Thillai Natarajar Temple also called as Chidambaram Temple is located in Chidambaram, Tamilnadu. Thillai Natarajar temple is believed to be representing the element ‘Sky’ and also dedicated to Lord Shiva. Sri Govindaraja Perumal Temple,named as ‘Thiru Chitrakoodam’ dedicated to Lord Vishnu,one of the 108 Divya Desam Temples is also situated inside this temple premises.
The Pancha Bhoota temples are dedicated to Lord Shiva and these five temples are said to be the important pilgrimage places of South India. The word Pancha refers to the number ‘five’ and Bhoota refers to ‘elements’. And the five elements are Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Sky. These five elements are believed to be manifested in the form of five Lingams, the divinity of Lord Shiva. The Thillai Natarajar Temple is one among the Pancha Bhoota Lingam temples. The Pancha Bhoota Lingam Temples are:
- Ekambareswarar Temple (Kanchipuram,Tamilnadu)
- Jambukeswarar Temple (Tiruchirapalli,Tamilnadu)
- Arunachalaeswarar Temple (Tiruvannamalai,Tamilnadu)
- Kalahastheeswarar Temple (Sri Kalahasti, Andhrapradesh)
- Thillai Natarajar Temple (Chidambaram,Tamilandu)
Chidambaram is the place where the sculpture and bronze image of Lord Shiva as a cosmic dancer was originally originated. Thillai Natarajar Temple is said to be mostly contributed by the Pallava, Chola, Chera and Vijayanagar Kings. The temple’s four gopurams (towers) at a height of 135 feet with 13 Kalasams (finials) faces the four directions. The gopuram facing the North direction is called Sokkaseeyan Thirunilai Ezhugopuram, which has a sculpture of two fishes facing each other and is believed to be built by Pandya Kings. The North gopuram is said to be built by Vijayanagar Kings, East gopuram by Pallava Kings, and regarding the west gopuram, there are no evidences.
Sri Govindaraja Perumal Temple or ‘Thiru Chitrakoodam’ is located inside the premises of Thillai Natarajar Temple is similar to Ekambareshwar temple in Kanchipuram wherein Lord Vishnu’s shrine named as Sri Nilathingal Thundathan Perumal Temple or ‘Thiru Nilathingal Thundam’ is located inside a Shaivite temple. This Temple is one of the ‘108 Divyadesam Temples’ dedicated to Lord Vishnu, who is worshipped as ‘Lord Govindaraja Perumal’ and His consort Goddess MahaLakshmi as ‘Goddess Pundarikavalli’.
There are two Utsava Moorthy idols (Festival Deity idols) of Lord Vishnu named as ‘Lord Sri Parathasarathy perumal’ and ‘Lord Sri Chitrakootattilullaan’ placed here. This temple is believed to have been relocated outside the Thillai Natarajar Temple complex during the period of ‘King Kulothunga Chola II’ and reinstated later by ‘king Krishnappa Nayak’ (1564-1572 A.D.).
Thillai Natarajar temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. The Lord Shiva is seen in the pose of Lord Nataraja performing Anandha Thandavam, the dance of delight and with the saints Patanjali and Vyagrapathar worshipping Him. The main deity of this temple is Lord Shiva, in the form of Lord Natarajar, the Lord of dance and the consort deity is Goddess Shivakami Amman. The other deity of this temple is Lord Ganesh, Lord Murugan, Lord Vishnu worshipped as Govindaraja Perumal.
In Thillai Natarajar Temple we can see Lord in three different forms.They are:
- Nataraja (dancing posture of Lord Shiva) is called as Sakala-thirumeni.
- Crystal Lingam of Chandramaulishvara is called as Sakala-nishkala-thirumeni.
- An empty space which is known as Chidambara Ragasiyam and is called as Nishkala-thirumeni.
The sculptures of this temple inspires the famous Bharatha Natyam and the dancers offer their prayers to Lord Nataraja during the Natyanjali festival held in this temple for every year. The temple contains nine gateways which represents the nine aperture in the human body. The roof of the temple is made of golden tiles of 72000 spikes which represents the number of Nadis (vital force and mental force flow through every part of our body via these nadis) exists in our body. The sanctum sanctorum of the temple contains 28 pillars which represents the 28 ethics or methods of worshipping Lord Shiva.
Thillai Natarajar Temple contains five Ambalams (halls). They are:
- Chit Ambalam, where the presiding deity is worshipped
- Pon Ambalam, the golden hall where the daily rituals are performed
- Natya Sabai, where Lord Nataraja established His supremacy in dance to Goddess Kali.
- Raja Sabai, a hundred pillard hall which represents the Yogic Chakra, a seat where the soul unites with god.
- Deva Sabai, which represents the Pancha Moorthys (five deities). The deities are Lord Ganesha, Lord Somaskanda, Goddess Sivananda Nayaki, Lord Muruga and Lord Chandikeswarar.
- Kala Sandhi Pooja – 7.30 a.m.
- Irandam Kaalam Pooja – 10.00 a.m.
- Uchi Kaala Pooja – 11.30 p.m.
- Irandam Kaalam Pooja – 7.00 p.m.
- Artha Jaama Pooja – 9.00 p.m.
- Masi Festival – February or March
- Thai Poosam – January or February
- Maha Shivaratri – February or March
- Rathotsava Festival (car festival) – October or November
Frequent buses are available from various places in Tamilnadu, Andhra, and Karnataka to Chidambaram. The best way to reach Chidambaram from Chennai is via Pondicherry (east coast Road).It takes 4 hours by car to reach Chidambaram from Chennai.
Chidambaram is the nearest station. It is connected with Tiruchirapalli, Madras, Madurai (335 km), Rameshwaram (575 km), Bangalore (340 km), and Tirupati (290 km).
The nearest airport is Trichy (195 Km) & Chennai (235Km). Chidambaram is well connected by train and bus routes from these places.
- Patanjaleeswarar Temple
- Thillai Kali Temple
- Swarnapureeswarar Temple
- Pralayakaleswarar Temple
- Theerthapureeswarar Temple
- Kolanji Appar Temple