The Thillai Nataraja Temple is one of India's most important Shiva Temples, and this temple is also a part of the five holiest Shiva temples. Thillai Nataraja Temple, commonly known as the Chidambaram Temple or Nataraja Temple, is a Lord Shiva Temple. The Chidambaram Nataraja Temple also has a very interesting story associated with it. We have a brief at the Chidambaram Nataraja Temple.
Chidambaram Nataraja Temple
Chidambaram Temple is an important Shiva Temple present in the town of Chidambaram. The temple town of Chidambaram is located in the state of Tamil Nadu. The city of Chidambaram was previously called Thillai and thus gave the name of "Thillai Nataraja Temple". One of the unique things about this temple is that Lord Shiva is worshiped here in the form of a silver statue, which is very different from the traditionally worshiped form of Lord Shiva in the form of Shivalinga. Also, the statue of Lord Shiva worshipped in the Chidambaram Nataraja Temple is a cosmic dancer, i.e., Lord Shiva is depicted in a dancing position known as the "Nataraja" form of Lord Shiva. The Nataraja form of Lord Shiva is used to depict the universal balance as supported by Shiva.
History of Chidambaram Nataraja Temple
The mentions of a Shiva shrine in Chidambaram can be traced back to the 6th and 7th centuries. A huge temple structure was not present during this time, but devotees worshiped Lord Shiva in a shrine only. The rulers of the Chola Dynasty constructed the current building of the Chidambaram Nataraja Temple in the 10th century. In the form of Nataraj, Lord Shiva was the Chief deity of the Chola family.
Architecture of the Chidambaram Nataraja Temple
The total area of the Chidambaram Nataraja Temple is stretched over an area of about 50 acres, and also the temple is located at the center of the city of Chidambaram. Additionally, the Chidambaram Nataraja Temple is one of the few temples dedicated to both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. The principal deity of the Chidambaram Nataraja Temple is Lord Shiva, but a separate worship place for Lord Vishnu is also present in the temple. This temple is an example where you can witness both the devotees of Shaivism and Vaishnavism at the same place.
The temple's architecture is a mixture of Malabar architecture and Vesara Architecture. Some parts of the temple, such as the Sanctum Sanctorum, involved Malabar architecture, while the main roof of this temple indicates the use of Vesara Architecture. Along with the idols of deities, five sabhas are also present in the Chidambaram Nataraja Temple.
The five sabhas of the temple are as follows:
Another interesting fact about the Chidambaram Nataraja Temple is that this has been proven scientifically that the Centre Point of World's Magnetic Equator is present just at the Nataraja's big toe. Such a fact proves people's architectural and artistic knowledge during that time.
Legend of the Chidambaram Nataraja Temple
Along with the historical importance of the Shrine of Shiva in this temple, there is also a very interesting legend associated with the Chidambaram Nataraja Temple. This legend is also found in the historical text known as Chidambara-mahatma.
Mohini was none other than Lord Vishnu in the form of a beautiful woman. According to the legend, once lord shiva came to visit the forests of Thillai along with Mohini. When they were roaming through the forest, they met with a group of sages and their wives. During this encounter, Lord Shiva started Tandava to set off the interests of the sages' wives, and Mohini started to set off the lustful interests of the sages. Such behavior angered the sages, and they tried different ways to scare off Lord Shiva, but they failed and ultimately realized that Lord Shiva was the truth and surrendered themselves.
The story of this incident quickly went viral in all of the surrounding areas, and two sages named Patanjali and Vyaghrapada became curious to re-watch the Tandava of Lord Shiva. Both of these sages came to the forests of Thillai and started hard penance to impress Lord Shiva. After seeing the penance of Patanjali and Vyaghrapada, Lord Shiva came before them in Chidambaram and re-performed the Tandava, also known as "dance of bliss". And as a result, the Chidambaram Nataraja Temple was started.
Arriving at the Chidambaram Nataraja Temple
Chennai and Pondicherry are two major locations commonly used by visitors to visit the Chidambaram Nataraja Temple. After coming to Chennai, you can take the train route of Chennai-Villupuram-Vridhachalam-Trichy. You can also take charge flights from Pondicherry to reach Chidambaram when coming through Airways.