Discover the secrets of authentic Chettinad cuisine through cookery classes with local chefs. Enjoy the colorful and aromatic experience of garland making techniques, handed down over centuries. Participate in designing colorful and auspicious ‘Kolam’ designs with locals. Join family and friends in traditional games played in the region. Watch local artists from the area as they craft an ornate mehendi design of your choice.
Visitors to Chidambara Vilas can participate in various outdoor activities that are arranged by the staff, which are designed to help explore and discover what the Chettinad region can offer.
Flowers play a very important role in the Chettinad culture, and indeed in the way of life all over south india. Flowers are used for every auspicious occasion, in particular among the Hindu community. Only selected flowers and fresh flowers are used. Aromatic flowers are used to lend a fragrance to the place of the occasion, whether its worship or a community event. The flowers are used mainly in the form of garlands, and this has evolved into an art form over the past centuries. Some flowers used are jasmine, champaka, lotus, lillies, ashoka, nerium/oleander, chrysanthemum, roses, hibiscus, pinwheel flowers and manoranjitam.
The Chettinad region is well known for its temples, which play a central role in every town, from the layout to the economics and artforms. The patronage of the temples has taken the art form of Garland making to new heights. Tons of flowers are picked everyday to use in worship and community events, and the expert garland makers come up with innovative ways to display the flowers. The rituals and flowers used vary between the deity of the temples and regional systems. Every Chettinad clan has its own temple with variations on the core rituals.
The garland culture in Chettinad plays a role in all aspects of life, and learning about it is an experience in itself. Learn about the different kinds of exotic flowers and leaves used in the garlands, and in particular regional favorites. Join the women in plucking the fragrant and aromatic flowers from the gardens around the area. Watch the women deftly string together the flowers in different aromatic and visual combinations using techniques handed down over generations. Make your own garland design with the flowers of your choice. Observe the rituals surrounding the use of flowers for the various Gods. Learn about the myths of the garland makers of the various temples that dot the region, some of whom have pledged their entire lives to garland making for the gods. Garland making is an intensely spiritual exercise with a soothing effect with the natural colors and fragrances. It is also a community affair, which allows every woman to participate in the activity of worship. At Chidambara Vilas, visitors can experience the fragrant and colorful role of flowers in the daily life of the people in the Chettinad region.
Drawing Kolams is a tradition practised in Chettinad homes as a sign of good luck and prosperity. It is intended to welcome the Hindu goddess of wealth – Goddess Lakshmi. The kolam is drawn at the entrance to the house or the gate. It is drawn with the bare hands and using ground rice. There are also various colored powders used in the design. The colored powders are mixed with sand to lend a texture and shimmer. Designing a kolam is a work of art, including the border design, choice of colors and the actual execution.
Learn the art of drawing colorful ‘Kolams’ that are practised since ancient times in the Chettinad region. Participate in the process of designing Kolams, including choosing colors and the actual hand drawing methods used to create the Kolam. Its a creative and fun activity for women and children. Take a trip around the town to view the myriad Kolams drawn in front of the various houses.
In Chettinad, the joint family system meant that there were several ladies who could participate in the creation of the Kolam. The Kolams were a regular fixture in front of Chettinad homes. Large, beautiful and complex kolams were made by the ladies for whom it was a matter of pride. The kolams had to match the opulent chettinad homes to whom it welcomed visitors.
From ancient times, Chettinad women have created these magnificient designs in the first light of dawn, presenting a magical sight to behold at the threshold of the opulent homes. This was done to welcome wealth into the home, ward of evil spirits and eventually to feed the ants and birds that carry away the rice powder. Today, visitors to Chidambara vilas can become part of this colorful and auspicious tradition.
Chidambara Vilas includes dedicated activity spaces for indoor games ranging from contemporary games like carroms, to traditional games like Pallankuzhi (a traditional wooden board game), Thayam (similar to Snakes and Ladders). Relax with children and family or meet up with other visitors over the range of activities available.
Mehndi is a form of skin decoration involving creating temporary tattoos in various designs using Henna. The color of the temporary decoration ranges from red to black. It originated in South East Asia and is used by all communities in India as a form of decoration and during religious festivals and events. Visitors to Chidambara Vilas have the option of having Mehendi designs done based on designs of their choice. Mehendi is a ceremonial art form thats relaxing and ornate. Expert locals will apply ornate designs that stay with you for a few days as a reminder of your trip to Chidambara Vilas.
The world famous Chettinad cooking originated in this region and visitors to Chidambara Vilas have the opportunity of joining local chefs in preparation of the cuisine. Whether its to watch and take notes, or to participate hands on, its a chance to understand the authentic roots of the unique cuisine cooked with ingredients local to the region. Visitors can also quiz the chefs on tips and tricks to create the perfect Chettinad dish, and discover some lesser known dishes from the vast number of options available from starters to desserts.