Thillai Natarajah Temple, Chidambaram (Chidambaram Thillai Natarajar-Koothan Kovil or Chidambaram temple) is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva located in the town of Chidambaram, East-Central Tamil Nadu, South India. The temple is known as the foremost of all temples (Kovil) to Saivites and has influenced worship, architecture, sculpture and performance art for over two millennium. The temple is referred to in all devotional literature as Bhooloka kailasam, or kailasam, the Lord Shiva's abode that manifests on earth.
The consort deity here is Sivakami Amman (form of Amman - mother goddess and female energy). Two other forms of Shiva are represented close to this in the vimana (inner sanctum) of the temple - as a crystallised lingam - the most common representation of Shiva in temples, and as the aether space classical element, represented with empty space and a garland of fifty one hanging golden vilvam leaves (Aegle marmelos).Shiva is captured in pose as Nataraja performing the Ananda Tandava ("Dance of Delight") in the golden hall of the shrine Pon Ambalam (பொன் அம்பலம்). The sculptures of Chidambaram inspired the postures of Bharatha Natyam.
Lord Nataraja at the Chitsabhai in Chidambaram. To the left of the Lord's idol is the Lord Shiva in his manifestation of formlessness is worshipped in Chidambaram. The Lord is said to continuously dance in a state of eternal bliss "Aananda thaandava", with his consort Sakthi or energy called Sivagami. A curtain covers this space which when drawn reveals strands of golden 'Vilva' leaves hung to indicate the Lord's presence. The curtain is dark on its exterior side (indicating ignorance) and bright red on the interior side (indicating wisdom and bliss). Chidambara Rahasya - represented by strands of gold Vilva leaves. To the right is the idol of His Consort Goddess Sivagamasundari.
Among scholars and saints, the phrase "Chidambara Ragasiyam" has a more profound philosophical interpretation. The curtain unveils empty space. Emptiness is the truth being conveyed and Shiva Himself manifests Shakti in the form of conscious Emptiness, which bears this entire creation. Emptiness is pervaded by Time, Shiva. And the Mahakala Shiva, who is the lord of the universe, and who is, even though, the inherent consciousness of the conscious Emptiness, is pervaded by it. Conscious Matter is the result of copulation of Shiva and Shakti, or in other words, Time and Emptiness. Conscious matter forms the body of this visible creation. Its creator is Emptiness, which though bears all movements of the matter, remains beyond and unaffected by it. The essence of matter and emptiness is the lord of the universe Mahakala Shiva, who pervades everything and yet remains beyond everything.
To realise this thought, one has to unveil the "curtain of maya". We are often encapsulated in our world of illusion and are obscured to the absolute reality. According to legend, "Chidambara Ragasiyam" will never be revealed as it is the secret relating to an individual and it is left to them to realise its true meaning.