Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Chettinad - a hidden jewel

If one is not from the south of Vindhyas, you have to constantly remind yourself that there are more things associated with Chettinad than the world famous delectable chettinad cuisine. 

To start with chettinad is famous for its architecturally magnificient mansions,   Ancient temples, burma teak furnitures, traditional bronze/brass vessels, the chettinad tiles, Kottanz( reed baskets),  kandangi sarees( handloom), their financial and business acumen  and above all their hospitality and simplicity.

All these are what made me add the chettinad region to my bucket list. 

Chettinad region which is a cluster of nearlly 72 villages is lesser known and not popular on tourist circuit compared to its 2 famous neighbouring  temple towns of Trichy and Madurai but i discovered there is so much to see and do and experience in this region.

Like I mentioned in the previous post, we reached   the hotel in karaikudi in a residential area @ 8 in the evening. The whole town enroute to the hotel and around resembled like a ghost town  although we were close to  the new bus stand. I thought being late in the evening and a holiday due to ayudha puja the town was calm . But, even the  next morning when we drove the countryside  to reach  Pillayarpattti i realized that this is the nature of the region.

 Yes, the relaxed life (but certainly not laid back or lazy)  of this region inspite of the closeness to all the activity of the town  is unique. Not much greenery and very dry, arid and hot even in October, There are treasures all around  in the  villages  for city souls as the place is time warped. We saw no traffic at any point not even in bus stand or the narrow dusty lanes,   we met civilized, helpful  and well dressed people in traditional attire of vellai veshti and vellai sattai ( sparkling white shirt and white dhoti) even in hotels and public places like shops,.

 The whole journey through the little villages where at every  2 km we found interesting indicators like Visalam, Chettinad mansion,( heritage homes), Kuberar kovil, Athangudi, kanadukuthan. etc... we saw interesting sights like houses of interest big and small showing signs of decay here and there. Most medium sized houses had 3d murals of Gods like gaja lakshmi, krishna, Ganesha etc above the wooden awnings  and the bamboo grilled facades covering the thinnai were held on the walls that  had the traditional temple wall painting  of  horizontal white alternating with Clay red. Although the mildew on most houses lent an aura,  the crumbling houses, broken bamboo meshes,the chipping walls  and the locks indicated that most homes were vacant for long time. The passing  scenes would have made beautiful pictures for posterity  and my new mobile had a DSLR quality but unfortunately could not jget out of the vehicle and dash to capture the passing moments.

The quaint charming sights  and the relaxed pace of life that the whole region threw all along could make one think that life here is  frozen back in time.......It was a time travel in this region.  Wonder why, this is not on tourism circuit?That said , sometimes i wish it remains unknown only then can it hold on to  its charm.

 Glad that this cluster of villages called Chettinad is nominated for world heritage list. Hope UNESCO declares soon, It  deserves the tag . 

The pictures below don't do justice but still managed to capture a few from moving vehicle and hence may not be in frame.

Pillayarpatti in my next post....

 The mural figurines adorning most homes big and small

                                                                        Ghost town??!!!

The traditional festoons made of coconut glade that adorned almost at all places for Ayudha pooja

                                          mil dewed walls and  sloping tiled roofs
                                             Most homes have such carved balustrades


  1. I thought Chettinad was very much on the travel circuit, but your report says otherwise. I had heard of old houses now being converted into heritage mansions where you can stay for a fortune and that the overseas traveling groups often stop by here. Your words paint a place that has the charm of yester years.

    How is Chettinad cuisine for a vegetarian ??

    1. not popular on tourist circuit compared to madurai and trichy...as you say the heritage mansions are converted into boutique hotels and yes more foreign tourists here than our local.

      I found three vegetarioan hotels during my short stay...the famous karaikudi annalakshmi , Jainika and one more ...a small town karaikudi is.

  2. Indeed, Chettinad is a hidden jewel.