South India Banner 1 Logo Southindia
Back to Listing

Chettinad

Chettinad, the ancestral homeland of the Nattukottai Chettiars, a prosperous merchant class who ventured overseas to do business in South and Southeast Asia in the 19th and early 20th centuries, is renowned for its impressive mansions and rich and distinctive cuisine.

Today the central region of Tamil Nadu, just north of Madurai, is still home to the wealthy Chettiar community. The Chettiar merchants built handsomely and extensively across their region, which is full of examples of huge mansions with exquisite teak and silkwood pillars, marble detailing and lime-plastered wall, and some of these houses are now open to the public. The houses are typically designed in a long narrow compound, with a columned veranda. Inside there is normally a formal room used for marriages and other occasions, and beyond this is a rectangular two-storey courtyard, sometimes covered, usually lavishly decorated, with small side rooms, normally used for storage, and often containing small family shrines. Beyond this are the living quarters, eating area and kitchen.

Karaikudi is known as the capital of the Chettinad culture because of the predominance of the Nattukottai Chettiars and the dozens of Chettiar mansions. Guests staying at the Bangala Hotel can visit one of the more modern mansions, the MSMM house which is the home of the Bangala’s owner; it is superbly maintained and has some beautiful tile work. The owner is a close friend of George Michell and helped him write his acclaimed book ‘The Mansions of Chettinad’. Karaikudi is also known for its Sri Meenakshi temple, sometimes referred to as the Sivan Temple, which was built during 1872 and holds over 108 statues of Ganapathy. 11km northwest of Karaikudi is the village of Athangudi, which is the centre of the local hand-produced tile industry. The workshops welcome visitors, who can also try their hand at the very precise and age-old craft. The biggest mansion in Athangudi is commonly referred to as the ‘tile house’ (although the owners like to call it a palace!). The village of Chettinad itself, 5km east of Athangudi, has a number of impressive houses near the water tank, but the Chettinad Palace is the largest and most impressive of all of them, and is open to visitors when the family is not in residence.

The region is also famous for shandys (or village markets), silver and goldsmiths, marvellous antiques and beautiful textiles (including the highly sought after traditional Chettinad saris), and the aforementioned distinctive cuisine – dishes such as chicken or mutton biryani, fresh fish curries and vegetarian stews are finely flavoured with up to 23 different spices. 

Chettinad, South India.jpg Chettinad, South India.jpg
Chettinad, South India (4).jpg Chettinad, South India (4).jpg
Chettinad, South India (3).jpg Chettinad, South India (3).jpg
Chettinad Tamil Nadu South India 5 Chettinad Tamil Nadu South India 5
Chettinad Tamil Nadu South India 13 Chettinad Tamil Nadu South India 13

Key

13.044806,80.264525,5
My favourite thing is to go where I've never been.
Diane Arbus

I had a very lovely time and was looked after splendidly. My first visit to India could not have been better, save for being longer! But I shall return at some point and I shall look to you to make the arrangements.
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
I thought the Ampersand team was outstanding. We couldn’t have hoped for anything more.
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India
So many highlights to choose from! The hotels were amazing but Maya Villa was a highlight… I loved just hanging out in the hammock reading my book and watching the peacocks chase the cows!
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
Without question, you put together the best trip I have ever taken. We were shown around like visiting dignitaries, the hotels were fantastic and the itinerary was just right. Everybody I know will hear about how amazing Ampersand is!
- Leslie Siben, India
We had a wonderful holiday - everything was perfect. Thank you for helping us to make a thoughtful plan to enjoy and make most out of our trip. The places we visited, the guides, the transportation and driver, the hotels selected... Everything was great!
- Jaime Benitez, South India
Everything you did for us whilst we were away was hugely appreciated, and Ampersand has been exemplary in every way. I'll always recommend you!
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka
Difficult to articulate just how good the service from you and your team really was. We know you will continue to do well and hope we have the chance to seek your assistance again before long.
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India
Ampersand’s details preparation, attention to detail and interaction before and during our trip show exactly why good travel agents have a role in today’s internet/direct booking age. Shalmali was a delight to work with – before and during our trip.
- Mr David Wallace, North India

From our Instagram

Happy #Holi to all of you! 🇮🇳✨
.
‘Traditionally to welcome the coming of spring, this joyful festival is filled with colour, music, dancing and great energy’ @the_ampersander
.
#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience
We’re dreaming of #Bali’s reflective sunsets today 🌅
.
Enjoy particularly striking views from @thelegianbali in #Seminyak
.
#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience
Set within an inviting oasis of elegant palms and eucalyptus trees, #Amanbagh stays true to its name 🍃(‘Peaceful garden’ in Sanskrit and Hindi) 🇮🇳
.
One of @jamesjayasundera’s favourite hotels in the world, #Ampersand believe that there’s no better place to enjoy rural #Rajasthan than this luxurious idyll
.
#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience
All smiles in #Vietnam 🇻🇳
.
Courtesy of the brilliant portrait photographer @rehahn_photography
.
#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience
Monks in #Myanmar (#Burma) 🇲🇲
.
Buddhism runs strong through the country’s veins - not only are 90% of the Burmese Buddhist, but many children are monks in training and call ancient monasteries home 🧘🏽‍♂️
.
#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience
From mid May to mid October, The Ultimate Travelling Camp’s wonderful #ChambaCamp in #Thiksey (#Ladakh) will be open! 🏞
.
Our specialists stayed at this one-of-a-kind luxury tented camp last year and adored it - we guarantee that you will too 🏕
.
#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience
Cascading rice terraces greet you in #Ubud 🍃🍃🍃
.
Balinese women make daily offerings of vibrant flowers and fruit to the gods 🍊🍐🍌🍎🌺💐
.
#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience
Sunsets at the @gallefacehotel are the best welcome to #Colombo, especially when watching their flag ceremony from the iconic checkerboard terrace with a G&T in hand 🌅
.
We also love the wonderful @maniumpathy_boutique_hotel, which is truly an oasis of tranquility within this city 🌿
.
#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience
‘Led by Buddhist monks, a butter lamp ceremony offers a guiding light to finding peace and harmony’ @sixsensesbhutan 🕯🕯🕯
.
#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience

Let us keep you up to date

Sign up to our newsletter and never miss out on unmissable exclusive luxury experiences