Lying in the arid heartland of Tamil Nadu’s deep south, the Chettinad region stretches roughly 80 sq.km and comprises 76 villages. Karaikudi is the hub of this cluster of villages. With its rich cultural heritage, cuisine, art, and architecture, Chettinad must feature on your Tamil Nadu itinerary.
Chettinad derives its name from the extremely prosperous and enterprising mercantile community, the Nattukottai Chettiars, who moved here around the 13th century from the coast. In the 18th and 19th centuries they expanded their trade to British colonies in Southeast Asia. With their enormous wealth from the business, the traders built majestic mansions back home in Chettinad – of a kind not seen anywhere else. This is the beautiful legacy of Chettinad.
Built with Burmese teak and European tiles, the tile-roofed, two-storeyed mansions straddle more than one block or sprawl across wo parallel streets! Inspired by both European and Indian architectural styles, Chettinad homes are distinguished by their vast halls and sunlit courtyards, ornate embellishments like Belgian glasswork, intricate woodwork, fabulous ceramic tiles, stone, iron, granite, marble, and wooden pillars, Thanjavur paintings, crystal chandeliers, and unique facades with a medley of Hindu deities alongside European figurines.
Chettiar hospitality is legendary. And the iconic Chettinad cuisine is an extension of that hospitality. If you’re a gourmet traveller then be prepared for an unforgettable and lavish gastronomic experience – sea food, sun-dried meats, salted vegetables, briny pickles bursting with the fierce flavours and deep fragrances of pepper, tamarind, fresh hand pounded spices, berries, and flowers…cooked slow on firewood and served in beautifully made utensils that are valued today for their vintage make and style.
For an authentic Chettinad village experience (bullock-cart ride, craft centre visit), visit Kanadukathan. Chettinad also has charming heritage hotels that offer travellers experiential stays.
Holxo Tours in Chettinad