Shiva temple representing the 'space' element in nature

The temples in India are built with in-depth understanding of the elements of nature which is shown through its sculptures, architecture and idols, one such temple is the 'Chidambaram Temple' in Tamil Nadu. This temple depicts the importance of the 'space' element in nature. The main idol of the temple is Lord Nataraj, the dancing form of Shiva (cosmic dance).

Source: Wikipedia


The Shiva sanctum in the Chidambaram temple does not have a Shivalinga, rather it has the Chit Sabha (consciousness gathering) with an image of Shiva Nataraja. This empty space is called the rahasya (secret) in Hindu texts. The Chidambaram Rahasya is the "formless" representation of Shiva as the metaphysical Brahman in Hinduism, sometimes explained as akasha (space) linga and divine being same as Self (atman) that is everywhere, in everything, eternally.


As shown in the figure above, the architecture of the temple shows that there are four gopurams in all the four directions of this temple. There is some space left around the gopurams in the outer premises of the temple.


The north and north-east direction is preferred for water element in vastu shastra,

  • The Shivaganga pool is located on the north side of the temple.

  • The north-east has the 1000 pillar hall.

In the south direction usually heavy and tall structures are built as per vastu shastra,

  • The Nataraj sanctum is located towards the southern part of the temple.

  • The Vishnu shrine is located towards the south-west of lord Nataraj.

  • There is a Ganesha shrine at the south-west corner.

The West direction signifies constant movement according to vastu shastra,

  • The Devi temple is located in the west corner of the temple.

  • There is also a small Murugan temple in the west.

The location of the pool in the north and the location of the main structure is towards the south part of the land depicts the water element and earth element in nature. The current architecture of the temple would have gone through different changes over the centuries but we can see the application of vastu shastra.

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