Chidambaram (Tamil Nadu)

This is an important pilgrim centre and a holy place for Shaivites. It derives its name from Chit Ambaram, which literally means the sky permeated with an atmosphere of intelligence and wisdom. Lord Nathraja is supposed to have emerged from the sacred space, , ether and performed his cosmic dance before his two devotees, Vyaghrapada and Patanjali. The main deity is Shiva Nateshwara in his aspect as Cosmic Dance. This is one of the Pancha Linga Kshetras depicting Shiva in the Akasha Linaga aspect. This one of the most venerated ancient South Indian temples is known for unique form of Shiva represented by space rather the idol. Built in the 9th century, numerous additions have been made by Pallavas, Cholas and Pandyan Kings. Krishnadeva Raya renovated the temple in 1520. The huge tower at the main entrance rising to a height of 41 metres has 108 figures in various poses of Bharata Natyam carved on it. The roof of the sanctum is covered with gold plates. The goddess is known as Shivakami Amma. A unique feature of this temple is that a shrine dedicated to Vishnu as Govindaraja is adjacent to the Nataraja shrine. This is the only place in South India where a Shiva and Vishnu temple are situated within the same enclosure. There are subsidiary shrines for Muruga and Vinayaka inside the temple. The sacred take is called Sivaganga which is situated to the east of the hundred pillar hall. The Aaruda Darshanam (sight of shiva as Rudra) is the main festival at Chidambaram which take place in December - January.

TILLAI KAIAMMAN TEMPLE : Situated at the northern end of the town, this temple was built by Kopperujingam who ruled between 1729-78. The legends goes that subsequent to the defeat of Kali in a dance performance competition with Shiva, Kali was banished from the Nathraja temple to the outskirts of the town.

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