Chidambaram is a town and municipality in Cuddalore district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, at a distance of 150 km from Chennai. In terms of its richness in festival traditions, and also in its association with music and dance, this place is the epitome of cultural heritage of our country. The town is known for the Thillai Nataraja Temple, and the annual chariot festival held in the month of December-January. Of the numerous temples the Nataraja Temple at Chidambaram is one of the most significant ones.
The traditional name of the temple complex, Chidambaram Tillai Nataraja-koothan Kovil. The mangrove forests houses the ancient Tillai trees surrounding the shrine. The Tillai trees of the nearby Pichavaram wetlands, the second largest mangrove in the world, extends to the temple area. The shrine is venerated as Tillai ambalam literally meaning the open stage of Tillai. The temple complex is spread over an area of 40 acres in the heart of the city.
The festivals in Chidambaram are centered on the festivals of the temple. The Marghazhi Thiruvaadhirai festival celebrated in December–January indicates the first puja, the fourteenth day after the new moon (Chaturdashi) of the month of Masi (February - March) indicates the second pooja, the Chittirai Thiruvonam (in April- May), indicates the third pooja or uchikalam, the Uthiram of Aani (June–July) also called the Aani Thirumanjanam indicates the evening or the fourth puja, the chaturdasi of Aavani (August - September) indicates the fifth puja and the chaturdasi of the month of Puratasi (October - November) indicates the sixth pooja or Arthajama. Of these the Marghazhi Thiruvaadhirai (in December - January) and the Aani Thirumanjanam (in June - July ) are the most important festvilas. During these festivals, the festive deity is brought outside the sanctum sanctorum in a procession that includes a temple car procession followed by a long anointing ceremony. Several hundreds of thousands of people flock the temple to see the anointing ceremony and the ritualistic dance of Shiva when he is taken back to the sanctum sanctorum. Pots full of milk, pomegranate juices, coconut water, ghee, oil, sandal paste, curds, holy ashes, and other liquids and solids, considered as sacred offering to the deity are used for the sacred ablution.
Natyanjali is a prominent festival celebrated during February every year when Bharatnatyam dancers from all over the country converge to present dance. This festival of Indian classical dance is the biggest attraction that brings thousands of people from all over the world. The temperature of chidambaram ranges from a maximum of 32.7 °C to a minimum of 24 °C. Chidambaram is connected to other parts of Tamil Nadu through a very good rail and road network.