In South India most of the temples are dedicated to Lord Shiva and among all these Shiva temples, the Shiva temple of Chidambaram has earned the worldwide fame. Situated around 250 Km south of Chennai, Shiva Temple of Chidambaram is one of the most marvelous temple complex in South India. This temple is spread over an area of approx 18 hectare and is often referred to as the heart of city. The Nataraja temple complex is in rectangular shape and is divided into five courtyards, four of which can be visited by the public while the fifth one is only for priests and other visitor are not allowed here. Nataraja Temple has nine gateway towers and five halls. There are five major and several small shrines in this temple complex and a number of water tanks are also there in Nataraja temple. It is also one of the most ancient temples of Tamil Nadu. Tourists from all around the world come to visit Nataraja Temple for its religious and architectural importance.
Nataraja temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Nataraja, which means the cosmic dancer, is another name of Lord Shiva which is the main deity in this temple. The legend goes like, once Shiva was strolling in the forest of Thillai with Lord Vishnu as his consort with the name of Mohini. In the forest resided a group of sages who believed in the supremacy of magic. Wives of all sages got enchanted with the beauty of Shiva and his consort and sages got enraged by this. They invoked serpents and then invoked a demon. However, Shiva wore serpents as ornaments and started doing Anand Tandawa on the back of the demon. Anand Tandawam or the cosmic dance is a dance of bliss, which symbolizes five divine acts - creation, sustenance, dissolution, concealment and bestowment. Finally sages surrendered and realized that Shiva is someone beyond their powers and knowledge. The phallic shaped Shiva Lingam in this temple is also known as Akash Lingam as this Temple represents the element SKY which is one of the five Panchbhoot elements. Panchsthalams sightseeing during Tamilnadu temples tours would be an important destination of your South India tour.