The Natraj Temple at Chidambaram in Tamil Nadu is very special not only for its concept but also for its architectural beauty. The temple has been dedicated to Lord Shiva, who is an exponent of the fearsome, frenzied Tandav Nritya or the dance of destruction.
The Natraj Temple complex is spread over 40 acres, housing temples, a tank and the ‘thousand-pillared hall’. Lord Shiva has been referred as Adavallan – one who loves dancing, in this unique temple. Mythologically, this temple was the venue of a cosmic dance competition between the gods and goddesses. The central image of the temple is of Natraj – standing on one leg and lifting the other high above his shoulder. The gopurams and temple walls are adorned with myriad dancing figures and musicians celebrating the dance competition between Shiva and Parvati. Non- Hindus are allowed into the complex but not into the gold-plated sanctum sanctorum that houses the idol. Every year, a dance festival is organised in the temple complex.