Round of the Natarajar Temple
Chidambaram Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva (or Siva) in His
form of the Cosmic Dancer, Natarajar, is a temple complex spread over 40 acres.
To the follower of Shaivism or Saivism, (the saivaite), the very word ‘Koyil ’
or Temple refers to the Chidambaram temple. In the same way, to the followers
of Vaishnavism (the religion followed by the devotees of Lord Vishnu) it refers
to Srirangam or Thiruvaramgam. The word Chidambaram is derived from ‘Chit’,
meaning ‘consciousness’ and ‘ambalam’, meaning stage; thus it refers to the
stage of consciousness where the Lord dances. Saivaites believe that a mere
visit to Chidambaram leads to salvation.
usual for the devotee or tourist to commence his visit to the extensive
temple-complex of Natarajar and Sivakamasundari at Chidambaram from the east --
though some consider entry from the south obligatory or preferable, since the
Natarajar shrine faces the south. During festival time, the processional
deities emerge from the temple premises only through the eastern gateways and
also return to base only through them after perambulation along the four car
streets -- a pattern which applies also to the icons of Natarajar and
Sivakamasundari on the car-festival days.