In the heart of the Sivaganga district of Tamil Nadu lies the Chettinad region. It is famous for many things including its lip-smacking cuisine and amazing hospitality. Another reason why the Chettinad region is famous is for its magnificent Athangudi tiles.These are intricately patterned tiles that are hand-made and constitute a cottage industry in the quaint village of Athangudi, close to the town of Karaikudi. These tiles are a heritage of Chettinad and come in a variety of attractive colors and patterns. The designs that we see even today are from a bygone era with minimal modernization. They can be used on the floor, walls and even the ceiling. The effluent Nattukottai Chettiars of the Chettinad region used these beautiful tiles to decorate their massive mansions, built from the wealth earned from their trading sojourns. These Chettiars were known to have traveled far and wide through the south-east Asian countries in search of commerce and brought home many things of great beauty from foreign lands.
Their taste for beautiful things resulted in the Athangudi tiles. These eco-friendly ethnic tiles are durable and believed to be the product of intermarrying of western and eastern influences. The tiles have the intricacy of designs seen in English carpets as well as the smooth glazing seen in Chinese flooring. The tile designs are usually geometric or floral and have many names in the local language. You can even give your design and have them custom-made for you. The method of production is painstakingly slow and each tile is made individually.
The process of making these tiles is unique. Metal stencils are placed on tile-sized pieces of glass sheets and various pigments, dyes or oxides are added and swirled. After that, slurry made from sand, clay, white cement and colored oxides is then poured into the mould and allowed to stand for a few minutes before removing the mould. The glass side becomes the smoothly glistening upper side of the tile. The tiles are then left to cure in water for 21 days and then allowed to dry in the sun for a day. The glass then slips away from the tile naturally. These magnificent tiles are much in demand by the discerning members of society who appreciate their ethnic value.
Why not plan a trip to Chettinad and enjoy the numerous specialties unique to this region. Chettinad is well-connected with excellent highways and a railway station in Karaikudi. Neighboring Trichy offers the nearest airport. You could stay at the luxurious Chidambara Vilas boutique heritagehotel in Pudukottai and experience authentic Chettinad lifestyle.