For a Shaivite, the word ‘Koil’ in the true sense means the Chidambaram Natarajar Temple.
This huge temple, built in 400 A.D., is situated in the Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu and is about 75 kms South of Pondicherry.
It is one of the few temples in South India where both the Shaivite (Lord Shiva Natarajar) and Vaishnavite (Lord Govindaraja Perumal) deities are enshrined in one place.
The Chidambaram Natarajar Temple is very famous the world over as it is one of the Panchabootha Sthalas, where the Lord is worshipped in his manifestation as sky or Aagayam.
Chidambaram also is one of the five places where Lord Shiva is said to have displayed his dance and all these places have stages/sabhais.
This is the place where Lord Shiva is not worshipped in his usual lingam form, but in the form of Natarajar and in the Ananda Tandava posture.
This Ananda Tandava posture of Lord Shiva is one of the famous postures recognized around the world by many (even people belonging to other religions have likened it to Hinduism). This celestial dancing posture tells us how a Bharatanatyam dancer should dance.
When I was here a couple of weeks back, I was simply stunned by the sheer size of the temple. The temple gopurams are massive too. The inner sanctum is very pretty with a lot of carvings, drawings and inscriptions adorning the walls, but photography is prohibited inside the main sannadhi complex.
Such is the popularity of this temple that I spotted a lot of foreign tourists in the temple campus. The entire place was filled with spiritual essence. You can just waft in its magic by sitting in the wide corridors near the main temple sannadhi (inner sanctum). Truly a magical place!!