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Kanika Nevatia Apr 01 2014

Which are the famous things to see and do in Chettinad?

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The hub of the cluster of 76 villages is also home to a number of attractions and here is the list of some famous things to see and do in Chettinad for a memorable holiday experience:

Magnificent Mansions:

No one in Chettinad anticipated tourists. Today, however, some Chettinad mansions have opened their doors to travellers. Over two to three days, do a tour of the magnificent mansions around Karaikudi. Visit the temples, shop for crafts and learn about an evolved culture. Two or three storeys tall, set beyond imposing gates, they have sloping red-tiled roofs, most in a state of disrepair. The façades are embellished with extravagant statues and gargoyles, featuring an unusual but not unpleasant medley of the Hindu gods and goddesses alongside European figurines. The grand door opens to a huge home designed around two or three sunlit courtyards. In keeping with old-world traditions of hospitality, the front door is usually kept open through the day, closed only when the family retires for the night.

Photo of a Chettinad Mansion (by Yashima)

Chettiar Temples

As the Chettiars became wealthy, they began to build. Their first koil or temple was built at Illayatrangudi. Subsequently, they built or adopted eight other temples in neighbouring villages. Most of their temples are dedicated to Shiva, Parvati and Ganesha. These ancient temples are open to all. Don’t miss visiting these beautiful work of art which are among the famous attractions of Chettinad.

Photo of Kundrakudi shanmuganathar (by Arunankapilan)

Shopping in Chettinad

Every Monday a lively open-air chandai (market) comes to life in Karaikudi, next to The Bangala. Palmyra baskets’ stalls abound, stocking cane and cord fishing nets that look like racquets. Kottans are must-buys. Harvested palm leaves are dried in the summer, cut, hand-dyed and painstakingly woven. The dying leisure craft of Chettiar women has been revived by the M.Rm.Rm. Foundation. Their quality control is amazing. The Bangala’s craft shop stocks the foundation’s kottans and collectibles in painted wood, fabrics, metal and palm leaf. Tad expensive, but it’s money well spent. The Chettinad sari, in heavy textured cotton noted for its wide borders, checks and stripes, is available at RMR in MM Street in Karaikudi, or straight from the loom at Mahalakshmi nearby, where you can also get them custom made.

Antique stores here are crowded with furniture, dishes, lanterns, statues and doors. There are also century-old esoteric crystal, ceramic, lacquer-work, enamel, pewter and bamboo artefacts. Chettinad is also famous for its ornaments. Muneeshwaran Street has a sprinkling of antique stores. Kattu Raja, on Palaniappa Chettiar Street, is also recommended. In short, shopping in Chettinad is nothing short of a fabulous experience.

Photo of Antique Shop (by Thunderboltz)

If you are an ardent of the spicy and delectable Chettinad Chicken, you can check out places to eat for an authentic culinary experience. We know that reading might not be enough for a place like this, so we suggest you to pack your bags and explore the famous things to see and do in Chettinad! Also, if you want to extend your vacation and soak in some more of Tamil Nadu, don't forget to check out famous things to see and do in Kanchipuram for a complete experience!

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