• Shiva

Chidambaram Sky Temple

Overview


The Chidambaram Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is located in the heart of the temple town of Chidambaram in Tamil Nadu. The Sangam classics refer to Viduvelvidugu Perumtaccan, respected clan of traditional Vishwakarmas, as being the chief architect of the temple renovation. There have been several renovations in its history, particularly during the days of Pallava/Chola emperors in ancient and pre-medieval periods. Chidambaram is one of the five holiest Shiva temples, each representing one of the five natural elements; Chidambaram represents akasha (aether). The other four temples in this category are: Thiruvanaikaval Jambukeswarar (water), Trichy, Ekambareswarar (earth), Kanchipuram, Arunachaleswarar (fire), Thiruvannamalai and Kalahasti Nathar (wind),Kalahasti.

Meaning of Chidambaram

Thillai Natarajar Temple

The word Chidambaram may be derived from chit, meaning "consciousness", and ambaram, meaning "sky" (from aakasam or aakayam); it refers to the chidaakasam, the sky of consciousness, which is the ultimate aim one should attain according to all the Vedas and scriptures. Another theory is that it is derived from chit + ambalam. Ambalam means a "stage" for performing arts. The chidakasam is the state of supreme bliss or aananda and Lord Natarajar is the symbolic representation of the supreme bliss or aananda natanam. Saivaites believe that a visit to Chidambaram leads to liberation. Yet another theory is that it is derived from the word chitrambalam, from chithu meaning "play or dances of God" and ambalam meaning "stage".


About The Temple


Thillai Natarajar Temple

The temple complex spread over 50 acres in the heart of the city. It is an ancient and historic temple dedicated to Lord Shiva Nataraja and Lord Govindaraja Perumal, one of the few temples where both the Shaivite and Vaishnavite deities are enshrined in one place. To the followers of Shaivism (Saivism) or the saivaite, the very word koil refers to Chidambaram. In the same way, to the followers of Vaishnavism it refers to Srirangam or Thiruvarangam. The temple has five courts. Aragalur Udaya Iraratevan Ponparappinan (alias Vanakovaraiyan) rebuilt the Siva temple at Chidambaram around 1213 AD. The same Bana Chief also built Tiruvannamalai temple. The temple has been traditionally administered by an endogamous group of shiavite brahmins called Dikshitar, who also officiate as its priest.

The Gopurams

Thillai Natarajar Temple

The temple has 9 gateways and four of these have towering pagodas or gopurams each with 7 levels in the East, South, West and North. The eastern pagoda has all the 108 postures (karnams) of the Indian dance form – Bharathanatyam sculpted on it.

The Five Sabhais

Thillai Natarajar Temple

There are 5 sabhas or daises or halls in the temple. The first of these is the Chit sabhai, which is the sanctum sanctorum housing Lord Nataraja, his consort Goddess Shivagamasundari. The second is the Kanaka sabhai – in front of the Chitsabhai, from which the daily rituals are conducted. The third is the Nrithya sabhai or Natya sabhai, to the south of the temple's flag mast (or kodi maram or dwaja sthambam) where the Lord is said to have danced with Goddess Kali – an embodiment energy and established His supremacy. The fourth is the Raja sabhai or the 1000-pillared hall which symbolizes the yogic chakra of thousand pillared lotus or Sahasraram (which in yoga is a 'chakra' at the crown of the head and is a seat where the soul unites with God. This chakra is represented as a 1000-petalled lotus. Meditating by concentrating at the Sahasrara Chakra is said to lead to a state of union with the Divine force and is the pinnacle of yogic practice). Fifth is the Deva sabhai, which houses the Pancha moorthis (pancha - five, moorthis - deities, namely the deities of Lord Ganesh - the remover of hurdles, Lord Somaskanda, a form where the Lord is in a seated posture with his grace and consort, the Lord's consort Sivananda nayaki, the Lord Muruga and the deity of Chandikeswarar - the principal and chief of the devotees of the Lord).

Other shrines

Apart from the five sabhais, there are other shrines too. The shrines for the original Shivalingam worshipped by Saints Patanjali and Vyagrapathar are called the Thirumoolattaneswarar and his consort Umaiyammai or Umaiya parvathi. There are shrines for the 63 prime devotees of Lord Siva, or arubathu-moovar. There are shrines for Sivagami, an embodiment of knowledge or Gyanasakthi. There is also a shrine for Lord Ganesha – in his manifestation of one who removes hurdles; for Lord Muruga or Pandiya nayakan, in his manifestation of one who holds the three forms of energy – Itchai or "desire" represented by his consort Valli, Kriya or "action" represented by his consort Deivayanai and Gnana or "Knowledge" represented by the spear He carries to destroy ignorance. There are also several smaller shrines in the temple complex.

Water bodies in and around the temple

Moorthi (Idol), Sthalam (Place) and Theertham (Waterbodies) signify the holiness of a temple. The Chidambaram temple is well endowed with several water bodies within and around it. The temple complex on 40 acres (160,000 m2) houses the temple tank – called the Sivaganga. This large tank is in the third corridor of the temple opposite to the shrine for Goddess Sivagami. The Paramanandha koobham is the well on the eastern side of the Chitsabhai from which water is drawn for performing pooja in the temple. The Kuyya theertham is situated to the north-east of Chidambaram near Killai near the Bay of Bengal and has the shore called Pasamaruthanthurai. The Pulimadu is situated around a kilometer and a half to the south of Chidambaram. The Vyagrapatha theertham is situated on to the west of the Chidambaram temple opposite the temple of Lord Ilamai akkinaar. The Anantha theertham is to the west of Chidambaram temple in front of the Anantheswarar temple. The Nagaseri is the tank to the west of the Anantha theertham. The Brahma theertham is to the north-west of the Chidambaram temple at Thirukalaanjeri.  The Siva piriyai is a tank to the north of the Chidambaram temple and opposite the Brahma chamundeswari temple (aka the Thillai Kali temple).Thiruparkadal is the tank to the south-east of the Siva piriyai.

Govindaraja Shrine

The Chidambaram temple complex houses a shrine for the Lord Govindaraja Perumal and his consort Pundareegavalli Thaayar. This shrine is claimed to be the Thillai Thiruchitrakootam and is one of the 108 divyadesas – or the key shrines of Vishnu, which have been sanctified (mangala saasanam) by hymns (the Naalayira divya prabantham) sung by the chief devotees of Lord Vishnu (called the Aalwars) . Tillai Chitrakootam (but not the Givindaraja Temple in its current form) has been sung by Kulasekara Alwar and Tirumangai Mannan Alwar. Both Alwars have recorded that the Chidambaram Brahmins(Dikshitars)were ones who were doing vedic and proper (in Tamil "muraiyaha")poojas for the Lord in Chitrakootam. There are controversies however, since many feel that the chitrakootam originally referenced to by alwars could have been the one at UP where Rama spent time in ashrams of sages like viswamitra and atri. This is because the currently available versions of works of alwars were copied and re-written centuries after the time of alwars sometime during late medieval ages. Many hymns written by alwars are missing and many have changes incorporated in them. This apart some sources hold the founding of thillai chitrakootam to 1400 or probably 1600.C.E only.

Significance of the temple design

The layout and architecture of the temple is replete with philosophical meaning. The 9 gateways signify the 9 orifices in the human body. The Chitsabai or Ponnambalam, the sanctum sanctorum represents the heart which is reached by a flight of 5 stairs called the Panchaatchara padi - pancha meaning 5, achhara – indestructible syllables – "SI VA YA NA MA", from a raised anterior dias - the Kanakasabai. The access to the Sabhai is through the sides of the stage (and not from the front as in most temples). The Ponnambalam or the Sanctum sanctorum is held by 28 pillars – representing the 28 agamas or set methodologies for the worship of Lord Shiva. The roof is held by a set of 64 beams representing the 64 forms of art and is held by several cross-beams representing the innumerable blood vessels. The roof has been laid by 21600 golden tiles with the word SIVAYANAMA inscribed on them representing 21600 breaths. The golden tiles are fixed using 72000 golden nails which represents the no. of nadis exists in human body. The roof is topped by a set of 9 sacred pots or kalasas, representing the 9 forms of energy.

Temple car

The Chidambaram temple car is perhaps the most beautiful example of a temple car in all of Tamil Nadu. This car, on which Lord Nataraja descends twice a year, is drawn by several thousand devotees during the festivals.


About The Deity


A unique feature of this temple is the bejewelled idol of Nataraja. It depicts the Lord Shiva as the Lord of the dance Bharatanatyam and is one of the few temples where Shiva is represented by an anthropomorphic murthi rather than the classic, anionic Lingam. The Cosmic Dance of Lord Nataraja symbolises the motion of the universe as sustained by Lord Shiva.

The Ananda Tandava Posture

The Ananda Tandava posture of Lord Shiva is one of the famous postures recognized around the world by many. This celestial dancing posture tells us how a Bharatanatiyam Dancer should dance. The demon under Nataraja's feet signifies that ignorance is under his feet. The Fire in this hand (power of destruction) means destroyer of evil. The raised hand signifies that he is the savior of all life.The Ring at the back signifies the cosmos. The drum in his hand signifies the origin of Life. These are the main things that the Natarajar murti and the celestial dance posture depict. A rare type of thandava posture is seemed in Melakadambur temple nearby 32 km from here. In this Karakoil, Nataraja dancing on a bull and deva's rounds the structure it's an pala art being kept in this shrine.

Significance of the main deity

Chidambaram is also referred to in various works such as Thillai (after the Thillai forest of yore in which the temple is now located), Perumpatrapuliyur or Vyagrapuram(in honour of Saint Vyagrapathar).The temple is supposed to be located at the Lotus heart of the Universe": Virat hridaya padma sthalam. On the spot where the Lord displayed his dance of bliss, the Ananda Thaandavam - a spot exactly south of the "Thirumoolataaneswar temple", today is the Ponnambalam/ Porsabai (Pon meaning gold, Ambalam/Sabai meaning stage) housing the Lord Shiva in his dancing form. The Lord is also hence referred to as the Sabhanayakar, meaning the Lord of the Stage. This gold-roofed stage is the sanctum sanctorum of the Chidambaram temple and houses the Lord in three forms:

  • The "form" - the anthromorphological form as an appearance of Lord Nataraja, called the Sakala thirumeni.
  • The "semi-form" - the semi-anthropomorphological form as the Crystal linga of Chandramouleswarar, the Sakala nishkala thirumeni.
  • The "formless" - as the Space in Chidambara Rahasyam, an empty space within the sanctum sanctorum, the Nishkala thirumeni.


Legend and Stories


The story of Chidambaram begins with the legend of Lord Shiva strolling into the Thillai Vanam (Vanam meaning forest and thillai trees - botanical name Exocoeria agallocha, a species of mangrove trees - which currently grows in the Pichavaram wetlands near Chidambaram. The temple sculptures depicting the Thillai trees date back to the 2nd century CE). In the Thillai forests resided a group of saints or 'rishis' who believed in the supremacy of magic and that God can be controlled by rituals and 'mantras' or magical words. The Lord strolls in the forest with resplendent beauty and brilliance, assuming the form of 'Pitchatanadar', a simple mendicant seeking alms. He is followed by his Grace and consort who is Lord Vishnu as Mohini. The rishis and their wives are enchanted by the brilliance and the beauty of the handsome mendicant and his consort. On seeing their womenfolk enchanted, the rishis get enraged and invoke scores of 'serpents' (Sanskrit: Naga) by performing magical rituals. The Lord as the mendicant lifts the serpents and dons them as ornaments on his matted locks, neck and waist. Further enraged, the rishis invoke a fierce tiger, which the Lord skins and dons as a shawl around his waist. Thoroughly frustrated, the rishis gather all their spiritual strength and invoke a powerful demon Muyalakan - a symbol of complete arrogance and ignorance. The Lord wearing a gentle smile, steps on the demon's back, immobilizes him and performs the Ananda Thaandava (the dance of eternal bliss) and discloses his true form. The rishis surrender, realizing that this Lord is the truth and he is beyond magic and rituals.

The Ananda Thaandava

Adhisesha, the serpent who serves as a bed for the Lord in his manifestation as Vishnu, hears about the Ananda thaandava and yearns to see and enjoy it. The Lord blesses him, beckons him to assume the saintly form of 'Patanjali' and sends him to the Thillai forest, informing him that he will display the dance in due course. Patanjali who meditated in the Himalayas during krita age joins another saint, Vyagrapathar / Pulikaalmuni (Vyagra / Puli meaning "Tiger" and patha / kaal meaning "feet" – referring to the story of how he sought and got the feet and eyesight of a tiger to help climb trees well before dawn to pick flowers for the Lord before the bees visit them). The story of sage Patanjali as well as his great student sage Upamanyu is narrated in both Vishnu Puranam as well as Siva Puranam. They move into the Thillai forest and worship Lord Shiva in the form of Shivalinga, a deity worshipped today as Thirumoolataneswarar (Thiru - sri, Moolatanam - primordial or in the nature of a foundation, Eswarar- the Lord). Legends say that Lord Shiva displayed his dance of bliss (the Aananda Thaandavam) - as Nataraja to these two saints on the day of the poosam star in the Tamil month of Thai (Jan – Feb).

Sage Vasishta

Sage Vasishta, revered as leader of Rishis had a relative Madyandinar by name. He had a son named Maadyandinar (the first name is short in sound, the next longer – spelling differs). Sage Vasishta advised that the boy should worship the Swayambulinga in Thillai Vanam forests for gaining complete spiritual wisdom. Son Maadyandinar reached this place. He was sad that he lost his puja time in picking up flowers after sunrise and these flowers were not pure as the honey in the same are taken away by the bees. He appealed to Lord Shiva saying that he was unable to pick the flowers in darkness due to lack of light and the flowers become unfit if picked after sunrise. Lord granted him hands and legs as that of a tiger to climb the tree and a bright vision to the eyes functioning well even in utter darkness. Lord also said that he would be known henceforth as Vyakrapada as had the legs as a tiger. Vyakrapada was too happy with the boon and name and continued his worship in Thillai.

Chidambara Rahasyam

Chidambara Ragasiyamis a belief that there is a secret message conveyed through the embossed figure near the shrine of Shiva in Chidambaram temple. Since ancient times, it is believed that this is the place where Lord Shiva and Parvathi are present, but are invisible to the naked eyes of normal people. In the Chidambaram temple of Lord Nataraja, Chidambara Ragasiyam is hidden by a curtain (Maya). Darshan of Chidambara Ragasiyam is possible only when priests open the curtain (or Maya) for special poojas. People who are privileged to have a darshan of Chidambara Ragasiyam can merely see golden vilva leaves (Aegle Marmelos) signifying the presence of Lord Shiva and Parvathi in front of them. It is also believed that devout saints can see the Gods in their physical form, but no such cases have been officially reported.

The phrase "Chidambara Ragasiyam" really means something different. The pharse literally means a secret associated to Chidambaram - the place. Behind this is a real meaning to a secret. As described above there is a particular curtain which when removed enables us viewing the secret. The real significance of doing so is that, when the curtain which is "maya" is removed one can see his real self. And the seeing of oneself removing the curtain of maya is viewing the secret. According to legend, "Chidambara Ragasiyam" will never be revealed as it is the secret relating to a particular person who sees it removing the screen of "maya". In the temple, when the poojas are performed and the screen is removed, one will be able to see the secret only when he applies this to his mind and soul.

Deekshithar

The temple is managed and administered hereditarily by the Chidambaram Dikshitar – a class of Vaideeka Brahmins whom, legends say, were brought here, from Mt. Kailas, by Saint Patanjali, specifically for the performance of the daily rituals and maintenance of the Chidambaram temple. These Deekshithars follow the Vedic rituals, unlike the Sivachariyars or Adhisaivars – who follow the agamic rituals for the worship of Lord Shiva. The rituals for the temple were collated from the Vedas and set by Patanjali, who is said to have inducted the Deekshithars into the worship of Lord Shiva as Nataraja.

In ancient times the Deekshithars, the community of hereditary priests were known as Muvariyavar, or the 3000 of Tillai. The Chidambaram Mahatmyam recounts of their arrival in Tillai just as Lord Nataraja started his dance there. Thus they were the chosen guardians of the Lord’s worship and of the temple from its very conception.

Their relation to Lord Nataraja is a very intimate and powerful one, which is expressed by the legend that once the 3000 were requested by Brahma to perform a Vedic sacrifice in heaven. At their return they counted to make sure all had returned safely. But however they counted, they found only 2999. All were very upset, until a voice from the Sabha called out and announced that He Himself, Lord Nataraja, was the 3000th Deekshithar. Today they number around 360.

Although considered as among the Shiva Brahmans or Ayars, they form a completely separate group. Not only is their philosophy and temple doctrine different from other social groups and other temples, but also their way of life is very different from the society around them. In general, every married male member of the Deekshithar family gets a turn to perform the rituals at the temple and can serve as the chief priest for the day. Married Deekshithars are also entitled a share of the temple's revenue.

A Deekshithar has to wear his hair long, with a tonsure all around the rim. The hair is pulled to the left side and tied into a bun. This reflects their awareness of cosmology. It also expresses some aspects of the temple philosophy. They follow the teaching of Baudhayana Maharishi. Male and female energies are inseparable and both essential for the process of cosmos. The Deekshithars acknowledge their female side by wearing their hair long and in a bun, on the left side of the body, which is considered the female side.

The Chidambaram temple is unique in countless ways, but one outstanding feature is without doubt the way in which its priestly community is organized. It is possible the oldest and longest functioning democracy in the world. The community is called Podu Deekshithars, which means ‘the gathering of Deekshithars’. Every Deekshithar has one vote in the general assembly, which takes place every twenty days. The daily management is in the hand of a team of nine members, one of which will be selected to be the Secretary of the temple for one year. The duties of the Secretary of the temple are to preside over all the activities in connection with the daily management, as well as to represent the temple towards the outside world. All ritual duties in the temple are performed through a strict rotation system. Special honorary functions, like presiding over the great Chariot Festivals, or other special ritual functions are accredited by drawing a name from the list of community’s members.


Festivals


A whole year for men is said to be a single day for the Gods. Just as six poojas are performed in a day at the sanctum sanctorum, six anointing ceremonies are performed for the principal deity - Lord Nataraja in a year. They are the Marghazhi Thiruvaadhirai (December - January ) indicating the first pooja , the fourteenth day after the new moon (chaturdasi) of the month of Masi (February - March) indicating the second pooja, the Chittirai Thiruvonam (April- May), indicating the third pooja or uchi kaalam , the Uthiram of Aani (June- July) also called the Aani Thirumanjanam indicating the evening or the fourth pooja, the chaturdasi of Aavani (August-September) indicating the fifth pooja and the chaturdasi of the month of Puratasi (October - November) indicating the sixth pooja or Arthajama.

Of these the Marghazhi Thiruvaadhirai (December-January) and the Aani Thirumanjanam (June-July) are the most important. These are conducted as the key festivals with the main deity being brought outside the sanctum sanctorum in a procession that included a temple car procession followed by a long anointing ceremony. Several hundreds of thousands of people flock the temple to see the anointing ceremony and the ritualistic dance of the Lord when He is taken back to the sanctum sanctorum. There are references in Umapathy Sivam's 'Kunchithaangristhavam' that the Maasi festival also had the Lord being carried out in procession, however this is not in vogue these days.

The Six Mahaabhishekas Of Sri Natarajaraja

  • Chithirai Onam
  • Aanithirumanjanam
  • Aavani Chathurdhasi
  • Purattasi Chathurdhasi
  • Aardhraa Abhishekam
  • Maasichathurdhasi
Aani Thirumanjana Festival Schedule

  • Day 1: Dwajaarohanam
  • Day 2: Golden Sooryaprabha
  • Day 3: Silver Chandraparabha
  • Day 4: Silver Bhootha Vaahan
  • Day 5: Silver Rishabhavaahanam (Theruvadaichaan)
  • Day 6: Silver Gaja Vaahanam
  • Day 7: Golden Kailaasa Vaahanam
  • Day 8: Bhikshadanar On Golden Car
  • Day 9: Mahaa Rathothsavam Of Sri Natarajarajar
  • Day 10: Aanithirumanjanamahaabhishekam, Aani Dharsanam
Aardhraa Dharsana Festival Schedule

  • Day 1: Dwajaarohanam
  • Day 2: Golden Sooryaprabha
  • Day 3: Silver Chandraparabha
  • Day 4: Bhootha Vaahanam
  • Day 5: Silver Rishabhavaahanam(Theruvadaichaan)
  • Day 6: Silver Gaja Vaahanam
  • Day 7: Golden Kailaasa Vaahanam
  • Day 8: Bhikshadanar On Golden Car
  • Day 9: Mahaa Rathothsavam Of Srinatarajarajar
  • Day 10: Aarudhra Mahaabhishekam, Aarudhraa Dharsanam
Other Festivals

  • 63 Naayanmaar Uthsavam
  • Srimoolanaathar Mahaaannaabhishekam
  • Sri Sivakamasundhari Uthsavaarambam
  • Amman Rathothsavam
  • Poorachalankai Pattu Vaangal
  • Maalai Maatral, Kanoonjal, Thirukalyanam
  • Soora Samhaaram
  • Devasena Subrahmanyar Kalyanam
  • Thai Poosam - Panchamoorthy Veethi Purappadu, Theerthavari In Sivagangai
  • Mahaasivaraathri

Daily Poojas


  • 6.30 a.m. Paal Nivedhyam - (Padhuka (Lord's footwear) being brought from palliyarai to sanctum santorum in a palanquin).
  • 7.00 a.m. Maha Aarthi.
  • 7.45 a.m. to 9.00.a.m. Kalasandhi Pooja (first pooja of the day) - (During the time kalasandhi homam, spatika linga abhishekam and maha aarthi).
  • 10.00 a.m. to 11.00.a.m. Irandaam Kaalam (2nd pooja of the day) - (During the time spatika linga abhishekam and Rathna sabhapathi-Rubi Natarajar abhishekam.
  • 11.30 a.m. to 12.00 noon Uchikaalam (3rd pooja of the day) - (During the time spatika linga abhishekam and aarthi and the Temple will be closed).
  • 5.15 p.m. to 6.00.p.m. Saayarakshai (4th pooja of the day) - During the time spatika linga abhishekam and shotasopachaara aarthi).
  • 7.00 p.m. to 8.00.p.m. Irandaam Kaalam (5th pooja of the day) - (During the time spatika linga abhishekam,chidambara rahasya pooja,maha aarthi).
  • 9.00 p.m. To 10.00 p.m. Ardhajaamam (6th and last pooja of the day) - (During the time spatika linga abhishekam, maha aarthi and then padhuka comes back to palliyarai in a palanquin, maha aarthi at palliyarai, chandeswarar aarthi, bhairavar aarthi, Ardhajaama sundharar aarthi).

Rituals


The temple is managed and administered hereditarily by the Chidambaram Dikshitar – a class of Vaideeka Brahmins whom, legends say, were brought here, from Mt. Kailas, by Saint Patanjali, specifically for the performance of the daily rituals and maintenance of the Chidambaram temple.

The Deekshithars were supposed to be 3000 (2999 actually, with the Lord totalling 3000 ) and were called the Tillai Moovayaram. Today they number around 360. These Deekshithars follow the Vedic rituals, unlike the Sivachariyars or Adhisaivars – who follow the agamic rituals for the worship of Lord Shiva. The rituals for the temple were collated from the Vedas and set by Patanjali, who is said to have inducted the Deekshithars into the worship of Lord Shiva as Nataraja.

The day begins with the Chief priest of the day, performing required rituals to purify himself and assume the Shivoham bhava, after which he enters the temple to do the daily rituals. The day begins with the Lord’s footwear (padukas) being brought at 7:00am from the Palliyarai (or bedroom) to the sanctum sanctorum in a palanquin accompanied by devotees with cymbals and chimes and drums. The Priest then begins by performing the daily rituals with a yagna and a ' Go pujai' (worship of a cow and her calf).

Worship (Pooja) is done 6 times in a day. Before each pooja, the Spadika linga (Crystal linga) – the 'aru uruva' or the semi form state of Lord Shiva is anointed with ghee, milk, curds, rice, sandal paste and holy ash. This is followed by presenting the neivedhyam or offering of freshly prepared food and sweets to the Lord and the deeparaadhana, a ritual of showing varied and decoratively set lamps, the reciting of Vedas in Sanskrit and the Panchapuranam (a set of 5 poems from a set of 12 works in Tamil – called the panniru thirumurai). The pooja ends with the priest parting the curtains of the sanctum sanctorum to reveal the Chidambara Rahasyam.

Before the 2nd pooja, apart from the regular anointing of the crystal linga, a ruby Nataraja deity (the Rathinasabhapathy) is also anointed. The 3rd pooja is at around 12.00 noon, after which the temple closes until around 4:30pm. The 4th pooja is performed at 6.00 PM, the 5th at 8:00pm and the last pooja of the day is performed at 10:00pm, after which the Lord’s footwear is taken in a procession for Him to ‘retire’ for the night. Before the 5th pooja at night, the priest performs special rituals at the Chidambara Rahasya, where he anointed the yantra with aromatic substances and offers 'neivedhyam'.

The last pooja, called the Arthajaama pooja in Chidambaram is done with special fervor. It is believed that the entire divine force of the universe retires into the Lord, when he retires for the night.

Archanaas

  • Ashtoththara sathanaama
  • Sahasranaaama
  • Sammelana sahasranaama
  • Panchakshara Thrisathi
  • Pancha mukha sahasranaama
  • Ekasamaya Lakshaarchanaa
Abishekams

  • Chandhramouleeswara spatikalinga abishekam
  • Rathnasahapathy abishekam
  • Swarna Aakarshana Bhairava abishekam
  • Mahanyaasa poorvaka Rudhraabishekam
  • Mahaarudhrajapa yagna sahitha mahaarudhram
  • Athirudhrajapa yagna sahitha athirudhram
Other Kainkaryams

  • Annapaavaadai mahaaneivedhyam
  • Mokshadheepam (for ancestors)
  • Sahasra Bhojanam

Thanks Giving


Devotees perform abisheks with oil, cosmetic powders, milk, curd, fruit juices, green coconut, panchamirtha, sandal, rosewater and sacred ashes. They also offer fresh and clean vastras. Gangabishekam and Kalasabishekam are also offered to Lord. For Mother Sivakama Sundari, abisheks are performed with turmeric powder offering sari. Some place contributions in the Hundi and arrange Annadhana-feeding. Devotees also contribute for the renovation of the temple.


Rare Facts


Lord Shiva is swayambumurthi in the temple.Lord Shiva is in three forms in Chidambaram, as visible idol form, formless as Akasha or space and form and formless as a Spatika Linga.


Antiquity


The origins of this vast temple are buried in antiquity. Literature talks of a tradition of Shiva (Nataraja) worship in existence even as early as the Sangam period (very early on in the Christian era), and the Tamil Saints have sung its fame when an established worship tradition was in place. The later Chola Kings (Aditya I and Parantaka I) adorned the roof of the shrine with gold, and the other Chola Kings treated Nataraja as their guardian deity and made several endowments to the temple as temple inscriptions testify. The Pandya Kings who followed them, and the later Vijayanagar rulers made several endowments to the temple. There is a stone image of Krishnadevaraya in the North Gopura which he is said to have erected. In the wars of the 18th century, this temple was used as a fort, especially when the British General Sir Eyre Coote unsuccesfully tried to capture it from the Mysore Kings. During this period, the images of Nataraja and Sivakamasundari were housed in the Tiruvarur Tyagaraja temple for safety.

Muthuswamy Deekshitar, one of the foremost composers in the Karnatic Music tradition sings the glory of this temple in his kriti 'Ananda Natana Prakasam'. The Alwar Poems of the Naalayira Divya Prabandam sing the glory of Vishnu, whose image is also housed in this temple, and his shrine is referred to as 'Tiruchitrakootam'. Adi Sankara is said to have presented a Spatika Lingam which is still under worship in this temple. Sekkizhaar's Periya Puranam, describing poetically the life of the Saivite Saints (63 in number) was composed in the 1000 pillared hall, and was expounded by the author himself in the presence of the Chola emperor Kulottunga II, who had comissioned the work, amidst great festivity and fanfare.

Each of the four most revered Saivite Saints (Appar, Sundarar, Sambandar and Manikkavacakar) has worshipped at Chidambaram, and the bulk of Manikkavacakar's work is in praise of Shiva at Chidambaram. Accordingly, their images are placed in the temple entrances corresponding to their points of entry into the temple. (Sambandar - South, Appar - West, Sundarar - North and Manikkavacakar – East).


Significance


Praying to Lord Nataraja, the first benefit the devotee gains is mental peace. The prayer frees the devotee from any and every health problem. Many pray deeply to gain excellence in arts and a bright future in the field. They also pray for child boon and prosperity.


Accessibility

Airport

The nearest airport is Trichy (195 Km) & Chennai (235Km). Chidambaram is well connected by train and bus routes from these places.

Railways

Chidambaram is now connected by train to Trichy and other cities of Tamil Nadu.

Road

Frequent buses are available from various places in Tamilnadu ,Andhra, Karnataka to Chidambaram. The best way to reach Chidambaram from Chennai is via Pondicherry (through East Coast Road).It takes 4 hours by car to reach Chidambaram from Chennai.


Temple Address


Sri Thillai Natarajar Temple,
Chidambaram, Cuddalore district,
Tamil Nadu, India, Pincode - 608 001.

Significance

Devotees visit this temple to seek fulfillment of the following:-

  • Salvation
  • Wealth
  • Relief from diseases
  • Purchase of vehicles
  • Gain Knowledge
  • For general well-being of people born under Arudra/Thiruvadhirai/Tiruvatira star
Shlokas

Kailaasarana Shiva Chandramouli Phaneendra Maathaa Mukutee Zalaalee Kaarunya Sindhu Bhava Dukha Haaree Thujaveena Shambho Maja Kona Taaree

Meaning -Oh Lord Shiva who is seated on Mount Kailash, where the moon decorates his forehead and the king of serpents crown his head, who is merciful and removes delusion, You alone can protect me. I surrender to thee.

Aum Trayambakam Yajaamahey Sugandhim Pusti Vardhanam Urvaarukamiva Bandhanaath Mrutyor Muksheeya Maamritaat

Meaning -We worship the fragrant Lord Shiva, who has 3 eyes and who cultivates all beings. May He free me from death, for immortality, as even a cucumber is separated from its bond with the vine.

Timings

The temple is open from 6:00 am to 12:00 pm and 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm.

Weather in Chidhambaram
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