Chidambaram Temple


Chidambaram is one of the most ancient and most celebrated of shrines in India. Unlike most Shiva temples, the icon or murti is not in the typical form of a linga. The temple is dedicated to Lord Nataraja - Lord Siva in the form of Cosmic Dancer. Chidambaram is one of the Panchabhoota Sthalams - temples built for the 5 elements said to embody Shiva - at Chidambaram (space), Kalahasti (wind), Thiruvanaikkovil (water), Tiruvannamalai (fire) and Kanchipuram (earth).
The temple is marked for its architectural styles. The innermost sanctum of the temple, houses the grand images of Shiva (Nataraja) and Parvati (Sivakami) in the ChitSabha or the hall of consciousness. ChitSabha is the holiest shrine in the temple. To the right of Shiva, is the revered Chidambara rahasyam - or a representation of emptiness garlanded with golden vilva leaves.
The 100 pillared hall, in the outermost prakaram is also of artistic value like Nritta Sabha, Sivakami Amman temple and the Subramanya shrine. The most significant structures in this temple are the four Gopurams or towers in four directions.
Two annual Bhrammotsavams at Chidambaram are of great significance, as they involve colorful processions of festival deities in the car streets. The grandest of these occurs in the month of Margazhi (Dec 15 - Jan 15). The second of the Bhrammotsavams happens in the month of Aani, and it concludes with Aani Tirumanjanam on the tenth day.
Chidambaram temple is easily accessible by road from Chennai and Nagapattinam. One of the holiest cities in India, Chidambaram is visited by thousands of Shaivite and Vaishnavite pilgrims who flock to the sacred Nataraja temple every year.