Chettinad Palace is considered as one of the seven wonders in India. It is an amazing amalgamation of art, architecture and tradition. It was Dr Annamalai Chettiar who designed the palace and got it built in 1912. The palace is an important structure in the history of India because it provides us so much information on the technology that was available during the period. The Chettinad Palace is an outstanding example of the rich cultural heritage of the people of Chettinad.
The style of the palace is in accordance with the traditional style preferred by the Chettiars. East Asian countries and Europe have played a major role in the construction of this palace since the raw material, decorative pieces, as well as furniture and upholstery, were brought from these countries. The chandeliers, teak wood furniture, marble, mirrors, carpets and even crystals were imported. However, it is this blend of different arts and styles that gives the palace its unique identity.
Athangudi village is located in Sivaganga district of Tamil Nadu and is 24 km from Karaikudi. The village itself comes within the Chettinad area and is very famous all over the country for the hand-made terracotta tiles that are made only here.
The tiles are built using cement, sand, synthetic oxides and belly jelly. The terracotta tiles are first shaped and then sun-dried after which they are adorned with artistically made patterns. It is the pattern that gives the tiles their unique texture. The pattern can be decorated with various colours to make the tiles look attractive. People also get customised tiles made for their houses and lawns. The most popular design on tiles for lawns is the one depicting flora and fauna. You can also get the tiles in the colours matching your walls and upholstery.
People in the village of Athangudi tend to use these tiles for increasing the appeal of their houses. In fact, the tiles are a common feature in many ancestral houses.
Then Tirupati, Ariyakudi is roughly 5 km from Karaikudi and is a very famous South Indian temple. The temple is revered among the people because of Lord Venkatachalapathi who is the presiding deity of the temple. He is also famously called Thiruvenkatamudaiyaan. The temple is considered as one of the earthly homes for Lord Balaji. People believe that praying at this temple is equivalent to praying at Tirumala; hence, the temple is called Then Tirupati or Tirupati of the South.
Then Tirupati is a very ancient temple that recently underwent renovations as the original structure was breaking down. Reconstruction of the temple has taken away its originality, but the renovation was important to save the temple for posterity. An original work that remains intact at the temple is a Garuda idol that is placed on the northern side of the temple and is called Kal Garudan.
Everyday, a special puja, is conducted in the temple and many devotees as well as tourists make it a point to be present at the temple for the puja.
Shiva Temple is situated in Kandanur, one of the areas in Sivaganga district. Kandanur is 7 km from Karaikudi and there are many buses that run daily between the two places.
The Shiva Temple in Kandanur is dedicated to Lord Shiva and his consort Goddess Parvati. The temple has a lot of religious significance for the people of Kandanur because they celebrate all the auspicious events in their lives by starting the procession from the temple. For example, all marriage processions are started from the temple. Those leaving the village first pay their obeisance at the temple and then bid adieu.
The temple is built in an wide open space that gives one the feeling of peace and tranquillity. Many people come to the temple to spend a few moments with themselves and god. They prefer to meditate at the temple because of the peaceful and holy environment that the place offers.
Kanadukathan is a small town located in the district of Sivaganga and is very close to the town of Karaikudi. The specialty of the place lies in the structure of its houses and the local food. The houses in Kanadukathan are huge and built in the typical Chettinad style. The main doors and entrances of the houses resemble the gateways of the Hindu temples; majestic and intricately carved.
The local cuisine of Kanadukathan is prepared in the typical Chettinad style with plenty of herbs and spices. Plenty of tourists throng to the town from Karaikudi to simply feast on the local delicacies.
A very common feature that is seen on the streets of Kanadukathan—potholes are covered with a wire mesh. These potholes have been built for rainwater harvesting. The town uses special water purifying techniques to make rainwater usable. All the towns and cities in the country could learn a thing or two from the people of Kanadukathan about water harvesting.
108 Pillayar Kovil is a temple located in the Karaikudi town that is part of the Sivaganga district in the state of Tamil Nadu. The temple is dedicated Lord Ganesha, who is the son of God Shiva and his wife, Goddess Parvati.
The temple is known all over the country because it houses 108 Ganesh murtis or idols. Many devotees flock to the temple in large numbers because of this special feature. The temple is also very popular among the local crowd mainly because Lord Ganesh is considered the deity who is responsible for removing obstacles from our path. Hence, people come to the temple to worship and seek the blessings of Ganesha before starting anything new. It is believed that invoking Lord Ganesha before the start of something new ensures that your new venture will go on smoothly without any obstacles. In order to impress the god, devotees offer his favourite sweet ladoo or modak at the temple.
Nagara Sivan Kovil is regarded as one of the most beautiful temples of Devakottai. The temple was built by the Nattukottai Nagarathars of the Chettiars of Devakottai town. Hence, the temple has been built in the typical Chettiar style of architecture.
The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and it is believed that he comes to the temple on a gold horse to bless his devotees. The other main deities at the temple are Sri Sundareswarar and Sri Meenakshi.
The Nagarathars from all over the world gather at the temple to celebrate the Navratri Festival during the month of October each year. After the festival of Diwali, another festival, the Kandar Sasti Vizha, is celebrated for 7 days. The festival is meant for the followers of Lord Murugan. The festival is celebrated with lots of pomp and show. Another very important feature of the temple is the Vaara Vazhipaadu or the weekly prayer that is being done religiously for the past 60 years now.
Gandhi Square at Maharnonbu Pottal is in the town of Karaikudi and has historical significance attached to it. Many famous personalities have made great speeches standing at this square.
The first time a famous personality visited Karaikudi was in 1906. Subramanya Bharti, who was famous Tamil poet, writer and activist, visited the town and sang a poem praising the Chettiar youths, who have done tremendous work for the development of the place. He sang this poem standing in front of the Gandhi Square at Maharnonbu Pottal. A photo taken at this grand event still exists and is a priceless collection in the history of India.
Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, came to Karaikudi in 1927 and delivered not one, but two speeches from the square, which was promptly named after him thereafter.
Pandit Jawharlal Nehru also visited the town in 1948 to open the centre of CECRI. He too made a speech standing at the square.
Aayiram Jannal Veedu is a famous landmark in the town of Karaikudi. The literal translation of the name of the place means the house with a thousand windows; a very apt name for a house that has thousand windows!
The house is very famous among the tourists who make it a point to visit the place when in Karaikudi. In fact, once in the town, simply ask anyone for directions to the house. Built in 1941 on 20,000 square feet of area, the house is very spacious and costed 1 lakh 25 thousand at the time, a meager sum of money now. The house has 25 huge rooms and five very large halls. There are some 20 doors in the house along with 1000 windows.
The first thing that strikes when one enters the house is that although it is in shambles and poorly maintained, the original style of architecture and grandeur still remains intact.
Piranmalai Seik Oliyullah Dargah holds religious significance for the Muslims. The dargah is located about 40 km from the town of Karaikudi.
Many tourists, regardless of their religion, visit the dargah every year because it is believed that those who worship and pray at the dargah get their wishes fulfilled. Many people also come to the dargah after their wishes have been granted.
The dargah is open to all and the local population of Karaikudi and the surrounding areas visit the dargah in large numbers everyday. According to local beliefs, if you pray at the dargah diligently then you can have any wish fulfilled including being blessed with children, getting a job, finding a suitable bride/groom or even for getting rid of the negative energy in your life. Many people suffering from various diseases and ill health also pray at the dargah for faster recovery. There are many testimonies to this and locals will tell you real stories of real people who have been blessed with good fortune and good health after visiting the dargah.
Pillayarpatti Temple is situated in the state of Tamil Nadu in the Sivaganga district. It is one among the oldest of cave temples in the state and is located at Pillayarpatti that is situated in-between the towns of Karaikudi and Padukottai. The inscriptions on the walls of the temple suggest that the temple was made sometime between 1091 and 1238 AD.
This world-famous cave temple has the images of various gods and goddesses cut from rock. However, the temple is dedicated to Karpaka Vinayakar or Lord Ganesha (the elephant god) who is the presiding deity in the temple. Pillayarpatti Ganesha carved out of a hillock is 6 feet tall. The idol is unique with the tusk unusually curved at the right. It was built by the Pandya kings.
Hence, the Vinayaka Chaturthi or the Ganesh Chaturthi festival is celebrated with a lot of devotion and fervour each year at the temple. Thousands of devotees flock the temple during the festival and participate in the celebrations religiously for a period of ten days. The Car Festival is also celebrated around the same time as the Vinayakar Chaturthi.
Kannathal Temple is situated in Nattarasankottai village that comes under the Sivaganga district. The village is close to the town of Karaikudi.
The temple is dedicated to the goddess Kannudaya Nayaki, who is considered as the swayambumurthi.
The uniqueness of the temple lies in its construction. The halls in the temple are spacious and majestic. The sanctum sanctorum, mahamandapam and the arthamandapam were built by the kings who ruled before the Nagarathars came to this part of the country. The Nagarathars added plenty of structures to the temple to make it what it is today.
They got a mandap built in the centre of the temple and a huge temple tower. These structures only added to the grandeur of the temple. They also built a special hall called Chokkattancherry that is a supreme example of the splendid architecture and craftsmanship of the times. The Nagarathars added plenty of vahanas or chariots in the courtyard of the temple. These chariots are made of wood, silver and precious stones.
Koppudai Amman Temple in Karaikudi is a very famous temple of South India and is very popular amongst devotees.
Many people suffering from various diseases of the skin, infertility issues or marriage-related problems throng to the temple in large numbers. According to a legend, it is believed that praying at the temple can help solve your problems.Those who are suffering from health-related issues also come to this temple to pray for better health. It is believed that a person who comes to the temple with complete faith will have their prayers answered.
The temple is also famous in South India for celebrating a grand festival on the last Tuesday of the Chithirai month. Devotees and tourists alike come to the temple to participate in the festival.
Kaviarasu Kannadasan Manimandapam is a small structure that has been built in the memory of famous Tamil poet Kavi Arasar Kannadasan who was born in Sirukoodalpatti, a sleepy village near Karaikudi. He was a man who is believed to have changed the face of Tamil literature with his revolutionary writings. He also had great oratorical skills and would mesmerise his audience when he took the stage.
He contributed not only to Tamil literature but also to the Tamil film industry by writing songs that became very popular. Many of his writings also found their way into Tamil magazines since he also wrote political satires. His writings have taken on an iconic stature in the state of Tamil Nadu because he gave the Tamilians the voice they were lacking. In his work, he spoke about the problems of the common people; their fears as well as their joys.
The Nagarathars built a mandapam for him to honour the man who made their community known all over the country.
The Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple, located in Karaikudi, is among the largest temples in the country. The temple was initially built by Kulasekara Pandyan, but only ruins of that temple remain now. It was Viswanath Nayakar who started the reconstruction of the temple sometime in the 16th century and Thirumalai Nayakar finally completed it.
Today’s generation can only marvel at the structure of the temple and how majestically it stands. The architecture and the style of engineering must have been way ahead of its times then. The temple has an impressive style with 12 huge gopurams with the four tallest gopurams standing on the outer walls of the temple in a protective stance. The pillars in the temple produce sound when they are struck. Different pillars create different musical notes. The pond that is famous for its golden lotus is situated on the left side of the temple’s shrine.
The temple is dedicated to Sundareswarar who is worshipped in the form of a lingam.