Chettinad is a region in Tamil Nadu known for its food and its mansions. Our journey here will be about understanding this region through the sights and experiences that Chettinad has to offer. We will stay in The Bangala a heritage art deco hotel for 3 nights and drive around the landscape to get a feel of Chettinad
The pick up is scheduled at 1600 hours from Madurai Airport. The city of Madurai is 12 km from the airport and we will kick start the local experience by visiting the Visalam Coffee shop, famous for its filter coffee. The drive to Karaikudi will take 90 mins. On arrival at the Bangala, we will check-in. In the evening there will be a short briefing about the next two days. Karaikudi is the biggest of the 74 villages in the Chettinad region, which is known for the Chettiars community and their splurges on mansions in the bye-gone era.
Today will be a mix of Experiences and Sights. We will drive to the hill fort in Thirumayam to get an idea of the surrounding countryside. As we drive back we will pass the roadside cashew roasters and will make a stop to buy freshly roasted cashews. On our arrival in Kanadukathan, we will immediately be greeted by the famous Chettinad mansions, some of
them so big that their entry and exit are on two different parallel streets. We will visit one of the traditional mansions before lunch.
We will have lunch in a heritage art deco property different than the Chettiar style, but our lunch will be classic Chettinad. We will drive through the village passing the tiny streets with mansions on both sides. The hand made tiles of Athanagudi are used in all mansions and you can try a hand at making them too. The murukku is a famous snack in Chettinad and we will visit the women's co-op where it is made. Staying on local products our final stop for the day would be the basket making workshop.
Before heading back to the hotel we will visit the most interesting temple in the region. The Aayanar temple of Kanadukathan. The only temple without a roof, this Aiyanar temple is known for its terracotta horses lined up on either side of a 500 mtr pathway to the idols. We will return to The Bangala by 7 pm for some leisure time before dinner. Tonight's dinner would be in the Bangala which is where a lot of best chefs of the Chettinad cuisine have got their training from Mrs. Meyyappan.
Optional: Those who want to know more about the Chettinad cuisine would have to list themselves for a half-day cooking experience on the evening of day 3 today.
Every morning the breakfast at the Bangala is different from the staples of dosa and idly being present daily, and your friendly waiter is more than happy to talk to you about what you are being served. After breakfast, we will drive to Koviloor to visit a home museum of Chettinadu. Where you would learn more about the culture of the people who live here. Later we will visit a local training institute where young boys are taught to create stone and wood structures. The 1000 yr old temple of Koviloor is well known for its location and the stone carvings inside the temple are so intricate that the stories our guide will tell us to seem to come from every structure present.
We will visit the house of Raja Rajan who is the most famous artist of Tanjore paintings. The paintings though majorly of gods are worth a look and takes time to make. Return to the Bangala for lunch, will be served in a banana leaf. It does get hot in the afternoon so retiring back to the comforts of the room would be a good idea today.
The town of Karaikudi has a village-like feel. Though not as calm as some of the other villages in the region, the activity is what we need after a quiet afternoon. We will walk to the local market where we will invite you first for coffee and some local snacks. Later walking on the Antique street would be followed by visiting a handloom workshop where the Chettinnadu cotton sarees can be bought from the weaver itself. Return to the Bangala for dinner.
We will bid adieu to the Bangala and Karaikudi after a relaxed morning. On arrival in Madurai, we will walk through the flower market. The peak hour activity of early morning is over but still, the market would be active with the senses of sight sound and scent! You could buy some loose flowers to carry back which will bloom by the time you reach home.
Lunch will be at the oldest biryani place in Madurai, famous for its style of biryani. Later before we go to the airport we will visit the Famous Jigarthanda shop for a refreshing drink in the hot afternoon sun. We will reach the airport at 2 pm. We request all the flights to be booked from Madurai post at 3.30 pm.