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The Origin of Tillai (Chidambaram):
Natarajar is a unique concept, among the noblest symbolisms of the supreme
power. The linga of Chidambaram is of the ether akasa) category, that is the
Lord without form. There are, in South India, five sacred spots, each housing a
linga associated with one of the five elements, Pancabhutas: Prthivi (earth) at
Kanchpuram, Appu (water) at Tiruvanaikka, Teyu (fire) at Tiruvannamalai,
Vayu (air) at Tirukkalahasti and Akasa (ether) at Chidambaram.
earliest name of this place was Tillai, after the tree of Tillai (Excoecaria
Agallocha), which was once found in abundance about this place the next
important name by which it is known is Puliyur or Vyaghra Agrahara or Pura in
Sanskrt, evidently named after Vyaghrapada, one of the primary devotees of this
place. After its rise into clebrity in Saiva hagiology, it was changed into
Perumparrapuliyur, i.e. Puliyur, which includes in the devorees supreme
attachment to the Lord and frees them from their worldly.
introduction of the Natarajar cult, it became famous as the place of the
ethereal linga of Jnana-Akasa. Hence the name Cit Sabha or Dabhra Sabha. Cit
Ambalam (=sabha) became Chidambaram -- also Cirrambalam and Tiruccirrambalam.
Ambalam means 'sabha' (or Hall) in Tamil, in Malayalam the word Ambalam means
'open space' and also 'temple', while the Sanskrit word Ambaram means the open
sky, ether. Cit-ambaram is another word for Cit-akasa.
Chidambaram is the home of Natajarar -- the Lord of the Cosmic Dance (His
Ananda Tandava), Koyil (the house of God), Koyil par excellence (the Temple of
temples). It is a centre sanctified by hoary traditions and rich associations
over many centuries. It has been for ages a centre of Saivism and Vaishnavisam,
a stronghold of the Advaita philosophy of Sankara and the Saivasiddhanta of
Maykanda Devar. Saints and scholors have enriched this place. The great
synthesis of Dravidian and Aryan cultures and the grand philosopichic
conception of the Divine Dance evolved here impart a peculiar charm to this
place in the minds of the pious Hindu.
Chidambaram is about 250
km South from Chennai (
) in Tamil Nadu and is easily reached by rail and road. The town is
situated on the main railway route between Chennai and Trichy about halfway
between these two Cities. There are number of buses from all the major Towns
and Cities of TamilNadu to this templ e town.
The temple occupies an area of
about 51 acres. Four imposing towers rise on the four sides of the temple. Each
of these towers rises to about 135 ft and is comprised of 7 storeyï¿½s and are
topped with 13 copper 'Kalasam' (finials). The entrances at the base of these
towers are quite large rising at least to a height of 40 ft. The outer
perimeter wall is about 30 ft high enclosing the outer 'street' (veedhi) and
the inner enclosures (praharam).