Nataraja Temple, Chidambaram - A Cosmic Dance of Divinity

Important information

  • Address: Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu 608001.
  • Open and Close Timing: 06:00 am to 12:00 pm and 05:00 pm to 10:00 pm.
  • Nearest Railway Station: Chidambaram Railway Station at a distance of nearly 1.8 kilometres from Nataraja Temple, Chidambaram. 
  • Nearest Airport : Puducherry Airport at a distance of nearly 68.w kilometres from Nataraja Temple, Chidambaram.
  • Deity: Nataraja (Shiva) and Govindaraja Perumal (Maha Vishnu).
  • Did you know : Nataraja Temple, Chidambaram is considered a symbol of water Akash. 

The Thillai Nataraja Temple, also known as the Chidambaram Nataraja Temple, is a revered Hindu shrine dedicated to Nataraja and Govindaraja, representing the dance form of Shiva and Maha Vishnu as the Judge of the dance. Situated in Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu, India, this ancient temple holds historical significance, being praised in the Naalayira Divya Prabandham, the early medieval Tamil canon of the Alvar saints from the 6th–9th centuries CE.

Rooted in antiquity, the temple's origins can be traced back to a Shiva and Maha Vishnu shrine at the site during the era when the town was known as Thillai. The name "Chidambaram" itself translates to the "stage of consciousness," reflecting the temple's profound spiritual symbolism. The architecture of the temple serves as a symbolic bridge between the arts and spirituality, embodying the connection between creative activity and the divine.

Constructed in the 10th century during Chidambaram's prominence as the capital of the Chola dynasty, the temple has undergone various phases of damage, repair, renovation, and expansion through the centuries. The surviving plan, architecture, and structure primarily date back to the late 12th and early 13th centuries, with subsequent additions in a similar style.

While the temple venerates Shiva as Nataraja, it also incorporates major themes from Shaktism, Vaishnavism, and other Hindu traditions. Noteworthy features of the Chidambaram temple complex include the earliest known Amman or Devi temple in South India, a pre-13th-century Surya shrine with a chariot, dedicated shrines for Ganesha, Murugan, and Vishnu, as well as one of the earliest-known Shiva Ganga sacred pools. The grand hall of the shrine, known as Pon Ambalam, showcases Shiva as Nataraja performing the Ananda Tandava, the "Dance of Delight."

The temple holds a special place in the Shaivism pilgrimage tradition, recognized as one of the five elemental lingas, and is considered the subtlest of all Shiva temples (Kovil) in Hinduism. Beyond its religious significance, the temple is a hub for performance arts, hosting the annual Natyanjali dance festival on Maha Shivaratri, adding a vibrant cultural dimension to its spiritual legacy. The Thillai Nataraja Temple in Chidambaram is not just a place of worship; it is a living testament to the intertwining of history, art, and spirituality, inviting visitors to delve into the profound mysteries of its divine dance and cultural heritage.

Among the "Pancha Bootham" temples, Chidambaram symbolizes the Sky, Kalahasthi represents Wind, and Kanchi Ekambareswar embodies the essence of land. Remarkably, these three temples are aligned in a straight line at 79 degrees 41 minutes Longitude, a fact that can be verified. Hindu temple researcher Ravi Nagarajan points out this astonishing correlation, highlighting it as an astronomical miracle.

Historical Significance

The origins of the Nataraja Temple date back to ancient times, with references found in various scriptures and poetry. It is believed that this sacred space has been a center of worship for millennia, with devotees venerating Lord Shiva in his cosmic dancing form. The temple is steeped in history, playing a significant role in the cultural tapestry of Tamil Nadu.

Architectural Splendor

The Nataraja Temple is not only a spiritual center but also a masterpiece of Dravidian architecture. The towering gopurams (entrance towers), intricate carvings, and the sprawling temple complex create an awe-inspiring atmosphere. The temple is adorned with intricate sculptures that narrate stories from Hindu mythology, showcasing the artistic brilliance of ancient craftsmen.

Chidambara Rahasyam

One of the most intriguing aspects of the Nataraja Temple is the concept of "Chidambara Rahasyam" or the secret of Chidambaram. In the sanctum sanctorum, worshippers find an empty space symbolizing the formless and omnipresent nature of Lord Shiva. This mysterious and symbolic representation adds a layer of mysticism to the temple's spiritual aura.

Chitsabha and Akasha Lingam

 The temple houses the Chitsabha, a sacred hall adorned with intricately carved pillars. In the center of Chitsabha lies the Akasha Lingam, representing the formless aspect of Lord Shiva. Pilgrims gather here to experience the divine energy and engage in prayers and meditation, connecting with the cosmic forces believed to reside within.

Cultural and Spiritual Significance

 The Nataraja Temple plays a vital role in preserving and promoting the cultural heritage of Tamil Nadu. The annual Natyanjali Dance Festival, held in the temple complex, attracts classical dancers from around the country, paying homage to Lord Shiva's cosmic dance. The temple's rituals and festivals, including the Arudra Darshanam, further enrich its spiritual significance.


The Nataraja Temple in Chidambaram transcends the boundaries of time, inviting all to witness the cosmic dance of Lord Shiva and experience the divine energy that permeates its sacred halls. As worshippers and visitors explore the architectural splendor, unravel the mysteries of Chidambara Rahasyam, and partake in the cultural celebrations, they find themselves immersed in a spiritual journey that transcends the mundane and connects with the eternal dance of divinity in Chidambaram.

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