(Last Updated on : 05/06/2008)
Chidambaram is one of the important tourist centres in Tamil Nadu. This place is famous for its Nataraja temple. There are also various renowned places around Chidambaram. Some of those places are given here:
It is situated 16 kms east of Chidambaram and located in a most beautiful scenic spot. It is spread over 2800 acres of mangrove forest. This place is formed in the backwaters, which are interconnected by the Vellar and Kollidam systems. Thus, there is abundant scope for water sports, para-sailing, rowing and canoeing. Boating, accommodation and restaurant facilities are offered by the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation. The mangroves here are the healthiest mangroves in the world.
This place is situated in the northwest of Chidambaram. The big Vishnu temple of Bhuvarahaswamy here attracts the visitors. It is one of the eight Swayam Vyaktakashethra in the south.
Melakadambur is located in the west of Chidambaram. The temple here is of the Pala art. The Nataraja found in this temple dances on a bull and the idol belongs to Pala art.
It is another Siva shrine, situated 20 km from Chidambaram. It is the birthplace of one of the top 4 Saivaite saints named Thirugnana Sambandar. It is believed that Goddess Parvathi breastfed the child Gnanasambandar as he was crying in the tank bund. It is inside the temple and is known as 'Mulaippal Thirtham' (Breast Milk Holy Water). A festival in memory of this legend is celebrated here during the month of April.
This temple is 28 km from Chidambaram. It is dedicated to Agora Virabadra, a fierce aspect of Siva and is also known as Swetharanyam. The image of Lord Siva in this temple is said to be unearthed here and it is an early Chola bronze. It shows Lord Siva as a nude mendicant with the writhing cobra clinging on his thighs. The image is now in the Thanjavur Art Gallery. This Budha (Mercury), one of the Navagrahas (nine planets) is said to reside here.
This is a temple of Lord Siva and is situated down south of Chidambaram. Here, the presiding deity is called Vaitheeswara i, e, Lord of healing. There sacred tank inside the temple is free from frogs and is called Siddha Amritha Theertha. It is said to contain nectar which has curative powers. It is the place of one of the Navagrahas, Angarahan (Mars).
In this place, Lord Siva's mount Nandi is said to have moved a little away to obstruct the darshan of Lord Siva to Nandanar, the harijan devotee.
This is a town, which can be reached by bus from Chidambaram. Here, the Dakshinamurthi shrine is very famous along with the God of wisdom, who sits in yoga pose on a Nandi. In the centre of the town, the Mayuranathaswamy temple can be seen. It is a Siva temple with an imposing nine-storeyed tower. The image of goddesses Durga here is very impressive. Here, the devotees severe their head as an offering to the deity.
It is also a temple near Chidambaram. Here, the presiding deity is called Krithivasa, one who wears the elephant skin. This is said to be one of the eight places where Siva danced to destroy demons. The dance hall here is called 'Gnana Sabai' or Hall of Wisdom. There is a Yantra known as Vazhuvur Rahasyam (mystery) behind the Gajasamharamurthi.
It is a Subramania temple. The image of deity is of granite and beautifully carved with 6 faces in the pose of Samharamurthi. Numerous snakes abound this place, but no one has so far been bitten. The snakes just hiss at those who enter the Iluppai garden stealthily to steal.
This is the birth place of Kambar, who wrote the epic Ramayana in Tamil. There is a temple of sculptural value here.
This place is well known for the Vriddha-giriswarar temple containing a big shrine. It has high enclosing walls and four tall gopurams. The mandapam of this temple is carved like a chariot with wheels and horses. There are also 24 delicately carved pillars with Yalis supporting the roof.
This temple contains palmyra tree as the sacred tree. As per the legends, the great Chola king Karikala was standing under a palmyra tree. He was then picked up by the royal elephant and taken to the palace to be crowned as king. Hence, it has become the sacred tree and the place also got the name Thiruppanaiyur.
In this temple, the most beautiful and captivating idol of Lord Muruga can be seen. Here, the idol of Shanmuganathar is carved with minute details like the ear holes are pierced to insert ear-rings. It is said the sculptor of this image cut off his right thumb to avoid carving another image superior to the Singaravelar.
But in his dream, Lord Muruga asked to make another image at Ettukkudi. Then he blinded his eyes as it excelled Singaravelar of Sikkil. But, he had a command to commission another image at Engan. This time he took help from a woman to assist him. During the work, his chisel cut the finger of the lady and the blood fell on his eyes. He immediately got back his eyesight and he exclaimed 'Engan' (my eyes) and completed this superb idol. Hence, the place got its name 'Engan'.
It is famous for Asthamurthi Mandapam. The idol of Ganapathi here is said to have been brought from Vatapi of the Chalukyan kingdom after a voyage by Chola and installed here. Tiripurantaka and Nataraja in this temple are fine specimens of Chola art.
The sandalwood tree of this temple is the Sthala Viruksha here. The examples of fine workmanship in this temple are the images of Durga, Bhairavar, Rahu and Kethu. During the Masi Dhasami festival in February-March, the deity Vanjinatha the deity is mounted on the Yama Vahana.
Here, Rajaraja I built a beautiful Siva temple. The presiding deity of the temple is called Meenakshisundareswarar.
Gangai Konda Cholapuram
It is situated about 50 kms away from Chidambaram. This temple was built by the Chola emperor Rajendra I. It is dedicated to Siva with a grand gopuram that can be seen miles around. Numerous beautiful sculptures can be seen on the walls of the temple and its enclosures. There is a big Nandi in front of the temple, which is made of brick and mortar. One of the exciting features of this temple is the lion-faced well with yawning mouth through which a flight of steps lead to the water beneath.
This hill is situated 150 km northwest of Chidambaram on the western side of Kallakurichi taluk. It is spread over an area of 600 sq. kms and heights range from 315 to 1190 metres. It is an ideal place of retreat and peace. A nicely decorated botanical garden here attracts the eyes of the visitors. One can take a refreshing bath in the two waterfalls here. It is an ideal location for trekking too.
All the places around Chidambaram can be visited by bus.