Nataraja Temple - Chidambaram, dedicated to the Lord Shiva, is a world famous Hindu temple. Devotees and tourists from all over the country frequent this temple every year. Situated in the center of the temple town of Chidambaram in the state of Tamil Nadu, this temple surpasses all architectural wonders. Nataraja Temple - Chidambaram reflects the craftsmanship of the architects of the period.
Since its inception, the temple underwent several renovation processes by rulers of various dynasties from time to time. Legend says that Nataraja Temple in Chidambaram is considered to be one of the holiest and the most sacred Shiva temple in India. The temple signifies the natural element space. The other temple, which signifies other form of natural elements are Kanchi Ekambareswara (earth), Kalahasti Nathar (wind).Thiruvanaikaval Jambukeswara (water) and Thiruvannamalai Arunachaleswara (fire).
Nataraja Temple worships Lord Shiva in the form of the Cosmic dancing god, Nataraja. The whole temple area is a huge one and spreads for more than 40 acres. This historic and ancient temple is also dedicated to the Lord Govindaraja Perumal. It is a very rare case, where Shaivite together with Vaishnavite deities are worshipped at the same place.
Pallava king Simhavarman, also known as Hiranyavarman is a famous renovator of the temple. The Nataraja Temple - Chidambaram shows typical Dravidian architectural form. The ornamented Lord Nataraja sits within the shrine, who is shown as the lord of the dance form Bharatanatyam. The architectural features of the temple includes Gopurams, the five sabhais, the shrines of the 63 chief devotees of lord Shiva, water bodies and Govindraja shrine. There are nine gateways of the temple, each of which signifies the 9 orifices of the human body.
There is a huge temple car of the Nataraja Temple - Chidambaram, which is equally impressive. People believe that Lord Nataraja descends twice a year on this car. During the time of festivals, this sacred car is drawn by thousands of devotees. Several rituals are associated with this temple, which are observed with great purity and devotion.
Recitation and the mantras are chanted from the Vedas in Sanskrit within the temple. Only the qualified people are allowed to do these sanctified acts. Dikshitar are the priests of the temple. Various festivals are celebrated within the Nataraja Temple - Chidambaram.