I had a plan of visiting Chidambaram for a long time. It was not happening. Perhaps, Lord was not calling me. When the destined time came, I could organise the trip. Small quiet temple city. The Railway station is a lovely little very clean station. We could get one tuk to go to our hotel. Vandayar hotel is located near the main bus stand not so far from the hotel, quite a lovely place to lodge in. The temple town city is fairly quiet place, mainactivities are around the temple. Annamalai University, is located here and one can visit the place. Worth a visit certainly. One can hire a cap to visit Pichavaram, which a quiet mangrove forest. Take a trip by boat and spend couple of hours. Worth indeed since one can se varied flora and fauna there.
Had been then around 5 times with family. Last Month went there by car from Chennai. We stayed almost 2-3 days every time. Had been there in the Nataraja temple every day to worship. A very large temple. Fortunately not maintained by the Tamilnadu Govt. You can go to Thillai Kali Amman Koil. This temple also around 2000 Years old. I stayed there in Vandayar Hotel. A Little costly for a town like Chidambaram. But the Amenities are good and Rooms are clean. The food is excellent. Bar is good, but very limited choices of drinks. You can visit Pichavaram for boating. Pichavaram mangrove is one of the largest mangrove in India. Pichavaram ranks among one of the most exquisite scenic spots in Tamil Nadu and home of many species of aquatic birds. If you visit around Nov-Jan, you can see birds from Siberia and other places. There are around 400 routes inside the Mangrove forest.
Chidambaram is a popular temple town situated in Rameswaram, on the Gulf of Mannar. It lies in the central east part of Tamil Nadu in South Eastern India, in the Coleroon River Valley. The town is also known as ‘Thillai’ because it was initially a forest of Thillai Shrubs.
Located 58 km south of Pondicherry, the town of Chidambaram is known for its Nataraja Temple. This pilgrimage is also famous for being the centre of the divine Hindus called the Shaivites and Vaishnavites that visit the place every year to worship Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. The speciality of the pilgrimages of Chidambaram is that any person, irrespective of religion or race can come and worship here.
This temple town is also one of the five Shaivite Mukti Sthalams. The name of the place means ‘the sky infiltrates through an atmosphere of intelligence and wisdom’. The place is considered to have been a forest of Tillai, which had a small shrine on the banks, where saints Vyagrapada and Patanjali worshipped.
The historical and cultural significance of Chidambaram is associated with the Nataraja Temple. This temple comprises an idol of Nataraja or Shiva in the pose of Ananda Tandava also known as the Cosmic Dance of Bliss. This idol is situated in the golden hall of the temple, which is also known as the Hall of Consciousness or the Chit Sabha.
Akasa Lingam, which is an archetype of Shiva as the formless space makes it the most popular pilgrimage, whilst Shiva is worshipped in a form of the Chidambara Rahasyam.. According to legend, the Pandyas, the Pallavas, the Cholas and the Vijayanagara Kings had all worshipped the dancing Lord Nataraja, at this place.
These kings also enriched the temple with several unique works like the gold plating of the Vimanam of the Sanctum. The Marathas, the French, the British, and Hyder Ali also used the temple as a garrison for over 35 years during the Carnatic Wars.
The town also hosts the festival of Natyanjali, which comprises many prominent dancers that open the propitious occasion of MahaShivratri, in February. This ceremony is performed at the ‘Prakara’ of the Nataraja Temple. During the festival, dancers and devotees offer their dance to Lord Nataraja with their evocative abhinaya.
Apart from the Nataraja Temple, other significant places in Chidambaram are the Kali and the Vaidyanatheshwara Temple. The Kali Temple is situated at the northern end of the town and the Vaidyanatheshwara is located at 25 km south of Chidambaram Town.