Holy Pilgrimage – Siva Temples in Tamilnadu State -3

Holy Pilgrimage – Temples in  Tamilnadu State

Paadalpetra Sthalangal


Thyagaraja Temple, Tiruvottiyur


Thyagaraja Temple ( also called as Vadivudai Amman Temple ) is a Hindu temple dedicated to Hindu god Shiva. It is located in Tiruvottiyur in the northern suburbs of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. The temple is revered by the Tevaram hymns of Saiva nayanars, the 7th century Tamil saint poets and classified as Paadal Petra Sthalam. The temple is closely associated with the saint poet Sundarar and Pattinathar. The temple has been in vogue from the Pallava times of 7th century and widely expanded by Chola kings during the 11th century. The temple has a seven tiered gateway tower, a tank, with the overall temple area covering 1 acre. The temple is administered by the Hindu Religious and Endowment Board of the Government of Tamil Nadu. The temple draws parallel with the Thygaraja temple in Tiruvarur as both the temples were expanded by Rajendra Chola I and both have the same dance poses of Shiva.



Brahmā is the Hindu god of creation and one of the three primary gods of Hinduism, the other two being Viņu and Śiva. He created the Gods and demons - both these groups fight against each other. While the demons, called asuras use muscle power, the Gods called devas use the power of Veda , the sacred texts.  Once, two demons, Madhu and Kaithaba tricked the gods to steal the Veda, chopped it to pieces and hid it in the bottom of the sea. Vishnu fought the demons, but could not defeat them.  He prayed to Shiva and Parvathi and with the accomplishment, he was able to defeat the demons  He took the form of Matsya, a fish to search the Veda. The recovered Veda from the bottom of the sea was brought to the deity at this temple, who reunited and purified it.    The wishing tree of gods, makizha tree, became the sacred tree of the temple.


The temple was the centre of learning, with the halls inside the temple acting as venue for religious discourses in subjects like vyakarna (translation), Somasiddantha (philosophy) and Panini's grammar  There was a hermitage attached to the temple during 9th century, presided over by Caturananas Pandithar  The temple also had philosophical discourses and expositions on grammar  There are references to recital of Prabhakara, Rudra, Yamala, Purana, Sivadharma, Panchanga and Bharata  Lands were granted to learned scholars and their generation like Vedavritti, Bhattavriti, Vaidyavritti and Archanavritti.
There are a number of inscriptions inside the temple dating back to Pallava period  Sankaracharya, the 8th century scholar in the advaita school of Hinduism is believed to have visited the temple to put down the power of evil. The temple was originally built by Pallavas and later rebuilt by Rajendra Chola I.  The inscription dating 954 CE, the fifth year of the Chola king Gandaraditya indicates 90 sheeps for burning lamps and ilavilaku, a lamp made in Sri Lanka).  The inscriptions dating from 1046 CE reveal that 64 bronze nayanmar statues were installed in the temple.  There were equal number of dancing girls called Devadasi in the temple, who were divided into two groups - the valankai dasis danced for Thyagaraja, while the idangai dasis danced for Vadivudaiamman  During the reign of the Malik Kafur, much of the temple was destroyed and the bronze idols present now in the temple were installed during the Vijayanagara period of 15th century  A 13th century inscription indicates the practise of animal sacrifice to the goddess, which continued along with offering intoxicating drink till the early 2000s. ] Famous saints like Pattinathar, Topeswamigal and Ramalinga Swamigal lived in this town and prayed Thyagaraja in this temple. This place is also home to Thiruvottiyur Thyagayyar who is a carnatic composer and poet.

The Temple

The name of the goddess at this temple is Vadivudaiamman alias Tripurasundari. Other deities present in the temple include Thiruptheeswarar, Kuzhandhai Eesar, Jaganadhar, Annamalayar, Jambukeswarar, Nagalingar, Meenakshi, Sundareswarar, Sagasralingam, Amirthakandeesar, Gowrieeswarar, and Ekabaadhar. The twenty seven stars of Tamil calendar are believed to have worshipped Shiva in this temple.
The presiding deity is Aadhipureeswarar is in the form of a mud mound[9] covered by an armour. On the day of the full moon of the Tamil month karthigai, the armour is removed and the representation of the god is visible to devotees. It is anointed with punugu, javvadhu, and sampirani oils. There is a Durgadevi shrine in the northern side of the temple.

Thyagaraja Cult

Though the presiding deity of the temple is Adipuriswarar, the temple is closely associated with the Thyagaraja cult of Saivism  Somaskanda is the iconic form of Thyagaraja and is believed to have emerged from the 10th century, the period coinciding Raja Raja Chola.  The 8th century saint Sundarar is believed to have spread the cult from Tiruvarur to the temple here.  The Lord tricked him by making him take a vow that he would never leave Tiruvottriyur, but he breaks the promise and becomes blind  The Lord of Tiruvottriyur and Tiruvarur are the same in terms of religious experience, but on the pilgrim tradition, Tiruvottriyur is affronted because Sundarar abandons and goes back to Tiruvarur. The event is celebrated every year in the temple.
The seven dance forms of Thyagaraja, the Sapthavitankam, is represented in the cultic network comprising Thyagarajar Temple in Tiruvarur, Dharbaranyeswarar Temple in Tirunallar, Kayarohanaswamy Temple in Nagapattinam, Kannayariamudayar Temple in Thirukarayil, Brahmapureeswarar Temple in Thirukkuvalai, Vaimoornaathar Temple in Tiruvaimur and Vedaranyeswarar Temple in Vedaranyam.  The Tiruvottiyur temple is placed at the centre of a similar network comprising Marundeeswarar Temple in Tiruvanmiyur, Accalpuram in Sirkali and Tirukachoor near Singaperumalkoil, treated closest to the myth of Tiruvarur. Both the Tiruvarur and Tiruvottriyur temples are believed to have the same dance poses by Shiva, as asserted by Tiruvorriyurpuranam.  The dance pattern of the temple is called Padamanatanam, a continuation of Tiruvarur temple - Vishnu is believed to have gone berserk and missed the dance at Tiruvarur, and Thyagaraja asked him to go to Tiruvottriyur where he said he promised to perform the same dance


The prime festival is performed in the Tamil month of Masi (February-March)  and historically draws large crowd. On the eighth day, an additional function called Mahiladisevai is performed.  The Durgadevi shrine in the northern side of the temple is associated with Kannagi, the protagonist of Silappadikaram , a 2nd century Tamil epic. Each year a 15 day festival is celebrated in honour of Durga Devi and on the last day, the thatch roof of the event is burnt to symbolize Kannagi burning Madurai at the end of the epi


Kapaleeshwarar Temple, Mylapore, Chennai


Kapaleeshwarar Temple is a temple of Shiva located in Mylapore, Chennai in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The form of Shiva's wife Parvati worshipped at this temple is called Karpagambal (from Tamil, "Goddess of the Wish-Yielding Tree"). The temple was built around the 7th century CE and is a good example of Dravidian architecture.
According to the Puranas, Shakti worshipped Shiva in the form of a peacock, which is why the vernacular name Mylai (Mayilāi) was given to the area that developed around the temple - mayil is Tamil for "peacock



Lord shiva:The temple's name is derived from the words kapalam (head) and eeshwarar an alias of Shiva. According to the Puranas, during the meeting of Brahma and Shiva at top of Mount Kailash Brahma failed to show the due respect to Shiva. Due to this, Shiva plucked of one of Brahma's heads (kapalams). In an act of penance, Brahma came down to the site of Mylapore and installed a Lingam to please Shiva.This place is known as Sukra puri, Veda puri and has so many other names including “Kailaye Mayilai and Mayilaye Kayilai “which means this place is equal to kailash. Goddess Karpagambal due to a curse became a peacock and did penance here to get back her original personality. Lord Muruga received the spear (Sakthi vel) for Sura Samharam from goddess Parvathi here. Brahma had worshipped here to get rid his ego back his power to create. The four Vedas have Worshipped here. Sukracharya worshiped the Lord here and got back his lost eye. Lord Sri Rama has worshiped here and won the war against Ravana and brought back Sita Devi from SriLanka. The daughter of Sivanesa Chettiar Angam Poompavai got her lost life here by the powers of Tirugnana Sambandar.  Vaayilar Nayanar, a saiva saint, attained salvation here and mylapore is also the birth place of Thiruvalluvar who wrote Thirukkural. In Thevaram special mention is made about the beautiful Madaveedhi as “Malgun Mathri Thavazhum Maada Veedhi Mylappil Ullar”. Thiruganana Sambandar, Auunagirinathar have sung the Glory of Karpagambal, Singara Velar. The 10 day festival during March / April is a treat to watch and arubathu Moovar festival is attended by lakhs of devotees every year.


The commonly held view is that the temple was built in the 7th century CE by the ruling Pallavas.  This view is based on references to the temple in the hymns of the Nayanmars (which, however, place it by a sea shore).Thirugnanasambandar's 6th song in Poompavaipathikam and Arunagirinathar's 697th song in Thirumylai Thirupugazh, make clear reference to the Kapaleeswarar temple being located on the seashore in Mylapore ] The architecture of the temple, however, appears to be 300–400 years old ] The scholarly view that accounts for the discrepancies is that the original temple was built on the shore at the location of the current Santhome Church but was destroyed by the Portuguese  and the current temple (which is 1-1.5 km from the shore) was built by the Vijayanagar kings during the 16th century.  There are inscriptions dating back to 12th century inside the temple. he temple's 120 ft gopuram (gateway tower) was built during 1906 with stucco figures adorning it.

The Temple


The Kapaleeshwarar temple is of typical Dravidian architectural style, with the gopuram overpowering the street on which the temple sits. This temple is also a testimonial for the vishwakarmas sthapathis. There are two entrances to the temple marked by the gopuram on either side. The east gopuram is about 40 m high, while the smaller western gopuram faces the sacred tank.[citation needed]




The vahanas (Sanskrit for "vehicles") at the temple include the bull, Adhikaranandi, elephant, bandicoot, peacock, goat and parrot, while a golden chariot is a recent addition. Statues of the god and the goddess are seated on a vahana, which is brought in a procession around the temple while the temple band plays music. Devotees gather around the vahanas and consider it a privilege to pull / lift the God and the Goddess on the vahana.


During Friday worship, the statue of the goddess Karpagambal is decorated with a kaasu maala, i.e., a garland made of gold coins. The famous Tamil hymns Karunai Deivame Karpagame and Karpagavalli Nin Porpadhangal Pidithen were written by poets in praise of the goddess Karpagambal. There is also a peacock and a peahen caged inside the temple, to symbolize the tradition that Karpagambal had come in the form of peahen to plead to Kapaleeshwarar.


There are four daily pujas: the early morning puja, the day puja, the pradosha kaala puja, and the night puja.
During the Tamil month of Panguni, the traditional brahmotsavam (annual festival) takes place when the entire neighborhood comes alive with a mela (carnival)-like atmosphere. Since this month corresponds to the mid-March to mid-April duration, the Kapaleeshwarar temple celebrates the nine day-long as Panguni Peruvizha (Spring festival).  This festival starts with Dwajarohanam (hoisting flag in the temple), includes the therotsavam, (Tamil, ther, "car/chariot"; utsavam, "festival"), Arupathimoovar festival and concludes with the Tirukkalyanam (Marriage of Kapaleeswarar & Karpagambal).
In Brahmotsavam, the idols of Kapaleeshwarar and Karpagambal are decorated with clothes and jewels, are mounted on a vahana, and then taken around the temple and its water tank in a pradakshinam (a clockwise path when seen from above). This is repeated with different vahanas over the next nine days.
The more important of the individual pradakshinams are the Athigara Nandhi on the third day, the Rishaba Vahanam on the midnight of the fifth day, the ther (about 13 meters in height and pulled by people) on the seventh morning, and the Arupathimoovar festival on the eighth day.
The Arupathimoovar festival is the most important procession. It is named after the sixty-three Nayanmars who have attained salvation by their love & devotion to the all-compassionate Lord Shiva. All sixty-three Nayanmar idols follow the Kapaleeshwarar idol on this procession. During the car festival, Kapaleeshwarar is depicted holding a bow while seated on a throne, with his wife Karpagambal alongside  Brahma is depicted riding the ther. The chariot is decorated with flowers and statues, and there are huge gatherings of devotees to pull the ther. The car festival of 1968 is documented in the documentary film Phantom India by Louis Malle.

Arupathimoovar festival

This festival is celebrated in order to honor the Saivaite devotees, namely the sixty-three Nayanmars. The procession is celebrated by taking the Nayanmars in a palanquin that is decorated with ornaments and flowers. The Moovar Appar, Sundarar, Thirugyana Sambandar are carried in a separate palanquin. Idols of Kapaleeshwarar and Karpagambal are decorated with colorful and fragrant flowers and carried along the Temple streets.Devotees offer offerings to the Lord in way of fruits,coconut,betel leaves,areca nut,sweets etc.,.Inturn they are are blessed back with the offerings,garlands after offering to the Deity.Prasaad of Vibhuti and kumkum are given to the devotees.
The festival results in a huge gathering of devotees in Mylapore. Lot of sweets, savories, juices and buttermilk are served to the pilgrims. At each stage of the festival an Aarti is performed.

Religious work and saints

There is no reference to the temple in Sangam literature of the 1st to 5th centuries and the earliest mention is found in 6th century Tamil literature. The temple and the deity were immortalized in Tamil poetry in the works of Tevaram by poet saint belonging to the 7th century - Thirugnana Sambanthar has composed te 6th Poompavai pathigam in praise of the temple  Arunagirinathar, the 15th century poet, sings praise of the temple in Tirumayilai Tirupugazh  The 12th century poet, Gunaveera Pandithar sings about Neminathan under Theerthangar neminathar pugazh. Tirumayilai Prabanthangal is a compilation of four works on the temple and the deity.


Marundeeswarar Temple, Thiruvanmiyur, Chennai


Marundeeswarar Temple (Tamil: மருந்தீஸ்வரர் ஆலயம்) is a temple dedicated to Hindu deity Shiva, located in the Thiruvanmiyur, Chennai adjacent to the beach of Bay of Bengal. It is one of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalams, where the three of the most revered Nayanars (Saivite Saints), Appar and Tirugnana Sambandar have glorified the temple with their verses during the 7th-8th century. The temple has been widely expanded by Chola kings during the 11th century. The temple has two seven tiered gateway towers, a huge tank, with the overall temple area covering 1 acre. The Marundeeswarar temple has been a place of curative worship for people with diseases. The latest coronation of the temple after renovation was performed in May 2008. The temple is administered by the Hindu Religious and Endowment Board of the Government of Tamil Nadu.



Lord Marundeeswarar is known so because he taught sage Agastya about some magical medicine.  Since then the Marundeeswarar temple has been a place of worship for people with diseases and various problems with their health. It is said that even The Sage Valmiki, who wrote The Ramayana, came here to The Marundeeswarar temple to worship The Lord. Sage Valmiki was said to be blessed here. After this incident, this place was to be known as Thiruvalmikiyur, after a long period of time, the name gradually changed to Thiruvanmiyur. There is a place present in Thiruvanmiyur called Valmiki Nagar in his honour. There is also a temple built for Sage Valmiki in the middle of the East Coast Road, very close to the Marundeeswarar temple. The lingam for which Lord Hanuman performed pooja, The lingam(meenakshi sundareswarar) that cured the curse of Lord Indra, the Lingam for which Saint Bharadwaja performed pooja are present here. Markandeyar performed a penance and prayed to lord Shiva here, Lord Brahma is believed to have conducted a festival here for lord Shiva.There is a story that Vishnu worshipped Shiva with his family here to get a son ,but he forgot to worshipp parvati devi who cursed his son to die at once after birth .Vishnu apologised and she took away the curse. This son was Kama deva.Parthasarathy is also said to have worshipped this lord for teaching wrong things in his Bhagvad Gita like preventing Shiva worship.


The road starting from Marundeeswarar temple, now called ECR was an important route during the Chola period and was known as Vadagaperuvazhi, connecting the kingdom to places in Thanjavur and Andhra Pradesh. Inscriptions can be found in the shrine of Tripurasundari Amman dating back to the 11th century during the period of Rajendra Chola.  The origins and antiquity of this temple is corroborated by the inscriptions found in other temples in the city namely Kapaleeswarar Temple, Virupaksheeswarar Temple and Thiruvidandai which bear testimony to Tiruvanmiyur's existence. A new life has been put into this ancient worshipping place, first in the year 1903 and then in 1970's.

The Temple

The temple has two entrances, one from East Coast Road and the other from West Tank Street both adorned by 5-tiered gopuram (gateway tower). The Entrance from the West Tank Street has got three gates whereas the entrance from the East Coast Road has only one gate. The temple occupies an area of about 1 acre - numerous images adorn the pillars of the temple, while stucco figures adorn the gopurams.  The mandapam (hall) housing the Somaskanda form of Shiva has 36 massive pillars adorned with carvings. Devasriyan mantapam inside the temple conducts shaiva sidhantha lectures every day between 7 pm and 8.30 pm.

The Shrines

The temple has smaller Shrines for Lord Ganesha, Lord Murugan,there is ashire for 3 ganeshas who control all there time periods adajecent to this a vedagama padasalai is situated . a thirumurai mandapam has been set up in which thirumurais are sung daily for the pat 11 years. the shrine of Lord Shiva, which has the idols of Lord Shiva in his three forms, Lord Theyagaraja, Lord Marundeeswarar, and Lord Nataraja. Lord Nataraja is supposed to be Lord Shiva in his dancing form. Lord Theyagaraja and Lord Nataraja are the only forms of Lord Shiva in which he is not in the Lingam form. The last shrine is for Lord Marundeeswarar's consort, Goddess Thirupurasundari, who is actually Goddess Parvati. The samadhi of Pamban Swamigal is also found near the shrine.

inside shiva shrine

inside sivas shrine ganesha is situated in the SE corner moving clockwise from there we can see statues of 4 saiva samaya kuravar gaja laksmi skanda with his consorts,arunagirinathar and veerabahu(ne) utsava murthis nataraja 1o8 shiv lingas bhairava(nw) arunchaleswarar and other lingas surya ganesha(sw) 63 nayanmars in the east west axis

The Deities

The Primary deity, The Marundeeswarar Lingam is said to be naturally formed and not sculpted by anyone. This formation is known as svayambhu or Idumbu in Tamil. In the Mahamandapam where The deity resides, there are 108 lingams, and the replicas of the five lingams of the five elements. The divine cow Kamadhenu is believed to deliver milk to the lingam daily and hence the lingam is white. Another name for the lingam is 'Paalvannanathar' (in Tamil, 'Paal' means milk, 'Vanna' means colour). And hence, Paalvannanathar means 'one whose colour is that of milk'. Other names of the Lord here are Oushadheeswarar, Marundheesar, Vedapureeswarar.in the goshta there are statues of durga ,brahma sri maha vishnu ,dakshinamurty, ganesha.one unique feature of this temple is the presence of 2 chanigeswaras ,some say the 2nd statue may represent appaya dikshitar who visited this temple. The Goddess or ambal is known as Thirupurasundari, Chokkanayagi and Sundaranayagi.there is paaliarai,shrine for sukravara amman etc in the devi shrine

carvings in pillars

in the thegaraya mandapam there are carvings of valmiki ,kannapa,palani andavar,hanuman , kamadhenu etc in the shiva shrine the are sculpturing of swastic etc .In the outer prahar of the devi shrine there are carvings of dakshinamurthy,shanmuga sitting on a elephant,sarabadeva,nrisma,vishnu,kamakshi tapas avtars of vishnu etc.in the inner prhar there are sculpturs of hanuman duga et


Tiruvaleeswarar temple, Padi, Chennai

Padi is a locality and neighbourhood in Chennai. It was named after Nayanmars, Especially Sundarar, (Tamil saints) came to Padi and sang songs in the Lord Shiva Temple (Tiruvalleeswarar Temple).

Tiruvaleeswarar temple is located at about 1/2 km inside from the Avadi main road. A popular poet Thirungyana Sambandar has composed hymns at this temple. The east tower has 3 tiers and acts as the main entrance to the temple. Inside the main entrance, there is broad inner courtyard on all the four sides of the main shrine. A garden along the walls of outer corridor decorates the temple. Entering the inner mandapam, the main sanctum sanctorum of Lord Shiva is situated. The sanctum is semi-circular in shape at the back. This type of architecture is called Gaja Brishta Vimana or Thoonganai Maadam in Tamil as this resembles the back of a sleeping elephant. The main deity is known as Tiruvalleeswarar. To the right of him is the shrine for the female deity Jagathambikai. On the 4 walls of the inner corridor encircling the main sanctum sanctorum, there are sculptured images of Sun God, Balasubramania, Vinayagar, Dakshinamoorthy, Mahavishnu, Brahma, Durgai, etc. There are separate shrines inside the temple for Somaskandar, Murugan with his concerts Valli and Deivanai, Anjaneyar and Meenakshi Sundareswarar. There is also a sivalingam supposed to have been worshipped by Sage Bharadwaj Maharishi. The pillars in this temple have beautifully carved images of Hindu Gods, Natarajar, Murugan, Kothandaramar, Machavathara Moorthy, Koormavadhara Moorthy etc. According to mythology, Lord Brahma's two daughters Kamali and Valli wished to marry Lord Shiva. Knowing that their wish is very diffuclt to be fulfilled, Lord Brahma sent them to worship Lord Shiva on the banks of river Paalaru. Shiva, being pleased with their penance, appeared before them and told them that it is not possible for them to marry him as he is already married to Parvathi and advised them to marry Lord Ganapathy. Accordingly, they married Lord Ganapathy, who was returning after conquering the demon king Gajamukasuran


Singaperumalkoil, near Chengalpattu


Singaperumalkoil is a   town in Kancheepuram district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. A famous temple to Lord Narasimha is situated here. It is located by the GST road between Chennai and Chengalpattu.


The famous Lord Narasimha Temple is on top of the small hill known as 'Padalathri". The Lord Ugra Narasimha (Fourth Avatar) resides inside a cave in Yoga Posture.This is the posture in which the Lord gave Darshan to Jabali Rishi as per his wishes. The deity has three eyes where it is showed during the "Aarthi". The entire temple and the deity was constructed from a single rock of the mountain.This is the speciality of the temple.This temple was said to have been constructed by the pallavas. There is a separate shrine for the Goddess Lakshmi known as Ahobila Valli. One can go around the temple using small steps. On the way, Lord Srinivasa deity is also worshipped. The temple tree is a wish tree where people tie knots to gain wishes.
The Famous Lord Siva Temple known as "Marundeswarar", "Thyagarajar" also present in Thirukatchur, Singaperumal koil.


 Kancheepuram Paadalpetra Sthalangal


Thirumarperu Temple, Thirumalpur


Thirumarperu (Tamil: திருமால்பூர்) is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva located in Tirumalpur in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, India. The temple is revered by the Tevaram hymns of 7th century Saiva nayanars - Tamil saint poets and is also classified as a Paadal Petra Sthalam (temple revered by the nayanars).

The Temple

Vishnu (called Tirumal) is believed to have worshipped Shiva in this temple and hence the name Thirumalpur.  The temple has a four-tiered rajagopuram (temple tower). The temple has set of inscriptions from Chola period of Rajaraja Chola I (985 – 1014 CE).  Appar, the 7th century saint poet glorified the deity in Tevaram in one verse.  The temple is also referred as Hari-chakrapuram. The Nandi (sacred bull of Shiva) is in standing portion in this temple unlike other Shiva temple where Nandi is in sitting posture  The temple tree is Bilva.
Reaching the Temple: The temple is situated on the Kancheepuram to Arrakonam route. It is approximately 13 Kilometres from Arrakonam. From Kancheepuram it is approximately 17 Kilometres. There is a railway station in Thirumalpur, but it is a smaller one. The nearest railway junction is Arrakonam. The temple is also easily accessible from Govindavadi temple (App. 5 Kilometres).
Temple Timings: The temple is closed between 1 PM to 4 PM.


Some of the local tradition indicates Tirumalpur as the place where Vishnu asked Mahabali Chakravarthy to give him land of the extent measured by three steps of Vishnu




Nataraja or Nataraj, (Hindustani: [nət̪əˈraːdʒə]), The Lord (or King) of Dance; Tamil: கூத்தன் (Koothan); Telugu: నటరాజ; Kannada: ನಟರಾಜ, is a depiction of the god Shiva as the cosmic dancer who performs his divine dance to destroy a weary universe and make preparations for the god Brahma to start the process of creation.



A traditional Tamil concept, Shiva was first depicted as Nataraja in the famous Chola bronzes and sculptures of Chidambaram. The dance of Shiva in Tillai, the traditional name for Chidambaram, forms the motif for all the depictions of Shiva as Nataraja. He is also known as "Sabesan" which splits as "Sabayil aadum eesan" in Tamil which means "The Lord who dances on the dais". The form is present in most Shiva temples in South India, and is the prime deity in the famous Thillai Nataraja Temple at Chidambaram
The sculpture is usually made in bronze, with Shiva dancing in an aureole of flames, lifting his left leg (or in rare cases, the right leg) and balancing over a demon or dwarf (Apasmara) who symbolizes ignorance. It is a well known sculptural symbol in India and popularly used as a symbol of Indian culture.
The two most common forms of Shiva's dance are the Lasya (the gentle form of dance), associated with the creation of the world, and the Tandava (the violent and dangerous dance), associated with the destruction of weary worldviews – weary perspectives and lifestyles. In essence, the Lasya and the Tandava are just two aspects of Shiva's nature; for he destroys in order to create, tearing down to build again.


araja is derived from the Sanskrit words narta rājan "lord of dance". The change of the dental /rt/ to a retroflex // with concomitant vowel lengthening is a normal sound change for the Prakrit languages descended from Sanskrit.
Koothan is derived from the Tamil word Koothu, which means dance or performance. A male dancer is termed Koothan.


  • A cobra uncoils from his lower right forearm, and the crescent moon and a skull are on his crest. He dances within an arch of flames. This dance is called the Dance of Bliss, aananda taandavam.
  • The upper right hand holds a small drum shaped like an hourglass that is called a amaru in Sanskrit  A specific hand gesture (mudra) called amaru-hasta (Sanskrit for "amaru-hand") is used to hold the drum.  It symbolizes sound originating creation or the beat of the drum is the passage of time.
  • The upper left hand contains Agni or fire, which signifies destruction. The opposing concepts in the upper hands show the counterpoise of creation and destruction or the fire of life.
  • The second right hand shows the Abhaya mudra (meaning fearlessness in Sanskrit), bestowing protection from both evil and ignorance to those who follow the righteousness of dharma.
  • The second left hand points towards the raised foot which signifies upliftment and liberation. It also points to the left foot with the sign of the elephant which leads the way through the jungle of ignorance.
  • The dwarf on which Nataraja dances is the demon Apasmara (Muyalaka, as known in Tamil), which symbolises Shiva's victory over ignorance. It also represents the passage of spirit from the divine into material.
  • As the Lord of Dance, Nataraja, Shiva performs the tandava, the dance in which the universe is created, maintained, and dissolved. Shiva's long, matted tresses, usually piled up in a knot, loosen during the dance and crash into the heavenly bodies, knocking them off course or destroying them utterly.
  • The surrounding flames represent the manifest Universe.
  • The snake swirling around his waist is kundalini, the Shakti or divine force thought to reside within everything. This also parallels the cords of life worn by the Brahmins to represent the second rebirth.
  • The stoic face of Shiva represents his neutrality, thus being in balance.


See also: Pancha Sabhai
An essential significance of Shiva's dance at Tillai, the traditional name of Chidambaram, can be explained as
  • First, it is seen as the image of his rhythmic play which is the source of all movement within the universe. This is represented by the circular or elliptical frame surrounding the Lord.
  • Secondly, the purpose of his dance is to release the souls of all men from the snare of illusion.
  • Lastly, the place of the dance, Chidambaram, which is portrayed as the center of the universe, is actually within the heart.
Dancing is seen as an art in which the artist and the art s/he creates are one and the same, thought to evoke the oneness of God and creation.
In the compact spiritual texts of divine knowledge, the holy Geeta, there are three basic guna: Satvic, Tamsic and Rajsic. These combine with each other, and the life forms are created as a result of this divine activity. These life forms remain devoid of prana (breath), until the Divine entity infuses them with life. The Geeta says the division of the Divine entity is ninefold, of which eight can be known by humans, but the ninth is eternally unexplainable and hidden and secret. These eight divisions are the elements, Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Akash, Mana, Buddhi, Ahamkara.
Nataraja is a visual interpretation of Brahman and a dance posture of Lord Shiva. It is the representation of reality at the time of cosmic destruction. We being life forms, cosmic destruction would mean the disappearance of all life. The half moon shown in the head of Nataraja is a symbol only. The fall of the moon would result in cosmic destruction.
The third eye on the forehead of the Lord is a symbol. The serpent wrapped around the neck is a cosmic entity, just as Shiva. Other vedic texts mention a cosmic serpent called Kundalini, present in every living form at the base of the spinal cord. Myths abound about Kundalini's presence and the cosmic dangers associated with its arousal. More abstract and invisible divine energy centres, called Chakras, are associated with its Rise.


The Nataraja sect originated in the state of Tamil Nadu in southern India. The trajectory of the dancing Shiva is traced from the processional worship of metal icons outside the sanctum  to the cultic elevation of the Nataraja bronze into the sanctum at Chidambaram.
Archaeo metallurgical studies made on South Indian bronzes by Sharada Srinivasan combined with iconographic and literary evidence showed that the Nataraja bronze was a Pallava innovation (7th to mid-9th century), rather than 10th-century Chola as widely believed. That the depiction was informed of cosmic or metaphysical connotations is also argued on the basis of the testimony of the hymns of Tamil saints.
The largest gold Nataraja statue is in Neyveli, in Tamil Nadu
The image of "the Lord as the Cosmic Dancer" is shown at the Chidambaram temple, an unusual fact as Shiva is depicted in an anthropomorphic form rather than in the usual non-anthropomorphic form of the lingam.
In 2004, a 2m statue of the dancing Shiva was unveiled at CERN, the European Center for Research in Particle Physics in Geneva. The statue, symbolizing Shiva's cosmic dance of creation and destruction, was given to CERN by the Indian government to celebrate the research center's long association with India. A special plaque next to the Shiva statue explains the significance of the metaphor of Shiva's cosmic dance with quotations from Fritjof Capra: "
Hundreds of years ago, Indian artists created visual images of dancing Shivas in a beautiful series of bronzes. In our time, physicists have used the most advanced technology to portray the patterns of the cosmic dance. The metaphor of the cosmic dance thus unifies ancient mythology, religious art and modern physics.



Om Tat Sat

(My humble  salutations to the great devotees ,  wikisources  and Pilgrimage tourist guide for the collection )


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