CHIDAMBARAM-A UNIQUE CULTURAL DESTINATION
   

CHIDAMBARAM-A UNIQUE CULTURAL DESTINATION

    The temple town of Chidambaram, 58 km south of Pondicherry greets the visitors, with a beautiful temple, dedicated to Lord Nataraja - Lord Shiva in the enthralling form of a Cosmic Dancer. This is one of the few temples, where Shiva and Vishnu are enshrined under one roof. Chidambaram is also called Thillai, since the place was originally a forestThillai shrubs. It is one of the five Shaivite mukti sthalams, the other four being Kalahasti, Kanchipuram, Tiruvannamalai and Tiruvanaikaval. A unique feature of Chidambaram is that a person of any race or religion can visit the shrine and pray.
    Chidambaram is also known as Thillai, since the place was originally a forestThillai(Excecaria agallecha)shrubs. It is an important pilgrim centre and a holy place for Saivaites 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 which soars to a height of 42.4 m. is the tallest.
    The idol of Nataraja is installed in the Kanaka Sabha, 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. of of
    Chidambaram is well connected by road with several towns in the state. There are bus services to Pondicherry, Chennai, Nagapattinam and Madurai. It is also served by the Chennai - Trichy (main) metre gauge line and has rail connections to Chennai, Kumbakonam, Thanjavur, Trichy and Rameswaram. The nearest airport is Trichy from where Indian Airlines connections are available to Chennai, Madurai and Srilanka.

PLACES TO SEE


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.

    The eastern tower rises to a height of 40.8 metres. 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.

    The Sivakamiamman temple, the Sivaganga tank, the thousand pillar hall are other important features of the temple.

Annamalai University

    It is a residential University founded by the Raja Sir Annamalai Chettiar. It is a great centre of Tamil learning and carnatic music; now offers educational facilities in various disciplines including Medicine,Agriculture, Engineering, etc.

Genji (Gingee)

    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.

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.

Natyanjali Festival

    The Natyanjali dance festival at Chidambaram brings together all the prominent dancers of India present there with an enchantment and elation, which shone in their eyes and evocative abhinaya as they offered their dance to the great divinity, 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 himself, whose padams and varnams they often dance upon creating an imaginary figure of the Lord.

    Natyanjali opens on the auspicious occasion of the Maha Shivaratri day and of course in the right kind of venue - the 'Prakara' of the Chidambaram temple.

Pichavaram

    Pichavaram, 16 kms. east of Chidambaram, ranks among the most exquisite scenic spot with abundant and varied tourism resources. The backwaters which are interconnected by the Vellar and Kollidam system offer abundant scope for water sports - parasailing, rowing and canoeing.

    The Pichavaram forest not only offers waterscape and backwater cruises but combines another very rare occurrence - the mangrove forest - trees permanently rooted in a few feet of water. The Pichavaram mangroves are considered among the healthiest mangrove occurrence in the world. Pichavaram consists of a number of islands interspersing a vast expanse of water and covered with green trees. The area is about 2800 acres and is separated from the sea by a sand bar which is a patch of extraordinary loveliness. TTDC offers boating facilities, accommodation and restaurant facilities . Tel : 89232.

Gangaikondas Cholapuram

    It is 50 kms. from Chidambaram. Rajendra -1, a mighty Chola King, established his new capital here with this magnificent city and temple to Lord Siva. The temple is noted for its massiveness and richly carved sculptures. A big Nandi in front of the temple made of brick and mortar, a lion head well with a flight of steps leading to the water level and gigantic Dwarapalakas are the other thrilling features of this temple.

Kalvarayan Hills

    The Kalvarayan hills are situated 150 kms. north west of Chidambaram on the western side of Kallakurichi Taluk. Spread over an area of 600 sq. kms. approximately with the height ranging from 315 mts. to 1190 mts. these hills offer a temperate climate and quiet solititude. There is a botanical garden on the hills. There are two waterfalls here. The area is ideal for trekking. A summer Festival is also held every year in May.

HOW TO REACH


By Air : Nearest Airport is Trichy

By Rail : It is connected by rail with Trichy, Madurai, Chennai.

By Road : It is also connected with all major towns.