Located around 70km from Trichy in Tamil Nadu, is the Chettinad region comprising of a cluster 76 villages and towns. The largest of these is Karaikudi which is a major educational and tourism hub today. The village of Athangudi is nearby, with around 2,000 inhabitants.
This village is famous for its unmatched hand-made Athangudi tiles which have become a trademark of the village. Most of the families here are involved in the production of these durable and eco-friendly tiles made in traditional ornate patterns. Another feature for which Athangudi, and indeed the rest of Chettinad region is famous for, are its palatial mansions.
Though there are over a thousand of these huge mansions lining the streets of the Chettinad region, one of the most famous is the Athangudi mansion. With over a hundred rooms, it’s also known as the Athangudi glass palace due to the rows of Belgium mirrors lining its central hall. The sheer grandeur of this mansion will take your breath away with its mind-boggling beauty. It has an eye-catching highly-ornate ceiling lined with magnificent tiles with patterns that appear to pop out of them.
It is located on the main street of Athangudi and stands out for its sheer size and grandeur. It is also one of the few mansions that is still in use by the owners and well-maintained. You can view the grand heritage interiors of this home which tells tales of the more opulent times when the Chettiars were a mercantile community. The architectural style here is a throwback to the colonial era and marked by carved gateways, arched windows, high ceilings and huge halls. All the mansions in this region follow the same architectural style with a series of highly-embellished central courtyards surrounded by ornamental pillars, decorative balustrades and symmetrically placed doors.
As with all other Chettinad mansions, this mansion too occupies the entire space between two parallel streets, which is usually at a distance between 50-100 meters. It is beautifully painted with a mix of limestone, seashells and egg whites that still gleams in the light after the passage of over a century. The highly-embellished first courtyard is lavishly decorated and is used for large gatherings like weddings and festivals.
With so much beauty to it, it’s not surprising then that many an Indian movie has been shot here. If you are planning a visit to Chettinad, you could stay over at the magnificent Chidambara Vilas Boutique Hotel nearby which is a renovated century-old palace and experience true heritage at its best. The area is well-connected by road, rail and air.