Located between Trichy and Madurai, Chettinad is arguably one of South India’s most culturally rich cities. Whether it’s cultural heritage, exotic food and remarkable specimens of Dravidian architecture, courtesy the grand mansions and opulent temples – Chettinad is a true delight to travellers.
Chettinad’s glorious past reflects in its houses and buildings. Chettinad is the homeland of Nattukottai Chettiar, a community of people considered to be the pioneers of trading and banking.
The highlight of Chettinad are its mansions. The elaborately decorated exteriors, intricately designed teak doors, big chandeliers, Italian marbles, open courtyards, and local Athangudi tiles are what make it so stunning in its appearance.
The Chettinad Palace, built in Chettinad style of architecture, was constructed for the royal Alagappa Chettiar in 1912. The use of stained glass, teak, tile, granite and wrought iron work truly makes the palace a remarkable work of art.
Chettinad is dotted with temples: the most gorgeous of them being Vairavan Kovil Temple, Karpaga Vinayakar Temple, Kundrakudi Murugan Temple, and Kottaiyur Sivan Temple.
Besides architecture, Chettinad’s artwork, sarees and Athangudi tiles are also famous. If you go shopping, there’s a lot of good quality local stuff that you can get for reasonable rates. The stunning Chettinad cotton saris and fabrics are a must buy; you can get them from weaving centres like Sri Mahalakshmi Handloom Weaving Centre in Kanadukathan and the Weavers’ Colony just outside Karaikudi. Since there’s no concept of middlemen here, you can be sure that the money goes directly to the weaver.
Shops selling artefacts and antiques are great if you wish to take souvenirs back home. From traditional vessels, Tanjore paintings, old cooking utensils in brass and copper, to furniture and even woodwork on doors and pillars, they can be found on Muniswaran Koil Street in Karaikudi. Apparently, most of what’s sold is said to be from the dowry of Chettiar women.