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Magnificent Mansions of Chettinad
May 15, 2009 04:33 PM 8391 Views
(Updated May 16, 2009 11:04 AM)


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Chettinad, once a land of Chettiars has about 75 villages in southern part of Tamil Nadu state. It is famous for their palatial house built in the 19th Century. Many of them migrated to Burma, Singapore, Malaysia and Ceylon for trading and left behind wives and their children in such huge mansions. Their trading collapsed after World War II and they returned back to their homeland and sold their furniture and fitting. We choose to stay in one such mansion called Chettinadu Mansion in Kanadukathan. This is about 16Kms from Karaikudi.

How we reached:Bangalore – Hosur – Krishnagiri – Dharmapuri – Salem – Karur (approx 220Kms)

Karur – Tiruchirapalli – Kiranur – Pudukottai - Thirumayam - Kanadukathan (approx 190Kms)

Accommodation:Chettinadu Mansion was built in 1902 till 1912 by Mr. Chandramouli’s grandfather and has about 100 rooms out of which 7 rooms are given for the guests. Entrance to his mansion is thru a huge hall with black and white Italian marbles, copper plated celing from England and the pillars of shining black marbles, once used for marriage ceremonies. The giant portraits of the Ancestors on the walls of this hall don’t go unnoticed.

This hall is now converted for reception and dining purposes. On the either side of this hall is an identical dining area which reminds me of Bowling Alleys. One of them is now converted to museum and the other as a conference room. What really amazed me were the curtains to the huge windows. An old Chettinad sari was used as curtains but it still looked so elegant on those windows. Beautiful Athangudi tiles are seen in the inner courtyard floors.

All the 7 rooms are named after different persons in their family. We were given a room called 'Valli' which is supposed to be the best room available. It had a terrace and which gives a view of the other mansions surrounding. The hand painted wall inside the room looked like a tile and having a AC was just a bliss as the temperature was soaring. The bathroom was spacious and you will not miss observing a stool with a designed tile embedded in it. This royal home stay was restored by Mr. Chandramouli after his retirement.

Tariff:Rs 5000 per couple for one night including breakfast.

Food:They serve Chettinad cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I really felt they should have included more cuisines in breakfast and lunch as they charge exorbitantly high (Rs 500 for lunch per person). Alternatively there is ‘Saffron’ a veg restaurant in Hotel Subalakshmi Palace in Karaikudi.

Bookings:They have their website( and the staff is very friendly. Surprisingly they did not ask for an advance payment.

Activities:A ten minute documentary on Chettinadu Mansion is also shown to the guests. There are photo albums available showing the beauty of the mansion. Chettinadu Mansion has a indoor museum, which we could visit at any hour.

Bullock Cart Ride: There is also a bullock cart ride for an extra 100 bucks which goes around the village. It was nice to see few mansions in good condition.

Raja Palace: Another huge mansion behind Chettinad Mansion is more famous among tourist called ‘Raja Palace’ and was build by Dr. Annamali Chettiar. The last courtyard of this palace is magnificent and the artifacts are displayed in the main hall. Open at 9 am and Closes by 4 pm.

Visit to another mansion: This mansion is on the lane before Chettinadu Mansion and is badly maintained. The only uniqueness about this mansion is the richly carved teak main door. Some local folks are appointed to take care and it was really painful to see the state of the mansion.

Visit to Karaikudi: There are few antique shops and one could even pick Chettinadu sarees. It was unfortunate that we happened to land there on Sunday and most of the shops were closed. There is a mansion consisting of 1000 windows. As it is located in residential area, one could easily miss it.

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