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Chettinad is a region of the Sivaganga district of southern Tamil Nadu state, India. Karaikudi is known as the capital of Chettinad, which includes Karaikudi and 74 other villages. Chettinad is the homeland of the Nattukottai Chettiars (Nagarathar), a prosperous banking and business community, many of whose members migrated to South and Southeast Asia, particularly Ceylon and Burma, in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The people of Chettinad speak Tamil.
Chettinad is well known for its Chettinad cuisine, Mansions, and Temples.
Chettinad Cuisine : Chettinad is known for its Culinary delicacies. Chettinad food, now is one of the many reasons why people get to know Chettinad. Chettinad food is essentially spicy, with a standard full meal consisting of cooked dhal, eggplant (brinjal) curry, drumstick sambar, ghee for flavouring rice, and sweet meats like payasam and paal paniyaram. "Kara kolambu" is a highly regarded south Indian sambar.
Mansions : Chettinad is rich in cultural heritage, art and architecture, and is well known for its houses, embellished with marble and Burma teak, wide courtyards, spacious rooms, and for its 18th century mansions. Local legend has it that their walls used to be polished with a paste made out of eggwhites to give a smooth texture.
Temples : Originally built by early Tamil dynasties like the Cholas, the temples of Chettinad stand testimony to the spiritual beliefs of its denizens. Scattered over the whole place, each temple has its own tank called oorani where water lilies are grown, and used for holy rituals. Even today much of Chettinad's daily tidings are centered around the festivities around the temple. Among the many famous temples, a few are Vairavan Kovil temple, Karpaga Vinayakar temple, Kundrakudi Murugan temple, Kottaiyur Sivan temple, Kandanur Sivan Temple.
The nearest airport is Madurai airport, 85 kilometers away. The largest town in the area is Karaikudi. Trains that run from Chennai to Rameshwaram stop at Karaikudi and Kottaiyur.
The Chettinad Sari: This cotton sari is unique in the dramatic and spontaneous use of colour and pattern with bold checks, stripes and contrasting hues. Its vibrance and its weight are its distinguishing factors. The thickness of this sari and changing demands have kept this sari out of production for nearly a hundred years. Records and old photographs show the use of this sari by previous generations, before the advent of blouses and underskirts, worn rather differently from the regular sari. (Above text courtesy: Wikipedia)
Chettinad interiors have always taken a special place in my heart. Be it their beautifully carved wooden pillars or their earthly colours of tiles blended with pattenrs or their tile inlay work on headboards or backrests of furniture. It always looks different and sets them apart from the rest of the world. They beautifully make use of the wood in combination with almost everything....be it coloured panels of glass or their polished wooden cladding. All this in accordance to their terracotta tiled roofs, wooden beams, panels etc bring out the true rich chettinad experience.
During my last vacation, I visited a beautiful chettinad restaurant (Azhaghappar)in chennai located in the heart of the city (Usman Road to be precise). Some of the pictures below show the typical chettinad style of interiors.