The Temple Classics of Tamil Nadu – Thallai Nataraja ( serie 3)

Welcome to the mystical ethereal Thallai Nataraja Temple

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I turned my direction southwards, moving along the coastline on the East Coast Road (NH 32) crunching mile after mile as finally I reached my destination. Welcome to Chidambaram, the town housing one of the five Paanch Bhoota Stalams, representing aksha (aether/space). The other four being Jambukeswara (Water), Ekambareswara (Earth), Annamalaiyar (Fire) and Kalahasti (Wind) The present temple was built in the 10 century when Chidambaram was the capital of the Chola dynasty making it one of the oldest surviving active temple complexes in South India.

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The temple is associated with the original bejewelled image of Lord Nataraja, depicting Lord Shiva as the Lord of the dance Bharatanatyam, the cosmic dance representing the motion of the Universe. The idol of the Nataraja resplendent in the “dancing pose” radiates powerful vibes and the inner sanctum which is lit by brass lamps further amplify the effect and cast a powerful resonance on to the mind of the devotee. Towards the left of the Nataraja is a silk curtain which is black on the outside, herein lies the Aksha Linga which is in form of a Yantra and this signifies the act of creation i.e. one moment nothing exists while at the next instant ALL has been bought into existence. This is the symbolism of Space, the fifth element of nature.

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Like similar constructional features of the Chola era, the temple complex consists of four Gopurams which act as the entry gates in four directions, then there is the main temple dedicated to Lord Shiva which has within itself some shrines dedicated to other Gods as well as the main inner sanctum. Other than the main temple there are other temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu as well as Lord Ganesh along with a main sacred tank.

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I undertook the trip to Chidambaram in order to solely see the Nataraja temple and the route from Chennai passes through coastal towns giving an insight into the shore lifestyle of the people. The town is 78 km from Puducherry and 235 km from Chennai. It is bustling with all the energy of a emerging city yet the temple complex is totally opposite to this with calm and serenity being the key words.

 

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This is a must visit temple and can give so much history to those who are capable enough to read and understand the significance of the various Gods that are worshipped here and their relation with Lord Shiva. The visit to the temple was extremely satisfying and worth every moment spent there and is definitely to be looked up in case one is visiting this region.

 

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