Thillai Nataraja Temple – Where Vishnu witnessed Shiva Tandavam


Chidambaram Nataraja temple or Thillai Nataraja Temple is associated with Nataraja, or Shiva in his Ananda Tandava pose. Shiva is also worshipped in the “formless form” of the Chidambara Rahasyam, while the temple is known for its Akasa Lingam, an embodiment of Shiva as the formless Space. This temple is a specimen of the assimilation of several architectural styles. The innermost sanctum of the temple, houses the grand images of Shiva (Nataraja) and Parvati (Sivakami) in the Chit Sabha or the hall of consciousness, adjoining which is the Kanaka Sabha or the Golden Hall, both these structures resting on a raised platform. The innermost prakaram surrounds this holiest of shrines, and to the South West of Nataraja, is the shrine of Govindaraja Perumaal facing the East.


Legend has it that Aadi Sesha, the serpent of Vishnu, heard from Vishnu the grandeur of Shiva’s cosmic dance. With a desire to see this dance in person at Chidambaram, Aadi Seshan descended to the earth as Sage Patanjali. Shiva (with Sivakami) granted to Patanjali a visual treat in the form of his Cosmic Dance of Bliss, to the accompaniments of music played by several divine beings. This Dance of Bliss is said to have been witnessed by Vishnu, and there is a Govindaraja shrine in the Natarajar temple commemorating this. Commonly we would have witnessed a small Shiva shrine within Vishnu temple or a small Vishnu shrine within a Shiva temple. But in the Thillai nataraja temple, both Shiva and Vishnu have a large Shrine, God Shiva is depicted as Nataraja and God Vishnu is depicted as Govindaraja Perumal.

The Thillai Nataraja Temple located in the temple town of Chidambaram is one of the ancient temples in India. It is of great religious as well as historic and cultural significance. This is one of the Pancha bhoota shtalams of Shiva and is among the 108 Divya Desam temples of Vishnu. Both the Gods almost face one another. In a particular spot you can get the Darshan of both the Gods.

More details on this shrine and how to get there on Ishta Devata



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