Chidambaram temple in South India

Destination - Tamil Nadu, South India

Chidambaram and Thanjavur

The temple at Chidambaram was built by the Chola Dynasty in the 13th century and is dedicated to Siva as a dancer, or Siva Nataraja. Kothsu, a unique dish made with eggplant, onion and tamarind is prepared in the temple kitchens and Chidambaram is also known for special rice preparation made with black pepper and cumin.

Chidambaram temple gorunds, South India

Chidambaram's Siva Nataraja Temple

Sacred to Saivite Hindus the world over, this majestic temple complex sprawls over 40 acres and is dedicated to the Hindu god Siva. Here Siva manifests as Lord Nataraja, the Lord of Dance. Although there are many temples in South India dedicated to Siva, five among them are particularly special, as they each represent one of the five natural elements. Chidambaram represents akasha or ether.

Thousands of domestic and international pilgrims visit the temple each day, worshipping wholeheartedly at the sanctum sanctorum and leaving the sanctity of the temple a changed person.

The sanctum sanctorum is held up by 28 pillars (representing the 28 agamas or methodologies for the worship of Lord Siva), the roof has 21,600 golden tiles each inscribed with the sacred mantra "Namasivaya" (denoting the number of breaths a person takes in a day) and these tiles are fixed to the wooden roof with the help of 72,000 gold nails representing the number of nadis (psychic nerve currents carrying energy to various parts of the body).

eating lunch in priests house in chidambaram
Having lunch with Kailas Deekshitar in his home in Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu


One of the joys of traveling is getting to know the locals, their way of life and the things that are important to them. On Vedic Odyssey's spiritual adventures we take great pride in ensuring our travelers get to experience this.

We'll spend time with Sri Kailasa Shankara, one of the priests at Chidambaram's Nataraja temple, and his lovely family. We will get to know them, hear about the history and the sacredness of the temple, and enjoy a delicious meal in his home lovingly prepared by his wife.

Visiting a Priest's Home

This video shows Vedic Odyssey's 2010 visit to Sri Kailasa Sankara Deekshithar's home. We spend time with him and his lovely family, and are invited to join them for dinner. Deekshithar is one of the priests of the Chidambaram temple. The video shows us enjoying a delicious meal prepared by his wife, meeting their vegetarian dog and Deekshithar teaching Mike (one of the participants on the trip) how to tie a veshti (a traditional men's garment).

Thanjavur's great brihadeeswarar temple

Thanjavur's Great Temple

The Brihadishwara temple dedicated to Siva was built by King Rajaraja Chola in 1010. This 1001 year old temple is the crowning glory of Chola temple architecture with its 66m (216 ft) high temple tower, the 25 ton statue of Nandi (the sacred bull) at the entrance, carved out of a single rock and the massive 4m high Siva Lingam in the sanctum sanctorum. The temple is set in spacious, well-maintained grounds and surrounded by towering walls adorned with 250 Siva Lingams.

Thanjavur temple india
Back to the top Chidambaram temple tower in color, South India