The Architectural grandeur of Chettinad homes

On September 18, 2014

The magnificent mansions in Chettinad reflect a confluence of vernacular architecture & a blend of South East & European architectural styles. This region comprises a great number of striking “Art Deco” style houses built in the 1940 or 50’s (also called “French Art Deco”). Karaikkudi has an important Art-Deco quarter, which includes the Thousand Windows House.

The floor plan and structure of a typical Nagarthar are in accordance with all the aspects of the home dweller’s daily and various ceremonial rituals. Most Chettiyar houses will have a reception area edging onto the street called a thinai with a room to carry out business, an interior courtyard for ceremonies with a raised seating area on one or both ends, a series of small double rooms opening off the main courtyard, for storage, prayer and sleeping and a small courtyard behind for cooking and for the women to socialize.

Chettinad architecture is characteristic of its use of large spaces in halls and courtyards, The Construction materials, decorative items and furnishings were mostly imported from East Asian countries and Europe. The marble was brought from Italy, chandeliers and teak fromBurma, crockery from Indonesia, crystals from Europe and wall-to-wall
mirrors fromBelgium.

Some striking features of Chettinad style of architecture are cluster Houses with mostly East West orientation, high – rise compound wall in front, the Arch at the entrance with stone steps, edges of passages lined with cut stone slabs known as ‘vellaikkallu’, elevated plinth, tiled portico, sloping clay tiled roofs, facade with stucco sculptures, a high door frame with ornate wood work, decorated window niches and an open courtyard

Each Chettinad house is divided into 5 major sections – the Mugappu, Valavu, Irandankattu, Moonamkattu & Thottam. Mugappu is the reception or the entrance of the house, Valavu is the living area with 4 platforms on the 4 corners called Pattalai which is the living hall of each family. The Valavu would also consist of numerous Irattai veedu where each family keeps their belongings. The Irandankattu is the dining space with a separate storage for crockery and kitchenware. A Nadai or corridor leads to the Moonamkattu which is the kitchen. The Garden, stables, cowshed is located in the Thottam.

Get a first-hand feel of authentic Chetinad architecture at Chidambara Vilas. The luxury heritage resort is a 110 year old heritage Chettiyar home restored with all the grandeur and charm intact.