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“Amazing ..!”

Chidambaram Nataraja Temple
Ranked #104 of 1,437 things to do in Tamil Nadu
Certificate of Excellence
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Owner description: This is one of the most significant temples in the region.
Reviewed July 10, 2012

This was a family trip with Kids, with loads of Google we finalized on the hotel (Grand palace - will talk about this later) . We took Bangalore-salem-attur-veppur-vriddachalam-chidambaram route . The roads are amazing though from Attur to Chidambaram is a single lane road it was good and with less traffic, overall it was about 350+ KM and can be done in 5 to 6 Hours.

Once we landed in Chidambaram we checked in to Grand Palace, near the Railway station, this is a decent hotel for Chidambaram standards and food out here is surprisingly North Indian / Chinese which was decent tastes like (dhaba food in Bangalore) . The hotel has decent rooms and service is really good. We did not find any good restaurants or hotels around most of them where badly maintained or dirty to the core, so we thought of to skip and continue to enjoy food at our hotel.
Late in the evening we visited the Chidambaram temple, which is pretty old and has big history behind it. The temple is not maintained properly and you could see dirt all over. The deity / the architecture is very pleasing . The roads around the temple are usually busy for obvious reasons and you hardly find any place to park your four wheeler. Next day morning we wanted to hit some beach and we figured out a beach called " samiarpettai Beach" which is isolated beach with literally no crowd and nobody to bother you, had a gala time here the beach was surprisingly calmer , this was the one of the best part of the trip.

6  Thank Raviks023
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed February 1, 2012

It is definitely worth the detour to Chidambaran on any trip to Tamil Nadu. If you have seen the statue of the "dancing Shiva" (very iconic...most people have), then you will understand what this temple is all about.

I would suggest reading up on the temple or engaging a guide before going.

The inner sanctum of the shrine is open to tourists however the "core" of the temple is only for devotees doing special prayers Even most of the locals don't venture into that area, although you can see the people there (for example men must go shirtless). You can get a glimpse of the Nataraj but it's quite dark and smoky and a little far away.

The place is just fascinating.

On a sad note...it does not seem to be very well maintained considering its significance. There is an entire corner of the temple complex that is abandoned and looks "condemned" Frankly, considering how many entry fees I have paid for lesser attractions in India, I think maybe they should consider introducing an entry fee -- at least for tourists.

And take note...the temple is closed from lunch till late afternoon...so you must visit in the morning or late in the day.

8  Thank stonewithnomoss
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 8, 2011

The temple town of Chidambaram is situated at 235kms from Chennai between Villupuram and Thanjavur. We left from Villupuram and reached Chidambaram in 2.5 hours. The road was good with greenery around. We bought jackfruit pieces at Panruti as we travelled to Chidambaram.

Chidambaram Nataraja temple is magnificiently built by the Cholas and stands as a testimony for our cultural heritage. Though called Nataraja temple, it has both Govindaraja perumal and Nataraja sannidhis perpendicular to each other thus bringing together the saiva and vaishnava cults. The beauty of the architecture is that one can stand at intersection place and worship both Govindaraja perumal and Nataraja. Similarly, there is also one point near the pond where one can see all the four gopurams.

It is only here that Shiva is in the form of Nataraja, the Lord of Dance and takes a human form. At all other places, one can find Shiva in the form of lingam only. The Goddess (wife of Nataraja) in this temple is Sivagami amman. The specialty of this temple is the Chidambara rahasiyam. The Chidambara rahasiyam is to the right of Nataraja sanctum sanctorium. It is the formless form of Lord Nataraja which is garlanded with golden vilva leaves.

While one cannot stop admiring the beauty, divinity, architecture and mythology behind, what hurts everytime we go to this temple is the treatment meted by the dikshitars (priests). They are too money minded and look out for every occassion to fleece the tourists. Without giving any receipt, they extract Rs.50 per person for going up to the chitsabha, and another Rs.100 to show the Chidambara ragasiyam. There does not seem to be any regulated management over here. The temple is run as private by dikshitars and hence they seem to have their own undocumented rules.

If only this trait of the dikshitars and temple management changes, it will create a real good environment for the devotees to offer hassle-free prayers to the Lord of the universe.

In order to see the temple thoroughly, it would take at least 1.5 hour. Chidambaram Nataraja temple is a must visit.

8  Thank janaki_thiagarajan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 24, 2010

Chidambaram arguably is the most important temple for tamil shaivites - people who worship Shiva as the most important deity. Here Shiva is worshipped as Nataraja - the lord of the cosmic dance. It is beatuful ancient temple with living traditions - not really a tourist attraction,. But has a lot to offer for the patient traveller.

5  Thank IndoCanadian
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 19, 2009

Chidambaram lies about 80 kms south of Pondicherry (Puduchery). I live on the East Coast Road (ECR) about midway between Chennai and Pondicherry and this seemed to be a good trip within easy reach. The total distance from Neikuppi Village (on SH58, about 3 kms off the ECR) to Chidambaram was 160 km, which we were able to cover in 3 hrs 20 minutes (including a 15 min break for coffee on the outskirts after Pondicherry).

ECR leg of the journey is fairly fast and easy since much of the heavy traffic avoids the ECR, (presumably preferring non-toll roads). Half-way through Pondicherry we branched off to a road labelled "ECR bypass" passing successively through Rajiv Gandhi & Indira Gandhi circles, and finally on to the Cuddalore highway NH45A which continues onward to Chidambaram. Post-Puduchery the traffic includes heavy trucks and tractors pulling brick-carts which slow down the trip since you need to wait for sections where the road is wide enough to overtake the slow vehicles.

Chidambaram is a small temple town typical of South India. Townish structures start being visible only after the 4km marker to Chidambaram. The first sight of the Nataraja temple is the Northern Gopura / Entrance - you need ot be alert and watchful on the right since the street that leads to the entrance is narrow and sandwiched between unexceptional (could even say drab)
buildings housing shops. The major hotel visible on this road did not have any vacant rooms so we followed the road to turn right and arrive close to the eastern gate. We stopped for snacks and coffee at a Udupi restaurant - small, manageable south Indian fare though the banana leaf plates may put off some. Having arrived late evening, our first priority was finding a place for the night. We looked for a hotel close to the temple entrance since we wanted to be early at the temple complex the next morning. Many choices are available but we finally chose one that was just 2 months old just outside the eastern entrance of the temple. Place was pretty clean but does not have a restaurant or room service. Room was adequately clean and comfortable.

The Nataraja temple remains open until quite late in the night with the last puja as late as 10 PM. Devout Shiva bhaktas return to the temple ~ 930 PM onwards. We had arrived on a Friday when special ceremonies go on until 11 PM. The entire complex is huge and it took us nearly two hours to complete all three parikramas. The outermost is interesting since it allows one the chance to observe and study the various gopura structures - these are varied on the four gates facing the cardinal points. The eastern gate seems to be a complete exception being practically bare compared to the other entrance gopuras. I have not understood the reasons behind this. Each entrance gopura has seven levels with events from hindu mythology depicted in painted scupltures. The ambience within the temple precincts is all that can be desired by any bhakta. However, on a practical note, the temple tank which is of great religious significance needs a thorough cleaning to rejuvenate the ecosystem.

My personal gripes about the trip are the limited factual information available and the complete ban on photography withn the temple precincts. The small book shops that dot the town all carry the same booklet on Chdambaram, authored by one Dr. S Meyyappan, in various languages. The trouble with this booklet is that it is a heavy on mythological info while being completely silent on the temple architectural details as well as any historical details. The print is very poor as are the limited photographs included. No alternative books / good photographs could be found in the admittedly short effort I put in. The other point is though I would be the first to complain against silly tourists clicking away with flash photography in the sanctum sanctorum, I believe there is no call for such a complete ban on even bringing in photography equipment. There are several structures which I would have liked to carry an image of, for further study. Especially the iconography and sculptures seen in the outer parikrama, as well as the carved messages in what seemed to me a Tamil different in style from what is in contemporary usage. You still see people clicking away on their camera enabled cell phones to which I did not see any action form the temple authorities; but I would like to have carried in and used my trusty still camera. The only photos I came back with are from outside the entrances.

Two nearby must-see places exist within easy reach of short drives. The first is the Vaideeshwaran Koil which includes a shrine to Angaraka, Jatayu Kunda and the Siddhamrita Thirtha
tank. The temple is situated about 5 kms beyond Sirkazhi which itself is 22 kms from Chidambaram. The other place to see can be visited on the way back towards Cuddalore; just outside Chidambaram, a right turn at a fork takes one to the picturesque Pitchavaram, 7 kms away.

5  Thank tagMacher
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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