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 importance 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).
Natyanjali Dance Festival - Dates and Duration
The dance festival usually takes place every year at around February-March. It begins on the eve of Mahashivratri and lasts five days. The festival had taken place between 13th February and 17th February in the year of 2018.
Events and Festivities at the Natyanjali Dance Festival
One can expect to witness several classical dance forms such as Kuchipudi, Mohiniyattam, Manipuri, Odissi, Kathak, Bharatanatyam, Pung Cholam among others. This gathering unites the dancers from across India who consider it to be a blessing that they are performing on the holy grounds on this temple and paying their respects to Lord Nataraja.
Natyanjali Dance Festival - Venue & Architecture
The artists perform in the brightly set up Prakaram, which is the outer area surrounding the Nataraja Temple of Chidambaram. The temple also goes by the name of Thillai Nataraja Temple. It is one of the ancient sites of tourism and is entirely dedicated to Lord Shiva. The walls of the temple are embedded with a total of 108 Bharatanatyam poses of Lord Nataraja. The golden roof and the multiple pillars add to the grandeur of this historic temple.
History of Natyanjali Dance Festival
The origin of this event can be traced back to 1981. Over the years, this proud offering of classical dance has begun to take place in various temples across Chennai, Madurai, Thanjavur, Nagapattinam, Kumbakonam and more. However, the one at its original venue - the Nataraja Temple in Chidambaram - is as spectacular as ever, and is considered to be the best place to witness this gathering. Chidambaram itself is a sacred city and offers an apt setting for cultural and spiritual tourism. As Legend has it, Lord Shiva is the Lord of Consciousness of true knowledge.
How to Reach the Nataraja Temple
The nearest airport to Chidambaram is in Pondicherry, at a distance of 66 km. The second closest airport is the one in Trichy or Tiruchirappalli. The Chidambaram railway station is quite close to the Nataraja Temple and has express and passenger trains leaving for Chennai with a good frequency. There are trains to Kumbakonam, Thanjavur, Trichy and Madurai as well. Apart from these, Chidambaram has well-connected roads with Chennai, Pondicherry, Madurai and Thanjavur. One can easily find several bus services connecting Chidambaram to all these major cities. Once you reach the city of Chidambaram, you can get around by auto rickshaws, which form a common public transport system over here.
The Natyanjali Trust can be reached via Call: +91-98949 55196, +91-94432 42732, +91-4144-222732 Email: [email protected]
When the Natyanjali Dance festival was conceptualised decades ago, it had a handful of dancers, who despite their small numbers would attract countless tourists from all corners of the world to come and witness their enthusiasm. To this day, people flock to this cultural and spiritual city of Chidambaram on the eve of Mahashivaratri to behold the illustrious offering and participate in spreading the message of ‘Unity in Diversity’. If you want to experience this glorious celebration of culture and commemoration of Lord Shiva, then all you have to do is to pack your bags. The location is easily accessible and offers a unique Sangam or conflux of spirituality and creative arts of music and dance.