Sixty km from Pondicherry towards Thanjavur along the coast is the magnificent 9the century Temple of Nataraja at Chidambaram. Dedicated to lord Shiva, this temple sprawls over 32 acres of flat land between two rivers. The Nataraja temple complex of Chidambaram is said to be the oldest in South. There are four gopurams- the north and south ones soaring 49 metres in the sky. Two of its gopurams are carved with 108 classical poses of Nataraja- Shiva, the Cosmic dancer.
Other notable features of the temple are a 1000-pillared Hall, Nritya Sabha Court- carved out like a giant chariot and the image of Nataraja in the central sanctum. There are other smaller temples in the complex devoted to other gods.
The Nataraja temple in this city was built during the reign of Vir Chola Raja (927-997). Chidambaram was the Chola capital from 10th to 14th century.
It is 245 Kms from Chennai. The famous Chidambaram temple is situated in the middle of the town and inside the main image at Nataraja is covered with copper and gold. The temple is surrounded by four broad chariot streets. About 50 Kms from Chidambaram is Neyveli where lignite is mined and a huge thermal power station produce electricity.
Poompukar (Kaviri Poompattinam)
At 40 Kms from Chidambaram is poompuhar, earlier known as Kaveri poompattinam. Here the tourists will find a seven-storey museum, which houses a vivid pictorial representation of the story of 'Silappathikaram'. To the northwest of Chidambaram, 30 Kms lays the small town 'Srimushnan' known for its Bhu Varhaswamy temple.