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Chettinad Travel Guide
The Land of Heritage and attachment it is a place that charm and enhances the soul. Chettinad is the motherland of the Nattukottai Chettiars called the Nagarathars, are an affluent banking and business society.
Chettinad is a tourist's paradise with a disparity, and one which certainly cannot be missed by the sharp tourist. A stray thundershower adds to the charisma of the place, agitate up the red soil, and substantial up the temple tanks. The extravagant mansions, makes Chettinad a place of exceptional charm, and a must visit purpose.
Chettinad, rich in cultural heritage, art and construction, is well well-known for its houses that are larger-than-life with marble and Burma teak. The houses enclose wide inner courtyards and open rooms. The splendidly and magnificently embroidered houses were fashioned to reflect the prosperity of the Nagarathar neighborhood. The basic design consists of a "thinnai" which is an enclosed square and this is delimited by family rooms. The walls are even and are made of extraordinary plaster. The display involves the purpose of the finely soiled mixture of powdered shell, lime, jaggery and spices, counting gallnut (myrobalan), to walls. This technique keeps the interior of the house cool during the hot and humid Indian summers and lasts a lifetime. The architectural structure of a typical Chettiar home is a study in how a human abode can be constructed in accord with nature. High ceilings, airy and well ventilated, the house has one courtyard near the entrance leads to the impressive main door, usually made of wood with extraordinarily intricate carvings of legendary figures.
Nagara Koil: The people of Chettinad moved on from their agreement to other villages not far on or after their first resolution and, present were nine main clusters of villages. To each of them the Pandya King granted a temple in time without end. The nine temples thus became the family temple for each group and each bunch evolved as a section of the Chettiars or what might describe as a fraternal clan. The clan temple tradition is that a wedding is recognized only if the bride and bridegroom receive wedding garlands from their personal clan temples. The moment the wedding is registered, the bridegroom becomes a pulli.
Ilayathangudi: The first of the clan holy place was in Ilayathangudi and it is 25 km from Karaikudi on the road to Kunrakudi, passing Nemam, Keelasivalpatti and Avinipatti on the way. It is said to have been granted to the Nagarathars in 707 A.D. The temple is known for its great sculptural value and it has the largest tank, "oorani" of all other temples. fable has it, that this was the resting place of the gods and it explains the village's name with a syllable break-up that is as follows: ilaippu meaning tiredness, attru meaning to remove and gudi significance place.
Vairavanpatti: The Vairavanpatti temple is on the Karaikudi-Madurai road, about 15 km from Karaikudi. An impressive 19th century temple tank is indication to Dravidian architectural skills. Behind the Nagarathar choultry Vairava Theertham, a sacred coil said to have astounding powers. The temple has 23 bronzes, all dating to the first renewal, and 12 vahanams. The temple also has several striking wall paintings, 37 on the Vairava Puranam and 43 on the Ramayana. There are as well painting of scenes from the Mahabharata. The main deities here are Lord Aatkondanathar and Sivapurandevi.
Soorakudi: The Soorakudi shrine is about 10 km from Karaikudi on the road to Kanadukathaan and the Chettinad railway station. The soorai shrub also abounds here and is given as a clarification for the name of the village. The temple has ten vimanams and two gopurams. Its rajagopuram to the east comprises five storeys and is richly overstated. Another striking feature of the temple is the sculptured pillars on the corridor around the shrines of the main deities. This is one of the temples of the Nagarathar clan that is held in high look upon for its sculpture.
Velankudi: The last clan temple is the Velankudi temple that is positioned on the Karaikudi - Thiruchirapalli road, about 10 km from Karaikudi, in an area well-to-do in vela trees. With just 46 pullis and a membership of less than 200 in its four villages, this is smallest temple clan among the Nagarathars. A curious aspect is that their numbers have not changed for over a hundred years. The result is a temple to which scant attention has been paid towards renovation. The last kumbhabhishekam for the shrine was performed in 1937. The holy place was granted to the Nagarathars in 718 A.D.
Iraniyur: About 25 km from Karaikudi on the Pillaiyarapatti road, near Keelasivalpatti, is the Iraniyur temple. There are 50 bronzes here, a fine Nataraja dating to the 12th -13th century period. One of the bronzes belong to the 16th century, one more in a 5-metal alloy of the 17th century, a dozen from the 19th century and the rest from the 20th century. Two groups of beautiful paintings grace the Lakshmi mandapam. Conflicting the Rajagopuram is one set of paintings done in the Vijayanagar technique during the first renovation and another in the 1940s during the second renovation. The latter displays the Ravi Varmas artistic weight.
Pillaiyarpatti: The best branded of the Nagarathar clan temples, Pillaiyarpatti, about 12 km from Karaikudi on the road to Madurai. It attracts visitors in hefty numbers from all parts of India and overseas. The Karpaga Vinayagar here is a mammoth bas-relief in a cavern hewn out of a hillock and is a splendid example of the art of the South India sculptor. The tall sculpture is more than 6 feet tall and dates back to the 5th Century A.D. The Rajagopuram is on the eastern entrance and rises in five storeys. The place of worship is rich in stone and earth sculptures. There are 30 bronzes in the temple that date from the 10th century. The main deities here are Karpaga Vinayagar, Lord Thiruveswarar and his consort Sivagami.
Mathur: The Mathur temple is a little over 5 km from Karaikudi, which can be reached not long after passing Iluppakudi. Burial urns found in the vicinity indicate that there were settlements here more than 1500 years ago. The temple is rich with sculptures, and there is a unique piece at the entrance to the mahamandapam, where the steps, the two flanking elephants and the pedestals for the two doorkeepers have all been hewn from one stone. The nearly 70-foot tall rajagopuram here has been constructed in five storeys. The vizha mandapam or the festival hall in front of the rajagopuram or the main tower, at the entrance was built in 1949 and can seat 500 persons within the hall and another 500 around it. The main deity here is Lord Ainootheswarar and his consort Periyanayaki.
Best time to visit: The best time to visit this place would be in the moths extending from 0ctober to January.
How to get there:
Nearest Airport: The nearest airport is Tiruchirapalli airport, 100 kilometers away.
Nearest Railhead: The largest town in the area is Karaikudi. Trains that run from Chennai to Rameshwaram stop at Karaikudi and Kottaiyur.
Road: Chettinad is well connected by road.
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