Ten-Second Takeaway

A colossal, old-world mansion, Hotel Visalam in Karaikudi is one of the best places to relive the splendour of the bygone Chettiar era.

Mansion Musings

Synonymous with the Karaikudi region, the Chettiar community has infused the place with a rich legacy. All through the town, you’ll find regal mansions from the time when the Chettiars settled in. Among them is the Visalam property – an elegant, whitewashed mansion – that was built by the very affluent K.V.A.L.M. Ramanathan Chettiar for his daughter, Vishala. While Vishala and the Chettiar family never really made a home out of it, the mansion was converted into a CGH Earth hotel around fifty years later.

Photo source:  CGH Earth

Photo source: CGH Earth

There are 15 rooms to choose from and since the property is expansive you can expect plenty of wiggle room. The massive rooms are adorned with vintage furniture – intricately carved cots, chairs with weave work, old-world study and dressing tables. At the back of the property, there is a pool where you can shake off some of that Karaikudi heat.

Heritage House Warming

Since its heritage is Karaikudi’s USP, Visalam gives you a taste of it on its very own premises. You can sit in the wide inner courtyard, dotted with elegant pillars, and play a game of Pallanguli {a traditional board game that’s from the region}. You can even hop on for a bumpy ride on a vintage bullock cart that will take you through the streets of Karaikudi. Or you could wake up early in the morning to try your hand at the art of kolam {intricate floor drawings made with chalk powder or rice flour. Known as rangoli in Karnataka}.

Food For Thought

You can also tuck into fiery Chettinad preparations at Visalam and pick up a few recipes too. The kitchens here conduct regular, three-day culinary programmes where you can learn how to whip a Chettinad meal. When you are done learning, we suggest you settle in and order up one of Visalam’s renowned thalis. The thalis usually feature delicacies typical to the Chettinad region, like spicy curries made using quail. Also, raw mango preparations, delicately spiced lamb curries, and fresh seafood cooked in rich spices. We also recommend that you munch on freshly-made murukku {a crunchy, spiced snack} during tea time at their poolside cafe.

Of course, there is plenty to do and explore in Karaikudi outside the gates of Visalam. Read all about it here.