple from its very conception.
Their relation to Lord Nataraja is a very intimate and powerful one, which is expressed by the legend that once the 3000 were requested by Brahma to perform a Vedic sacrifice in heaven. At their return they counted to make sure all had returned safely. But however they counted, they found only 2999. All were very upset, until a voice from the Sabha called out and announced that He Himself, Lord Nataraja, was the 3000th Deekshithar. Today they number around 360.

Greatness Of Temple:-

Lord Shiva and Mother Kali entered into a dancing contest.  Lord Shiva played His frurious Ugra Thandava and raised His legs upward at a stage and asked Kali if She could play this.  Bound in feminine traits, Kali could not do this.  Though defeated, She became furious.  Lord Brahmma appeared there and praised Kali as Veda Nayaki and begged Her to calm down with four faces representing the four Vedas.  Kali responded to Brahmma’s prayer and granted darshan to Him as Brahmma Chamundeeswari.  An idol is made in this form separately and installed in the temple.

 Temple's Speciality:-
  Mother Thillai Kali appears with four faces as Lord Brahmma. Mother Saraswathi as Veena Vidyambika and Lord Dakshinamurthi in female form praised as Kadambavana Dakshina Rupini grace the devotees from their shrines in the prakara. Devotees pray her lighting lamps on Thursdays seeking high education and academic achievements. Probably, this is the only temple where Lord Dakshinamurthi appears in a female form.

Other special features in the temple are:-

The shrine for Govindaraja Perumal.
The representations of many famous Siva Lingams associated with different temples in India.
The Vinayaka idol blowing a conch.
The huge Ganesha in the outer prakara considered to be one of the biggest in India.
The temple of Sivakami Amman in the outer prakara, with its beautiful arch with sculptural beauties.
The Subramania temple next to the Ambal temple.
Durga temple adjacent to this.

Major Places around Chidambaram:-

The Nataraja Temple:-

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. The dance of Shiva has been frozen in metal and held in worships in Nataraja Sabhas, in virtually all of the Saivite temples in Tamilnadu.

Kali Temple:-

The Thillaikaliamman temple is on the northern end of the town. It was built by Kopperunjingan, who ruled between 1229 A.D. and 1278 A.D.

Sivakami Amman Temple:-

The outermost prakaram is home to the grand Sivakami Amman temple. The vast Sivakami Amman shrine is a temple in its own right. It houses the Sivaganga tank and the 1000 pillared hall or the Raja Sabha, where Nataraja is brought during two annual festivals.

20 km from Chidambaram - the temple has three shrines.

(i) Sri Brahmapureeswarar, Sattanathar and Thoniappar shrines.
(ii) The Goddess Tirunilai Nayaki shrine.
(iii) The Shrine of God Child, Gnanasambandar.


16 km from Chidambaram, Pichavaram ranks among the most exquisite scenic spots with abundant and varied tourism resources. The backwaters which are interconnected by the Vellar and Coleroon system offer abundant scope for water sports - rowing, kayak and canoeing. The Pichavaram forest offers waterscape and backwater cruises.

Vaitheeswaran Koil:-

24 km from Chidambaram, the place is famous for the Siva temple dedicated to Vaidyanatheeswarar, the healer of all diseases and his consort Thaiyalnayaki. It is believed that a bath in the holy waters of the Siddhamirtham tank within the temple complex will cure all diseases. Nadi Jothidam is a traditional skill popular here.


It is about 30 km from Pondicherry town. Here, large fossil bearing areas have been fenced in to create the country's first National Fossil-Wood Park. The petrified trees lying scattered on low mounds date a 100 million years. The Chandramouliswara Temple, is a monument of great architectural grandeur dating back to the Chola period, is an added attraction. Every Pournami or Full Moon Day, people gather here to worship Goddess Vakkarakali.

Gangaikondacholapuram Temple:-

Rajendra I, the mighty Chola King, Gangaiestablished his new capital here with this magnificent city and temple to Lord Siva in the tenth century. It is 50 kms. from Chidambaram.

The temple is noted for its massive and richly carved sculptures. A big Nandi in front of the temple made of brick and mortar, a lion head well with a flight of steps leading to the water level and the gigantic dwarapalakas are the other special features of this temple.


Vadalur is situated on the Cuddalore-Virudhachalam road and has a railway station. It is about 37 kms from Chidambaram. Ramalingaswamigal, popularly called Vallalar Adigalar, established the Sathyagnana Sabai. The sanctum of this sabha or temple is separated from the main hall by seven screens of which only three are removed on ordinary days. It is on the 'Thai Poosam' day in December-January, all the screens are removed and the devotees have a darshan of the jyothi or the eternal flame. Sri Ramalingaswamigal is said to have sung thousands of songs that expound the Saiva Siddhantha philosophy. They are compiled into several volumes called Thiru Arutpa.

Poompuhar (40Kms):-

Poompuhar was once the biggest port on the east coast of Tamil Nadu, and was as its peak of glory under the earlier Chola kings. The River Kaveri, merging with the billowing sea. PoompuharIt was known as puhar due to the exquisite beauty of the port town, and it later came to be called Poompuhar. Another name for Poompuhar was Kaveripoompattinam. Silappathikaram and Manimekalai, the tamil epics, bring out the greatness of the city in some of the poems in Sangam literature. The life and time of the Tamil classic Silappathikaram has been recreated at Poompuhar to the immense pleasure of the Tamils. In order to conjure up the decorative ornamental and scenic beauty of Poompuhar, the whole art Gallery is made to present the environment and atmosphere of the 2nd century A.D by the creation of the Illanji Manram, Pavai Manram, etc. A fine beach and calm waters offer good opportunity for sunbathing and swimming. The department of tourism offers shell and conch-shaped cottages to the tourists in the Poompuhar tourist complex, at a moderate tariff.


It was once the site of a Danish settlement. Tarangambadi has the remains of the Dansborg Fort built by Ore Gedde, a Commander of the Royal Dutch Navy, in the 17th century.

Gingee (132 kms):-

It is located on the Tindivanam - Thiruvannamalai road about 25 kms. from Tindivanam and is about 132 kms. from Chidambaram. This place is associated with Raja Desingh. GingeeThere is a 700 year old fort running over three hills of huge and steep boulders. According to tradition the original fort was laid by Kone Chiefs. The fort was ruled by Vijayanagar Nayaks, Marathas, Moghuls, Carnatic Nawabs, the French and the British Rajagiri and Krishnagiri are two important fortifications here and it is a popular picnic spot.

Festivals of the Temple:-

A year in the life of men is said to be a single day for the Gods. Therefore, as six poojas are performed in a day, six festivals are celebrated in a year;
Marghazhi Thiruvaadhirai (in December - January ) indicating the first pooja. This is a 10 day festival that concludes with the Arudra Dharisanam.
The fourteenth day after the new moon ( chaturdasi) of the month of Masi ( February - March) indicating the second pooja.
The Chittirai Thiruvonam ( in April- May), indicating the third pooja or uchi kaalam.
The Uthiram of Aani (June- July) also called the Aani Thirumanjanam indicating the evening or the fourth pooja.
The chaturdasi of Aavani (August-September) indicating the fifth pooja.
The chaturdasi of the month of Puratasi ( September - October) indicating the sixth pooja or Arthajama.
Of these the Marghazhi Thiruvaadhirai ( in December-January) and the Aani Thirumanjanam ( in June-July ) are the most important and are aptly called the Bhrammotsavams.

Natyanjali Festival:-

The Natyanjali dance festival at Chidambaram brings together all the prominent dancers of India. They offer their abhinaya and their dance to the Lord Nataraja. To many of them it is like a dream come true, to be able to perform in the vicinity of the sanctum sanctorum of Lord Nataraja’s temple, whose padams and varnams they often use creating an imaginary figure of the Lord.

This festival opens on the auspicious occasion of the Maha Shivaratri day and of course in the right kind of venue, which is the Prakara of the Chidambaram temple.

Temple opening hours & Puja timings:-

The four outer gates of the temple are open from the time of the first ritual of the day till the conclusion of the evening procession.
The outer doors of the Nataraja temple are closed between 12.00 and 16.00 hours.
The doors to the innermost courtyard are closed between 12.00 and 16.45 hours. The Vishnu temple has the same opening hours.
All other shrines open from 07.30 till 11.00 hours, and from 17.30 till 20.00 hours.
06.45 In the morning Shiva, represented by his holy sandals or Padukai, is taken from the Bedchamber to the Cit Sabha by palanquin. This is called the Awakening ceremony.
08.30 - 09.00 A yagna or fire sacrifice is performed in the Kanka Sabha, according to Vedic doctrine.
10.00 - 11.00 Abishekam or ablution is performed to the Crystal Linga and a replica of the Dancing Shiva in ruby form.
11.30 - 12.00 Puja with lamps and ritual objects.
18.00 - 18.45 Puja with lamps and ritual objects.
20.00 - 20.30 Puja with lamps, chanting and hymns.
22.00 - 22.30 Puja with lamps, hymn and music. After which Shiva, represented by his holy sandals, is taken in a procession with a palanquin to the Bedchamber.

The mysterious Friday evening:-

Friday evenings the procession at 22.00 is a special experience. The bells ring the Omkara, the sacred sound OM. The lights of the lamps are a dazzling sight. The perfumed smoke of incense envelops the crowd.

The palanquin is taken around the two inner courtyards, accompanied by the chanting of Vedas, and of the music of nadasvarams and drums. Finally to join the cosmic energy of Shakti, his consort, in the Bedchamber, realising the cosmology.

An unforgettable experience of a vision of the divine.


 The temple is closed between 12.00 noon to 4.30 p.m. and 10.00 p.m. to 7.00 a.m.
om 6:00am to 1:00am and 4.00pm to 9:00pm. The Kali Temple is opened from 7:00am to 12 Noon and then 6:00am to 9:00pm.

How to reach:-

 By Air :-
 The nearest Airport is in Tiruchirappalli, 167 km south west from the place of Chidambaram.

 By Rail :-
 Chidambaram is on the main line of the Southern Railway. There are trains to Madras, Kumbakonam and Thanjore and a direct train to Tirupati.

By Road :-
 There are buses available from Chidambaram to Thanjore, Pondicherry, Madras and Mamallapur

Accommodation Facilities at the Temple:-

The temple town of Chidambaram is the home to the Annamalai University, and it has several modern lodging facilities. The Tamilnadu Tourist Development here Corporation operates one of its hotels at Chidambaram. Chidambaram is located on the Chennai Tiruchirappalli Main line, between Villuppuram and Thanjavur. It is well connected with Chennai by a host of train and bus services.


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