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Chettinad - Origin,History, and Lifestyle.

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I am Lakshmi. I've completed my graduation in the stream of ECE. I love reading and like to listen more than I speak up.

Origin of chettinad and Occupation of People Over There.

Chettinad is a region in Tamilnadu which covers around 76 villages both from Sivagangai and Pudukottai districts. As the name implies, This range of area majorly belongs to the Chettiar or Nagarathar community. Chettiars are associated with the profession of Trading, Weaving, and Agriculture of Pre-colonial India and well versed in entrepreneurship. Initially, Their origin is Kaveripoompattinam, a coastal town of Chola kingdom, then by the 13th century, they have migrated to the 96 hamlets around karaikudi for various reasons. Since then, the region became their homeland.

Nagarathar Community and Their Lifestyle

Naatukottai Chettiars, fondly called Nagarathar, which means urban dwellers since they have been from the coastal town. They belong to the community of merchants. Since they have been from the coastal area, their early occupation was salt trading and excelled in the maritime trading during the Chola Rule. They trade salt, gems, spices, textiles, and jewelry to the southeast Asian countries. They spent their money, which they have earned from other countries in constructing a luxurious palace in their hometown around the 19th century. During the British colonial period, they stepped into the profession of banking and Moneylending. Their banking practices are one of the inspirations of the Present times banking system. Chettinad cuisine is famous across the world.

Chettinad Palaces and Temples

Chettinad is known for its palaces, you can find around 1000 palaces, in this region. Chettiars have ornamented their palatial homes with imported Materials from East Asian countries and Europe. Their architecture is a fusion of both Indian and Europian style. Every Bangla has thinnai on both sides of entry and three to four courtyards supported by pillars made of Burmese teak and surrounded by verandas with spacious rooms, where these courtyards are for social gathering occasions like Marriage, festival, and to observe funeral rites. The distance between the front and back door would be at least 100m length. Local Handmade Athangudi tiles add glow and shine to the floor for more than 100 years. These are cement tiles and very much eco friendly with traditional design and pattern. There must be a roof opening to collect rainwaters and lots of windows with Belgium glasses. During the second world war, Most of them had settled abroad. Now, the palaces are serving as mansions and resorts.

Clan temples that were built by the Pandya kings are famous in this region. They are Illayathangudi, Pillaiyarpatti, Surakudi, Iraniyur, Mathoor, Velankudi, Illupaikudi, Nemamkoil, and Vairavankoil temples. The whole community belongs to 9 major divisions, and each of them has a temple and their own set of rituals to worship. They won't marry a person who belongs to the same clan since they considered them as siblings. Apart from them, some more famous temples are there like, Kundrakudi Murugan, KandanurSivan, and Kottaiyur Sivan temples, Each temple has oorani, a dugout pond with Lillies, for daily rituals. Its Sculptures, Paintings, and architecture have a Europian influence somewhere.

Chettinad Cuisine

Chettinad is well known for the unique taste of its culinary skills. Chettiars are experts in preparing sumptuous recipes. Initially, the cuisine is familiar with vegetarian recipes, but during their travel to different countries, they have adopted some Non-vegan foods on their menu. But beef and pork are not on their list. Because of their coastal origin, seafood is the signature recipe of Chettinad cuisine. The aroma of freshly ground masalas, banana leaf serving are their uniqueness. They prefer to add more coriander seeds than chilies to bring spiciness to the masala hence the food, is less spicy. Their recipes are majorly depending on rice as the main ingredient like idiyappam,paniyaram,kandharappam,kozhukattai, and even for making halwa they are using, a special kind of brown rice called kavuni arisi.

Travel to Chettinad

  • By Road: Bus transport is available from all other districts of Tamilnadu.
  • By Train: The region has a railway station in Kanadukathan.The nearest major railway junction is Trichy.
  • By Airways: The nearest airport is Madurai, which is 90 km away from karaikudi.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Lakshmi


Lakshmi (author) from Chennai on September 26, 2020:

Thank you Prithviraj Shirole, You are welcome.

Prithviraj Shirole from India on September 26, 2020:

Thanks for sharing an informative article. Loved the photos. The food looks delicious and architecture looks marvelous. I will definitely visit Chettinad.

Lakshmi (author) from Chennai on September 14, 2020:

Hi Rajan Singh Jolly, You are welcome, and thank you for your interest in this article.

Lakshmi (author) from Chennai on September 02, 2020:

Hi Rajan Singh Jolly , you are welcome and thank you for your comment.

Scroll to Continue

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 02, 2020:

Amazing architecture and an mind-opening read. Thanks for sharing.

Lakshmi (author) from Chennai on September 01, 2020:

Hi liza,

you are welcome, It is a perfect destination to admire the architecture of 19th century .Thank you for reading the article.

Liza from USA on September 01, 2020:

From the photos, you've shared the surroundings look beautiful and calm. I'm sure it is worth to visit. The food looks good too! Thank you for sharing the story, Lakshmi.

Lakshmi (author) from Chennai on August 31, 2020:

Hi vandna patel,You are welcome and thank you for your generous response.

thoughtsprocess from Navsari (India) on August 31, 2020:

Hi Lakshmi,

An informative and interesting hub. Thank you so much for sharing.

Lakshmi (author) from Chennai on August 30, 2020:

Hi danny,

Thank you and chettinad is my first inspiration to write about,I am very glad that you are interested in.

Hi Liz Westwood,

Thank you for your kind comment

Liz Westwood from UK on August 30, 2020:

This is an interesting and very well-illustrated article.

Danny from India on August 30, 2020:

Lakshmi I always wanted to write on Chettinad since I love their architectural vestiges and cuisines. But you have made me joyous by writing on it.

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