Chidambaram is a small town located about 60 km south of Pondicherry. Surrounded by natural beauty, it is believed to be of significant antiquity and was ruled by both the medieval Cholas and the British. Chidambaram has one of the most important temples of Saivatris (followers of the god Shiva).
Chidambaram's Thillai Nataraja Temple, the mangrove forest and Pichavaram lake are the three most important places to visit in the town.
Thillai Nataraja Temple
Thillai Nataraja temple is situated in the heart of the town and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The early temple structures were designed and erected by ancient craftsmen called Perumtaccan.
The five elements are believed to be enshrined in the five lingams. Each of the lingams represents Shiva in the temple and have five different names based on the elements they represent. In the Chidambaram temple, Shiva is said to have manifested himself in the form of the sky.
Thillai Nataraja refers to the "Thillai forest" and "Nataraja" refers to the dance performed by Lord Shiva after killing the giant created by the Rishis. Lord Shiva wanted to convince the Rishis and Sages that he was the most powerful god of all. Within the temple there is much to see, with each pillar in the temple representing the dance movements performed by the god Shiva. There is also a holy tank which is very well-maintained.
The mangrove forest houses the ancient Tillai trees (Exocoeria agallocha), which surround the shrine. The Tillai trees of the nearby Pichavaram wetlands, the second largest mangrove in the world, extends to the temple area. As per Hindu legend, the god Shiva strolled through Thillai Vanam. In the Thillai forest a group of sages resided who believed in the supremacy of magic and that god can be controlled by rituals and mantras. Shiva wanted to test the sages and strolled through the forest while assuming the form of Bhikshatana, a simple mendicant seeking alms.
Pichavaram (MadBoon) lake is surrounded by a well-developed mangrove forest. It consists of a number of tree-covered islands in a vast expanse of water. The area covers about 1100 hectare and is separated from the sea by a sand bar. It is located near Chidambaram, is very popular for boating and attracts thousands of travelers every week.
|Annual Chariot Festival||April|
|Thiruvaadhrai||December to January|
|Aani Thirumanjanam||June to July|
|Pongal||14th January to 17th January|
|Diwali||October to November|
|Nearest International Airport||Chennai (232 km from Chidambaram)|
|Nearest railhead||Chidambaram (2 km away)|
|Weather||Sunny, +/- 35 degrees Celsius / winter in September and October|