The Chidambaram temple complex is spread over an area of 40 acres (160,000 m2) in the heart of the Chidambaram city. The main complex is dedicated to Shiva Nataraja and the complex contains shrines to deities such as Shivakami Amman, Ganesh, Murugan and Vishnu in the form Govindaraja Perumal. The temple’s earliest structures were designed and erected by ancient craftsmen called Perumtaccan. The golden tiled roof for the Chit Ambalam (the vimanam) was laid by the Chola King Parantaka I (907-950 CE) following which he was given the title “Thillaiyambalathhukku pon koorai veiyntha the van”, meaning the one who constructed the golden roof. Kings Rajaraja Chola I (reign 985-1014 A.D.) and Kulothunga Chola I (1070-1120 A.D.) made significant donations to the temple. Gold and riches to the temple were donated by Rajaraja Chola’s daughter Kundavai II while Chola king Vikrama Chola (1118-1135 A.D.) made donations for the conduct of the daily rituals. Donations of gold and jewels have been made by various kings, rulers and patrons to the temple from 9th to 16th century – including the Maharaja of Pudukottai, Sethupathy (the emerald jewel still adorns the deity) and the British. Naralokaviran, the General of King Kulothunga Chola I was responsible for building a shrine for child saint Thirugnana Sambanthar and installed a metal image inside it. He constructed a hall for recitation of Tevaram hymns and engraved the hymns in copper plates.
Pancha Bhoota Stalam refers to the five Shiva temples, each representing the manifestation of the five prime elements of nature – land, water, air, sky, fire. Pancha indicates five, Bhoota means elements and Stala means place. All these temples are located in South India with four of these temples at Tamil Nadu and one at Andhra Pradesh. The five elements are believed to be enshrined in the five lingams and each of the lingams representing Shiva in the temple have five different names based on the elements they represent. In the Chidambaram temple, Shiva is said to have manifested himself in the form of sky. The other four manifestations are Prithivi Lingam (representing land) at Ekambareswarar Temple, Appu Lingam (representing Water)] at Thiruvanaikaval, Agni Lingam (representing fire) at Annamalaiyar Temple and Vayu Lingam (representing air) at Srikalahasti Temple. Aathara Stala indicates the Shiva temples which are considered to be divine impersonification of Tantric chakras associated with human anatomy. Nataraja temple is called the Anthaga stalam associated with Anthagam – the third eye. Pancha Sabhai refers to the five places where Lord Shiva is said to have displayed His cosmic dance and all these places have stages or ambalams, also known as Sabhai. Apart from Chidambaram which has the Ponna Ambalam – the Golden Hall, the others are the I-Ratthina Ambalam – the Jeweled Hall at Thiruvaalangadu (rathinam – ruby / red jewelled), the Chitra Ambalam – the Painted Hall at Thirukutralam (chitra – painting), the Velli Ambalam – the Silver Hall at Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple (velli – silver) and the Thaamira Ambalam – the Copper Hall at Nellaiappar Temple, Tirunelveli (Thaamiram – copper).
Information – Courtesy – www.wikipedia.org