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Chidambram Travel Essentials


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Ideal duration: 1-2 days

Best Time: October to January Read More

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Also Refered As:


"A Temple Town of Tamil Nadu"

Chidambram Tourism

A beautiful temple town in the Cuddalore District of Tamil Nadu, Chidamabaram is famous for housing the marvellous Lord Nataraja Temple and the famed chariot festival. Situated 250 kms away from the city of Chennai, Chidambaram has been a place of architectural glory and religious importance since antiquity.

It has been ruled by several dynasties over time namely Cholas, Pandyas, Vijayanagar rulers, Marathas and the British. Due to the cultural influences, it boasts of a rich heritage and traditions. It is famous for its many temples which are a marvellous rendition of the Dravidian style of architecture and a beautiful representation of Dravidian culture.

Apart from its authentic history, the town is a slice of paradise for nature lovers and bird watchers. Pichavaram backwater is one of the many highlights of this region. For tourists, Chidambaram is all about relishing nature's beauty and soaking up the spirituality ambience.

Things to do in Chidambram

1. Pichavaram Mangrove Forests

Pichavaram Mangrove Forests
The second largest Mangrove forest in the world, Pichavaram is located off the tourist trail but is totally worth the effort. One can be enchanted by the complex river system and canal network that bi (Read More)nd this beautiful place together and support the rich biodiversity of the place.

2. Shopping in Chidambaram

Shopping in Chidambaram
Chidambaram offers limited possibilities for shopping one can only shop for souvenirs at the markets, the replicas of the temple and the Nataraja and some local handicrafts.

3. The Nataraja Temple

The Nataraja Temple
One of the five Panchbootha Sthala, the Nataraja Temple is a place of deep religious importance for the Hindus. Spread across a sprawling 40 acres complex, the Lord Nataraja Temple situated in the hea (Read More)rt of the city is one of the most beautiful examples of the genius of Chola architecture.

4. Natyanjali Dance Festival

Natyanjali Dance Festival
The annual dance festival of Chidambaram is a colourful culmination of culture while propagating the message of ���Unity in Diversity�۪ in the universal language of music and dance. The historic impor (Read More)tance and grandeur of the Nataraja Temple set the perfect backdrop and stage for the hundreds of dancers from across India, who gather here to pay their respects to the epitome of Dance, Lord Nataraja - a depiction of the Hindu God Shiva. The Department of Tourism of the state of Tamil Nadu collaborates with the Natyanjali Trust, each year on the eve of Mahashivratri, to organise this dance festival. The word Natyanjali in itself can be broken down to an Offering (Anjali) of Dance (Natya).

5. Sirkazhi

Sirkazhi is a small town in Nagapattinam district of the Tamil Nadu located 250 km from the capital city of Chennai. It is a part of Cauvery Delta region and is situated at a distance of 13 km from th (Read More)e shores of Bay of Bengal. The small town encompasses an area of 13 sq km and is graced with the number of historic edifices from the Medieval period to the modern period of British colonization. Temples, beaches, fort, museums and very intriguing history, the town of Sirkazhi has everything imbibed in its relatively small parameters. A pleasant, peaceful town with historical past, Sirkazhi is adopting modern developments while upholding and honouring its customs and beliefs of a traditional South Indian village.

6. Kali Temple, Chidambram

Kali Temple, Chidambram
A beautiful temple dedicated to Goddess Kali in the northern end of the town, the Thillai Kaliamann Temple was built by Kopperunjingan who ruled the region around 1229 to 1278 A.D

7. Sivakamiamman Temple

Sivakamiamman Temple
A marvelous temple famous for it's huge Sivaganga Tank and a thousand-pillar hall, Sivakamiamman Temple is a great place of worship for the devotees. The priest in this temple offer agamic poojas whic (Read More)h are considered to be very special.

8. Chathapurinathar Temple

Chathapurinathar Temple
Situated in the outskirts of the city, Chathapurinathar Temple is dedicated to Lord Siva and Osai Kodutha Nayagi. The temple is known to attract a huge crowd every year, who come to offer their prayer (Read More)s as well as admire its architecture which has remained true to the Dravidian style of the region.

9. Khadi Handicraft store

Khadi Handicraft store
Chidambaram doesn't offer much shopping avenues for the shoppers out there. The market near the temple has a Khadi Handicrafts shop which is a good for buying some souvenirs and local handicrafts prod (Read More)ucts.

10. Nattiya A/C Cocktail Lounge

Nattiya A/C Cocktail Lounge
Nattiya Cocktail Lounge is the best place to get some drinks and sumptuous cocktails in a nice ambience. Being a temple town and a small one at that, Chidambaram has generally limited nightlife to off (Read More)er.

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Etymology and Legend

The traditional name of the temple is Chidambaram Thillai Nataraja-koothan Kovil. The name is derived from the many grooves and forests that were dominated by a particular type of tree, the Thillai tree, that sheltered the main deity of the temple. The word "Chidambaram" comes from the Tamil word Chitrambalam or Chidambaram meaning "an atmosphere of wisdom". "Chith" translates into consciousness or wisdom and the word "ambalam" means atmosphere. When combined, the word signifies the association with Nataraja, the incarnation of Lord Shiva as a cosmic dancer and the cultural importance the place holds for arts.

As the Hindu legend goes, the Thillai forests were populated by a group of sages who believed that they held supreme powers that could control the Gods too. Shiva, hearing this, took the avatar of Bhikshatana, a beggar seeking alms and went to Thillai. His consort, Mohini, who is the feminine incarnation of Lord Vishnu followed him. The sages and their wives were enchanted by the beauty of the pair. Enraged that the couple could enchant their wives, the sages performed many rituals to defeat Shiva; first, they created serpents, then a fierce tiger, a fierce elephant, and at last a demon by name, Muyalakan. But all their efforts perished as Shiva defeated them all and performed the Ananda Thandavam (The Dance of Eternal Bliss), after which the sages considered defeat.


Keeping up to its name, Chidambaram, the temple town of India is very vibrant, with cultural events mostly centred around temples. The Marghazhi Thiruvaadhirai festival, celebrated from December to January and Aani Thirumanjanam, celebrated from June to July are the two important events in the town. During these festivals, the whole town is flocked with people from outside who wait to see a glimpse of the respective festive deity, who is brought out of the main sanctum and taken around the town in a procession.

Natyanjali is another prominent annual festival celebrated in Chidambaram during February. Bharatnatyam dancers from across the country converge here to offer their respect and devotion to Nataraj, the incarnation of Lord Shiva. Panguni Uthiram is also celebrated in the month of March, every year.

Pichivaram Forest and Backwaters

The unique geographical location of Chidambram makes it home to many mangrove forests. Since the city is located at the confluence of many rivers with the Bay of Bengal, the two estuaries that form as a result - Vellar and Coleroon - host a large number of unique birds and animals. This forested area is known as the Pichivaram mangrove and is the second largest mangrove forest in the world after the Sundarbans.

Very close by is the Pichivaram dam and the backwaters are a favourite spot for bird watching among locals and tourists alike. Other water sports like kayaking, canoeing and boating have been developed here, and there are over 400 boating routes that run through the heart of the mangroves.

The Temple Town of Chidambram

Chidambram is famous for the many temples that have been built here at different points in history. The evolution of the southern style of architecture - the Dravida style - can be brilliantly traced by observing these temples.

The Thillai Nataraja Temple is one of the holiest sites for Shiva worshippers and is also one of the grandest and best-preserved temples in India. The temple complex also consists of a lake, large pillared halls and many shrines to Shiva and other deities. Many prominent kings from the Chola period onwards have made generous donations to this temple, and to this day, it is one of the richest temples in India. The Thillai Kali Amman Temple and Tirunallurpperumanam Temple are the other two prominent religious structures of this town.

Restaurants and Local Food in Chidambram

Chidambaram is a place for feasting on some delightful Tamil cuisines such as idli, dosai, vadai and others. One can find both veg and non-veg platters, but most restaurants serve vegetarian food.
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Suggested Itinerary for Chidambram

Day 1: Arrive in Chidambram by road or rail and take the morning off to explore the city and familiarise yourself with its sights and sounds. After a sumptuous lunch in one of the many small restaurants, proceed to the Tirunallurpperumanam Temple located near the city centre. Close to this temple is a few more like the Tiruvetkalam Temple, Chathapurinathar Temple and Thillai Kali Amman Temple. All of these temples are very close by, and you can visit each one of then at your own pace while enjoying the walk through the city.

Day 2: Leave for the Thillai Natarajan temple located a kilometre away from the train station. Since the complex is huge and mostly involves walking, a substantial breakfast before leaving is a must. Relax by the side of the lake within the temple complex and marvel at the large intricately carved pillared halls. The roof of this temple (the vimana) was originally made of gold, though it has now been similarly painted. To fully explore the temple, you will need a minimum of three hours.

Day 3: Leave early for the Pichivaram Mangrove Forest and backwaters. After reaching, you can choose from a broad range of activities like boating, kayaking, bird watching or taking a cruise down the rivulets. Be sure to check the tidal chart since the landscape can change dramatically depending on the time of day. For water sports, high tide is an ideal time, but the lower tide is preferable for bird watching and to get a chance to spot some larger animals like deer. 

Best Time to Visit Chidambram

How to Reach Chidambram

How to Reach Overview

This city is well connected by road and rail but does not have an airport. Being a major temple town, there are daily buses to surrounding cities like  Bangalore, Madurai, Salem, Chennai and Erode. Taxis and cars for hire are less common for intercity travel. Trains connecting this city to all the central stations nearby are also frequent, and the train station is just one kilometre away from the Nataraja temple.

How to reach Chidambram by flight

Chidambram does not have an airport but is well connected to the cities of Chennai and Bangalore both of which have international airports. Puducherry is the nearest domestic airport located at a distance of 65 kilometres. You can easily hire a cab from each of the airports or catch a bus for Chidambaram from the respective destinations.

How to reach Chidambram by road

Road transport is the most convenient and popular way to commute to this city and Chennai, Bangalore, Mysore and Puducherry are all well connected to this city by road. National Highway 45 A passes through this town and is the main connecting road. There are daily buses run by the Tamil Nadu state government to almost all nearby cities including the major ones like Chennai, Bangalore and Mysore. Private buses are also very frequent and are used for intercity and intra-city transport. 

How to reach Chidambram by train

The railway station of Chidambram is located in the heart of the city and is fairly well connected to other cities of Southern India. There are daily express trains to and from  Chennai, Rameswaram, Tirupathi, Cuddalore and Manamadurai as well as intercity passenger trains to  Mayiladuthurai, Cuddalore, Villupuram, Nagore and Bangalore. 

Local transport in Chidambram

Intercity commuting is fairly easy. You could hire a taxi or an auto rickshaw for the entire day or you could hire bicycles. There are local buses available which can take form one part of the city to another.

Chidambram Photos

Chidambram, Tamil Nadu

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FAQs on Chidambram

What is not so good about Chidambram?

Not easy to reach since it is at least 4 hours away from a metro city. Not many options for accommodation. 

What are the places near Chidambram?

The top places near to Chidambram are Pondicherry which is 58 km from Chidambram, Mayiladuthurai which is located 34 km from Chidambram, Auroville which is located 68 km from Chidambram, Chettinad which is located 72 km from Chidambram, Kumbakonam which is located 59 km from Chidambram

What are the things to do in Chidambram?

The top things to do in Chidambram are Pichavaram Mangrove Forests, Shopping in Chidambaram, The Nataraja Temple, Natyanjali Dance Festival, Sirkazhi, Kali Temple, Chidambram. You can see all the places to visit in Chidambram here

What is the best way to reach Chidambram?

This city is well connected by road and rail but does not have an airport. Being a major temple town, there are daily buses to surrounding cities like  Bangalore, Madurai, Salem, Chennai and Erode. Taxis and cars for hire are less common for intercity travel. Trains connecting this city to all the central stations nearby are also frequent, and the train station is just one kilometre away from the Nataraja temple.
Read More

What is the local food in Chidambram?

Chidambaram is a place for feasting on some delightful Tamil cuisines such as idli, dosai, vadai and others. One can find both veg and non-veg platters, but most restaurants serve vegetarian food.
Read More

What is the best time to visit Chidambram?

Chidambram is located near the coast of the Bay of Bengal and so has a moderate climate throughout the year. Monsoon is not a distinct season, and there is some rainfall throughout the year. The maximum temperature is 33 degrees Celcius and the minimum ranges around 23 degrees Celcius. Winter is the best season to visit this city, but summers are also popular with tourists. 
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Who should visit Chidambram?

Chidambram is the perfect spot if you want to immerse yourself in the ancient architecture of the temples of South India. It is also a must visit for those who want to study Dravida architecture as well as wildlife enthusiasts who can enjoy the mangrove forests and backwaters near the city. 

What is famous about Chidambram?

Excellent for religious tourism and to explore the culture of Tamil Nadu. Engage with the tight-knit community and unravel the secrets of Dravida architecture

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Chidambram Reviews

Your rating

Philippe PRATX

on Pichavaram Mangrove Forests 4 months ago
Place to avoid. Very high price to pay for a worthless visit, unleess you've never seen any mangrove before. Boat driver is not interested in what the passengers are expectig.

Abishek Raj

3 years ago
Wow it is a nice place. Awesome. Excellent and old historical temple

Pallavi Siddhanta

5 years ago
- Being a Hindu temple town Chidambaram is conservative when it comes to dressing, so avoid wearing inappropriate clothes.
- Only Hindus are allowed in the Nataraja Temple.
- Make sure to do ad (Read More)vance booking on hotels to avoid facing any problems later.
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