Chettinad Images Courtsey by Traveler Pirkko Paxton
Chettinadu the Land of Heritage and Devotion . The origin of the Nagaraththar or the successful Trading Community of Chettiars, also called as the Nattukottai Chettiars begins in the 13th century when the Nattu Kottai Chettiars migrated from the Kaveripoompattinam presumably after a massive and devastating flood . The new settlement became the Land of Chettiars with 96 villages spreading over 1000 Sq.miles. Currently it has shrunk to 56 villages in Sivagangi and 20 villages in Pudukottai Districts totaling 76 villages. By virtue of their business activities, in the 19th Century, they travelled extensively and settled in the nearby countries of Sri Lanka[Ceylon], Java, Sumatra Islands, Singapore, Myanmar[Burma], Cambodia , Vietnam[Saigon] and Malaysia. They grew wealthy and became a powerful community in India. Abundance of money made the Nagarathar to concentrate in the activities of Religion, Education and Finance. Nagarathar’s were the one who had dedicated the Indian Overseas Bank, Indian Bank, Bank of Madura and also the United India Insurance as private banking and Insurance establishments to the country. Large number of this community’s population is settled in West Asia, Australia, Europe and the United States too. Chettinad is known for its unique art and architecture, Nagarathar temples and Aromatic and tasty local cuisine.
By Air : The Nearest Airport is Tiruchirappalli Airport 90 kms & Madurai Airport 80kms
By Rail : The Nearest Railway Station is Karaikkudi Junction
By Road : You can easily get regular buses to Karaikkudi from other major cities of the country.
Athangudi Tiles : A Superb hand made product made in the nearby village of Atangudi. It was sand, local water cement and Pigments. Its patterns are simple unique and tiles floor very cool to walk on.
Nagara Koil : The people of Chettinad moved on from their settlement to other villages not far from their first settlement and, there were nine main clusters of villages. To each of them the Pandya King granted a temple in perpetuity. The nine temples thus became the family temple for each group and each cluster evolved as a subdivision 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 respective clan temples. The moment the wedding is registered, the bridegroom becomes a pulli.
Ilayathangudi : The first of the clan temples was in Ilayathangudi and it is 25 kms 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 biggest tank, "oorani" of all other temples. Legend 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 meaning place.
Vairavanpatti : The Vairavanpatti temple is on the Karaikudi-Madurai road, about 15 kms from Karaikudi. A splendid 19th century temple tank is testimony to Dravidian architectural skills. Behind the Nagarathar choultry Vairava Theertham, a sacred spring said to have miraculous powers. The temple has 23 bronzes, all dating to the first renovation, and 12 vahanams. The temple also has several striking wall paintings, 37 on the Vairava Puranam and 43 on the Ramayana. There are also painting of scenes from the Mahabharata. The main deities here are Lord Aatkondanathar and Sivapurandevi.
Soorakudi : The Soorakudi temple is about 10 kms from Karaikudi on the road to Kanadukathaan and the Chettinad railway station. The soorai shrub also abounds here and is given as an explanation 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 embellished. 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 regard for its sculptures.
Velankudi : The last clan temple is the Velankudi temple that is located on the Karaikudi-Thiruchirapalli road, about 10 kms from Karaikudi, in an area abounding 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 feature 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 temple was performed in 1937. The temple was granted to the Nagarathars in 718 A.D.
Iraniyur : About 25 kms from Karaikudi on the Pillaiyarapatti road, near Keelasivalpatti, is the Iran