Sunday, May 29, 2011

Chidambaram- A Beautiful Temple Town…!

"Chidambaram", located near the shores of  Bay of Bengal, is a beautiful temple town falls under the district of Cuddalore which is placed in the northern part of Tamil Nadu. This is situated 240 km south of the capital city-Chennai. The land and the life of the people here are still truly innate and highly undisturbed by the rapid urbanization. Surrounded by more than hundreds of beautiful villages, it is not only a major landmark for the people who live around this temple city but a real remarkable spot for many good things like Pilgrimage, Business, Education for the people all around the world. It has its boundaries mainly well spread on either side of the stretch of NH-45A. Like every human, I’m also having my perennial memories and thirsts to get back into those childhood days I spent at my native town.

Geographically, it is located on the plains of the River Kollidam which is a distribution branch of River Cauvery. Temple of Lord Nataraja & its glories and the world famous dance festival “Nattiyanjali” are the things first strike on one’s mind right away when you talk about Chidambaram. In fact this town is the bottle neck for Hindu devotees to start their journey to other pilgrimage cities down south like Mayiladuthurai, Kumbakonam, Tanjore, Trichy, Madurai, Rameshwaram and Kanyakumari.

"Temple of Lord Nataraja is a divine pilgrimage centre for both the Shivaites and Vaishnavites. It’s a world famous tourist attraction which pulls huge international and national crowds in to it greatly.  It’s a symbol of majestic “Dravidian Architecture”. Though the temple has its account showing its development and growth on various periods by kings from different kingdoms like Cholas, Cheras, Pandyas & Pallavas, the significant contributions to this standing symbol of Dravidian Architecture were purely by Cholas who were called as the “Athenians of India”.

"Natarajar" means "King of Dance" in English which is the name of Lord Shiva as Cosmic Dancer. Tamil translation of the word “Temple” is “Kovil”. That’s why, this temple is called by the people around this area as “Natarajar Kovil”. This temple stands tall for its elegant beauty by holding a very long history. It’s one of the “Panchabootha sthalaa” where Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of Sky (Akaya) and hence it’s also described as “Aakaya Sthal”. The dancing stature of Lord Nataraja which one can see here is a world famous one. This temple is located at the heart of this town over almost 40 acres(Courtesy: Wikipedia) of land. This temple has four major gateways (Sannidhi) each at all the four cardinals. Each Gopuram is having seven levels. Walking on the corridors of this holy temple on yellow sunsets by listening to the mesmerizing mantra “Om Nama Shivaya” with lullabying breeze will get oneself relieved from all other external burdens and worries.

Other attractive temples in Chidambaram are "Thillai Kaaliamman" and "Keezhaththeru Mariyamman" both are dedicated to goddess “Parvathi” which draw thousands of devotees all across Tamil Nadu into them.


Apart from temples it has many attractive tourist sites in and around the town. “Pichavaram”- a unique Eco-Tourism centre, is a home to the largest Mangrove forest in the world. It is located just 15 km from this town. The 2800 acres of area covered by Pichavaram has number of beautiful islands in it. A boat ride on these dense thick mangrove forests is always an enjoyable and exhilarating experience to have. The thick Mangrove forests were the one which guarded many villages in this area from the devastating Indian Ocean Tsunami on 2004 by appeasing its brutality by their strength. These forests and seashore have various type of habitats like Shores, Sands, Mud, Mangroves etc which attract different species of birds from foreign and other states of India. The “Dawn Fest”, a traditional festival called as “Vidiyal Vizha” in Tamil which showcases various interesting Cultural Programs, Boat Riding, Sea Food Festival, Traditional Music Performances, Yoga demonstrations, Sun Rise and Sun set events etc. is organized by “Tamil Nadu Tourism and Development Corporation” which attracts both International and Domestic visitors at larger extent.

“MGR thittu”, a small fabulous Islet village near this Pichavaram is a perfect, peaceful and coolest weekend hangout for youngsters and students. This village was completely washed out by the attack of Tsunami. Still it draws the tourists to have their feet down by its phenomenal beauty. Though the people who managed to escape from the attack were all displaced to the shore some who were raised on this island used to start their fishing daily from here.

"Annamalai University" which is having its splendid history and pride for its services of educating the people of India since the pre-independent days (ie. from very earliest of the 20th century) has its main house located here. This institution renders diversified education to the people of this nation with its glorious history. The literacy rate of this town has gone up to 84% has a significant contribution from this university.

The Greatest saints like “Ramalinga Adigalar” (Vallalaar) and “Sri.Ragvendira Swamigal“ lived in the villages called “Marudur” and “Bhuvanagiri”  respectively which are at closest vicinity to the town of Chidmabaram

It’s a land that widely yields Paddy & Sugarcane and also fertile to offer Coconut plantations. The Lake Veeranam which covers the area of dimensions of approximately 11km length and 4km width is the major reservoir for agriculture and potable needs of the people of Chidambaram. This lake gets water from “River Kollidam”. With both these “River Kollidam” and “Lake Veeranam” this particular part of the land looks always greener. But, nowadays like in other parts of the state the raising interest to adapt urbanization and increasing population and unpredictable/irregular monsoon conditions lead the people not to rely only on agriculture and vegetations. During summer, both these remain dry until the next monsoon.

One can find good lodging and boarding services everywhere in and around this temple town. Restaurants, Hotels, Lodges are evenly scattered across the town. There are lot many good Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian restaurants to have and enjoy variety of excellent, tasty South Indian cuisines. Few of them are Moorthy Café, Double A restaurant, Hotel Mansrover, Pandiyan Mess, Kamala Mess, Chain hotels of Thillai Sri Ganesh. “Puththur Jayaram Hotel" located on the national highway NH-45A in the direction to Mayiladuthurai is literally an important stop for those who really want to taste the delicious, mouth watering Non-Vegetarian meals including sea foods.

Chidambaram is famous for its exquisite handmade Gold and Silver ornaments. There are specific families in Chidambaram who have been involving in this business since many generations. These techniques of making ornaments have been taught from one generation to the other within those same families. They are highly skillful in this art to craft unique and excellent products with artistic, peculiar and wonderful designs. These ornaments which are made by them have the greatest reputations and recognitions across the globe since a long way back.

Chidambaram is on the Chennai-Trichy national highway. This is well connected by rail and road with Trichy, Madurai, Chennai, etc. The nearest Airport is at Trichy which is 168 km from the town.

I’d like to recommend you the readers to watch out this Youtube video footage titled as “Cholans-The Athenians of India” which will somewhat explain what the “Dravidian Civilization” means and how it’s still kept alive in that soil…! This is a video footage created by BBC.  This will give a short glimpse why and how the life of the people from this soil has spun with the word called “Chola”.

(Images & Videos courtesy-Google & Youtube)