Chidambaram is a town in the Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu. The town is believed to be of significant and has an ancient story behind it. It also had been ruled by different kingdoms at different times; some of them are the Medival Cholas, Later Cholas, Later Pandyas, Vijayanagar Empire, Marathas and the British.
The town is well known for being the home of the Thillia Nataraja Temple or the Chidambaranathar Temple. The structure is spread across over 40 acres and is the birth place of the sculpture and bronze image representation of Lord Shiva as the cosmic dancer or Nataraja. The shrine is the only Shiva temple to have its main deity represented in the human form, as the supreme being who performs all the cosmic activities.
Chidambaram is one of the five Pancha Bootha Sthalams, and the holiest temples dedicated to Shiva represent one of the five classical elements.
Start Point: Bengaluru
Best Time to Visit: October to Mid June
How To Reach
By Air: The nearest airport is the Tiruchirappali Airport, which is located at a distance of 165 km from here. The airport is well connected to all the major cities across the country such as Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, etc.
By Train: The major railway station is the Chidambaram Station, which is well connected to all the major towns and cities across the country. One can alight at this station and hire a taxi or a rickshaw to reach the temple.
By Road: One of the best ways to reach Chidambaram is by road. The town is well connected by roads and there are regular buses which operate from major cities to Chidambaram.
The total driving distance from Bengaluru to Chidambaram is around 387 km. There are 3 routes that can be taken, which are as follows:
Route 1: Bengaluru - Hosur - Krishnagiri - Dhramapuri - Salem - Virudhachalam - Chidambaram, via NH 44.
Route 2: Bengaluru - Hosur - Krishnagiri - Tiruvannamalai - Panruti - Chidambaram, via NH 77.
Route 3: Bengaluru - Hosur - Krishnagiri - Tiruvannamalai - Pudducherry - Chidambaram, via NH 48 and NH 77.
For those who are opting to travel by Route 1, it would take you approximately around 7 hours to reach Chidambaram, via NH 44. The route takes you through the well-known towns of Salem, Virudhachalam, etc.
The roads are well maintained, which helps cover the distance at a good pace and the destination is about 387 km through this route.
If you opt for Route 2, it would take you approximately 7.5 hours to cover a total distance of 344 km from Bengaluru to Chidambaram, via NH 77. On Route 3, it would take you around 8.5 hours to cover the distance of 378 km, via NH 48 and NH 77, to reach Chidambaram.
The journey can be planned as a weekend drive. So, one can opt to leave on a Saturday morning and after spending about a day and half, they can start to Bengaluru either on a Sunday morning or afternoon and reach the city by evening or night.
Short Stops At Krishnagiri And Salem
PC: Karthik Easvur
To beat the traffic in Bengaluru, it is best to start off early, which helps you drive past the expressway in no time and cross over the border without getting stuck in the traffic snarls. Once on the highway, there are plenty of options for one to have breakfast, as most of them either opt for the Saravana Bhavan or the Adyar Ananda Bhavan near Krishnagiri.
After a filling breakfast, one can proceed further on the 6-lane highway through the dry lands of Tamil Nadu; and by the time you come across some amount of greenery, you would reach the town of Salem. The town of Salem is well known for its educational institutions and also many temples.
Salem would be an ideal stopover for lunch, after which one can proceed further down to the destination of Chidambaram, which is at a distance of 191 km and would take approximately around 3 to 4 hours to reach.
As Chidambaram is well known for the Nataraja Temple, without thinking much, head straight to the temple that is dedicated to Lord Shiva who is worshiped here as the cosmic dancer or Nataraja. The temple is also the only temple complex which dates back to the later Chola period and showcases some of the earliest examples that were found in many later temples.
An example of a classical Shiva temple with five prakarams or closed precincts can be found in this temple, each separated by walls that are one within each other. The outer prakaram will be open to the sky, except the innermost one. The innermost one houses the main deity along with the other deities. A massive wooden flag-post can be found exactly in line with the main deity.
The sanatorium houses the Lord in three forms; the first as Nataraja called Sakala Thirumeni, the second in the form of a crystal linga called the Sakala Nishkala Thirumeni, and the third as a formless one which is an empty space known as the Nishkala Thirumeni.
Chidambaram, therefore, is the best place if you're on a spiritual quest and it would be an ideal weekend vacation spot from Bengaluru.