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Tamil Nadu: Chidambaram
One of the sought after pilgrimage destinations of South India is Chidambaram. It is
believed that the divine Shiva Ganga pond of Chidambaram has a medicinal power. The
temple of Chidambaram has been attracting pilgrims for many years. Reconstructions of
the temple of Chidambaram have helped it to maintain its shape. More than 50 Maths were
there previously in the vicinity but most of them are in ruins now.
The meaning of Chit is knowledge and the meaning of ambar is the sky and according to
these, the name of the town was also given as Chidambaram.
Festivals have almost become a daily routine of Chidambaram. Car festival (Rath Yatra) and Abhishekam
festival entice innumerable holiday makers and pilgrims from all over the world. The
adjoining areas of the temple are always in festive moods with numerous shops.
Interested temple lovers who love to enjoy the divinity should visit the Nataraj temple,
located at a distance of 1 km from the bus stand. The neighboring area of the Chidambaram
bus stand is the prime and central spot of the town.
Besides the water and thermal power plants, fertilizers and salt are produced in the
prominent business city of Tamilnadu, Chidambaram which is located at a height of 5.97
However, the place has gained its reputation for its holy and coveted Nataraj temple. The
Nataraj temple, covering 40 acres of land, was built during the Chol dynasty and was
well shielded by two fortifications. The well planned temple was built and adorned with
granite stones. The ceiling of the fascinating temple is made up of gold. The chief deity
is the cosmic dancing Shiva. Five different minerals are used to form the sanctified deity.
However, general people will not be able to watch the pious façade of the deity. A curtain
separates the idol from the mass.
During Shiva Ratri performers flock in from faraway places to present their special art and
culture to the audience. Dancers showcase their impressive talents on the temple premise.
4 Gopurams mark the entrances of the temple. 108 dancing sculptures are engraved on the
40.8 meters tall southern and eastern Gopurams. The 42.4 meters tall northern Gopuram,
built by the king Krishna Dev Roy, still carries the innovative touch of the primeval era. The
49 meters tall southern Gopuram also deserves a visit for its inspiring architecture. The
eastern Gopuram is the oldest of all and was revamped in 1250 to uphold its solemnity. But,
the western Gopuram is the most attractive one and was built long back in 1150.
7 natural water springs, located at the main entrance, are the source of water of the Shiva
ganga reservoir. The imposing and commendable architecture of the temple makes sure
that all the four Gopurams are visible from the pillar, located at a corner of the temple.
The deity, Parvati, resides in Shivakamasundari, the oldest temple in the proximity. The
architectures and fine arts on the ceiling of the temple were created during the Nayek
The temple of Karthika (Murugan), built in 13th century, located at the north- west side of
Chidambaram town, is bedecked with the tales of Scanda Puran (An Indian scripture).
Nabagra temple, another sacred Hindu pilgrimage spot, is located at the back end of
5 congregation rooms are there in the temple. It is believed that Nataraj and
Shivakamasundari reside in the king council (103*58 meters) which is standing on 1000
pillars during Abhishekam festival. The stunning dancing auditorium, built on 56 pillars,
resembles the structure of a chariot. Innumerable dancing sculptures are carved on the
walls where as a fine looking Ganesh idol which is the largest idol in India is residing in the
south-west side of the temple. The deity, Shiva, is worshipped in his various forms in the
The crystal Shiva lingam and Nataraj idol which are there in the golden hall look marvelous.
The temple is reconstructed many times in the past and has reached at the peak of the
The deity Shiva and Vishnu both reside together and this is the forte of Chidambaram.
Govindaraj Perumal temple was built in front of Nataraj temple. Vishnu is the prime deity of
this finicky temple. Parvati, Subrahmanya and Ganesh temples are also famous in the close
propinquity. Another sanctified temple, the Thillai Kali Amman temple, was built by the chol
The Annamalai city, covering a sprawling area of 500 acres, is spreading around the
Annamalai University. The Annamalai city was built by Annalai Chettiyar. The residential
university is well known in South India. The University is also famous for Tamil literature
and Karnataki dance forms.
Interested and enthusiastic tourists can visit Pichabharam Tourist Complex, located at a
distance of 16 km towards the eastern side of Chidambaram. The complex is set in the
middle of mango trees and mangrove forest. The complex territory is stretched on the
banks of 2800 acres wide backwater which is separated from the sea. 1700 villages are
enjoying the cool shades around the backwater. Winter is the best season to visit because
innumerable known and unknown birds make the place eventful with their constant singing.
Water sports and boating facilities are also available for the tourists.
The old fort cities of Dutch and Portuguese like Vellore, Coleroom, Uppanar were there on
the River banks.
The Marine Biological Research Centre, located at a distance of 10 km from Pichabharam,
can be accessed by bus from Chidambaram in every half an hour.
Youth Hostel and Aringar Anna Tourist Complex are the places where tourists can stay at.
Mayuram, on the banks of the beautiful River Kaveri, is another coveted pilgrimage spot
for Hindus. Shiva is the chief deity who is worshipped in two adjoining temples on the River
banks in two different forms, Mayanath and Vishnu. One month long festival is the prime
festival of Mayuram.
The River Kaveri is meeting the ocean at a distance of 40 km from Chidambaram. The
meeting place which was known as Puhar is popularly known as Poompuhar now. The
business hub, Mayuram, the ancient fort city of the Chol dynasty, had a business relation
with Rome in 1st century. Mayuram was also popularly known as a Buddha pilgrimage spot.
The town still carries the important memories of Buddha cultures and traditions. The name
of Puhar as a pilgrimage destination was also found in many historical scriptures. Excavation
has revealed various historical items which were rare and atypical and had immense
Even though a lot of historical examples went deep into the Bay of Bengal but the 7 storied
art gallery, sculptures of 2nd century, various holy temples and TTDC craft museum are still
there on the prolonged seashore to fascinate holiday makers.
Special Cottage, Shell Type cottage and Tourists cottage in the Tourist complex of
Tamilnadu Tourism offer nice shade to the tourists for a night stay. If you seek any
suggestion regarding the trip then you can always contact the Tourist office, situated at the
opposite side of the bus stand.
Tanjor, Poompuhar and Karaikal are the other nearby destinations which can be visited from
Chidambaram by road.
Tranquebar, at the southern side of Poompuhar, is popular as a fort city and the credit goes
to the Danish East India Company. The homes, churches and fort of the city will still help
you to recall the Danish architectural grandeur and style. People who want to witness the
Old Danish flairs can get into the museum which is formed in the rooms of the fort, to watch
various items. Take a walk along the lingering sea beach of Tranquebar to enjoy the cool
Nagor, the sacred Muslim pilgrimage spot, about 45 km from Chidambaram, can be
accessed by bus. The Muslim darga, wonderfully constructed on 5 strong pillars, built by
Hajarat Mir Sultan Saiyad Shah Abdul Hamid, is a famous 500 years old monument. The
excellent architecture of the monument has the supreme power to fascinate everyone. Take
a bath in the water of the peerculam pond, located at the back side of the monument, to
cure and prevent your disease. Buy the specially designed cap of Nagor to remember the
astonishing trip of Nagor. The Kanduri festival of Nagor attracts large batch of pilgrims from
“Our Lady of Good Health”, the Roman Catholic church of Bhellankanni (Bhellankanni is
located at a distance of 8 km from Nagore), depicts the stunning Gothic architectures
and fine arts. The ornamentations on the prolonged corridor, decorations of prayer room
and colorful glasses of the window will definitely amuse you. Watch the absorbing idol of
mother merry and her son, Jishu (on the lap of mother merry). The museum in the church
also showcases various ancient items. The 11 days long carnival in Bhellankanni attracts
innumerable spiritual people. It is believed that mother Merry fulfills the desires of the
“St Joseph’s Pilgrims Quarters and Lodge” is the place where tourists can stay overnight at.
S M Lodge and Hotel Golden Sand are also there near to the Nagapattanam railway station
which is the nearest railway station of Bhellankanni. Interested visitors can also stay at any
lodge or at PWD Rest House in Nagore.
Don’t forget to savor the taste of the fried crab in Bhellankanni.
How to reach: Avail a train from Tambaram railway station, Chennai and get down at
Tindibhanam. Then again ride on a bus from Tindibhanam to visit Chidambadam, about 122
km from Tindibhanam.
Where to stay: PV Lodge, Hotel raja Rajan, Hotel Akshaya, R K Residency, R K V Lodge,
Hotel Sobnayagom, Hotel Tamilnadu, Hotel Sardha Ram, Hotel Palace and Hotel Rajkrishna.
Check our hotel booking links below for photos, rates, options and online bookings.