The scenic town of Chidambaram lies in the Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu. This small town spread over 5km sq is about 250km from Chennai and has a history going back to the Chola kingdom. It is well-known for its temples, arts and culture and is famous with pilgrims for its Shiva temple. The word Chidambaram literally translates into ‘sky infused’ with reference to wisdom and intelligence.
Chidambaram is also known as ‘Thillai’ and is located in the Coleroon River valley located on the main Thanjavur-Madras road. Thillai could have been derived from the presence of the ancient Thillai mangrove trees surrounding this temple town. There are numerous amazing places to visit in Chidambaram if you are visiting the region.
Thillai Natarajar temple
Also known as the Chidambaram Natarajar temple, it’s an important tourist attraction. The temple sprawls over a large 40 acres of land in the centre of the town. Interestingly, the roof of the sanctum sanctorum is gold plated. The presiding deity is known as ‘Akasa lingam’, or air, one of the five elements of the universe. The deity is also worshipped as Lord Shiva, as the Cosmic Dancer.
There are five must-see ornately decorated halls here including the ‘Kanaka Sabha’, ‘Chit Sabha’, Nritta Sabha’, Deva Sabha’ and the ‘Raja Sabha’.
This architecturally-outstanding temple is dedicated to goddess Kali and was built in 1229-1278 AD. The exquisite carvings and the stories they tell lure people to visit, making it a popular tourist spot.
It is located about 16km outside Chidambaram town and is a scenic tourist spot to spend the day outdoors. The Pitchavaram wetlands are famous as the world’s second largest mangrove forests and have many ancient Tillai trees. The backwaters here are famous with the tourists finding the boat rides appealing as they meander through the numerous mysterious-looking islands and mangrove grooves dotting the landscape. A number of rare floras growing here attract scientists too.
This premier university was set up by Dr Rajah Sir Annamalai Chettiar of the famous Chettinad region in 1929. It is one of the foremost educational centres in the country and is spread out over 300 acres of land. It is a major centre of learning for Tamil Literature and Carnatic music. Aside from this, there are the usual medicine, engineering and other courses on offer too.
Numerous other areas of tourist abound around Chidambaram town, but to enjoy them, you will need to stay around for a couple of days. Chidambaram is well-connected by rail, road and air and has numerous luxurious hotels to stay in too.