South of Pondicherry, towards Thanjavur, is another of Tamil Nadu's Dravidian architectural highlights - the temple complex of Chidambaram with the great temple of Nataraja, the dancing Siva. The complex is said to be the oldest in southern India. It has 4 gopurams, the north and south ones towering 49 mtrs. high. Two of the gopurams are carved with the 108 classical postures of Nataraja, Siva in his role as the cosmic dancer. Other notable features of the temple are the 1000-pillared hall, the Nritta Sabha court carved out like a gigantic chariot, and the image of Nataraja himself in the central sanctum. The Nataraja Temple courtyard with its many shrines is open from 4 am to noon and 4.30 to 9 pm. The pooja ceremony, held at 6 pm. every Friday evening, is certainly spectacular with fire rituals and clashing of bells and drums.



The railway station is 20 minutes walks south of the temple. There are express and passenger trains to Madras, Kumbkonam, Thanjavur, Trichy and Rameshwaram. The bus station is more central and is used by both Thiruvalluvar and local buses. Thiruvalluvar buses leave for Pondicherry and Madras almost every hour and others go to Nagapattinam and Madurai.

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