What's on your mind?

Chettinad

Chettinad is one of the last surviving unique cultural heritages of India that comprise of a cluster of 75 villages. The land of Nattukottai Chettiars - Chettinad is known for its sprawling mansions, beautiful temples and delectable cuisine of its own.
Lying in the Sivganga district of Tamil Nadu, Chettinad is famous for its cultural heritage and architecture. Its two largest towns are Karaikudi and Devakottai.
The Nagarathars or Chettiars originated in Kaveripoompattinam under the Chola empire. They were a trading community involved in trading salt, silks, teak, spices, timber and gemstones with the south-east Asian countries since the time of the Cholas. Along with Marwaris and Parsis, they established themselves as one of India’s great trading communities. Their prosperity in trade brought prosperity to the region and won proximity to the rulers who bestowed them land around Sivaganga.
However gradual changes in the power structure in south-east Asian countries at the turn of the century led to a down-turn of fortunes for the Chettiars. The once flourishing community gradually faded from the modern business structure of the region. Many people migrated to other countries looking for greener pastures leaving behind a rich, unique and still much alive heritage.
 Today Chettinad includes Karaikudi and 74 other villages. During the 19th and early 20th century, many Chettiars migrated to places like Ceylon, Burma and Malaysia. They became highly successful due to their business acumen and hard work. Prosperous traders, they built opulently decorated mansions in Chettinad during the early 20th century which were some of the finest in the country. These majestic mansions are treasures that embody the love of art and craft amongst the people of Nagarthar community.
Built to display their socio-economic stature, the aesthetics of Chettiar homes are characterized by sloping red-tiled roofs and elaborate rectangular structures with the main door and back door both falling in a straight line across many courtyards. The houses have hundreds of windows, pillars of Burmese teak carved with scenes from Mahabharata and Ramayana and door frames with sculptures of the Goddess Laxmi. There are four courtyards, the first opens into a open space laced with corridors which house rooms for the family; the second has dining spaces; the third was for interaction of womenfolk and the last for wells and grinding stones for cooking. In Chettinad tradition of hospitality, the front door is usually kept open throughout the day, closed only when the family retires for the night.
The walls are of brick plastered with an age old secret recipe of egg yolk, lime and roots. They are washable and have an excellent smooth texture. There are carvings depicting scenes from the British era, Victorian women and Hindu deities. Images of Gods, Goddesses, fauna and flora are made in stucco work.
 Shiva–Parvati and Gaja-Lakshmi are the most favoured in stucco art in houses, as they represent happy married life and prosperity. The courtyards are bright with sunlight, while the rooms are always under shade to maintain coolness. Tiles on the floor are mostly local Athangudi tiles. Kerala woodwork, Belgian glasses, Victorian and anglo-Indian touch on domes and arches merge to create a unique architectural fusion.
Temples: All the important events in the life of Chettiars revolve around the temples. These temples show the strong belief of Chettinad people in their dieties. Most of the temples were built during the time of Cholas. There are nine main temples with the name ‘kovil’ attached to them like the Nemam kovil, Irani kovil.
The Chettinad region is a treasure cove of palatial mansions, grand temples and is be best explored by walking around the towns and villages.
Cehttinad Houses
Chettinad Houses: The small towns of Karaikudi, Pallathur, Athangudi, Kothamangalam and Devkottai have the most lavishly built houses in Chettinad. Chettinad Mansion: Chettinad Palace at Kanadukathan was constructed by S.A Rm Ramaswamy Chettiar. It was constructed between 1902 – 1912 and consists of around 126 rooms. It covers a sprawling 3700 m2. Courts, halls and even a ceremonial wedding hall are a part of this palatial house. The elaborate structure and grand architecture leaves a traveller mesmerised. Devakottai: One of the largest towns in Chettinad, it is famous for its lanes of Chettinar houses out of which Periya Minor’s Veedu deserves special mention. It has carved pillars, Italian tiles and a Spanish tiled roof.
Temples
The Nagarathar community has been the trustee of most temples in the Chettinad region. Their knowledge of stucco work and architecture was used in temples across the region. The main temples which fall under the auspices of the Nagarthars are Vairavan Kovil, Nemam Kovil, Pillayarpatti Kovil, Illayathakudi Kovil, Irani Kovil, Soorakudi Kovil, and Iluppakuddi Kovil. The Meenakshi Sundareswara Temple: Located in Karaikudi, this temple was constructed in 1872. Also called Sivan Temple, this temple has 108 statues of Ganapathy. Karaikudi also houses the Muthu Mariamman and Koppudaiamman temples. Kunnakudi Murugan Temple: Located on a hill 14 km from Karaikudi, Kunnakudi is a beautiful temple. Its presiding deity is the six-faced Shanmugar mounted on a peacock with Valli and Devayaini. It is a rock cut temple which also has shrines of other deities like Vinayakar, Meenakshi Sundareswarar, Dakshinamurthy, Nataraja, Chandreswarar and Navagrihas. Alankar Mandapa has the festive image of Shanmugar. At the foot of the hill here is a cave temple of Shiva, with three caves dating back to 8th century CE. There is a Shivalingam in one of the caves. Sculptures of the four-armed Vishnu holding a conch and discus, Brahma, Durga and Vinayaka are also displayed in the caves, as well as an exquisite sculpture of Nataraja. Karpaka Vinayakar Temple: One of the oldest cave temples in Tamil Nadu, Karpaka Vinayakar is a rock cut statue of Lord Ganesha. This statue is six feet tall and carved on dark stone. Thiruvisaar is a Shivalingam sculpted out of stone. The temple is around 1600 years old according to Stalapuranam and so are the deities of Vinayaka and Thiruvisar. The Pillayarpatti Nagarathar community takes care of this ancient shrine. Ilayathangudi: Boasting one of the biggest temple pools or ‘Oorani’ and exquisite sculptures, this is supposed to be the resting place of the Gods. Vairavanpatti Temple: This temple is a Dravidian architecture marvel. It has 23 bronze statues and amazing wall paintings on Vairava Puranam, Ramayana and Mahabharata. Presiding deities here are Sivapurandevi and Aatkondanathar. It also has Vairava Theeram, a sacred spring. Iraniyur: This temple has fifty bronzes dating from the 12th - 20th century. A marvellous Nataraja dating back to the 12th century as well as beautiful Vijaynagar paintings are also displayed.
Thirumayam Fort
Built by Sethupathy Vijaya Raghunatha Thevar in 1687, this fort has a Bhairav temple on its outer wall. The fort was an armoury during British rule in world war II. Five smaller forts are located around the main fort. Inside the fort there are a shrine of Shiva and a shrine of Vishnu. The Shiva temple is on a rock and can be reached by one person at a time climbing a ladder. The Vishnu temple has an octagonal water pool.
Chettinad Museum:
This museum displays items of daily life as used by the Chettiars. There are traditional pieces of clothing, jewellery, water storing vats and bins on display.
Athangudi
Famous for Athangudi terracotta tiles, factories here display the method of tile making, patterning and sun drying. Used as floor tiles, they remain cool and comfortable to walk on even in the hottest weather.
Pudukottai:
The cave temple of Kunandar Kovil dedicated to Shiva was built in 7th century. A beautiful Nritta Mandapa and 100 pillar Mandapa are present here. Here the God Shiva is known as Parvatagirishwara. The main deities here are Valampuri Ganesha and Somskanda. Bronze sculptures of Shiva, Parvati and Skanda, Nataraja and Shivakami can be seen.
Antique items, Chettinad silk, cotton sarees and brassware are interesting buys from Chettinad.
Served on a banana leaf, Chettinad cuisine is famous for its spicy and aromatic preparations. Although very tasty vegetarian dishes are a part of Chettiar kitchens, it’s mostly the fish, chicken and mutton preparations made with whole spices like nutmeg, peppercorns, cinnamon, bay leaf, star anise, cloves, fennel, cardamom which are particularly popular and have established the cuisine in the mainstream.
Curries of sun-dried legumes and berries are also extremely tasty. Some of the regional specialities are Varuval, a dry dish with onions and spices, Pepper chicken, Poriyal and Kuzambu with coconut milk and spices. Paniyaram is a popular snack made with grounded rice and dal. All the main dishes are eaten with a selection of idli, rice, appam, idiappam and sambhar.
All varieties of nandu (crab) and yerra (prawn) from fries, minces to delicious curries are a gastronomic treat. Various poppadums, pickles along with dried, roasted or ground spice powders make this an elaborate, scrumptious and memorable meal.
Paal paniyaram is a special sweet kheer which is the perfect way of ending such a fulfilling meal.
Nearby places Train stations Airports
MADURAI 114 Km 01H 55m
Karaikkudi Junction 5 Km 00H 10m
Nearby major cities
Name Distance Duration
134 Km 02H 11m
145 Km 04H 10m
92 Km 01H 26m
99 Km 01H 42m
134 Km 02H 11m
145 Km 04H 10m
414 Km 06H 17m
Seasons
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Best Seasons
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Weather
Season Min. Temp. Max. Temp.
Summer 24 °C 42 °C
Winter 20 °C 30 °C
Chettinad summers are hot and humidwith temperatures frequently crossing 40 C. December to February is the best months to visit Chennai.
Hide

Write to us

Send

Seasons Flavour

Commanding magnificent view of the surrounding Himalayan peaks of Nanda Devi, Trishul, Ketu and Kamet , on the edge of the Nanada Devi national park, Auli is fast emerging as an important ski resort in India.

Nestled amidst the wooded slopes, surrounded by green meadows in the Kinnaur District of Himachal Pradesh, lies Baspa Valley also known as Sangla valley.

Binsar is a beautiful hill destination inside a forest reserve and bird sanctuary with magnificent 360 degree view of Kumaon Himalayan peaks.

Far from the maddening crowds is Caukori, an isolated small village in the Kumaon mountains offering panoramic view of snow capped Himalayan peaks painted with magical sunrise and sunsets .

Madikeri - a picturesque hill station of misty mornings and dotted with coffee and exotic spice plantations, lies in the Western Ghats of south-western Karnataka. It is the headquarter of the famous Kodagu or Coorg district of Karntaka state. Flavoured with the aroma of fresh coffee, cardamom, black pepper and Coorg honey, Madikeri offers an enchanting experience.

Dalhousie is one of the most picturesque hill stations, located in the Chamba Valley between the Dhauladhar and Pir Panjal ranges of the Himalayas. Named after a British Governor General, it retains a mix of natural beauty and colonial charm.

Darjeeling, the “Queen of the hills” embodies the romantic nostalgia of “The Raj” or the era of British rule in India. Darjeeling, famous for its lush tea gardens, is blessed with a stunning view of Mount Kanchenjunga, the world's third highest peak.

Dharamsala has an aura about it. The town has lived up to its name, which means “The pilgrims’ rest house”; it is today the sacred seat of the Dalai Lama and his exiled government of Tibet. The backdrop of the Himalayas and the old world charm of the town adds to the magnetic attraction of the unique experience that is Dharamsala.

One of the most scenic hill stations of India. Gulmarg offers excellent powder run skiing opportunities of international standards.

The beautiful hill town of Kausani is a picturesque hill station famous for its scenic splendour and its spectacular 300 km wide panoramic view of the Himalayas.

Lachen 110 km from Gangtok, Lachen is a scenic Himalayan village of migrant Buddhist Bhutia yak herders called Lachenpas. The hospitable Lachenpas greet or bid visitors farewell with the traditional 'khada' scarf. Blankets made from sheep wool or chuktuk, carved woodwork, furniture, signs, symbols and blankets are the handicrafts of Lachen. Chuktuk is the local term used for sheep wool blankets. Since a sizeable population in the area rear sheep and yak, the wool from these animals is used for r

On the banks of the Beas river, surrounded by the majestic Pir Panjal, Parvati, and Bara Bhangal mountain ranges, lies Manali - one of the most popular hill resorts in India. Manali is also the gateway to the exotic Lahaul and Spiti valleys.

Mukteshwar is a quaint and peaceful hill town in Kumaon - Uttarakhand surrounded by thick coniferous forest; it offers 180 degree panoramic views of the mighty Himalayan peaks Neelkanth, Trishul, Nandaghunti, Nanda Devi, Panchchuli. Famous hunter Jim Corbett mentioned Mukteshwar in his 1944 AD classic book ‘The Man Eaters Of Kumaon’.

Stunning green hills of rolling tea plantations surround breathtaking Munnar. The town provides a completely relaxing and therapeutic experience for jaded city dwellers - misty mornings, sweet scented air, whispering breezes and a chance to walk in the clouds.

Mussoorie is a popular hill station in the Garhwal Himalayas. Due to its panoramic views and its proximity to Delhi, Mussoorie has been a favourite weekend destination for visitors from the nearby plains since the time of the Raj.

The beautiful small township of Pelling lies 115 km from the state capital Gangtok. Known for its grand views of Kanchenjunga, the world’s third highest mountain, which rises to 9390m. Pelling is perched at an altitude of 2400m, and is a traveller’s delight due to its strategic location in the eastern Himalayas.

A long time ago Kumaoni queen Padmini was smitten with the scenic vista of this hill town leading to her king Sukhdev naming the area queen’s meadow or Ranikhet. Ranikhet still retains the unspoilt charm and sylvan surrounding that provides panoramic views to the Himalayan peaks.

A beautiful hill city tucked in the lap of Himalayas, Shimla retains much of its old world charm and nostalgic influence of the British Raj when it was the designated “summer capital” of India.

Srinagar, the exotic summer capital of Kashmir is an enigma shrouded in a veil of mystery, a fusion of beauty, culture and history that mesmerises, enthrals and still sows a seed of doubt in the mind of the departing traveller that a single visit is not enough to touch its heart.

Code
Type
Duration
Grade
Max Size
Active
Climate