What Is It?

Karaikudi is a small town situated in Sivagangai district of Tamil Nadu. The town, which is believed to have been formed in late 1800’s, is home to the rich and affluent Nagarathar Chettiars {a business community of Tamil Nadu}. The town and its surrounding areas are collectively called the Chettinad Region. Karaikudi is now recognised as a Heritage Town by the Government of Tamil Nadu.

How To Get There?

Karaikudi is situated at around 428 kms from Bangalore. There are no direct trains from Bangalore. However, the easiest way to reach Karaikudi would be to take a bus {many private operators and state transport buses ply from the city}. Driving one’s own car is a possibility. The journey could take around 10 hours.

What To See/Do When You Reach?

The wealthy Nagarathars had made huge mansions filled with antiques and curios from around the world. Makrana/Italian marble flooring, Belgian Glass chandeliers, Burmese teak furniture and fittings, Czechoslovakian Enamelware… You name it. They had it. Kanadukathan, a sleepy little village is where you will find these mansions. Some are in complete ruins, while some others have been maintained well and are being opened to public for visits. Do not miss the “Aayiram Jannal Veedu”{thousand window house} and Chettinad Raja Palace. Other than the Chettiar mansions, Tirumaiyam Fort, Pillaiyarpatti Temple, Kundrakudi Shanmuganathan Temple, etc are other tourist attractions.

Photo by: Poornima Narayan

Photo by: Poornima Narayan

The region is a heaven for lovers of antiques, architecture, vintage decor, handwoven sarees and baskets. The main antique market is situated right in the city of Karaikudi. You will find small knick knacks to huge antique doors, pillars and teak wood furniture in the market. Prices start from INR 100. Kanadukathan is also dotted with small weaving centres, where one can buy gorgeous Kandanghi cotton sarees fresh off the loom. A visit to one of the many Athangudi tile factories will leave you itching to try a hand at the beautiful craft, where each tile is painstakingly made by hand. The must-buys include: antiques for the home, Kandanghi Sarees, Athangudi tiles, and woven baskets.

A Must Try

Chettinad is also a foodie’s delight and the regional cuisine holds a special place in the food map of our country. Known for the fiercely spicy curries, this is one place where vegetarians and non vegetarians have plenty of eating options. Chidambara Vilas, Naarayana Inn and The Bangala have special unlimited thalis starting at INR 800 and upwards. The restaurants get booked fully during peak season. Advance reservations are highly recommended. Don’t miss out on other regional staples such as Rattha Poriyal {non veg}, Paniyarams, Kavini Arisi {black rice pudding}, and more.

Where To Stay?

There are many heritage and regular hotels around the town suitable for both budget and the luxury traveller. We recommend Chidambara Vilas or Saratha Vilas in the luxury category. Hotel Naarayana Inn has basic rooms for the budget traveller. Their yummy Chettinad breakfast is well worth consideration.

Best Time To Visit

Most part of the year is very hot. Ideal time to visit is from August to early March.

Featured image by: Poornima Narayan


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