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Chidambaram - Quick Facts

Area: 5 sq. Km.
Population: 62,153
Altitude: 5.97 m (19.45')
Season: Throughout the year
Clothing: Tropical
Rainfall: 83.5 cm average
Language Spoken: Tamil & English


Chidambaram is also known as Thillai, since the place was originally a forest of the thillai, botanically known as excecaria agallecha shrubs. It is an important pilgrim centre and a holy place for Saivites as the famous Nataraja Temple is located here.

Dedicated to Lord Nataraja, this ancient temple of the Cholas is unique not only it is devoted solely to the art of Bharatanatyam, but also it is one of the rare temples where Shiva is represented by an idol rather than the customary lingam. Spread over an area of 40 acres with a gopuram on each side, the temple is distinguished by five sabhas or courts. The eastern gopuram is 40.8 m. high and carved on it are the 108 dance poses of Bharatanatyam. The western tower has also similar carvings while the northern tower that soars to a height of 42.4 m. is the tallest.

The idol of Nataraja is installed in the kanakasabha, the roof of which is covered with gold Plates. The icon is a stunning piece of sculpture that evokes a sense of continuous movement. Though non-Hindus are not allowed inside the sanctum sanctorum, replicas of this idol are easily available in most handicraft emporia and shops selling art and curio objects. A shrine to Govindaraja or Lord Vishnu lies adjacent to the main shrine and has a beautiful idol of the lord reclining on Adisesha, the serpent. There are two other shrines, one dedicated to Subramanya and the other to Ganesha. In the courtyard, a large Nandi looks on devotedly at its lord and master through an aperture on the wall.

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By Air
Nearest Airport is Thiruchi.

By Rail
It is connected by rail with Thiruchi, Madurai, and Chennai.

By Road
It is also connected with all major towns.


Natyanjali Festival
The Natyanjali dance festival at Chidambaram brings together all the prominent dancers of India. They offer their abhinaya and their dance to the Lord Nataraja. To many of them it is like a dream come true, to be able to perform in the vicinity of the sanctum sanctorum of Lord Nataraja’s temple, whose padams and varnams they often use creating an imaginary figure of the Lord.
This festival opens on the auspicious occasion of the Maha Shivaratri day and of course in the left kind of venue, which is the Prakara of the Chidambaram temple.

The Nataraja Temple
The temple located in the centre of the town covers an area of 40 acres. It is one of the ancient temples of Tamil Nadu. The presiding deity of the temple is represented by air, one of the five elements of the universe and is known as Akasa Lingam. Dedicated to Lord Nataraja, this ancient temple of the Cholas is unique as it one of Panchabootha sthala in India - and it is one of the rare temples where Shiva is represented by an idol rather than the customary lingam. This temple is aslo having exquisite carvings giving importance to Bharathanatya postures, gestures, mudhras etc thus giving concrete evidences and throws lights on the Classical Dance of Tamil Nadu. This temple spread over an area of 40 acres with magnificent gopurams on each side. The temple is also distinguished by five sabhas or courts.
The eastern tower of the temple rises to a height of 40.8 metres. There are a 108 Bharatha Natyam dance poses can be seen on the Eastern tower as well as on Western tower. The Northern tower rises to a height of 42.4 metres is the tallest. This temple is also noted for its Gold Plated roof that adorns the sanctum sanctorum other wise called as kanakasab ha.
Kali Temple The Thillai Kaliamman temple is an northern end of the town. It was built by Kopperunjingan who ruled between 1229 A.D and 1278 A.D. Sirkazhi (20 kms) is renowned in Tamil literature. It is the birthplace of Thirugnana Sambandar the Tamil saint. The Saivite temple is dedicated to him, and the idol in the shrine looks like a child god. A large crowd gathers in Sirkazhi to witness the Tirumulaippal festival celebrated in April. Bus and train services are available.

Annamalai University
This is a residential university situated on the outskirts of Chidambaram. It was founded by the Raja Sir Annamalai Chettiar. It is a great centre for Tamil learning and Carnatic music for many years. The university now offers educational facilities in various disciplines including Medicine, Engineering etc.

Ayyappan Temple
The Annamalai University near the Raja Muthiah Medical Centre built this temple for Ayyappan. It is a replica of the Ayyappan temple at Sabarimala. A small, quiet park surrounds the temple, creating a serene ambience.

Vaitheeswaran Koil
(24 kms) this temple is situated 6 kms south of Sirkazhi. This temple is constructed on a vast area, and the legend says that the presiding deity of this temple had healed the wounds sustained by the troupes of Lord Subramanya during a battle with a rakshasa. Thus there is a popular belief that worshiping in this temple will heal the wounds of the people. Women in large numbers visit this place to dispossess themselves of devils and evil spirits and pray for their weddings to take place. Vaitheeswaran is the healer of all diseases and it is believed that a bath in the holy water of the siddhamirtham tank or holy tank that is situated with in the temple complex cures all ailments.

Tiruvakkarai
It is about 30 km from Pondicherry town. Here, large fossil bearing areas have been fenced in to create the country's firstNational Fossil-Wood Park. The petrified trees lying scattered on low mounds date a 100 million years. The Chandramouliswara Temple, is a monument of great architectural grandeur dating back to the Chola period, is an added attraction. Every Pournami or Full Moon Day, people gather here to worship Goddess Vakkarakali.

Nagore
The dargah of Hazrat Meera Sultan Syed ShahabdulHameed who is better known as Hazrat Mian is just 4 kms to the north of Nagapattinam The tomb is almost 500 years old and is capped by a golden dome and flanked by five minarets.The tank is called peer kulam and is believed to have curative powers. People of all faiths visit the dargah.


Poompuhar
40 Kms Poompuhar was once the biggest port on the east coast of Tamil Nadu, and was as its peak of glory under the earlier Chola kings. The River Kaveri, merging with the billowing sea. It was known as puhar due to the exquisite beauty of the port town, and it later came to be called Poompuhar. Another name for Poompuhar was Kaveripoompattinam. Silappathikaram and Manimekalai, the tamil epics, bring out the greatness of the city in some of the poems in Sangam literature. The life and time of the Tamil classic Silappathikaram has been recreated at Poompuhar to the immense pleasure of the Tamils. In order to conjure up the decorative ornamental and scenic beauty of Poompuhar, the whole art Gallery is made to present the environment and atmosphere of the 2nd century A.D by the creation of the Illanji Manram, Pavai Manram, etc. A fine beach and calm waters offer good opportunity for sunbathing and swimming. The department of tourism offers shell and conch-shaped cottages to the tourists in the Poompuhar tourist complex, at a moderate tariff.

Kalvarayan Hills
These hills are situated 150 kms. Northwest of Chidambaram, and spread over an area of 600 sq.kms. These hills offer a temperate climate and quiet solitude. There is a botanical garden on these hills. These hills also have two waterfalls. The area is ideal for those interested intrekking. A summer festival is also held in the month of May every year.

Vadalur
Is situated on the Cuddalore-Virudhachalam road and has a railway station. It is about 37 kms from Chidambaram. Ramalingaswamigal, popularly called Vallalar Adigalar, established the Sathyagnana Sabai. The sanctum of this sabha or temple is separated from the main hall by seven screens of which only three are removed on ordinary days. It is on the 'Thai Poosam' day in December-January, all the screens are removed and the devotees have a darshan of the jyothi or the eternal flame. Sri Ramalingaswamigal is said to have sung thousands of songs that expound the Saiva Siddhantha philosophy. They are compiled into several volumes called Thiru Arutpa.

Tarangambadi
It was once the site of a Danish settlement. Tarangambadi has the remains of the Dansborg Fort built by Ore Gedde, a Commander of the Royal Dutch Navy, in the 17th century.

Gingee
 
132 km It is located on the Tindivanam - Thiruvannamalai road about 25 kms. from Tindivanam and is about 132 kms. From Chidambaram. This place is associated with Raja Desingh. There is a 700 year old fort running over three hills of huge and steep boulders. According to tradition the original fort was laid by Kone Chiefs. The fort was ruled by Vijayanagar Nayaks, Marathas, Moghuls, Carnatic Nawabs, the French and the British Rajagiri and Krishnagiri are two important fortifications here and it is a popular picnic spot.

Mailam
(85 Kms) There is a murugan temple on a hillock. The Panguni Uthiram festivals held in march-April attracts devotees in large numbers from far and near.

Neyveli
It is about 30 kms. From Chidambaram via Vadalur. It is one of the biggest industrial complexes in the country. The lignite mined here is used for thermal power generation. Apart from fertilisers ceramic wares and Leco (cooking coal), a number of by-products are also produced from lignite.

NavaGraha Temples
or Shrines for Nine Planets
 
The nine Planets have temples in nine sacred centres. Prayers to planets temples are supposed to ward off bad luck and ensure peace and prosperity.

1.Thirunageswaram
This is one of the temples for the nine planets. Thirunageswaram derives its name from a legend. It is believed that the serpent Adi sesha worshipped Lord Siva here and the locality is identified with Chaurpakaranya.

2. Suriyanar koil or the Sun Temple
This is the only temple where the sun is worshipped with the image of the Sun God. It is believed that the Chola King Kulothunga I built the shrine.

3. Thingalur
In striking contrast, this temple is dedicated to Chandra or the moon, one of the nine planets. It attracts pilgrims’ everyday.

4. Alangudi
Pilgrims, seeking blessings and prosperity, visit the temple for Guru or Jupiter the Planet for prosperity.

5. Tirunallar Temple
 For Saneeswaran or Saturn is located near Karaikal at Thirunallar. It is believed that prayers absolve one of his or her sins and brings in good future.

6. Vaitheeswaran Koil
 
The presiding deity Vaitheeswaran is a divine healer. The temple for Sevvai (Mars) is supposed to cure all ailments. It is also believed that Vaitheeswaran will fulfill a young girl’s aspirations for marriage.

7. Thiruvengadu
One of the Navargraha Temples for Budhan or Mercury is situated here. It attracts devotees.

8. Keelaperumpallam
Another Navagraha Temple for Kethu is here. Lord Siva is worshipped here as Naganathaswami.

9. Kanjanur
Close to the Suriyanar koil, Kanjanur has a shrine for Sukran or Venus. The presiding deity Lord Siva here is worshipped as Agneeshwar.


The Markazhi Thiruvadhirai Festival in December-January and Adi Thirumanjanam festivalin June. A 10 day Panguni Uthiram festival is held every year during March-Apri. Natyanjali Festival in March.


There are a number of shops in the car street around the temple and also many curios can be purchased from Khadi Craft.

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