The Chettinad region in Tamil Nadu is famous for many things including its cuisine, culture and magnificent heritage homes that were built so opulently, they could almost be classified as palaces.,/p>
The Nagarathar or Nattukottai Chettiar community living in this region included 93 villages, but these have dwindled down to around 70 with people migrating to the larger cities. The Nagarathar community can be divided into 9 clans with each clan following one among the 9 important ‘Nagara Kovils’. An important feature of these nine temples is that they all have Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati as their main deities. The only difference is that the deities have different names.
Among the nine temples managed by the Nagarathar community, the temple located in Velankudi is the smallest. This rustic village is located along the Trichy main Road and is around 10km from Karaikudi (the largest city in the Chettinad region). Velankudi is named after the abundant ‘Vela’ trees growing in this region and the temple here is known as Velangudi Kandeswarar Kamatchiammai Kovil. The temple has an intricately carved ‘Gopuram’ (gateway) magnificent with numerous sculptures that will enthrall you with their beauty. The deities here are known as Sandeeswarar (Lord Shiva) and Kamakashi Ammai (Goddess Parvati).
An interesting fact about this village is that about 100 years back, there were around 200 homes here, and now also there are still only around 200 homes here with a population of a little over a thousand people. Another famous temple here is the Vayanchi temple; there is a water tank in front of it that is believed to have been the place of the ‘Siddhas’, so the inhabitants don’t bath in its waters.
An interesting legend about this temple goes that once King Pari was out hunting when he came across a hare that ran into a hole. When his men hit the hole with a crowbar, there was a metallic sound and an Ambal statue was found inside it. It was first installed in Pallathur, but was later shifted to this temple in Velankudi. It is believed that anyone who lies in front of this temple will have their home and family destroyed; hence people are very devoted to her.
When planning a visit to this famous Chettinad region, you could stay over in Pudukkottai at the heritage Chidambara Vilas hotel which is a renovated century-old palace. Get pampered with authentic Chettinad cuisines and traditions here as you enjoy the beauty of their temples. Getting here is easy as Pudukkottai is well connected with highways and railway, with the nearest airport being in the neighboring Trichy city.