The temple town of Chidambaram is an important tourist place located in central Tamil Nadu. Here is a quick overview of major tourist attractions in and around Chidambaram.
Nataraja Temple in Chidambaram
The Nataraja Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is the most famous landmark of Chidambaram. The temple is in the center of the town and sprawls over 40 acres of land. The Nataraja Temple is an architectural marvel. It has exquisite carvings that showcase the artistic skills of Dravidian craftsmen lived many centuries ago.
The temple has five halls. Kanaka Sabha or the inner sanctum has gold plated roofs. Chita Sabha houses the Akasa lingam. Nritta Sabha is the most beautiful of the five halls. It is built in the form of a chariot and has 56 pillars that depict the 108 poses of the classical dance form Bharata Natyam. Temple festivals are conducted in the Deva Sabha.
Raja Sabha is famous for its thousand-pillared pavilion. This is where the Pandya and Chola kings used to celebrate their victories.
The Chidambaram Temple also has shrines dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Lord Subrahmanya (Karthikeya) and Lord Vinayaka (Ganesh). The sacred temple tank is called Sivaganga.
Thillaikaliamman Temple in Chidambaram
This is another famous temple in Chidambaram. It is in the northern part of the town. Built between AD 1229 and 1278, Thillaikaliamman Temple is dedicated to Goddess Kali. The Kaliamman Temple is also famous for its splendid architecture.
Tourist attractions near Chidambaram
Pichavaram is about 16 km from Chidambaram. This scenic place attracts thousands of travelers. Pichavaram has several mangrove forests, islands and backwaters.
This is another famous temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is situated about 24 kilometers from Chidambaram. Lord Shiva is worshipped as the healer of all ailments here. The water of the temple tank is believed to have healing powers.
An ancient city built by Rajendra Chola 1, Gangaikonda Cholapuram is about 42 kilometers from Chidambaram. The city has a famous temple of Lord Shiva with finely carved sculptures.
Festivals of Nataraja Temple
As part of this festival, the decorated idols of Lord Nataraja and Goddess Shivakama Sundari are taken out in a procession through the streets of Chidambaram. The streets through which the procession passes are decorated with flowers and rangolis. Thousands of people participate in the procession.
This five day festival is organized in the thousand pillared hall of the Nataraja Temple in the month of February and sees the participation of eminent dancers from all over the country.
Modes of transport to reach Chidambaram
Chidambaram is well connected by land and air.
The nearest airports are Tiruchirapalli (195 km) and Chennai (245 km).
Chidambaram is located on the Chennai and Tiruchirapalli main line of the Southern Railway.
Frequent bus services are available to Chidambaram from all major towns and cities in Tamil Nadu. Buses are also available from Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Pondicherry.