66 km south of the union territory from Pondicherry, the temple town of Chidambaram has been the southern home of Lord Shiva attracting devotees who are drawn to this place in the Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu for its famed the Dravidian-style Thillai Nataraja Temple. A temple of great antiquity, Thillai Nataraja Temple demonstrates architectural expertise which has been achieved by donations and renovations by the rulers of the different dynasties including the Cholas that ruled south India at different periods of times.
Synonymous with Chidambaram, which served as the capital of the mighty Chola empire for sometime, is the Nataraja temple, the pivot around which the PLACE has evolved. A fine specimen of the Dravidian architecture and sculpture, the temple has four towering gopurams. Spread over an area of 40 acres, this is one of the largest temple complexes in India. The Nataraja temple grew with the contribution from the rulers of the south Indian dynasties.
The golden tiled roof for the Chit Ambalam (the vimanam), which holds the bronze statue of the Dancing Shiva, was laid by the Chola monarch Parantaka I who ruled for a long time from AD 907 to AD 953.
Chidambaram temple is associated with the Nataraja, the Lord of the Dance, one of the aspects of Lord Shiva who is credited with the invention of 108 different dances. He is said to have performed his cosmic dance tandava at Chidambaram. The bronze image of the Dancing Shiva in the temple is the crowing jewel in the Chola art. In fact, the Nataraja at Chidambaram has bee described as the cultural epitome of the Chola period. The Chola rulers were patrons of Shaivism.
Chidambaram is also sacred to Vaishnavites as the Nataraja Temple complex also houses a shrine dedicated to Lord Vishnu as Govindaraja. The complex is also home to shrines dedicated Subramanya, Vinayaka, Shivakami Amman and Murugan.
The Tillai Kaliamman Temple or the kali temple is another important shrine of Chidambaram. It was built by Kopperunjingan who ruled between 1229 AD and 1278 AD. Legend has it that Kali was defeated by Shiva in a dance competition held at Chidambaram.
There are a great number of hotels and eateries in Chidambaram catering to the need of the visitors. Famous hotels of Chidambaram are Grand Palace and Saradha Ram.
Chidmabaram is located at about 235 km from Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu. It is well-connected by road and rail. Trichy, 168 km away from Chidambaram, is the nearest airport connected with different cites in India. Chidambaram is connected by good motrable road with different cites in South India. Major cities near Chidambaram connected with it are Puducherry (70 km), Kumbakonam (75km), Thanjavur (114km)
41 km from Chidambaram is located Gangaikondancholapuram where the Brahadeeswarar temple is a major attraction. Named after Rajendra Chola, who built the temple, the temple must be visited for exploring the Dravadian art and architecture which reached their climax during the Chola rule.
16 km east of Chidambaram, Pichavaram is a favouirte haunt of the birdwatchers and known for its thousands of acres of mangrove forests. It is beautiful place for boating and fishing. Buses ply from Chidambaram to Pichavaram at regular intervals.
Located in the Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu, Poompuhar is identified with Kaveripattinam, the chief and the biggest port of the ancient Chola kingdom located at the mouth of the river Kaveri, The great ruler Chola King Karikalan is credited with the construction of the Kaveripattinam. 40 km south east of Chidambaram, Poompuhar is the town which forms the setting of the great Tamil epic Shilappadigaram (the Jewelled Anklet). The port city of Kaveripattinam finds mention in the Periplus of the Erythrean Sea and Ptolemy’s Geography.