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Chidambaram: Chidambaram is a small town in Cuddalore District of Tamil Nadu that is 11 kilometers or 7 miles from the Bay of Bengal coast and 240 kilometers or 149 miles south of Chennai by train. The town is famous for its Chidambaram Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva in His Nataraja or cosmic dance form. The temple complex is spread over 40 acres. The name is derived from the Sanskrit word Chit meaning consciousness and Ambalam that means stage. The name literally means the stage of consciousness where the Lord dances. The Shiva devotees believe that a mere visit to the Chidambaram Temple leads to the salvation. The priests of the temple are called Thillaivaazh Andhanar meaning the priests who reside in Thillai. Thillai is believed to be a forest in ancient times where sages used to live. They became devotees of Shiva after witnessing his super-natural powers. The Thillai are considered the foremost amongst the devotees of Lord Shiva. This temple and its priests are also referred to in ancient Tamil poetry by four poet saints, Thirugnana Sambanthar, Thirunavukkarasar, Sundaramoorthy Nayanar and Manikkavasagar. The works of these saints are stored as palm leaf manuscripts in the temple and were found by the Nambiandarnambi under the patronage of Chola ruler, Arunmozhivarman who is popularly called the Raja Raja.
The Chidambaram Temple has nine Gopurams, four of which in four geographical directions have 7 floors each. The eastern Gopuram has all 108 Karnams or postures of the famous south Indian classical dance, Bharathanatyam, sculpted on its exterior. There are 5 Daises / Sabhais or halls in the temple. The Chitsabhai is the sanctum sanctorum where the idols of Lord Nataraj and his consort Shivagamasundari are placed. The Kanakasabhai is situated in front of the Chitsabhai and this is the area where the Thillai priests perform their daily rituals. The Nrityasabhai or Natyasabhai is situated to the south of Kodimaram or Dwajasthambam – the temple’s flag post and signifies the place where the Lord Shiva is believed to have danced with Kali the embodiment of Shakthi (Energy) and established his supremacy. The Rajasabhai is the 1000 pillared hall that symbolizes the Lotus Chakra, which in Yoga is the energy center at the top of the head. Meditating by concentrating on this Chakra is believed to lead to the state of union with the Divine energy and is the pinnacle of Yogic practice. The Devasabhai is the house for Panchmoorthis (5 forms) of Lord Ganesh, the remover of obstacles; Lord Somaskander, a form where the Lord is in graceful seated posture, the consort of theLord, Sivanandanayaki; the Lord as Muruga and Chandikeswarar the chief of the devotees of the Lord.
There are many other shrines in the massive Chidambaram Temple complex
An annual dance festival - Natyanjali - takes place in this town at the end of February.
Chidambarm 2/3-star hotels:
Mansoor Lodge - 28 rooms
Hotel Akshaya - 29 rooms
Grand Palace Stay - 24 rooms
Hotel Saradharam – 45 rooms (some rooms have air-conditioning)
Distance from Chidambaram in Kilometers and Miles:
Madurai: 309 Kilometers or 192 Miles
Chennai: 240 Kilometers or 149 Miles
Pondicherry: 61 Kilometers or 38 Miles
Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram: 146 Kilometers or 91 Miles
Thanjavur: 90 Kilometers or 56 Miles
Tiruchirapalli: 127 Kilometers or 79 Miles