(Last Updated on : 14/08/2010)
Chidambaram is hallowed by the aura of the famous shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva as Nataraja, the Cosmic Dancer. Here the Lord danced while blessing saints Patanjali and Vyagrapada, who were doing penance in the
This Cosmic Dance is a symbolic representation of the five fold activities of the God-- Creation, Preservation, Destruction, Veiling (Maya) and Blessing. Sri Nataraja's Tandavs include Ananda Thandavam, Urdhwa Thandavam, Bhujangatrasa Thandavam and Ajabha Thandavam.
The sanctum is adorned by a gold-plated roof. This is also known as Ponnambalam or Kanaga Sabha. Devi Sivakama Sundari is consecrated by the side of the sanctum.
To the left is the Chidambara Rahasyam or the abode of Akasha Lingam. Only a Prabha or circular arch and a Vel (spear) with a golden Bilva mala are worshipped. This is one of the Pancha Bhutha Lingams representing Akasha or Ether. This shrine remains curtained. The five silver-plated steps leading to the shrine represent the mystic five letters of 'Nama Shivaya.'
The shrine of Govindaraja Perumal is close to the Chit Sabha. Lord Subramanya is in another temple.
The temple has all the five Sabhas of Lord Shiva - Chit Sabha, Kanaga Sabha, Nritta Sabha, Deva Sabha and Raja Sabha. The famous Raja Sabha is in the Thousand-pillared Hall. Shaivite poet Sekkizhar first recited his Periya Puranam in this hall. The Nritta Sabha shows the Urdhwa Thandavam of the Lord. It is a porch of 56 pillars that have been delicately carved with dancing figures. This court represents a heavenly chariot carved out of stone. The Deva Sabha was used by the then administrators to hold meetings and festivals. The Raja Sabha was used by Chola and Pandya kings to hold victory celebrations.
Two of the temple's 4 gopurams are covered with sculptures illustrating the 108 postures of Natya Shastra. Shivaganga is the sacred tank. The holy water, believed to have healing powers, had cured a king's major disease.