One of Tamil Nadu’s most important holy towns, Chidambaram was the capital of the Chola Empire, from the 10th century to the early 14th century. During this period the great Nataraja temple was built, dedicated to the dancing Shiva, one of the finest examples of Dravidian temple architecture. This huge complex is still a highly active temple, with Brahmins at every shrine. A visit to the temple affords therefore a fascinating glimpse into ancient Tamil religious practice and belief.

What to see

  1. The Nataraja Temple : The temple located in the centre of the town covers an area of 40 acres. It is one of the ancient temples of Tamil Nadu. The presiding deity of the temple is represented by air, one of the five elements of the universe and is known as Akasa Lingam. The eastern tower rises to a height of 40.8 metres. 108 Bharatha Natyam Dance poses can be seen on the Eastern tower as well as on Western tower. The Northern tower rises to a height of 42.4 metres.

  2. The Sivakamiamman temple, the Sivaganga tank, the thousand pillar hall are other important features of the temple.

  3. Annamalai University : It is a residential University founded by the Raja Sir Annamalai Chettiar. It is a great centre of Tamil learning and carnatic music; now offers educational facilities in various disciplines including Medicine,Agriculture, Engineering, etc.

  4. Genji (Gingee) : It is located on the Tindivanam - Thiruvannamalai road about 25 kms. from Tindivanam and is about 132 kms. from Chidambaram. This place is associated with Raja Desingh. There is a 700 year old fort running over three hills of huge and steep boulders. According to tradition the original fort was laid by Kone Chiefs. The fort was ruled by Vijayanagar Nayaks, Marathas, Moghuls, Carnatic Nawabs, the French and the British Rajagiri and Krishnagiri are two important fortifications here and it is a popular picnic spot. (Timing: 0900 hrs to 1700 hrs), every Friday free entry.

  5. Neyveli : It is about 30 kms. from Chidambaram via Vadalur. It is one of the biggest industrial complexes in the country. The lignite mined here is used for thermal power generation. Apart from fertilisers ceramic wares and Leco (cooking coal), a number of by-products are also produced from lignite.

  6. Natyanjali Festival : The Natyanjali dance festival at Chidambaram brings together all the prominent dancers of India present there with an enchantment and elation, which shone in their eyes and evocative abhinaya as they offered their dance to the great divinity, Lord Nataraja. To many of them it is like a dream come true, to be able to perform in the vicinity of the sanctum sanctorum of Lord Nataraja himself, whose padams and varnams they often dance upon creating an imaginary figure of the Lord.

  7. Natyanjali opens on the auspicious occasion of the Maha Shivaratri day and of course in the right kind of venue - the ‘Prakara’ of the Chidambaram temple. Natyanjali festival is jointly organised every February by The Department of Tourism, Govt. Of Tamilnadu, The Ministry of Tourism, Govt. Of India and Natyanjali Trust, Chidambaram.

  8. Pichavaram : Pichavaram, 16 kms. east of Chidambaram, ranks among the most exquisite scenic spot with abundant and varied tourism resources. The backwaters which are interconnected by the Vellar and Kollidam system offer abundant scope for water sports - parasailing, rowing and canoeing. The Pichavaram forest not only offers waterscape and backwater cruises but combines another very rare occurrence - the mangrove forest - trees permanently rooted in a few feet of water. The Pichavaram mangroves are considered among the healthiest mangrove occurrence in the world. Pichavaram consists of a number of islands interspersing a vast expanse of water and covered with green trees. The area is about 2800 acres and is separated from the sea by a sand bar which is a patch of extraordinary loveliness. TTDC offers boating facilities, accommodation and restaurant facilities . Tel : 89232.

9.Gangaikondas Cholapuram : It is 50 kms. from Chidambaram. Rajendra -1, a mighty Chola King, established his new capital here with this magnificent city and temple to Lord Siva. The temple is noted for its massiveness and richly carved sculptures. A big Nandi in front of the temple made of brick and mortar, a lion head well with a flight of steps leading to the water level and gigantic Dwarapalakas are the other thrilling features of this temple.

  1. Kalvarayan Hills : The Kalvarayan hills are situated 150 kms. north west of Chidambaram on the western side of Kallakurichi Taluk. Spread over an area of 600 sq. kms. approximately with the height ranging from 315 mts. to 1190 mts. these hills offer a temperate climate and quiet solitude. There is a botanical garden on the hills. There are two waterfalls here. The area is ideal for trekking. A summer Festival is also held every year in May.

Getting There

Air : Nearest Airport is Trichy which is connected by Indian Airlines with Chennai, Madurai and Srilanka.

Rail : It is connected by rail with Trichy, Madurai, Chennai, Kumbakonam, Thanjavur and Rameswaram. .

Road : It is also connected with all major towns like Pondicherry, Chennai, Nagapattinam and Madurai.

General information

Area : 5 sq. kms. Altitude : 5.97 m (19.45’) Temperature : Summer - Max. 37.0 Deg.C Min: 36.4 Deg.C Winter - Max: 21.3 Deg.C Min: 20.1 Deg.C Rainfall : 85.5 cms average Season : Throughout the year STD : 04144

Excursions

  1. Tarangambadi : Once the site of a Danish settlement, Tarangambadi has the remains of the Dansborg fort built by Ore Gedde, the commander of the Royal Dutch Navy, in the 17th century. The fort constructed in 1620 with two storeys was the most important building which housed the top echelons of the Danish officials. Apart from the ramparts, the rest of the buildings are in good condition. The Church of Zion : The Church was built in 1701 in the corner of King Street and Queen Street. After several modifications during 1782 - 1784 and 1800 - 1839, the Church as it stands today has a vaulted roof and is very impressive. The Gate : The 200-year-old Gate is of historical and architectural interest. The residents of Tarangambadi have to pass through it on their way in and out of the town.

  2. Masilamaninathar Temple : The Masilamaninathar temple was built in 1305 A.D. by the Pandya King Kulasekaran and is of great architectural interest. There are several smaller shrines in this temple complex.

  3. Rehlings Gard : Another interesting building in Tranquebar is Rehlings Gard named after Johnnaes Rehling who was the Danish Governor and owned the house between 1823 and 1841. It presently houses the St. Theresa’s Teachers Training College and is well preserved.

  4. British Collector’s House : The British Collector’s house on the eastern end of King street opposite to the Dansborg fort is yet another important and impressive landmark. It is about 150 years old and is one of the largest buildings in the town with beautiful round columns, a central courtyard and a garden at the back. Efforts are on to restore all the monuments to their old glory and plans are afoot to develop Tarangambadi into a modern tourist centre.