Decor/ Travel

Off the Beaten Road ~ A Taste of Rural Tamil Nadu part2

Hello again peeps!! I am back on the blog to continue from where I left last.
As we set upon our quest to explore the mansions nestled in the neighbouring villages, out first stop was Athangudi. The beautiful palace here more than deserves its own blogpost! It is a fitting example of maximalism at its absolute best!
The stunning ceiling and entrance give one a glimpse of the view that awaits.
Stepping into the main hall, one really needs to pause and take a moment to appreciate all the intricate details of the ornate craftsmanship that surrounds. There is so much beauty to take in that its almost overwhelming and hard to put into words, so I will simply let the pictures do the talking!
The way to the palace was lined with many small Athangudi tile factories…crafting these geometric beauties out of bright paints, local sand and some good old cement. It is almost impossible to believe that a process as simple as this can produce something so very exquisite and durable, capable of making the most expensive marble floors pale in comparison.
As no holiday to the south of India is ever complete without a customary visit to a temple…so with traditional flowers in hair and coconut in hand I then walked into Pillayarpatti,  a rock cut temple that houses a much revered Ganesha deity, 6 feet tall and growing!!
And because my old unending love for antiques refuses to fade, ignoring the very vocal protests of my four year old, I religiously marched into all the antique shops of Karaikudi one after the other!
These were all packed to the rafters with old wares from Chettiar homes. Ceramics from China and Japan…row after row of enamelled cookware from Czechoslovakia, original Belgian glassware…traditional Indian brassware. Most were once gifted as dowry to the brides of the time! This crazy mix of antique odds and ends originally sourced from around the world can put any modern day shopaholic to shame!
On our way back we visited the Mahalakshmi Weaving Centre at Kanadukathan. To see and buy soft cotton saris being woven on the traditional loom by friendly elderly women of the village, who have been doing it for over 3 decades!!
Come day 3, and we set our sights on the nearby villages of Kothamangalam and Kadiapatti.
The former is home to a beautiful and quaint heritage home called Saratha Vilas, run by two very pleasant French men and their three friendly dogs! Their potent coffee, sweet pies and tastefully done up quirky interiors turned out to be an absolute visual and sensorial treat!
We then ambled along to the town of Kadiapatti, which houses many heritage homes. It heartbreaking to see that most lie in ruins today except for the glorious Chidambara Vilas, which has been immaculately restored to its former glory and turned partially into an upscale heritage hotel!
We savoured one of the most memorable traditional Chettiar spreads of our trip here, though I must say that food anywhere in the Chettinad is lipsmacking and does not disappoint!
And so with our bellies full and hearts joyous we called it a day!
After 3 full days of having walked the long winding bylanes of many of these villages steeped in rich history…the Chettinad for me turned out to be a  opportunity to experience a lost piece of our beautiful heritage and practice some slow living…and slow travel…offering a much needed departure from the daily chaotic humdrum of city life!!
I left the place, mesmerised with the immense beauty of a bygone era and a heartfelt wish that more of these beautiful homes find people or enterprising
partners to care for them…and stop these once bustling villages from turning into ghost towns.
Till next time then…I will show up again when I have something beautiful to share with all you lovely folks. Sending everyone much love!!

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  • Reply
    January 25, 2019 at 11:15 am

    Hi I loved your blog on Chettinad mansions. As you already travelled there can you advise me on best itinerary for Madurai, Pondicherry and Chettinad area? Thank you xxx

    • Reply
      January 27, 2019 at 5:17 pm

      Hi Kanchan, glad that you liked the blog. Both Pondi and Chettinad are worthy of 3-4 days each.

      You could stay in the heritage town area of Puducherry or auroville (about 30 mins apart). I love Maison Perumal in Puducherry to stay in. Auroville has many guest houses to choose from. But all these places get booked out well in advance so make plans early 🙂 you can spend couple of days just wandering the streets of the heritage french town in Puducherry and a spend day at Auroville.

      Chettinad region
      There are four well known mansion hotels to choose from – Chettinadu Mansion (where we stayed), Visalam – both in kanadukathan village, Saratha Vilas in Kothamangalam and Chidamabara Vilas in Pudukottai. The days can easily be spent going from one village to another (there are 70 of them 🙂 like Karaikudi, Athangudi etc. All these are easily covered in an auto

      I didnt spend any time in Madurai so cant advice much on that.

      Hope this is helpful 🙂 have a great holiday !!

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