The Nataraja Temple in Chidambaram, was the 3rd of the 5 Panchabootha Sthalas, that we visited. We went there by night, right after visiting Thanjavur, so I was not able to take any pictures of the temple.
Going to a very big and famous temple by night was indeed very very beautiful. This was actually one of the most beautiful, precious and unforgettable moments, and I can’t explain how divine it was. As we went there about 7 pm, and therefore could watch the Irandaam Kaala pooja, which is the 5th pooja during the day. Experiencing this pooja, that inclued the Chidambara Rahasya Pooja and Maha Aarathi, indeed so beautiful to watch both the pooja and the great idol of lord Nataraja.
Of the 5 elements, this temple is dedicated to the Sky, and to lord Nataraja, the lord of dance. The deity of Nataraja, in the presence of performing Aanandha Thaandavam, is to be seen in the Pon Ambalam (the Shrine of the Golden Hall). The name Chidambaram, which is the name of both the town and the temple, means “atmosphere of wisdom”. The was built in the 10th century CE, while Chidambaram was th capital of te Chola Dynasty.
If you ask me, I would say that Chidambaram is a must visit. Go there, day or night, to explore the divinity and the beautiful architecture. You’ll feel so blessed!
The legend goes back to the incident, where Shiva in the form of a beggar, accompanied by Mohini – actually lord Vishnu in a beautiful female form – to a mythical Pine forest. Mohini triggers lustful interests in the sages, while Shiva performs thandavam to trigger the lust in the wives of the sages. The people then realized how superficial their austerity is. Later, 2 sages – Patanjali and Vyaghrapada – wanted to see the dance of lord Shiva in the Thillai (today Chidambaram). They set up a Shiva Lingam, pray and meditate. Shiva, impressed by this, appears in front of them in Chidambaram and perform thaandavam.
I really, really hope to go back to Chidambaram in future, to explore both daytime and night poojas, and to explore the atmosphere around the temple. The moments in the temple was one of the most unforgettable experiences. Next time, I’ll come back with loads of pictures too 😉