Blogs from Kanadukathan, Tamil Nadu, India, Asia

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Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Kanadukathan January 20th 2019

Saddened to leave the Chettinad area, where the pace is slow, Chettiar mansion doorways give passage to a more opulent time, and the ordinary becomes extraordinary. Visited the Ayyanar temple outside Kanadukathan, where the guardians are huge. Inside, the priest motioned to me, asking if I wanted a puja. Yes, I nod. So he chants with the lit camphor, brings forth the ash, demonstrates what to do with it—place on my forehead. Picks up the red kum kum and offers, says, “Kum kum.” I accept, try to get it right on my forehead. He says something like, “kannadi”—pointing to the mirror. I dab it just right, above my nose, between my eyebrows, and when leaving I talk with a man who tells me I had fixed it very well on my forehead. The priest returns from ... read more
Painted Terracotta Horses
coconut shell and Kum kum offering
Entrance with guardians

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Kanadukathan December 18th 2017

Thousands of them appear in 75 or so villages across a dry region northeast of Madurai. Chettiar mansions. Most in disrepair, but some sporting fresh paint and sparkle. Chettiar businessmen made it big in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s with their vast trading pursuits in other countries, but their network fell apart with WWII and later. But while times were good, they showed the world how rich they were, building mansions and palaces—shameless displays of wealth, status, and prestige. I could spend hours walking up and down the broad streets of these small towns in Chettinadu, searching for surprises in these structures. Not only did they build grand houses, they laid their mansions around a regular street grid, aligning each house parallel to the street and enclosing their abodes with a substantial plastered brick and ... read more
Statue in niche on Chettiar home
Imposing Chettiar House Entrance
Quiet Street Awash in Red

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Kanadukathan December 17th 2017

I think I’m sleeping in the dance hall. My room is in a renovated Chettiar mansion, built in the French Art Deco style in 1939 by a wealthy businessman as a gift for his daughter. The Chettinad area north of Madurai is known for thousands of palatial buildings built by wealthy families in the late 1800’s up until World War II. They spared no expense, importing Italian marble, Burmese teak, and Indian rosewood for their extraordinary structures covered with sculptures, hand crafted tiles, and exquisite detail. Each house follows a similar plan, with a grand entrance opening into a broad gallery room or two, then into a central courtyard with rooms off to the sides. Cooking facilities are in a separate building or far in the back of the house. And in the cooking is the ... read more
A Cooking demonstration
My “Dance Hall” room at Visalam
Rear Entrance to Visalam

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Kanadukathan December 21st 2016

Been visting many sites around the rural area of Kanadukathan. It's just a small village which at some stage in its past was occupied by some very wealthy teak traders. There a a large number of their palatial houses scattered around plus some really interesting temples. The selection of photos below is a snap shot of our two days cruising around.... read more
Dining hall lit by Venetian glass
Tile making
Village procession

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Kanadukathan February 21st 2015

Armed with a list of places to see and some directions from the hotel, we set off to explore Chettinad. The first stop is a temple with rows of terracotta horses guarding the entrance. It sounds large and likely to be full of tourists. We progress ever further off the beaten track, with Mr Hussain stopping for directions every few minutes. Finally we reach the right village, but there is no sign of a temple. We ask again. Further down the road comes the answer. Once out of the village, we reach a deserted clearing in the scrubland with a temple-like gateway. Can this really be the right place? We get out of the car and find that the road leading beyond the gate is indeed lined with terracotta horses. Not the immaculately carved variety found ... read more
Well, hello
Chettiar mansion, main hall
Another restored mansion




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