This is a photo of the front porch of the Raja Sabha or Thousand Pillar Mandapam. It is situated in the north-east corner of the temple complex of the Shri Shiva Nataraja temple.
We observe one difference with the present situation. In the photo we can see a hara or row of miniature shrines or kutis with figurative sculptures on the entire stretch of the face of the building. The photo is not clear enough to be able to distinguish any details though. And nothing of this decoration remains today. So we will probably never know what was depicted here.
The authors would like to thank the Digital South Asian Library for its kind permission to reproduce the six photos of the Shri Shiva Nataraja temple in Chidambaram. All other photos by the authors.