Chettinad, a historical town with myriad tourist pleasures is located in the Sivaganga district of Tamil Nadu. It is one of the prominent tourist attractions of South India owing famous for its delicious cuisine, unique architecture, rich art and cultural heritage.
The region in South India got its named from the Natukottai Chettiar community, the pioneers of banking in India. The community prospered in their time and with their good times they built impressive buildings and developed a unique style of architecture. Their affluent era also resulted in a rich lifestyle, remarkable temples, culture and arts & crafts. Though time has passed, the glory of the olden times still shine in the legacy left behind.
Best Places to Visit in Chettinad
The glorious days of the Chettiar community is the lure of visiting Chettinad. The traditional bungalows are fascinating tourist attractions which help to understand the simple, yet classy life of the wealthy trading community.
Museums in Chettinad – the Kamban Mani Mandapam and the Kaviarsar Kannadhasan Mani Mandapam, built in honor of late poet-laureates have an amazing collection. Artefacts, traditional jewellery, clothing, huge copper vats and grain bins take you to the olden days. Devakottai has a typical setting of the olden Chettiar community especially the Periya Minor’s Veedu.
The 18th century Chettinad houses were built in the prosperous years of the Chettiar community. The palatial houses have a unique setting with wide courtyards, spacious rooms, ornamented columns and furnishings embellished with marble and teak. The most impressive houses are found in the villages of Kaanadukathan, Aathangudi, Kandanur, Kadiyapatti.
The Chettiar mansions were built using a type of limestone known as karai and were polished with a paste made out of egg whites that give it an ethereal white appearance.
To marvel at the Chettinad Architecture, the streets of this town are the best. The town is almost deserted but you can still wonder at these amazing specimens of architecture. Each of these mansions are built on a large plot of land, spread over 1.5 to 10 acres and has 1,000-1,500 windows with 1500 tons of timber as wood work.
The 115- year old Annamalai Chettiar’s Chettinad Palace is the best of its kind. The construction material, decorative items, and furnishings were brought from East Asia and Europe. The places are adorned with marble from Italy, Chandeliers and Teak from Myanmar; Crockery from Indonesia; Crystal and Wall-to-wall Mirrors from Europe.
Chettinad cuisine is an experience to cherish. Aromatic, spicy and rich in flavors, the cuisine is one of its kind. Non Vegetarian food tops the menu that includes Chicken, Fish, Prawn, Lobster, Crab, and Lamb. They are also many vegetarian delicacies. Chettinad Chicken and Lamb is the most favored dishes from the Chettinad Kitchen.
Arts and Crafts in Chettinad
The arts and crafts of Chettinad occupy a distinct position in South Indian culture. Wood carvings, silver embellishment, woven saris, palm-leaf baskets, gold jewelry, handmade tiles, architectural styles, egg plastering are few of specimens of the wide-ranging repertoire. Kandaangi sarees or Chettinad Sarees are some of the best creations. Use of beautiful color combinations and pattern with bold checks and stripes are a beauty to look at. Unique Chettinad baskets with intricate patterns made with palm leaves are the highlight of artistic creations.
Temples in Chettinad
Chettinad’s lifestyle has a special position for temples, activities and festivals. These magnificent temples were built with the ruling dynasty from time to time. Built according to Vaastu Shastras and Agama Shastras, the temples exists as a testimony to the spiritual belief of the people. The wealthy Chettiars maintained these temple sites and enhanced its beauty with some of the finest intricate cravings and designs. Majestic towers, exotic architecture and a holy tank in the premises are special features of these temples.
The Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple in Devakottai is famous for the 108 statues of Vinayakar. Karpaga Vinayakar, Kundrakudi Murugan, Nagara Koil, Kottaiyur Sivan, and Kandanur Sivan, Vairavan Kovil, and Iraniyur temples are among the other famous temples of Chettinad.