Thillai Natarajar Temple or Chidambaram temple is a Tamil Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is known as one of the foremost of all temples (Kovil) in Shaivism and has influenced worship, architecture, sculpture and performance art for over two millennia, It’s also famous for the annual Natyanjali dance festival on Maha Shivaratri. The Sangam classics list chief architect Viduvelvidugu Perumthachchan as directing an early renovation of the shrine. The deity that presides here is Thillai Koothan (Thillai Nataraja – Shiva, The Lord of Dance). Chidambaram is the birthplace of the sculpture and bronze image representation of Lord Shiva as the cosmic dancer, a Tamilian concept and motif in Chola art that has since become notable as a symbol of Hinduism. The shrine is the only Shiva temple to have its main deity represented in this anthropomorphic form, as the Supreme Being who performs all cosmic activities. The consort deity here is Sivakami Amman ( a form of Amman – mother goddess and female energy). Two other forms of Lord Shiva are represented close to this in the vimana (inner sanctum) of the temple – as a crystallised lingam – the most common representation of Lord Shiva in temples, and as the aether space classical element, represented with empty space and a fifty-one hanging golden bilvam leaves (Aegle marmelos). Chidambaram is one of the five Pancha Bootha Sthalams, the holiest Shiva temples each representing one of the five classical elements; Chidambaram represents akasha (aether). Chidambaram is glorified in Tirumular’s Tirumandhiram and was visited by Patañjali and VyagjrapadharPulikaal Munivar. It is the primary shrine of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalams – Shiva Sthalams glorified in the early medieval Tevaram poems by Tamil Saivite Nayanar saints Tirunavukkarasar, Thirugnana Sambandar and Sundarar. Hailed in the Tiruvacakam series by Manikkavacakar, these very volumes of the Tirumurai literature canon were themselves found in secret chambers of the temple. The Periya Puranam, a biography of these Nayanar saints by Sekkizhar commissioned by Emperor Kulothunga Chola II, was written in the shrine’s Thousand Pillared Hall. In Kanda Puranam, the epic authored by Kachiyappa Sivachariar of Kanchipuram, the Chidambaram shrine is venerated as one of the three foremost Shiva abodes in the world, alongside Koneswaram temple of Trincomalee and Mount Kailash.