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NATARAJA TEMPLE VIRTUAL TOURISM

Chidambaram Thillai Natarajar Temple Virtual Reality Tour has been Digitally photographed in single camera set-up for the virtual tour. In this presentation, you can go to 34 places inside the temple. And it is one of the temples associated with five elements, the Pancha Bhoota Stalas, and specifically the element of Space.

And the default mode for 2D if you are using desktop/laptop, and for the best viewing experience and if you want to feel being inside the temple use the VR Headsets.

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TEMPLE

Chidambaram temple is situated in Chidambaram a small town in Cuddalore district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The traditional name of the temple complex is Chidambaram Thillai Nataraja-koothan Kovil.  Once the mangrove forests of Thillai trees (Exocoeria agallocha) were abundant in the town . The temple and the town were once in the midst of Thillai trees. 

The main deity here is Lord Shiva at his dancing best as Lord Nataraja. Nataraja is one of the most significant forms of Shiva and also this is one of 108 Divya Desams of Lord Vishnu. Among Pancha Bootha sthalam, this Chidambaram Temple represents Akasha Sthalam or Aether.Nataraja is one of the most significant forms of Shiva. The name of the town of this shrine, Chidambaram comes from the Tamil word Chitrambalam (also spelled Chithambalam) meaning “wisdom atmosphere”. The roots are cith or chitthu means consciousness or wisdom while and ambalam means “atmosphere. This composite word comes from its association with Shiva Nataraja, the cosmic dancer and the cultural atmosphere for arts. This temple is located at the Center Point of world ‘s Magnetic Equator. A unique feature of this temple is the bejeweled image of Nataraja

The layout and architecture of the temple is replete with philosophical meanings that Chidambaram temple is builded based on the Human body having 9 Entrances denoting 9 Entrances or Openings of the body and four of these have towering  gopurams each with 7 levels in the East, South, West and North.  

The eastern gopuram has all the 108 postures (karnams) of the Indian dance form of Bharathanatyam sculpted on it. Chidambaram Natarajar Temple roof is made up of 21600 gold sheets which denotes the 21600 breaths taken by a human being every day (15 x 60 x 24 = 21600), These 21600 gold sheets are fixed on the “Vimanam” (Roof) using 72000 gold nails which denote the total no. of Nadis (Nerves) in the human body. 

Kalasam on the Golden Roof represents the 9 types of Sakthi or Energies.The 6 pillars at the Artha Mantapam represents the 6 types of Sashtras. 

The temple as it stands had a pre-Chola existence and the architecture is Dravidian with the Sanctum Sanctorum closely resembling Kerala or Malabar style structures. However the golden roof is a striking example of Vesara architecture with its apsidal shape. Two small structures called the Chit Sabha and Kanak Sabha form the crux of the vast architectural complex.

The Chitsabai or Ponnambalam, the sanctum sanctorum represents the heart which is reached by a flight of 5 stairs called the Panchaatchara padi – pancha meaning 5, achhara – indestructible syllables – “SI VA YA NA MA”, from a raised anterior dias – the Kanakasabai. The access to the Sabhai is through the sides of the stage (and not from the front as in most temples).

THILLAI NATARAJAR TEMPLE

HISTORY

Chidambaram Natarajar temple is the only temple where Lord Shiva is present in three forms. The first is of course the most famous, the human form of Nataraja wherein He is performing a cosmic dance, the second is in the form of a “Linga” and the third is the invisible form. This is yet another distinctive feature of the temple, in that, there is a firm belief that Lord Shiva exists as an invisible space within the sanctum sanctorum. This has given rise to the secret of Chidambaram aka “Chidambara Rahasyam” as it is known in Tamil.

In the Thillai forests , there resided a group of saints or ‘rishis’ who believed in the supremacy of magic ,that God can be controlled  by  mantras and rituals.  On seeing this, Lord Shiva, wants to teach them a lesson, so Lord Shiva with Lord Vishnu as Mohini ,strolls in the forest with resplendent beauty and brilliance, in the form of ‘Pitchatanadar’, a simple mendicant seeking alms. 

The rishis and their wives are enchanted by the brilliance and the beauty of the handsome mendicant and his consort. On seeing their womenfolk enchanted, the rishis got angry and invoke scores of ‘serpents’ (Large Snake) by performing magical rituals. The Lord as the mendicant lifts the serpents and dons them as ornaments on his matted locks, neck and waist. Further enraged, the rishis invoke a fierce tiger, which the Lord skins and dons as a shawl around his waist and followed by a fierce elephant which was devoured and  ripped to death by Lord. 

Then, the rishis gather all their spiritual strength and invoke a powerful demon Muyalakan – a symbol of complete arrogance and ignorance.  After a fierce and lengthy war, Lord Shiva gained victory when he stepped over the demon with a smile, doing the Ananda Thandava. Following this glorious victory, Lord Shiva revealed his true self to the sages, who surrendered immediately.

The Ananda Thaandavam

The serpent, Adhisesha who serves as a bed for the Lord Vishnu , hears about the Änanda thaandava and yearns to see and enjoy it. The Lord blesses him, beckons him to assume the saintly form of ‘Patanjali’ and sends him to the Thillai forest, informing him that he will display the dance dance at appropriate moment on earth in the sabha in the Thillai forest.

 Patanjali who meditated in the Himalayas during krita age joins another saint, Vyagrapathar / Pulikaalmuni .The story of sage Patanjali as well as his great student sage Upamanyu is narrated in both Vishnu Puranam as well as Siva Puranam. 

They move into the Thillai forest and worship Lord Shiva in the form of Shivalinga, a deity worshipped today as Thirumoolataneswarar (Thiru – sri, Moolatanam – primordial or in the nature of a foundation, Eswarar- the Lord).  From then , the two saints did the worship and austerities  together as they waited for the Lord Shiva’s dance in the sabha.  

Finally when that day arrived,it was announced with the sound of drums and conches. Sabha appeared  very bright with thousands of sun and moon. In the middle od the light , Lord Shiva appeared with rainfall of flowers from the heaven , dancing his Anandha Thandavam, showing his lotus  foot.  Legends say that Lord Shiva displayed his dance of bliss (the Aananda Thaandavam) – as Nataraja to these two saints on the day of the poosam star in the Tamil month of Thai (Jan – Feb).  Then Lord Shiva offer the two saints to make a wish. They wished that lord Shiva would perform Anandha Thandavam in the Golden Shabha (Por Sabhai) of Chidambaram for the entire world to experience .

Another point of Anandha Thandavam is , the posture is based on six point star.Natarajar’s head forms the top most point of the star, his spreading hair and right hand forms the upper side points, His drape and raised left leg form the lower points, and His right leg that rests on the demon Muyalagan forms the lowest point. Surrounding this points is the arc of fire.

It signifies:

  • The demon under Lord Nataraja’s feet signifies that ignorance is under His feet.
  • The fire in His hand (power of destruction) means He is the destroyer of evil
  • The raised hand (Abhaya or Pataka mudra) signifies that He is the savior of all life forms.
  • The arc of fire called Thiruvashi or Prabhavati signifies the cosmos and the perpetual motion of the earth.
  • The drum in His hand signifies the origin of life forms.
  • The lotus pedestal signifies Om, the sound of the universe.
  • His right eye, left eye and third eye signify the sun, moon and fire/knowledge, respectively.
  • His right earring (makara kundalam) and left earring (sthri kundalam) signify the union of man and woman (right is man, left is woman).
  • The crescent moon in His hair signifies benevolence and beauty.
  • The flowing of river Ganges through His matted hair signifies eternity of life.
  • The dreading of His hair and drape signify the force of His dance.

The Ananda Tandava posture of Lord Shiva is one of the famous postures recognized around the world by many. This celestial dancing posture tells us how a Bharathanatiyam Dancer should dance.

Dance contest between Lord Shiva and Mother Parvathi

Once Lord Shiva and Mother Parvathi in a Happy mood , offered a grand dance performance in kailash and finally they want to know , who is the best dancer (winner). They approached Lord Brahma, but he was not able to decide and then they sought Lord Vishnu to suggest. 

Lord Vishnu suggested a stage to be built by a divine builder Viswakarma to perform the dance contest. 

The contest begins, they danced marvelously. At the end Lord Shiva simply lifted his right leg and keep it above his head which Mother Parvathi could not. Lord Vishnu declared Lord Shiva as a winner. Lord Shiva stayed here as Natarajar and requested Lord Vishnu to stay with him. 

Here in Chidambaram, Lord Vishnu is in reclining posture.

TEMPLE TIMING

Daily poojas are conducted for six time in this famous temple. Moreover the special poojas to be carried out in Chidambaram Temple are also performed regularly.

Timing:

Morning 6.00.a.m to 12.00 noon

Evening 5.00.p.m. to 10.00 p.m.

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