The temple is believed to be built in the 10th Century when Chidambaram served as the capital of the Chola Dynasty.
The temple has stood the test of time and is considered to be among the unique temples in the world, as the deity Nataraja is presented as performing 'Anandha Thandava' - the dance of joy.
It is said that the temple holds a grave secret; a secret which is famously known as the 'Chidambara Ragasiyam'.
What is Chidambara Ragasiyam?
Since the ancient time, it is believed that there's a secret hidden in plain sight inside the temple, which is invisible to the commoners.
In the temple, there's a space which is covered with a curtain, which will only be unveiled during special pujas. Golden vilvam leaves are placed behind this curtain, and that's what the Chidambara Ragasiyam is all about.
But what does this symbolises?
Interpretations of 'Chidambara Ragasiyam'
Many have tried to decode the secret, as to what the empty space and the golden leaves represent. But there is no definite answer for this to to-date.
Some say that the saints and sages can see Shiva and Parvathi in their true form behind the curtain. And the golden leaves serve as mere decoration for the lord.
While some say that the curtain represents 'maya' - which means illusion - and a person can see his real self by removing the maya.
Chithambaram is also known as one of the temples in the Pancha Bhoota stalams located in South India, and Chidambaram serves as the temple which represents space.
Even though the temple is said to have an 'Akasha Lingam' (Shivalingam which represents space), but there is no physical lingam available in the temple contrary to the other four Pancha Bhootha stalams which represents earth, water, fire, and air.
Thus, some believe that the Chidambara ragasiyam refers to the Shivalingam which exist in the temple in the form of space, and is invisible to commoners.
But no matter what the interpretation might be, the legends say that Chidambara Ragasiyam will never be revealed as the secret is varies depending on each individual, and it is up to them to realise its true meaning.
Source: Udaipai, ReligionWorld, DefenceForumIndia and HinduismStockExchange
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