Chettiar Clan’s Chettinad Temples of Tamil Nadu

The Chettiyar (earlier known as Nagarathars) community of Chettinad region constructed temples wherever possible. Like in other communities, this community too had clans. There are 9 clans in Chettinad community. Each clan was associated with one temple with its own water tank. That is how 9 Chettinad Temples are famous in Chettinad region. Each clan had their own rules and protocols to be maintained. The temple committee often played a big role in town planning, and a flourishing city soon developed around these temples.These are some of the pictures of the interiors of the Chettinad Temples. Not all of them allow photography; wherever they permitted I clicked to my heart’s content. The sculpted figures are so life like, almost telling a story.

Chettinad Temples

9 Chettinad Temples

Nine of these temples are the most famous ones. Illaiyathangudi, Mathoor, Vairavankoil, Nemamkoil, Illupaikudi, Surakuddi, Velangudi, Iraniyur and Pillaiyarpatti. Very complex names, but all are reachable and we toured them in a span of three days crisscrossing the entire Chettinad region. Do a slow travel around he area to fully experience the greatness of the heritage of the place.

Each temple is unique. Religious activities dominated the daily life of people in these regions for centuries. The traditions and rituals handed down generations after generations. And watching them perform these activities is interesting and valuable. The entire set of 9 Nagarathar temples of Chettinad is worth visiting.

In its heydays the entire region must have been grand! Now it seems so dreadfully silent. Most noteworthy in these temples are the paintings on the ceilings. The colors are charming as ever. Time is taking its toll on these monuments of heritage. This area is a must visit destination in Tamil Nadu. Tourism in Chettinad is yet to pick up. I wish the Tamil Nadu Tourism board would do something about this.


One unusual aspect that was shared with me was that:

People within the same temple of Chettinad region are considered as siblings. To get married the bride and groom should belong to different temples. Only exception is Mathur Temple. There are subdivisions within the temple. So marriage among brides and grooms of certain subdivisions are permitted.


Best Time to Visit Chettinad Temples

The ideal time to visit and tour temples of Chettinad is October to March. I visited in the month of May and it was so dreadfully hot. It is best to avoid summers here.

How to reach Chettinad Temples

Villages of Chettinad are now spread over 1000sqmiles.Β  There are 56 villages in Shivaganga district and 20 villages in Pudukottai district of Tamil Nadu. We drove down to Chettinad from Bangalore. The nearest airport is Madurai. And the nearest railway station is Karaikudi.

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29 Responses

  1. DeniseinVA says:

    Greetings Indrani, your photos are always marvelous and show places I would love to see. This is a magnificent Temple, the engravings are fascinating with such lovely colors.

  2. Sylvia K says:

    And another incredible temple, glorious colors, incredible design/art!! They never cease to amaze me!! Thank you so much, Indrani, for sharing the beauty of your world!! Have a wonderful week!!

  3. Cloudia says:

    Striking especially to see western cherubs!

    ALOHA from Honolulu
    =^..^= <3

  4. Carver says:

    Great shots of the temple. I love the artwork in the stone.

  5. a different temple from the usual that we see. love the ceiling art, is that considered mural?

  6. Thanks for the comments friends.
    Photo Cache, those are paintings in ceiling.

  7. Beautiful photos of the temples and interesting information.

  8. ladyfi says:

    Wow – wonderful temple shots. So gorgeous!

  9. Sudhir R says:

    Grand, Colorful, Unique these temples are. Good captures!

  10. The wall paintings are amazing, I would like to go there, thanks Indrani.

  11. Jane says:

    How interesting and beautiful to see all the beautiful works of art! There must be so much history and symbolism associated withit all.
    Thanks for sharing

  12. Karen says:

    Such beautiful detail everywhere!

  13. Beautiful architecture..

  14. George says:

    Thank you for these beautiful interior photos of the some of the temples. The details are very impressive, and the colors of some of the art is very vibrant. I'm glad you were able to get pictures.

  15. Lovely pictures, those ceiling with painting are just marvelous.

  16. Amazing art in stone and paintings – Thanks for sharing.
    Thanks for stopping by.

  17. These pix look glorious…in South India temples were hub of socio-political life besides being the religious fronts…interesting to know a clan/family known by their temples…perhaps something related to gotras.

  18. Its nice to see people taking interests in maintaining the beauty of the temple, loved the paintings on the ceilings.

  19. awesome carvings and paintings on the temples!!

  20. It's wonderful that at least some of the temples permit you to take photos, otherwise I might never see there wonders.

  21. Jeevan says:

    Interesting brief on the temples and its commitments over there! Excellent perspectives in photos…

  22. Such wonderful sculptures. Nice post!

  23. post n pics both are beautiful. Chettinad famous for its food too !

  24. Beautiful! As always… The names certainly are tongue twisters but I managed them alright πŸ™‚ The roofs offer a vibrant colour display which I have not seen in other temples in south… the sculpture as always is awe inspiring …

  25. The use of pillars, is exquisite in all of them, It just adds to the grandness. The sculptures are flat not much elevated,Great pics, Thanks for sharing!

  26. Some great pictures, as always! Chettinad is one part of TN I have yet to explored. Thanks for this visual tour πŸ™‚

  27. I have read and heard a lot about Chettinad, but never got to visit. Your post almost gave me a tour. Thanks for this beautiful post.

  28. I'm yet to visit this part of the country…great sculptures and an informative account too, Indrani… πŸ™‚

  29. Beautiful shots as always. I haven't seen these but temples always entice me. Thank you Indrani for sharing this post, liked it a lot.

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