Pancha Bhoota Stalam

Pancha Bhoota Stalam
Pancha Bhoota Sthalam refers to five temples dedicated to Shiva, each representing a manifestation of the five prime elements of nature: earth, water, fire, air, and aether. Pancha indicates "five," Bhoota means "elements," and Sthala means "place." The temples are located in South India, four in Tamil Nadu and one in Andhra Pradesh. The five elements are believed to be enshrined in the five lingams of the temples, with each lingam named based on the element represented. Amazingly, all these 5 temples are located on the longitudes 78 - 79° E, with very minute differences.

The presiding deities are revered in the 7th century Tamil Saiva canonical work, the Tevaram, written by Tamil saint poets known as the nayanars and classified as Paadal Petra Sthalam. The four temples in Tamil Nadu are maintained and administered by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department of the Government of Tamil Nadu.
According to Hinduism, life and the various species originated by the combination of planetary globes and the five manifestations of nature namely earth, water, fire, air, and aether. Bhoota (Sanskrit:भूत) in Sanskrit means compound and maha bhoota indicates a big compound. According to Ayurveda, an ancient Indian medical system, the equilibrium of the body with the pancha bhoota is governed by the principles of tridoshas - kaph (phlegm), pitta (bile), vayu (gas), dhātu and malas (waste products). Rabindranath Tagore, a Nobel laureate for literature, in his book, Pancha bhoota, has explained the emotional faculty of the human mind is keenly sensitive to all objects of light, colour, sound, effect of speed, sun, moon and stars.

The five temples Are
1.Ekambareswarar Temple
2.Jambukeshwarar Temple,
3.Arunachaleswara Temple
4.SriKalahasti temple
5.Thillai Natarajar Temple

1.Ekambareswarar Temple

The temple covers an area of over 23 acres (93,000m2). Reaching a height of 59 meters, the temples Raja gopuram (the entrance tower to the temple) is one of the tallest in South India. One notable feature of the temple is the Aayiram Kaal Mandapam, or the “hallway with a thousand pillars”, which was built by the Vijayanagar Kings. The temples inner walls are decorated with an array of 1,008 Siva lingams. The campus is 25 acres with 5 prakarams (or courtyards) and has a thousand-pillared hall. Kampai Tirtha, the temple tank is believed to have an underground holy river. The fourth courtyard contains a small Ganesha temple and a pond. The third courtyard contains lot of smaller shrines. The sanctum sanctorum contains the lingam along with the image of Shiva.

There is no separate shrine for Parvati within the complex as with other Shiva temples in Kanchipuram. A local belief is that Kamakshi Amman Temple is the consort for Ekambaranathar. There is a small shrine for Vishnu named Thiru Nilaaththingal Thundathan inside the temple complex. Vishnu is prayed as Vamana Murthy and the shrine is hailed by the Alvar saints as one of the 108 Divya Desams. The sthala-virutcham or temple tree is a 3,500-year-old mango tree whose branches are said to yield four different types of mangoes from its four branches.

Story
Legend has it that once Parvati, the consort of Shiva was doing penance under the temples ancient Mango tree near Vegavathi river. In order to test her devotion Shiva sent fire on her. Goddess Parvati prayed to her brother, Vishnu, for help. In order to save her, he took the Moon from Shiva’s head and showed the rays which then cooled down the tree as well as Parvati. Shiva again sent the river Ganga (Ganges) to disrupt Parvati’s penance. Parvati prayed to Ganga and convinced her that both of them were sisters and so should not harm her. Subsequently, Ganga did not disturb her penance and Parvati made a Shiva Linga out of sand to get united with Shiva. The God here came to be known as Ekambareswarar or “Lord of Mango Tree”.

According to another legend, it is believed that Parvati worshipped Shiva in the form of a Prithivi Lingam (or a Lingam improvised out of sand), under a mango tree. Legend has it that the neighbouring Vegavati river overflowed and threatened to engulf the Shiva Lingam and that Parvati or Kamakshi embraced the Lingam. Shiva touched by the gesture materialized in person and married her. In this context he is referred to as Tazhuva kuzhainthaar (“He who melted in Her embrace”) in Tamil.Tiurkuripputhonda Nayanar, one of the 63 saivite saints, called nayanars was a washerman in near the temple and he washed the clothes of all the Saivities. He was divinely tricked by God Shiva appearing as an aged brahmin and asked him to wash before dawn. At the same time Shiva made a cloudly evening. On observing the approach of the evening, the washerman banged his head in a stone in disappointment. God appeared in his true form and graced his devotee.

History
This vast temple is one of the most ancient in India having been in existence since at least 600 AD. Second century AD Tamil poetry speaks of Kama kottam, and the Kumara kottam (currently the Kamakashi Amman temple and the Subramanya temple). Initially temple was built by Pallavas. The Vedantist Kachiyapper served as a priest at the temple. The existing structure then, was pulled down and rebuilt by the later Chola Kings. Adi Sankara, the 10th-century saint got Kanchipuram remodelled along with expansion of this temple along with Kamakshi Amman temple and Varadaraja Perumal Temple with the help of local rulers.

The Vijayanagar kings, during the 15th century, also made lot of contributions to the temple and later developed by Vallal Pachiyappa Mudaliar used to go regularly from Chennai to Kanchipuram to worship in this temple, he spent significant money he amazed during British rule on the temple renovation, Pachiyappa Mudaliar seated at horse back can be seen in the temple pillar. At the later stage a similar temple with same name Ekambareswarar was constructed in Chennai by Pachiappa Mudaliar in order to avoid travelling time to Kanchipuram. The Archaeological Survey of India report of 1905–06 indicates widespread renovation activities carried out in the temple by Nattukottai Chettiar

Architecture
Built by Vijayanagara kings, the Ekambareswarar temple is situated on a land of 23 acres. The temple has a tower called ‘Rajagopuram’ at the entrance, which is of about 195 feet high and it is considered to be one of the tallest in South India. When you enter the temple through the rajagopuram, you can find two halls named ‘Vahana mandapam’ and ‘Sarabesa mandapam’ which, in other words are called vehicle hall and Navaratri hall.

On the precinct, you can also see the ‘Aayiram kaal mandapam’ or a hall with thousand pillars. There is also a pond and a Ganesh temple in the fourth courtyard. Several shrines, including those of Vinayaga and Murugan can be seen in the courtyard.

Inside the temple, you can find the sanctum sanctorum, where the Shivalinga is positioned, along with the image of Shiva. You can find a range of Shiva Lingas in the innermost area, in which there is a ‘Sahasralinga’, which has 1008 lingas sculpted on it. There are also images of 63 Nayanmars finished in granite in the first precinct. There is no shrine for Parvati, though there is a plaque depicting Shiva Parvati, which showed Shiva and Parvati as Tazhuva Kuzhainthaar and Elavar Kuzhali respectively.

Facts about Ekambareswarar Temple
1.The Ekambareswarar temple has the tallest tower and that makes it the biggest temple in Kanchipuram.
2.It has the significance of being one of the ‘Pancha Bootha Sthalams’.
3.The inner precinct of the temple has 10 pillars, which produce different musical sounds when you tap each one.
4.You can find a Kubera idol, which is believed to grant one riches on worshipping it.
5.During the Panguni month, which falls between March and April, you can see the direct sun rays falling on the Shivalinga in the sanctum on days such as 19, 20 and 21.
6.If you observe carefully, you can find all the 12 zodiac signs on the roof of the temple.

Importance
It is significant to the Hindu sect of Saivism as one of the temples associated with the five elements, the Pancha Bhoota Stalas, and specifically the element of earth, or Prithvi. Shiva is worshiped as Ekambareswarar or Ekambaranathar, and is represented by the lingam, with his idol referred to as Prithvi lingam.

Best time to Visit
The best time to visit Ekambareshwar Temple is in March and April as the annual Panguni Uthiram festival is celebrated.

2.Jambukeswarar Temple

The Jambukeswarar temple in Tiruchirapalli of Tamil Nadu is one of the Pancha Bhoota Stalas (the five Shiva temples). The presiding deity is the Appu Lingam – the water element. It is one of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalams, where all the Nayanars (Saivite Saints) have sung glories of the deity.

Story
Devotees believe that once, Devi Parvati made fun of Lord Shiva’s penance for the improvement and welfare of the world. So, Shiva asked her to go to the earth from Kailash (Shiva’s abode) to perform her penance.
Parvati in the form of Akilandeswari as per Shiva‘s wish found Jambu forest (Thiruvanaikoil) to conduct her penance. Hence, she made a lingam out of water of river Cauvery under the Venn Naaval tree (the Venn Naaval tree on top of the saint Jambu) and commenced her worship. Threfore, the lingam is known as Appu Lingam (Water Lingam). Siva at last gave darshan to Akilandeswari and taught her Siva Gnana. Further, Akilandeswari took Upadesa (lessons) facing East from Shiva, who stood facing west.
Also, Malyavan and Pushpadanta were two Shiva Ganas or disciples. They always were on conflict over something or other and once Malyavan cursed Pushpadanta to become an elephant on Earth. The latter cursed the other to become a spider. The elephant and the spider came to Jambukeswaram and continued their Siva worship.
The elephant collected water from river Cauvery and conducted ablution to the lingam under the Jambu tree every day. Shiva, in the form of Jambukeswara, moved by the deep devotion of the two, relieved them from the curse. As an elephant worshipped Shiva here, this place was famous as Thiru Aanai Kaa (thiru means holy, aanai is elephant, kaa (kaadu) means forest). Then, later the name ‘Thiruaanaikaa’ becomes ‘Thiruvanaikaval’ and ‘Thiruvanaikoil’.
For committing the sin killing the elephant, the spider was born as the King Kochengot Chola meaning red-eyed king and built 70 temples and this temple is the one among them.

History
The history of Jambukeswarar temple is that it was built by Kocengannan (Kochenga Chola), one of the Early Cholas, around 1,800 years ago. It is in the Srirangam Island, which has the famous Ranganathaswamy temple. Hundreds of devotees gather here every year to watch the Lord and get his blessings.

Architecture
Jambukeswarar Temple architecture is much more than Srirangam Ranganathaswamy Temple. Although both are constructed at the same time. There are five courtyards inside the temple. Huge walls have been constructed to protect the fifth complex of the temple, known as Vibudi Prakash, which extends for about a mile and is 2 feet wide and 25 feet high. According to legend, the walls were built by Lord Shiva along with the laborers. The fourth complex has a large hall and 769 pillars. There are two large Gopurams in the third complex which are 73 and 100 feet long. Similarly, the rest of the premises are also known for their special architectural features. The sanctum of the temple is square. There is also a harp on the roof of the sanctum of the Trichy Jambukeswarar temple.

The idols in the temple are installed opposite to each other, such temples are called Upadesha Sthalams. Since Goddess Parvati is present as a disciple and Jambukeshwar as a guru in this temple, Thiru Kalyanam i.e. marriage is not performed in this Trichy Jambukeswarar temple. The temple also has Ekapathatha Tirumuthi, Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma present in the temple, which can only be seen in the Thyagaraja temple. As told to you, this temple was built during the time of the Chola kings, so here you also have related inscriptions of the Chola kings of the middle of 11 to 12 centuries.

Importance
It is one of the five element shrines or Pancha Bootha sthalams and is renowned for the worship of lord Shiva (Indian god) as representing the element of water (appulinga). As an Elephant was blessed here after worshipping here, this temple came to be known as 'Thiruvanaikka'.

Best Time To Visit
The best time to visit the temple is during the winter season from November to March when the weather remains pleasant and favorable for outdoor activities. The temperature ranges from 19 degrees Celsius to 22 degrees Celsius. The climatic conditions during this time are cool and comfortable.

3.Arunachaleshwara Temple

Sri Arunachaleswarar Temple at Tiruvannamalai is one of the most ancient Temples of Lord Siva in Tamil Nadu. Many ancient rulers of South India have contributed to the development of this Temple. The Pallavas, the Cholas, the Pandiyas, the Kadavarayas, the Banas, the Hoysalas, the Rayas of Vijayanagar, and the Nayaks of Thanjavur have altered, extended and developed the vast Temple complex for nearly a thousand years. The 500 inscriptions of Tiruvannamalai clearly bring out the history of the construction and development of the mighty structure of the Temple.

History
The innermost shrine of Sri Arunachaleswarar Temple opens to the east and accommodates the principal deity of Lord Shiva. The courtyards or prakarams are counted, starting from the centre. In Tiruvannamalai, there are said to be seven of them; five were constructed in the course of the nine centuries of extensions and alterations, the sixth is represented by the four "Chariot Streets" around the Temple and the seventh by the road surrounding the hill. The first prakaram which houses the Sanctum Sanctorum was built in the 9th and 10th centuries. The second prakaram was constructed during the 12th century. The third prakaram was expanded in the 13th century and the fourth prakaram was completed in the 14th century. The fifth prakaram was erected in the 16th century and completed in the 17th century. Thus the actual construction and expansion of the Temple complex took nearly nine hundred years for the present dimensions of the Temple.

Architecture

Sri Arunachaleswarar Temple originated with the Central Shrine. The extensions to it and around it were constructed as time passed. The absence of Pallava inscriptions in this Temple is conspicuous and on that account some believe that the Cholas built the first stone structure over the Lingam. An examination of the frieze around the Central Shrine reveals the so-called Kudu, a floral design shaped like a spur, or a tongued horse shoe around a human face, shows that it is Pallava Architecture. In Chola architecture the human face in the Kudu is omitted. With this information M. Anant Narayan Rao maintains that the Central Shrine was built by the Pallavas, perhaps in 600 A. D. thus the time taken for the growth of the Temple to its present dimensions is about 900 years.

Facts about Annamalaiyar Temple
1.It is believed to be one of the Pancha Bootha Sthalas, which are five elements, namely earth, water, fire, air and space. The Arunachaleswara temple in Thiruvannamalai represents Agni.
2.The temple is known for the Karthigai Deepam festival, which is celebrated 10 days. Devotees from places across the country visit the temple on this special occasion.
3.During the festival, Mahadeepam on top of 2200-foot high Arunachal hill is lit. For the purpose, a huge cauldron is filled with over 300 kg of ghee and using a large wick made of cotton cloth, it is lighted.

Importance
The Arunachalesvara temple is one of the Pancha Bhoota Stalams, or five Shiva temples, with each a manifestation of a natural element: earth, water, air, sky and fire.

Best Time To VIsit
October to March
4.SriKalahasti temple

This divine temple is located in the Chittoor district of the Rayalaseema region of Andhra Pradesh. Srikalahasti is a temple town popular among devotees who visit the temple. The Srikalahasti Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, who is a God with immense religious significance for Hindus. It was constructed in the year 1516 by Krishnadevraya – the king of the Vijayanagara empire. The temple has an elaborate structure that takes one’s breath away with its breathtaking design right from the entrance. The temple has intricate carvings of numerous mythological stories that can be explored in the divine environment. The temple is often referred to as the Kailasa and Kashi of the south. It is advisable to book hotels in Kalahasti near the temple to enjoy a memorable time with friends and family.
The temple is constructed in such a way that it represents one of the five elements – Air or Vaayu. There is an abundance of divine and vibrant energy in the air over there. The temple manages to attract visitors from all over the world with its mesmerizing architecture and beauty. South India has many temples famous for their architecture, but the Srikalahasti Temple stands out from all. The architecture of this temple is to be noted as the temple has highly ornamented gopurams with intricately carved interiors. This temple is like a treasure trove for people who love studying and exploring South Indian temple architecture. Book the best hotels in Srikalahasti to make your stay splendid and memorable.

History
Sri Kalahasti Temple History As stated in Puranas
Sri Kalahasti is named after the staunch devotees of Lord Siva. They were Spider (Sri), The Serpent ( Kala) and the Elephant ( Hasti). Appeased with their unflinching devotion, Lord Siva gave them a boon that their names be merged with the Vayu Linga and Called as Sri Kalahasteeswara.
Hasti used to clean Shiva Linga by carrying river water with its trunk and placing Bilva Leaves on top of Shiva Linga.
The Spider ( Sri) protects deity from external damage by weaving his web to provide shelter for the Shiva Lingam.
The Snake (Kala) Used to place its precious gem on The Linga to adorn the Lord. In this way, they all worshipped The Vayu Linga separately without knowing what the other was doing.
One day, the Spider had built a very big and thick web around the deity to protect it from dust and weather while Snake places its gem. The Elephant not knowing this and assuming that this form of Puja by Sri and Kala is a desecration by the Seeming miscreants pours water on it and cleans it up. This causes a war between the three. The Snake punishes the elephant by entering its trunk and in the process kills itself, while the elephant runs amok and hit its trunk and head against the Shiva Linga. During this Struggle, the spider is squashed against the Linga by the Elephant’s trunk and the elephant dies due to the Snake’s poison.
Lord Shiva then appeared and gave Moksha to all of three of them for their selfless devotion. The Spider takes rebirth as great king while Elephant and The Snake reaches heaven for satisfying all its karma.
The King continues his good work from his previous birth and builds a variety of temples that seeks to protect the underlying deity with tons of stones. It is interesting to note that all his temples, keep the deity beyond the access of an elephant.
In Sri Kalahasti Temple, access to the deity is through a narrow passage in the side of the building that prevents an Elephant from extending its trunk over the Lord from any Side.
This Temple is popularly known as Dakshina Kailasam.

Architecture
Srikalahasti Temple is a remarkable Shiva temple. It consists of a huge and ancient entrance tower (gopuram) over the main entrance. This tower is 120ft high and is carved out from a huge stone hill. The Vijayanagara king, Krishnadevaraya in 1516 constructed the 100 pillar mandapam and the gopuram.
A lamp is presented inside the inner sanctum which flickers constantly without any air movement. One can clearly observe it when the priest closes the entrance of the main deity room that has no windows.

Importance
The Srikalahasti Temple is considered as one of the Pancha Bhoota Stalam, where the presiding deity is worshipped as Air or Vaayu Lingam. This temple is considered as the Kashi and Kailasa of the South. The temple is mentioned numerous times in the songs sung by Saivite saints of the first century.

Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit the beautiful Srikalahasti Temple is in the winter season from November to February. This time frame is preferable as the weather will be pleasant to explore the location. Book hotels in Kalahasti near the temple to avoid travel fatigue

5.Thillai Natarajar Temple

Thillai Nataraja Temple, also referred as the Chidambaram Nataraja temple, is a Hindu Temple dedicated to Nataraja, form of Shiva as the Lord of dance. This temple is located in Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu, India. This temple has ancient roots and a Shiva shrine existed at the site when the town was known as Thillai.Chidambaram, the name of the city and the temple literally means "stage of consciousness" . The temple architecture symbolizes the connection between the arts and spirituality, creative activity and the divine. The temple wall carvings display all the 108 karanas from the Natya Shastra by Bharata Muni, and these postures form a foundation of Bharatanatyam, an Indian classical dance.

The present temple was built in the 10th century when Chidambaram was the capital of the Chola dynasty, making it one of the oldest surviving active temple complexes in South India. After its 10th-century consecration by the Cholas who considered Nataraja as their family deity,[9] the temple has been damaged, repaired, renovated and expanded through the 2nd millennium. Most of the temple's surviving plan, architecture and structure is from the late 12th and early 13th centuries, with later additions in similar style. While Shiva as Nataraja is the primary deity of the temple, it reverentially presents major themes from Shaktism, Vaishnavism, and other traditions of Hinduism. The Chidambaram temple complex, for example, has the earliest known Amman or Devi temple in South India, a pre-13th-century Surya shrine with chariot, shrines for Ganesha, Murugan and Vishnu, one of the earliest known Shiva Ganga sacred pool, large mandapas for the convenience of pilgrims (choultry, ambalam or sabha) and other monuments. Shiva himself is presented as the Nataraja performing the Ananda Tandava ("Dance of Delight") in the golden hall of the shrine Pon Ambalam.
The temple is one of the five elemental lingas in the Shaivism pilgrimage tradition, and considered the subtlest of all Shiva temples (Kovil) in Hinduism. It is also a site for performance arts, including the annual Natyanjali dance festival on Maha Shivaratri.

History
The Nataraja temple has ancient roots, likely following the temple architecture tradition that is found all over South India from at least the 5th century. Textual evidence, such as those of the Sangam tradition, suggest a temple existed here along with Madurai in ancient times, but the town is not named Chidambaram in these pre-5th-century texts. The earliest mention of "dancing god of Chidambaram" as Shiva is found in 6th- and early-7th-century texts by Appar and Sambadar. The Suta Samhita embedded inside Sri Kanda Puranam and variously dated between 7th and 10th century mentions the Chidambaram dance. The surviving Nataraja temple has a structure that is traceable to the early Chola dynasty. Chidambaram was the early capital of this dynasty, and Shiva Nataraja was their family deity. The Chidambaram temple town remained important to the Cholas, albeit with increasing competition from other temple towns when Rajaraja Chola I moved the capital to Thanjavur, built a new city and the massive Brihadeeswarar Temple dedicated to Shiva in the early 11th century, which is now a world heritage site.

Nataraja Shiva and his "dance of bliss" is an ancient Hindu art concept. It is found in various texts such as Tatva Nidhi which describes seven types of dance and their spiritual symbolism, Kashyapa Silpa which describes 18 dance forms with iconographic details and design instructions, as well as Bharata's ancient treatise on performance arts Natya Shastra which describes 108 dance postures among other things. Reliefs and sculptures of Nataraja have been found across the Indian subcontinent, some dating to the 6th century and earlier such as in Aihole and Badami cave temples.

The Chidambaram temple built on this heritage,[citation needed] yet creatively evolved the idea into forms not found elsewhere. The earliest historically verifiable Shiva temple at Chidambaram is traceable in inscriptions that date to the rule of Aditya Chola I in the early 10th century, and far more during the rule of the 10th-century Chola king Parantaka . For them, the dancing Shiva was the kula-nayaka (family guide or deity) and Chidambaram was the capital they built.These inscriptions and texts from this period suggest that the significance of the Agama texts and Shaiva Bhakti movement was strengthening within the Chola leadership and thought.

The copper plate inscriptions of Parantaka I (c. 907–955 CE) describe him as the "bee at the lotus feet of Shiva" who built the golden house for Shiva, with Chit-sabha, Hema-sabha, Hiranya-sabha and Kanaka-sabha (all mandapam, pillared pilgrim rest places). He is referred to as "Pon veinda Perumal", which means "one who covered with gold" the Chit-sabha of Chidambaram. Both Aditya I and his Chola successor Parantaka I were active supporters of arts and temple building. They converted many older brick and wooden temples into more lasting temples from cut stone as the building blocks in dozens of places across South India.

Raja Raja Chola I (985–1013 CE) embarked on a mission to recover the hymns of the 63 Nayanmars after hearing short excerpts of the Tevaram in his court. He sought the help of Nambiyandar Nambi, who was a priest in a temple. It is believed that by divine intervention Nambi found the presence of scripts, in the form of cadijam leaves half eaten by white ants in a chamber inside the second precinct in the temple. The brahmanas (Dikshitars) in the temple are supposed to have disagreed with the king by saying that the works were too divine, and that only by the arrival of the "Naalvar" (the four saints)—Appar, Sundarar, Tirugnanasambandar and Manickavasagar would they allow for the chambers to be opened. Rajaraja, however, created idols of them and prepared for them to be brought to the temple through a procession. but Rajaraja is said to have prevailed. Rajaraja thus became known as Tirumurai Kanda Cholan meaning one who saved the Tirumurai.

In another version of the story, Rajaraja is said to have experienced a dream from lord Shiva telling Rajaraja that the hymns in Thillai Nataraja Temple, Chidambaram are in a state of destruction and to recover the remaining hymns from the chambers. The brahmanas (Dikshitars) in the temple, however, are supposed to have disagreed with the king by saying that the works were too divine to be accessed, and that only by the arrival of the 63 Nayanmars would they allow for the chambers to be opened. Rajaraja, devising a plan, consecrated idols of each of them and prepared for them to be brought into the temple through a procession. It is said that the 63 idols are still present in the Thillai Nataraja Temple. When the vault was opened, Rajaraja is said to have found the room infested with white ants, and that the hymns were salvaged as much as possible.[citation needed]
The temple, according to inscriptions found in South India and Southeast Asia, was also historic recipient of a precious jewel from the king of Angkor who built the Angkor Wat through Chola king Kulothunga, who submitted it to the temple in 1114 CE. Kulothunga I and his son expanded the Chidambaram Nataraja temple expanse sixfold.

Chidambaram temple thrived during the Chola dynasty rule through mid-13th century, along with the later Shiva-based Thanjavur and Gangaikondacholapuram capitals, as well as Vishnu-based Srirangam temple towns. Its facilities infrastructure was expanded. Naralokaviran, the general of king Kulothunga Chola I was responsible for building the steps that lead to Sivaganga water pool, a goddess shrine, a shrine for child saint Thirugnana Sambanthar, temple gardens and a pilgrim road network in and around Chidambaram. He constructed a hall for recitation of Tevaram hymns and engraved the hymns in copper plates.The thousand pillar choultry, with friezes narrating Hindu texts, was built in the late 12th century. Between the second half of the 12th century and the early 13th century, the Chola kings added colorful and high gopura stone gateways as easily identifiable landmarks, starting with the western gopura. Thereafter, about mid 13th century, the Pandya dynasty ended the Chola dynasty.[ The Hindu Pandyas were liberal supporters of Chidambaram temple, along with other Shiva and Vishnu temples, just like the Chola. Sundara Pandya added the huge eastern gopura at Chidambaram, beginning the colossal gateway tradition. Most of the structure and plans currently seen in the Chidambaram complex, including the mandapas with their pillar carvings, the various shrines with polished granite sculptures, the sacred water pool and the early gopurams are from the 12th and 13th century, attributed to the late Chola and early Pandya kings.

Architecture
The temple as it stands had a pre-Chola existence and the architecture is Dravidian with the Sanctum Sanctorum closely resembling Kerala or Malabar style structures. Indeed, the royal charters mention the rebuilding of the Sanctum using architects from Kerala. However, the golden roof is a striking example of Vesara architecture with its apsidal shape. Two small structures called the Chit Sabha and Kanak Sabha form the crux of the vast architectural complex. The temple is spread over a 40-acre (16 ha) area, within layers of concentric courtyards. The inner sanctum, its connecting mandapams and pillared halls near it are all either squares or stacked squares or both. The complex has nine gopurams, several water storage structures of which the Shivaganga sacred pool is the largest with a rectangular plan. The temple complex is dedicated to Nataraja Shiva and theological ideas associated with Shaivism concepts in Hinduism. However, the temple also includes shrines for Devi, Vishnu, Subrahmanyar, Ganesha, Nandi and others including an Amman shrine, a Surya shrine complete with Chariot wheels. The plan has numerous gathering halls called sabha, two major choultry called the 100 pillared and 1,000 pillared halls, inscriptions and frescoes narrating Hindu legends about gods, goddesses, saints and scholars

Facts About ThillaiNataraja Temple
1.Dedicated to Lord Shiva
2.Shiva is seen performing ‘Ananda Tandava
3.Shiva Vishnu worshipped together
4.Magnificent history
5.Spectacular architecture

Importance
The architecture of the temple represents the link between arts and spirituality. The temple was constructed during the 10th Century when Chidambaram used to be the capital of the Chola dynasty. The Cholas considered Lord Shiva as Nataraj as their family deity.

Best Time To Visit
October to March