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All You Need to Know About Chidambaram Nataraja Temple

Author: Nitin Jain
by Nitin Jain
Posted: Dec 17, 2020

Lord Shiva, a renowned name in Hindu mythology, needs no introduction. Among many temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, Chidambaram temple is among one of the five holiest Hindu temples adored by many. It is situated in a place in Tamil Nadu called Chidambaram. This temple depicts a brass nataraja statue as the Lord of the dance Bharatanatyam and his cosmic dance form represents the motion of the universe as sustained by Lord Shiva. Since its one of the rare temples where Shiva is represented by an idol rather than the customary lingam; it's worthwhile discussing some facts about the same.

Origin of the Temple:

This famous temple was built in the 10th Century AD by Chola Kings and was significantly repaired & maintained by many other dynasties such as Pallavas, Cholas, Pandyas, etc. It is one of the ancient temples of Tamil Nadu having a nataraja statue.It is also known as Thillai Nataraja Temple. The word Chidambaram is derived from 2 words named 'Chit' meaning 'consciousness' & the word 'ambaram' meaning 'sky,' i.e. a stage signifying consciousness of a higher level, which one should try attaining in life.

Another theory relates that the name of the temple is derived from two words, i.e. 'Chit' & 'Ambalam' meaning stage for performing arts. This temple is one of the Pancha Bhootha Sthalams of Lord Shiva representing 'Akash'. This temple follows both Vedic and Tamil versions of worships.

Attraction towards Natraja’s Dance:

You would be amazed to know that Aadi Sesha, the serpent god, who serves as a bed to Lord Vishnu, heard about Lord Shiva’s dance full of high energy. He pleaded Lord to be a witness to Lord Shiva’s such a dance. He was blessed for the same and to witness the dance in Chidambaram, Seshan came to the earth in the form of Patanjali. Here, at a specific fixed time and date, Lord Shiva displayed his grandeur cosmic dance performance (the Aananda Thaandavam) to Patanjali.

Legend also mentions that this temple was specially made for religious purposes by Patanjali. He laid down the rules of conduct to be followed for running a temple. It was he who brought yoga in the religious system. Though he did not invent yoga, he wrote Yoga sutras. This Ananda Tandava posture of Lord Shiva, recognized around the world, has many significances i.e.

The demon under Nataraja's feet - signifies ignorance to be removed.

The Fire in this hand - signifies destroyer of evil.

The raised hand - signifies His being the saviour of all lives.

The Ring at the back - signifies the cosmos.

The drum in his hand - signifies the origin of Life.

The architecture of the temple:

Chidambaram Nataraja temple is built over an area of 50 acres in the heart of the city and is run by a private Trust. It is famous for fine carvings, inscriptions, golden roof and four big gopurams. These gopurams are decorated with 108 carved dancing postures of Natya Sanskriti. There are five sabhas in this temple, and each sabha has its significance.

The first one is known as Chit Sabha, where the main idol of Lord Shiva/Nataraja resides. The second is the Kanaka Sabha, decorated by the gold plated roof and golden nails, from where the daily rituals of the temple are regularly conducted. The others are Deva Sabha, Nritya Sabha and Raja Sabha. There are five courtyards, representing five sheaths of a human body, kosas.

Festivals Celebrated by the Temple:

Among many festivals celebrated throughout the year, Marghazhi Thiruvaadhirai and the Aani Thirumanjanam are the most important festivals. During these, the idol of Lord Shiva is brought outside the temple, duly decorated on a special cart. The devotees follow the cart all over the city with immense pleasure, great joy and enthusiasm.

Besides it, Arudra Darshan during the Tamil month of Margazhi is one of the most important events of the temple, which imparts inertia to its devotees.

Belief & rituals of the temple:

Many Hindu temples in India have different rituals & beliefs. Chidambaram Temple believes that near the embossed figure in temple lord shiva & Parvati showcase their presence invisibly. It is the reason why Chidambara Ragasiyam is hidden beneath the curtain.

One can possibly see the nataraja idol only when priests perform special poojas. It is believed that those who are fortunate to see Chidambara Ragasiyam can feel the presence of Lord Shiva in their life, which can help them provide moksha.

Every unique pilgrimage has something to offer. To feel the blessings of almighty,ensure to mark this temple in your upcoming travel list of 2021.

About the Author

Nitin Jain is a antique statue expert. He has been dealing with Hindu Gods statues, idols, sculptures for several years. You can find more information at statuestudio.com.

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Author: Nitin Jain
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Nitin Jain

Member since: Mar 19, 2020
Published articles: 9

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