Chidambaram Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva located in the heart of the temple town of Chidambaram,Tamil Nadu.The temple , 78 km south of Pondicherry and 235 Km from Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu state of southeastern India. The Sangam classics refer to Viduvelvidugu Perumtaccan, respected clan of traditional Vishwakarma, 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.
In olden times, there was a dense forest of Thillai trees, and the forest belonged to Goddess Kali. Once, dance combat broke out between Shiva and Kali, to find out the superior among them. Brahma and Vishnu were appointed judges to witness the dance and pronounce judgement. After long dances, since Kali was equal in dance, Shiva finally made his Ear-ring fall from his Right ear, took it again while dancing with his Right leg, and wore it with his leg itself.
This particular thandavam is Urthuva Thandavam, and there is a separate shrine inside the Nataraja temple campus. Poor Goddess Kali, she was not like our modern-day womanhood. Feeling shy to lift her leg above neck before two male judges, one being her brother (Vishnu), and other being His son , she conceded defeat, left Thillai Vanam, and went to the corner of the forest. Even today, we can see Thillai Kali temple. I will write about it in next blog.
Now that Kali was defeated, Nataraja gave his Thandava darshan to two great maharishis, Pathanjali and Vyakrapadha. This is in the mail sanctum, Known as Anandha Thandavam. This is excellent to see in lamps lit inside. Awesome !!! Nataraja stands on his Right leg and has his left leg tossed up ! Nearby Nataraja, we have Goddess on his left-hand side, called by name Sivagami Ambal. And to his right, is the famous Chidambara Rahasyam! Chidambara Rahasyam: Though it's called Rahasyam, the Deekshithar who did poojas to the Moon lava and Ambal, explained it as “The God Nataraja’s yantra has been made pradhishtai here in Mantra roopa, behind the golden bilva leaves.
Actually, there is no physical form for the yantra. And Nataraja is believed to dance behind this Bilva leaves Eternally !!!” The complete rahasyam of Chidambaram, though pronounced by many scholars in different ways, is not known to any human, is my humble opinion. It should have been coded by Maharishis in Vedas and Puranas, and no human would have understood it properly.
The architecture of the temple is the massive representation of multiple influences. The innermost sanctum is dedicated to Lord Shiva and his consort. It is called the Chit Sabha, located beside the Kanaka Sabha lined by golden walls. Chit Sabha is the holiest part of the temple. Images of Aroopam form, Ratnasabhapati, Swarnakarshana Bhairavar, the Spatika Lingam of Chandramauleeswara and Mukhalingam adorn the inner sanctum. Kanak Sabha has silver-plated flights, referring to the importance of the 5 elemental forms of Lord Shiva or the ‘Panch Akshara’. In the Nritya Sabha, Shiva is shown in Urdhava Tandava pose with Devi kali. It has images of the Pancha Murtis.
It also houses the Shivling form as Mulanathar in the second pra Karam. One thousand pillars and the RAJA Sabha from the outermost sanctum where Sivakami Amman Temple is located. Sivaganga temple, Subramanian shrine and Pandya Nayakam chariot are part of the scintillating architecture. The outermost prakaram is also of creative value, as is the shrine of Subramanya, which dates back to the Pandya era. The Subramanya shrine is also in the form of a chariot, and is referred to as the 'Pandya Nayakam'. Four massive gopurams represent the calmness emanating from the temple towards the four directions. Classical Natya Shastra scriptures are narrated in the form of the 108 dance poses of Bharat Natyam.
Thillai Nataraja Temple Chidambaram
The story of Chidambaram begins with Lord Shiva strolling into the Thillai Vanam . In the Thillai forests resided a group of sages or 'rishis' who believed in the supremacy of magic and that God can be controlled by rituals and mantras or magical words. Lord Shiva strolled in the forest with resplendent beauty and brilliance, assuming the form of Bhikshatana, a simple mendicant seeking alms. He was followed by His consort, Vishnu as Mohini. The sages and their wives were enchanted by the brilliance and the beauty of The handsome mendicant and His consort. On seeing their womenfolk enchanted, the rishis got enraged and invoked scores of serpents by performing magical rituals.
Lord Shiva lifted the serpents and donned them as ornaments on His matted locks, neck and waist. Further enraged, the sages invoked a fierce tiger, whose skins and dons were used by Lord Shiva as a shawl around His waist and then followed by a fierce elephant, which was devoured and ripped to death by Lord Shiva . The rishis gathered all their spiritual strength and invoked a powerful demon Muyalakan - a symbol of complete arrogance and ignorance. Lord Shiva wore a gentle smile, stepped on the demon's back, immobilised him and performed the Ánanda Tandava and disclosed his true form. The sages surrender, realising that Lord Shiva is the truth and He is beyond magic and rituals.
Reasons to visit: Chidambaram is the main pilgrimage site for Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu Devotees Nataraja temple at Chidambaram is where one finds deity of Lord Shiva in his form of the Cosmic Dancer . In Nataraja Temple, there is a deity of Lord Govindaraja Perumal as well, making it one of the few temples where both deities are enshrined in one place. Chidambaram is a temple city and is visited as part of Pondicherry - Thanjavur Route or a pilgrimage itinerary of Tamil Nadu. Chidambaram is famous for Nattiyanjali Dance festival which is held here at the temple.