Chidambaram: abode of the Dancer Supreme

Among the numerous grand temples of India, the one dedicated to Lord Nataraja in Chidambaram occupies a special place in the hearts not only of the religious minded, but also students of history, art, architecture, and above all, of the fine-arts, especially dance. The tradition associated with this temple of the Divine Dancer, is that of the sages Vyaghrapada and Patanjali, great devotees of  Siva, performing penance here. The reward for their sincere prayer is that Siva performs the Ananda Tandava at this sacred spot forever.

This temple-complex is unique as it is one of the 275 “paadal petra sthalam” (Siva temples in which the deities have been eulogised in the hymns of the Nayanmar-s or Saiva saints) and at the same time, also one of the 108 “divya desam” (Vishnu temples in which the deities have been praised by the Azhwar-s or the Vaishnava saints). Lord Nataraja here has received the encomiums of many Nayanmar-s like Appar, Tirugnanasambandar and Sundaramoorti Nayanar. Kulasekhara Azhwar and Tirumangai Azhwar have waxed eloquent on Lord Vishnu enshrined here as Govindarajaswami.