Chidambaram

Chidambaram
Highlights

Chidambaram, Chidambaram is one of the ancient towns of Tamil Nadu. Tillai is another name for the town. It lies on the banks of a branch of the river Kaveri.

ChidambaramChidambaram is one of the ancient towns of Tamil Nadu. Tillai is another name for the town. It lies on the banks of a branch of the river Kaveri.

In this town is the famous temple of Nataraja. The word Nataraja means dancing king. God Siva stands in a dancing posture in that temple. The temple buildings cover a large area.
Among the buildings are five great halls or sabhas and many shrines. One of the halls has a thousand pillars. The Ganesh idol in this temple is one of the largest in the country.
The temple buildings are of stone, although for several miles around there are no rocks. The main temple is known as Chit Sabha. It contains the idol of Lord Siva as Nataraja or King of dancers.
Two rishis, Vyaghrapada and Patanjali, stand nearby witnessing the dance of the God. Vyaghrapada means one with tiger’s feet. Rishi Vyaghrapada was a great devotee of God Siva. He was always engaged in collecting flowers for the worship of the God.
God took mercy upon him and gave him the feet of a tiger so that he would be able to swiftly run about without being tired. The serpent-god Adi Sesha was born as Rishi Patanjali. He wrote many treatises on grammar and Yoga.
A king of Kashmir called Svetavarma who lived 1,400 years ago suffered from leprosy. He came to Chidambaram and bathed in the Sivaganga tank at the temple. That cured him of the disease.
The temple of Nataraja is a very ancient one. It was a small one in the beginning. A Chola King by name Parantaka built a roof made of gold for Nataraja’s shrine.
Later many kings extended the central structure by adding big towers and new shrines.
Krishna Deva Raya of Vijayanagar built the north tower about 400 years ago.
The Nritya Sabha contains many figures of dancing maidens. There are four tall towers in the north, south, east and west of the temple.
The eastern and western towers have carvings of dance poses as described in the Natya Sastra.
The Goddess of the temple is called Sivakami. The bronze idol of Nataraja is very beautiful. It has four hands and two legs. The right foot is placed upon the body of a demon which represents evil, and the left leg is lifted up and laid across the right leg. Its toe points to the other foot. It suggests “Come and pray at my feet”.
In two of his hands, Nataraja holds a small drum and fire. One of the hands indicates, "I shall protect you!"
There are a number of Nataraja temples in Tamil Nadu. The idol of Nataraja is admired by lovers of art all over the world. It is an artistic representation of God in the act of creation, protection and destruction.
Nataraja is the patron deity of the art of dancing. At Chidambaram there is a secret shrine. They say God Siva lives there in the form of Akasa or sky.
The priest will just lift a screen and allow you to take a peek at the roof. It is the most sacred spot in Chidambaram. The priests at Chidambaram belong to a special sect.
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