Seemingly a sleepy old town is the first impression when one walks or drives around the silent lanes of Karaikudi in Chettinadu, the heritage town in Tamil Nadu in southern India. The barren and deserted look of the streets whispers into your ears nothing more than boredom! But it does not take much time to soak in the opulence of the palatial Villas or more popularly known Chettinad Bungalows/grand mansions and their glorious architecture inside! Boredom? Here? In Chettinadu? forget it!!
Chettinadu is home to the Nagarthars, the affluent business community and Chettiars, the financiers and bankers – hence the grand mansions! The opulent mansions of the past lie in ruins today or in most of the cases involved in some family legal tangles. The other bungalows seem to have been left under the supervision of caretakers. Whatever the situation, the ostentatious charm of these bungalows have stood the test of time. A walk inside these mansions is nothing less than living a moment and experiencing the once upon a time prosperous history of the place. The villages of Kanadukatthan and Palatthur are the treasure troves for these monumental bungalows.
A travel to this place is very interesting for various reasons! Time spent in the heritage properties like Chidambara Vilas, The Bangala or the Visalam will give you the taste of the grandiosity of the Nagarthars and Chettiars’ yesteryear lifestyle. A visit to the temple in Pilliyarpatti would be divine. The most popular landmark within Chettinadu must have to be the Aayiram Jannal Veedu (the 1000 window house), though the interiors of this gorgeous bungalow isn’t easily accessible to visitors. Drive to Palatthur and walk the lane with the clay horses guarding by your sides. An eerie silence all along… you are in the Solai Andavar (Lord of the forest) shrine! Some myths and some stories of beliefs make the visit to this place fascinating.