Chettinad is the where the Chettiars originate from. They are today a very successful business community in India. The Chettiars were originally a community of traders known for their strong business practices and great sense of adventure. In the 1700’s, many of them traveled to Burma, Ceylon and other parts of South East Asia and Europe to set up very successful trades.
Chettinad is a unique place. The villages are dotted with the ancestral homes of this highly successful community. Though many of the Chettiars now live in the cities in India and all over the world, these mansions are still used for important family functions and events.
The homes are just beautiful. The architecture is so unique as it blends a colonial style façade with Indian style courtyards that lead into series of rooms.
The interiors are fascinating as it blends olden Indian ethos with all that the Chettiars brought back from their travels from around the world.
It is not unusual to find several solid Burma teak pillars within the homes. There are Belgian crystals and tiles and glass chandeliers from Europe mixed with the local Athangudi floor tiles that are produced locally. The homes reflect such an interesting potpourri of the traditions and journeys of this culture.
We were so lucky to have visited Chettinad with our good friend Valli Subbiah who took us to stay and experience Chettinad the way her family does.
The best part of my visit to Chettinad was the food! Chettinad is very well known for its fiery cuisine. There is great care taken in the preparation of meals in Chettinad. The kitchens are still very traditional using no modern machinery. Everything is hand ground and freshly cooked using the best of local ingredients. A detailed post on all we ate at the Subbiah home will follow.