Chidambaram – Where Divinity Rules

Posted On November 23, 2011 

Hindu temples by nature are a great place to go to. There is a vibration in these temples which make these temples the best places to be in and amongst the nicest experiences to have. The Chidambaram temple in the state of Tamil Nadu in the town of Chidambaram is one such example. Situated around 78 km from the city of Pondicherry, this temple lies around 235km from the metropolis of Chennai. The main temple has been built by the traditional Vishwakarma clan architect Viduvelvidugu Perumtaccan. The temple has undergone a lot of renovations in the past, especially when the Cholas and the Pallavas ruled here during the ancient times and also during the medieval era.

Amongst the five holy Shiva temples in India, Chidambaram is a representation one of of the five elements of nature – aether or akasha. The other temples are the Thiruvanaikaval Jambukeswara temple in Trichy which represents the water element. Then we have the kanchi Ekabareswara temple in Kanchipuram representing earth, Thiruvannamalai Arunachaleswara temple representing fire and the Thiruvanna Malai and Kalahasti Nathar representing wind at Kalahasti.

Nataraja temple Chidambaram

The entire temple complex spans an area of around 50 acres and is in the middle of the city of Chidambaram. This ancient and very historic temple has the presiding deity in Lord Shiva or lord Nataraja. Then you also have the Lord Govindaraja Perumal. This is one of the very few religious locales in India where both the Vaishnavite and the Shaivite deities are found in the same place.

The word Chidambaram means the sky of consciousness where chit means consciousness and ambaram means the sky. The temple has the image of Lord Nataraja with lot of jewels. Lord Shiva has been depicted in the dancing pose and this is one of the very few temples where the idol is an anthropomorphic one rather than the normal Shiva lingam. The Lord is very popular for his cosmic dance which denotes the motion of the entire universe which is controlled by the Lord. There are five courts in the temple premises. It was Aragalur Udaya Iraratevan Ponparappinan who again reconstructed the temple in the 12th century. The dikshitars are the group of Brahmins of the Shaivites who have been managing the administration of the temple.

Lord Shiva Chidambaram
It is said that Chidambaram has a legend behind it.  It is believed that once Lord Shiva was taking a stroll in the forest of the thillai trees which are like mangroves. He came in the disguise of a mendicant asking for alms. He is with the other form of Lord Vishnu which is Mohini. They come across some sages performing some chants. The rishis and the womenfolk got enchanted seeing them. Seeing that the womenfolk got distracted they invoked many serpents to perform rituals. The mendicant who is actually Lord Shiva wears the serpents on his body. The rishis then call a tiger. The Lord drapes this as a shawl. Then they invoke a powerful demon Muyalakan who was very arrogant. The Lord stands on the demon and performs the tandava nrutya the cosmic dance. The rishis see his real form.

Chidambaram invokes the Lord Shiva in this cosmic dance form.

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