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Old 8th July 2011, 17:03   #1
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Default Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus

Charming Chettinad? Are you kidding? What is so charming about a place which is arid and hot? Many things – Magnificent mansions, Mouth watering menus, Rural milieu and of course Marvelous temples! This is our drive - a short break - to the hinterland of Tamil Nadu which we thoroughly enjoyed. Welcome aboard and join us on this exploratory ride. We will assure you won’t be disappointed.
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Old 8th July 2011, 17:34   #2
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Default Re: Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering M

Prologue

Chettinad always fascinated me ever since my sister-in-law, an architect did her thesis on Chettinad mansions way back in late nineties. Somehow, we never went to these regions though we did many drives in Tamil Nadu. One of the reasons was bad roads – before NH7 came into existence – and distance. As we sat to plan the next drive, same options came up – Coorg, Chikkamagalur, Malnad, Ooty etc. When wifey said why not we do Chettinad, the plan started rolling.

The Plan

We took Friday off and had three days and two nights (1st July to 3rd July). As I started planning the drive and googled the directions, it was encouraging.

Bangalore – Karaikkudi = 472 KMs

We have now started relating these distances to our numerous trips on NH 4. So this distance was less than Belgaum and hence doable in Six hours! But I was little confused on the route and had three options

a) Bangalore – Salem – Musiri – Manapparai - Tirupattur - Karaikkudi
b) Bangalore – Salem – Madurai – Karaikkudi to take advantage of excellent NH 7
c) Bangalore – Salem – Dindigul – Natham - Tirupattur - Karaikkudi

Option (a) was shortest but I was not sure of road conditions after Salem due to road widening till Musiri and beyond it. As usual, shot the query to BHPians who suggested to take a chance on option (C) or do (B) even though it will be longer . Anyway, we decided that we will do option (C) and if the road was bad between Dindigul and Karaikkudi, then we will do Option B on the return.

Last edited by Fauji : 9th July 2011 at 09:35.
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Old 8th July 2011, 23:59   #3
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Stay

Routing done, the next problem was to finalise stay options. There weren’t good stay options in Karaikkudi till few years back. I knew that there was a heritage hotel named THE BANGALA in Karaikkudi and Casino group of Kochi had also started a heritage hotel named VISALAM. Checking out more details and researching on these two hotels, we finalised THE BANGALA which was much cheaper than VISALAM and the food was supposed to die for. This being the lean season in Chettinad – naturally as it is hot and dry – we could get accommodation easily in The BANGALA.

Day 1 – Lovely drive, Delicious lunch and Magnificent mansions!

When we sat in the Scorpio, my watch was ticking at 5.10 AM. Sooner we hit the NICE road – helps staying closer – and NH7 at electronic city. I was driving on NH 7 after two years and was pleasantly surprised at the new flyovers at Hebbagodi and Attibele. In no time, we were zipping past Hosur even as the sun was trying to come out of cloudy sky peeping through Shoolagiri hills. NH 7 like other GQ roads – NH 4 and 5 – is a class act. These roads have definitely made us all drivoholics! Truck Traffic slowly started picking up between Hosur and Krishna Giri. But after Krishna Giri till Salem, it was a great drive. This was only the beginning and better things were to come as we left Salem.

Salem – Karur – Dindigul must rank amongst the best stretches in the country like the one between Kolhapur – Dharwad etc. We were in Karur town at 8.45 for breakfast! Karur always makes us nostalgic as we had gone there many times when my wife was working in Karur Vysya Bank. This is possibly the cleanest town in Tamil Nadu and may rank among the top ten in India for cleanliness. We wanted to go the same restaurant where we used to hog on Idlis, Pongal, Idiappams etc whenever we were there - our last trip being in 99. Karur has changed for good. But the old world charm around the bus stop is still there and Hotel Arun too. Years have passed but Hotel Arun had not changed - like Namma MTR or Vidyarthi Bhavans. Same banana leaf, same soft idlis served in threes and fours, sambar served directly on the idlis…Life is simple out here! We left after a heavy breakfast and driving through the city reached the highway at 9.45 AM.

Karur – Dindigul was breeze. Maneuvering through Dindigul was not a problem – it is a small town – and soon we were on SH 35 driving towards Natham (pronounced as NATTAM, TT pronounced as in PATTON ). We were little skeptical of this stretch but sooner were relieved to see nice and scenic road. The road goes through canopy of tamarind trees.

The canopy of Tamarind trees on SH 35
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-tam.jpg

As we drove, we could see beautiful views of Kodai ranges at distance – though there is no ghat section on this road – and greenery all around.

The Green road
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-nat.jpg

It is still summer in Tamil Nadu and the land was dry and brown. We were in Karaikkudi at 12.30. As we entered, we could see huge mansions in not-so-well-kept condition at many places in the city. Searching for BANGALA was not difficult – it is a local land mark – and we were in time for Chettinad lunch! The cuisine of Chettinad is to die for. Though we are veggies, we always loved vettals, Paniyarams, Vendakkai etc. The staff in BANGALA is excellent and within no time we were made comfortable.

The Facade of Bangala
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-entrance-facade-bang.jpg

BANGALA is a 70 year old building initially built as Gentlemen’s club for Chettiar men folk and now converted into a beautiful heritage hotel. Ms Meenakshi Meyyappan, the ever energetic septuagenarian owner of the hotel – fondly called as ACHI – has converted this place into a real gem. You should see her eye for details and aesthetic sense that has gone into making this place what it is today. She has personally trained all the staff – who are with her for a long time – including the cooks who dish out mouth watering menus.

The Lounge in Bangala
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-lounge-bang.jpg

The Balcony sit out - Look at the pleasing colours of flloring by Attangudi tiles
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-balcony-sit-out-bang.jpg

The room - look at the antique furniture in the room
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-bed-room-bang.jpg

The Room - Another view
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-bed-room-bang-2.jpg

The Garden
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-garden.jpg

The lovely swimming pool which is the new addition
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-swimming-pool-bang-2.jpg

Freshened up, we were ready to gorge on the sumptuous Chettinad meal on the Banana leaf. As expected, the seeven course meal was awesome. If you are non - vegetaran, then you will have a blast here! Heavy lunch after a long drive is an invite for good siesta! A small nap and we were up for exploring Chettinad mansions, Attangudi – the small village which produces colorful ATTANGUDI TILES and of course antiques which Karaikkudi is famous for.

A cuppa of hot filter coffeee - possibly one of the best coffees (i really care for my coffee!) - made out of beans grown in their estate in Chikkamagalur made as active again. Vasanta our guide for the evening was ready as we embarked on exploration. Our first stop was at A.M.A. House. Built in 19th century, this is a fine example of grandeur of a Chettinad Mansion. Typically Chettinad mansions are so huge that they are fort like and stretch between two streets, the front door opening into one while the back door to the other!

Woven as a series of open-air courtyards of varying sizes with rooms flanking them on all four sides, the house transcends from a public to a private realm of functions as one move in from the main door. Beginning with a big public veranda and courtyard meant to entertain the male visitors by the men in the house, the house graduates to a slightly smaller courtyard with rooms and storerooms around it. Every member in the family would get a room and his name would be carved on the door. Many houses could accommodate up to 80 members of an extended family at a time. One of the other courtyards was meant for dining, which could seat about 250 people at a time. The women’s quarters and the kitchen with the servants’ rooms were at the very end.

Interestingly, the houses are an amalgamation of various things – Burmese teak columns, Spanish tiles, Italian marble floor and locally available Attangudi tiles. Style wise too one can see woodwork resembling the Kerala style, neoclassical, Victorian and Anglo Indian styles. The walls are of baked bricks, plastered over by a secret recipe of roots, yolk and lime that leaves them silken smooth and washable. On the exteriors, an array of themes from Hindu gods to British soldiers and Victorian women, adorn the surface as carvings, friezes and statues, interspersed with domes and arches. Overall it is predominantly white on the outside, to ward off the heat and at times colourful as their interior counterparts at the detail level. However, all of these put together never reads crude or bizarre and surely conveys a sense of splendour. Here are some pictures

The Veranda or public place - Look at the colourful Belgian tiles on the wall
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-verandah-ama.jpg

The view from Veranda - The doors of the different halls are aligned in straight line with the gate. Since Chettiar men were always on travel for trade, this was necessary to help ladies of the house to watch from inner court yard anyone coming to house
.
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-view-verandah-ama.jpg

The Grandeaur of main hall - This is the hall where all the major functions like Marraige is held. Notice the huge tusks of Elephant from Burma!

Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-complete-view-main-hall-ama.jpg

Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-view-main-hall-top.jpg

The Dining halls - Look at the colourful Attangudi tile work

Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-dining-hall-2-ama.jpg
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-dining-hall-ama.jpg

The colourful grills of balcony - Note the colourful roof which is made of copper plating!!

Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-first-fllor-balcony-art-work-roof.jpg

Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-art-work-roof-ama.jpg

Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-close-up-art-work.jpg

Carvings on the doors which are made of Burma teak
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-art-work-door-ama.jpg


The Inner Court yard - This place and rooms around it is used by ladies of the house. Since ladies never used to go out, it was necessary to provide light to them and hence the court yard.
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-couryard-ama.jpg

Tile marvel

Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-tile-work-ama.jpg



Our second stop for the day was at the house of “Achi” or Ms Meenakshi Meyyapan. Beautifully maintained by her, this is again another example of how these mansions would have even in their hey days.

The Grand entrance
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-mm-entrance.jpg

The Main Hall - Notice the Czech chandelier and colourful roof
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-main-hall-mm.jpg
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-colour-ful-roof-mm.jpg

Antique Rose wood chairs inlaid with mother of pearls from Indonesia

Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-teak-chairs-mm.jpg

Wood work on the door
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-wood-work-door-mm.jpg
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-door-work-mm.jpg
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-door-work-close-up-mm.jpg

Unfortunately, these outstanding mansions are vanishing by the day as the present owners are either not interested to maintain them or they are unable to do so due to their financial condition. Those who believe in family pride continue to live in these houses but are unable to maintain them. Just look at this house which is bigger than the ones mentioned above but is badly maintained. The main door made of Burma teak in this house with intricate art work is worth anywhere around 60-70lakhs!!! But the families who live in are poor and unable to maintain the house. Eventually many of these mansions have been sold to antique dealers who after pulling down the houses take away the artefacts from the house and return the plot.

A huge but ill maintained mansion forming bakdrop to this picture

Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-dilapidated-mansion-opp-mm.jpg

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Old 9th July 2011, 00:47   #4
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Our next stop was the village of Attangudi famous for its beautiful handmade cement tiles. There are more than 20 factories manufacturing these tiles in this village which is a cottage industry. The local sand available suit tile making. Here is a glimpse of the tile making process.

A mould is kept on a casing with glass base.
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-tile-work-1.jpg

Colours are poured into the slots
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-tile-work-2.jpg

Mould is removed immediately aftre pattern is achieved
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-tile-work-3.jpg

Mixture of cement and sand is poured onto the mould

Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-tile-work-4.jpg

Mixture of cement and sand poured into the mould
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-tile-work-5.jpg

Tiles made out of free hand drawings

Colours are poured onto the glass
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-tile-work-6.jpg


Design is drawn by hand
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-tile-work-7.jpg

Finished product
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-tile-work-8.jpg
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-tile-work-9.jpg

The tile is now cured for four days
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-tile-work-10.jpg
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-tile-work-11.jpg

Then dried in sun
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-tile-work-12.jpg

The end product - Amazing array of Colourful tiles!!!

Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-tile-work-13.jpg
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-tile-work-14.jpg

It started raining when we left Attangudi. One of the reasons for us to come to Karaikkudi was antiques. If you are planning a house with a ethnic design using wooden pillars etc, you have to come to Karaikkudi to see and select. The antique lane is full of these stores which stores from wooden pillars to betel nut scissors used by chettiars in 18th century. Of course, you need to have a fat wallet and eye for finding the hidden gems in these stores. We took the two pieces - A traditional and carved Coconut grinding and cutter used in South Indian Kitchen (known as "Turiyuva Mane " in Kannada) and a antique key holder with carved birds!

The rain was a welcome relief from the afternoon heat and we retired to our room. Ramu, the main chef said that there is a special for us in the dinner and would call us at 9.

Dinner was a feast. Seven course meal of Vattal Kolumbu, Vendakkai, Chettinad Alu fry etc. As promised, Ramu had topped it all with a special chettinad sweet "Kavuni Arisi" made out of "red rice" which was yummy!

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Day 2 – Drive to the Rameshwaram

One of the attractions of Karaikkudi is that it is centrally located to explore the cultural centers of Tamil Nadu. All important places like Madurai, Tanjavur, Trichy and Rameshwaram can be done as day trips. Rameswaram was one of the few places we had not seen – though I had been there as a kid as a pilgrimage tour with parents – in Tamil Nadu. We planned to do this as day trip after having checked the road condition from the staff in BANGALA.

Previous day’s rain had made the weather pleasant. We left after an early breakfast and the road surprisingly was in very good condition except for a small stretch of 500 meters. This drive should be very picturesque in winters when the fields are green unlike now when it was arid. Nevertheless, the road was dotted by palm trees on the road sides. The road from Devipattinam to Rameswaram should again rank as one of the best roads. We were excited as we reached the land’s end and entered the “Pamban Bridge” built on the sea which connects Rameswaram Island with main land.

The first view of the sea as we near Pamban bridge

Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-sea-view-we-near-pamban.jpg

The start of railway bridge

Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-panban-bridge-rail.jpg

The road bridge - looked beautiful in morning sun!

Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-panoramic-view-panban-brid.jpg

The view of trawlers anchored

Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-anchored-boats-seen-bridge.jpg

The view of Light house from the bridge
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-picture-perfect-light-ouse-boats-aseen-brid.jpg

Rameshwaram is a small town and basically a pilgrimage town. Being Saturday, there wasn’t much rush in the temple. We entered from the western gate. As we crossed the small shops selling souvenirs and came inside, we were awestruck by this spectacular corridor which is supposed to be the longest in the world. The colorful panels on the roof blend with the chain of stone pillars forming the awesome spectacle. These corridors must be photographer's delight!!

The Grand corriodor
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-grand-corridor.jpg

The colourful roof of the corridor
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-colourful-roof-cooridor.jpg

View of the another Corridor
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-another-view-corridor.jpg

Close up of roof paintings
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-close-up-roof-paintings.jpg

Sculpture of dieties on the pillars
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-dieties-wall.jpg

Pillars and roof
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-pillar-roof.jpg

The temple is huge. But it is not sculpturally exquisite like the ones you see in Tanjavur or Darasuram. There are 12 holy tirthas in the temple and one of the rituals is to take bath in the sea followed by pouring of water from each of these tirthas and then worship the god. Many devotees were doing that. We were not keen and went straight to sanctum santorum, had darshan and left the place. Apart from the temple, the other two places to be seen are Dhansuhkodi for its beautiful beach and Gandha Madhava parvatam, a small hillock from where you can have nice views.

After temple , our next stop was Dhanushkodi which is a 20 Minutes of nice drive. It was mid day and very hot. The beach is excellent. In fact one can go the land’s end and take a look at the Adam’s bridge or Rama Setu – the bridge built by Rama to cross over to Lanka. To do this, one has to go by vans which have capability to drive in sand. The local operators charge Rs 80 per person but have to wait till they get full quota of 20 passengers. Since there werent many we c did not want to wait. We checked how much does it cost to take two of us and pat come reply - Rs 1600! We dropped the idea of going and decided to go back after checking out Gandha Madhava parvatam. This is a small hillock and one can have some nice views of surrounding landscape from here. In fact sun rise from this place should be good.

We saw a flock of egrets flying away as we drove on Dhanushkodi road
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-birds.jpg

Dhanushkodi beach
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-dhanuskodi.jpg

View from Gandha Madhava hill
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-view-gp.jpg

View of temple from Gandha madhava hill
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-view-temple-gp.jpg

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We left Rameswaram around 11.45 AM and headed straight to Visalam in Kanadukathan for lunch. Visalam is again a heritage hotel restored by Casino group of hotels – the same group which run Coconut lagoon in Kumarakkom. An elegant Chettinad mansion, this has beautiful wooden columns and doors. We arrived at 2.30 and the Chettinad vegetarian thali was ready!
Visalam
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-visalam.jpg
The Lounge in Visalam
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-lounge-visalam.jpg
The door frames of the main door in Burma teak
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-door-frame-vis.jpg
The Courtyard
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-courtyard-vis.jpg
Wood carvings on pillars
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-wood-carvings-vis.jpg
Chettinad thali
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-thali.jpg

Ramu, the manager of Visalam who is a local agreed to come with us for a tour of Kanadukathan. This village - at a distance of 15 KMs from Karaikkudi - is just awesome and has to be called as “Heritage village” for the sheer number of Chettinad mansions it has - more 50 Chettinad mansions. Some in good condition and some not so. The village is built around a central pond and is geometrical in shape.

The Pond which is being dredged
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-pond.jpg
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-pond-3.jpg

The broad roads are flanked by huge mansions of Chettiars. The whole village seems to have been lost in time and you will be transported to 19th century as you don’t see any modern houses here!! This is the place where the famous Chettinad Palace is located. What a mansion! Unfortunately, it was being renovated and getting ready for 80th birthday celebration of MAM Ramaswamy and no visitors were allowed. We had to be satisfied by taking pictures from outside.

Chettinad Palace
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-chettinad-palace.jpg

Entrance to the annex
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-entrance-palace.jpg

Another view of palace
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-another-view.jpg

Entrance of Palace
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-entrance.jpg

Canopy at the entrance - Notice the intricate work
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-entrance-canopy.jpg

Another beautiful mansion opposite palace
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-mansion-opp-pal.jpg

Broad roads flanked by mansions
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-road-flanked-mansions.jpg

A beautiful old mansion in village
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-another-mansion.jpg


After a leisurely tour of the village we came to Ramu’s ancestral house which was again a mansion but not well maintained.

Ramu's house
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-mansion-old.jpg

Woodden pillars in Ramu's mansion - look how beautiful they are but badly maintained

Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-wooden-pillars-bad.jpg
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-wodden-pillars.jpg
Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus-wooden-pillars.jpg


On the way back, we bought packets of Chettinad Masala powder from well known Janapriya stores, visited antique shops before we reached back BANGALA. At dinner, Achi introduced us to two French architects – Bernard and Michele – who have passionately restored a Chettinad mansion into a beautiful heritage hotel called SARATHA VILAS. www.sarathavilas.com This place looks awesome! Unfortunately, we had not heard of this lest we could have visited the place when we were in Kanadukathan.

Last edited by Fauji : 9th July 2011 at 09:15.
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Old 9th July 2011, 09:09   #7
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Default Re: Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering M

Day 3 – Drive back to Bangalore

We got up lazily. Ramu was ready with trademark coffee of BANGALA. Packed up, we were treated to a spread of south Indian breakfast of Idli, Vada and Pongal which was delicious. Bidding good bye, we were back for another nice drive on NH 7.

I am always fascinated by the landscape around our roads. Be it green fields or small hills or rivers or mountains, it is always mesmerizing. NH 7 has its beautiful spots too. We noticed the stretch between Namakkal and Salem when you are flanked by hills on either side. I am not sure of the name of these ranges but looks really beautiful. It is beautiful again between Toppur and Krishna Giri. The landscape looks so beautiful especially on the spots when the road gets elevated.

When we reached, Bangalore at 4.30 in the afternoon, it was break worth remembering for. Karaikkudi is a place worth returning again – if only to stay in SARATHA VILAS and experience the life of Chettiars!
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Old 9th July 2011, 10:31   #8
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Default Re: Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering M

Thanks for the wonderful photos and write up. Though I spent my school days in Trichy , never had a chance to visit Karaikudi.

Many of the families who own these houses are now financially weak and couldn't afford the restoration work which could be very costly. May be the government should buy these properties and restore them to their past glory. This place does have very huge tourism potential.

The Road from Danushkodi to land's end is an off roader's delight. Please do make the trip if you visit Rameswaram again
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Old 9th July 2011, 10:58   #9
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Default Re: Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering M

This a fantastic travelogue.
Though a short one , this writing of yours was dripping history and I loved it.
The photos of these mansions was a delight to watch.
Truly shows India's cultural richness.
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Old 9th July 2011, 11:09   #10
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Default Re: Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering M

How much time did you take from Dindigul to Karaikudi?
And how was the Karaikudi-Devapattinam road?
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Old 9th July 2011, 22:18   #11
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Default Re: Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering M

Excellent photographs. I was intrigued by the rise and fall of the Chettiars. Always wanted to visit and it is good to know that roads were fantastic.
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Old 10th July 2011, 08:21   #12
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@Fauji - Wonderful Travelogue and beautiful photos of the mansions.

I have never visited that part of India and my only encounter with it has been while eating Chettinad Chicken in Pune or Mumbai. I am sure the Chettinad Thali would be to die for.
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Old 10th July 2011, 12:23   #13
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Default Re: Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering M

Amazing one there fauji! This part of TN is something which every one has heard off and also experienced with their taste buds. But no one has ever feasted it through their eyes.

Now thanks to you, there is one more area, which has opened for exploration.
Great captures of a colourful place. A DSLR? If not I would suggest you should get one at the earliest!
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Old 10th July 2011, 18:19   #14
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Default Re: Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering M

Beautiful travelogue. I had first read about the grandeur of Chettinad palaces in a travelogue written by Pablo Chatterjee in BS Motoring. Your pictures and narrative have taken the experience to a different level. And glad to know its so close to Bangalore. Next time I'm there, will coax one of my friends living in Bangalore to lend his car

Off topic, I have a strong feeling the movie Virasat was shot inside the Bangala. The inner court yard and the main hall are very similar to the building they show in the movie!
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Old 10th July 2011, 18:57   #15
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Default Re: Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering M

Thanks for sharing the photos. Those wood works look sumotuous and magnificient.
The Athangudi tiles look exquisite. By any chance did you happen to check the price of the same? Like what-it-costs/sq. ft. and so..
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