Thillai Kaaliamman temple is situated at the northern end of
the Chidambaram town and was
built by a Chola king in the 13th century. On entering the temple, one is
captivated by the power in the temple.
There is a very interesting legend behind the origin of the temple, "Adisesha", the thousand-headed cosmic serpent, upon whose coiled body Vishnu reclines in the primordial ocean, once expressed a wish to see Lord Shiva's famed dance. After finishing his normal duties he took some time off and prayed to Lord Shiva, who was so impressed by the serpent's entreaties that he promised to dance in the forest of 'Tillai' (the site of Chidambaram).
Adisesha was reborn as the human sage "Patanjali" (represented as half-man, half-snake) and made straight for Tillai. During his stay in Tillai he met another sage, who was granted "Vyaghrapada" - "Tiger Feet", who had been granted the claws of a tiger to help him climb trees and pluck the best flowers to offer Lord Shiva - who shared his wish to see Shiva dance. Together, they worshipped a "Swayambhulingam", a Shivalingam (also spelt as Shiva Linga) that had "self-manifested" in the forest, now housed in the 'Mulasthana' shrine of Sabhanayaka temple. However, the guardian of the forest, who turned out to be the Goddess Kali, refused to allow Lord Shiva to dance when he arrived.
In response, he challenged her to a dance competition for possession of the forest. Kali agreed but perhaps due to modesty, could not match a pose of Lord Shiva's, that involved raising the right foot above the head. Defeated, Kali was forced to move off a little way north, where a temple now stands in her honour.
Air: The nearest airport is at
Trichy (168 -km)
Rail: Chidambaram has a railway station and is connected by rail with Trichy, Madurai and Chennai.
Road: Chidambaram is well connected by road with the major cities and towns of Tamil Nadu. For local transportation, auto and cycle rickshaws are available.
Accommodation is available at the moderate class hotels, lodges and choultries in Chidambaram.