Chettinad gets its name from the Chettiars, a powerful and prosperous business community whose influence is clearly discernible in the region's culture, crafts and cuisine. The old wealth of the Chettiars can still be seen in the large number of elaborate 19th century mansions they built in a mix of Indian and European styles. Apart from being renowned for its spicy and aromatic cuisine, Chettinad is famous for its crafts, such as the Athangudi handmade tiles and the Chettinad handloom saris.
On this Tour:
• See paddy farming, small villages, bazaars, shrines dedicated to folk gods, and if the timing is right, watch festivals and celebrations in full swing.
• Drive for an hour to Athangudi, and visit the traditional tile-making and pottery units – the brightly patterned Athangudi tiles were commissioned by the Chettiars for their mansions and are even today entirely handmade.
• Drive about 30 minutes further to visit Thirumayam Fort. Built in the 17th century, it has been a site of several battles and intrigues, having a fascinating history to tell.
• Visit the small town of Kanadukathan, famous for its grand old-style mansions with elaborate woodwork, terracota and tile work.
• Stop for lunch in the town of Karaikudi, where a multi-course traditional meal awaits us at The Bangala, a traditional Chettinad residence that has now been converted by the family into a heritage hotel.
• Visit the antiques market in Karaikudi and the local weaving units that produce the famous Chettinad weaves.
Duration: Full day (8-9 hrs depending on your interests, with a break for lunch).