Natarajar Temple: This temple, with 9 gateways and 4 majestic 7 tiered towers, and Sikaram covered with gold plates, is dedicated to Lord Shiva, called as Nataraja performing his cosmic dance. It is one of the traditional Pancha Bootha Stalams, representing Akasam (Sky), one of the five elements of nature. The temple is located at the centre point of the world’s magnetic equator.
The architecture of this temple is unique and dedicated to the art of Bharathanatyam. The temple wall carvings display all 108 karanas from the Natya Sastra by Bharata Muni, and these form the foundation of the art. It is a site for performance arts including an annual Natyanjali dance festival on Maha Shivaratri.
Lord Shiva the Nataraja and Lord Govindaraja Perumal enshrined in one complex facing each other, emphasise the Siva-Vishnu concept which is special feature considering the divide between the Saivite and Vaishnavite culture. It is also believed that Celestial dance contest of Siva – Parvati took place in the presence of Lord Vishnu. The Five silver steps upto the Sanctum Sanctorum is the respected as the Pantchatchara Mantram Na Ma Si Va Ya [Namasivaya].
The Spatika Lingam of Chandramauleeswara, Swarnakarshana Bhairavar, Mukhalingam are also inside Sanctum Sanctorum. Kanaga Sabha, for performing Poojas; Deva Sabha meant for celebration of important festivals; and Raja Sabha measuring 103 meters by 58 meters , a 1000 pillared hall where Sekizhar believed to have recited Periya Puranam are located in the temple. It is believed that Lord Siva Performed the Cosmic dance to please [Ananda Natanam] Sages Patanjali and Vyakrapada.
This temple has a 6 time pooja format daily. During the second pooja, a special abhishekam is performed to the very special one foot Nataraja made of a highly expensive ruby, called Rathina Sababathy. The special feature is that when the lamp is waved before the it, the ruby it is dark, but when waved from behind, it shows up the exquisite workmanship mesmerically.On witnessing this spectacle, the devotees get completely immersed in bakthi with Natarajar.
Ani Thirumanjanam, Arudhra Darshan [December] – the two annual Brahmotsavams, Natyanjali are the important festivals of this temple.
Thillai Kali Temple: Legend has it that to ascertain supremacy, Lord Siva and Goddess Parvathi performed a cosmic dance contest at Chidambaram in the presence of Vishnu and Brahma. Lord Shiva played the OordhvaThandava and raised his left leg upward, and due to her feminine traits Parvathi could not do such act and accepted the defeat. She became furious and moved to this location as Kali. Lord Brahma appeared and praised Kali as Veda Nayaki to calm her down. Accepting his prayer, she appeared as Brahma Chamundeswari with four faces.
This Temple of Kali is believed to have been built by Chola King Kopperumsingan [1229- 1278]. Here Kali appears with four faces like Brahma.
Kali is the furious form of Goddess Parvati. In this form she is believed to destroy the evils of the world and evil doers too. A shrine for Goddess Saraswathy as Veena Vidyambika and Lord Dakshinamoorthy in feminine form called as Kadambavana Dakshina Rubini is also located in this temple complex.
Sirgazhi Temple: This temple, revered with 71 Thevara Pathikams, is the 14th temple of the Chola region on the Northern Kaveri banks maintained by Dharmapura Adhinam. Just 20 kms away from Chidambaram, this majestic temple has three shrines of Lord Siva in this temple complex. The ground level, or the lower level of the complex, houses the shrine of Brahmapureeswarar, named so because Lord Brahma is believed to have worshipped Lord Shiva here. There is an elevated small hillock like structure with around 50 to 60 steps. The second shrine of Periyanayagar and Periyanayagi [Uma-Maheswarar] on a Thoni[boat] is located on this hillock, hence he is also called as Thoniappar. By climbing few steps from this shrine one can worship Sattainathar/Vatukanathar, incarnated as Bhairavar. Through the windows on this hillock shrines one can view the entire layout of this Temple, specially the shrine of Ashta Bairavars.
It is said that the youngest of saivite saints, Thirugnana Sambandar, once went along with his father to the temple tank. Sivapada Hrudayar, his father, left him on the steps and went away to bathe. Sambandar who was hungry started crying for food, when Lord Shiva is said to have asked Goddess Parvathi to feed the boy. And Goddess Parvathi, along with milk, also fed the boy with abundant wisdom.
There is also folklore about Lord Shiva, who along with Goddess Parvathi, saved everyone by travelling on a Thoni (boat) during a deluge and arriving at this temple. Hence he is called Thoniappar, and the town is called Thonipuram.
When Lord Vishnu put his third foot on the head of King Mahabali, he is said to have turned haughty. And to play down his pride and arrogance, Lord Shiva is said to have incarnated as Vatuga Bairavar, and worn the skin of Lord Vishnu as his upper garment and the bones as mala [garland].
Brahmotsavam that begins on the Chithirai Thiruvadhirai [April-May] which includes the event of Goddess Parvathi feeding milk to Sambandar; Thailaishekam [Oil Abishekam]to Lord Uma Maheshwar / Thoniappar on the first day of the months of Chithirai, Aadi, Aipasi, Thai , Karthigai Deepam, Margazhi Thiuvadhirai and Maha Sivarathiri are some important festivals of the Temple. Special pujas are performed here on Ashtami days [eighth day of new moon or full moon night] to Bhairavar. No abishekam is performed for Sattai Nathar but Fragrant Punugu Sattam [Paste] is applied to Sattainathar on all Fridays at midnight.
Kali Temple: Popularly called as the Thillai Kali Amman temple, it is within walking distance of the Natarajar Temple, demonstrates the importance of Siva-Sakti concept. Lord Shiva performed the special cosmic dance the "OORTHAVA THANDAVA" here. The Chola period’s inscriptions are found in this temple.
Sirkazhi : It is believed that Goddess Parvathi fed Thirugnana Sambanthar with milk here, when he was hungry as a child. To mark this event, annual Tirumulaippal Festival is observed in the month of April. This popular Shiva temple finds reference in Sangam literature as well.
Annamalai University : The Residential Annamalai University was founded by Dr. Rajah Sir Annamalai Chettiar of Chettinad, in the year 1929. It is about 3 kms from the town. Apart from Medicine and Engineering Courses the university has special attention to Tamil Literature and Traditional Carnatic music courses.
Ayyappan Temple: This temple for Ayyappan was built by the Annamalai University, close to the Raja Muthaiah Medical College. It is the replica of the Avyappan temple at Sabarimala.
Vaitheeswaran Koil: The Vaithyanatheeswarar Temple has massive historical significance, mainly for its nadi astrology. According to legend, the presiding deity is said to have treated and cured the soldiers of Lord Subramanya during their battle against a demon. People believe they they are rid of evil by worshipping the Lord here. A dip in the temple tank is also believed to cure all diseases.
Thiruvakkarai: This area is a fossil wood park due to the large extent of fossils discovered out here. There is also a popular temple of Vakkara Kali here. Vakkarasura, a demon was killed by Goddess with the blessings of Lord Chandrasekarar, hence she is called Vakkara Kali. On every Full Moon day, the temple attracts thousands of pilgrims from different parts of the neighbouring districts too.
Nagore: The Nagore Dargah is the resting lace of Hazrat Meera Sultan Syed Shahabdul Hameed, popularly called as Hazrath Mian, an Islamic saint. The tomb believed to be more than 500 years old. The dome of this dargah is capped with gold and it has five minarets. The holy tanks is called as peer kulam. People from all religious faith visit this dargah in great reverence.
Vridhachalam: It is 50 kms from Chidambaram. It is a municipal town and Taluk Head Quarters, located on the banks of Manimutharu river, in Cuddalore District. Vriddhachalam or Big Mountain, was called as Thirumudhukundram in the ancient times. There is a popular Vridhagiriswarar Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva in this place.
Srimushnam: There is a Buvaraha Perumal Temple, one of the popular vaishnavaite Temple of the state, in this place. A Swayam Vyakta Deity [self created] of Saligramam Stone representing Varaha Avataram, is located here. The temple was built by Naikers of Vijayanagaram. The front mandapam is called Purushasukra Mandapam and has been sculpted like a chariot pulled by horses and elephants, and is grand sight to witness.
Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple: Built by Rajendra Chola 1, this temple, around 50 kms away, is called so as he is believed to have transported water from the Ganges to purify its temple tank. It is considered to be as fine as the Big temple in Tanjore. A big Nandi made of brick and Mortar, a Lion Head well with steps leading down to the water level, majestic Dwarapalakas [entrance guards] are the other special features of this temple.
Kalvarayan Hills: Located 150 kms from Chidambaram, it is an extension of the eastern ghats and set at an altitude between 300 to 1100 mts above sea level. Spread over 600 sq. km. it has beautiful botanical gardens, waterfalls and excellent trekking opportunities.A summer festival is also held every year in the month of May.
Vadalur: Around 37 kms away from Chidambaram, the Sathya Gnana Sabha was established by Saivaite saint called Ramalinga Swamigal or Vallalar. Thai poosam [Jan-Feb] is the most popular festival of here. Only on this day, all the screens that remain closed all year long, are opened for public darshan of the Eternal Lamp [Jyothi] believed to have been lit by Vallalar himself. Hymns written by him on Saiva Siddhantha philosophy are compiled into several volumes in the name of Thiruvarutpa.
Poompuhar: Poompuhar is located close to the spot where the river Cauvery flows out into the sea in Nagapattinam District. Puhar in tamil means the ‘estuary’ of river. This ancient port city, earlier called as Kaveri poompattinam, served as the Capital of early Chola rulers. The original town is said to have been destroyed by the sea and rebuilt after that.
Emperors like Sembiyan, Muchugundan, Manuneethi and Karikala of Chola Dynasty added glory to Poompuhar. A 7 tired structure called Silapathigaram Art Gallery focusing on Sangam literature is an important landmark in this town, apart from its submerged sea walls. Silapathigaram and Manimeklai the sangam literatures speaks of the greatness of this port city of Poompuhar.
Tarangambadi: It was known as Tranquebar and was a Danish settlement. The remnants of the Dansborg Fort built by Ore Gedde, a commander of the Royal Dutch Navy around the 17th Century can still be seen. The antiquities of the colonial period and Danish settlements like porcelain ware, Danish manuscripts, glass objects, Chinese tea jars, decorated terracotta objects, figurines, lamps, stones, sculptures, swords, daggers, spears, sudai (stucco) figurines and wooden objects, a whale skeleton and small cannon balls are exhibited in the Museum here.
Gingee: The Gingee fort or Senji fort was ranked as the “most impregnable fortress” by Maratha King Chatrapati Sivaji, and it was considered the Troy of the East. It is a fort on 3 hillocks at an altitude of 800 feet. Built by Ananta Kon of the Konar dynasty around 1190, it was later fortified by Krishna Konar. The fort was passed onto the Marathas under Shivaji around 1677.There are many interesting aspects in the fort that speak of its richness in the past. Rajagiri and Krishnagiri are two important fortifications located here and they are popular picnic spots. The Fort is open for visitors.
Entrance fee: Per head : Rs. 2.00 Timings: 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.Every Friday free entry.
Mailam: This is an abode of Lord Murugan on the Hillock, 85 kms from Chidambaram and 15 kms from Tindivanam. Colourful Panguni Uthiram festival attracts devotees in large numbers from far and near. The temple was built by the Pommayapuram Pontiff. The Mutt is located at the foot hills which takes care of the operation and administration of the temple.
Neyveli: It’s a coal miner’s paradise and one of the largest power plants of its kind. 30 kms from Chidambaram, Neyveli is the coal and power town. It is also famous for Fertilizers, Ceramic Wares and a number of Coal by-products.
Navagraha Temples: The hindu astrological system is an evolved system that millions believe in. Each planet in the astrological horoscope is deemed to influence parts of an individual’s life, and temples have been built specifically for planetary gods. Most of them are in and around Kumbakonam and Tanjore Districts, or in towns around them.
They are : Thirunageswaram or Champakaranya – Rahu Sthalam; Suriyanar Koil - Sun God temple; Thingalur – Chandran or Moon; Alangudi - Guru or Jupiter.; Thirunallar - Saneeswarar or Saturn; Vaitheeswaran Koil – Angaragan or Mars; Tiruvengadu – Budhan or Mercury; Keezha perumpallam - Lord Kethu; Kanjanur – Sukran or Venus. Millions of Pilgrims visit these temples regularly, more specifically during planetary transition periods, to pray to the planetary deity and nullify negative effects in the person’s life.