The saints Patanjali and Vyagrahapada experienced the cosmic dance of Shiva at Thillai (now known as Chidambaram) and at that very place, erected a gold domed temple, which was to become the most sacred temple dedicated to Shiva.

The first reference to devadasis in a literary work is in the Sivabhakthi Keerthanamala written by Ceraman Perumal Nayanar in A.D. eighth century. Detailed descriptions of devadasis are seen in the literary works Unniyachi Charitam, Unnuneeli Sandesam, Kaunothara, Utharachandrika and Vaisika Thanthram written before fifteenth century. These books give evidence regarding the devadasi centers at Odanadu, Kandiyoor (south Kerala) Mathilakam, Kodungalloor, Trissoor, Chokiram (central Kerala), Thirumaruthoor, Thrichambaram and Pallikkunnu (north Kerala). Sivavilasom written by Damodara Chakyar and Suka Sandesam also contain references to the temple dances prevalent during those days. (PJ Cherian (Ed), Essays on the Cultural Formation of Kerala)

The inscriptions on the temple walls of Brihadeeswara and elsewhere, the chronicles ranging from Rajatarangini to those of Madala Panaji - the drum chronicles of the Puri temple - in Orissa tell us of the tradition of maintenance of temple dancers and the care and thought given to support these traditions as part of the temple complex.
(Kapila Vatsyayan - Indian Classical Dance)

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