This temple is one of the most important temples for the Saivite sect of Hindus. This sect worships Lord Shiva as their principle deity. It is one of the five Pancha Bootha Stalams, the five holiest temples dedicated to the Lord Shiva. Each of these five temples represents the five classical elements. The one in Chidambaram represents the akasha or air. The temple that we see today was mainly built in the 12th and 13th century. In the subsequent centuries several additions have been made to the main structure.
In this temple Lord Shiva is depicted in the form of a dancer. This representation of Shiva as a cosmic dancer has become one of the greatest representations of Hinduism. This temple complex has several other buildings which can be explored. If you ask, many of the local priests would be happy to show around. This temple can be visited throughout the day. However, the inner compound remains closed everyday from noon till 4.30pm.