Chettinad, Village Clusters of the Tamil Merchants

Chettinad comprises of a network of 73 villages and 2 towns forming clusters spread over a territory of 1,550 km2 in the Districts of Sivagangai and Pudukottai in the State of Tamil Nadu.

The Natukottai Chettiars belong to a lineage of wealthy traders and financiers who made their fortunes by extending their business to the whole of Southeast Asia, particularly during the second half of 19th and early 20th century when they were at the peak of their economic power. Vital component in the south Indian economy, the Natukottai Chettiars represented the major banking Hindu community of South India. Their vast influence and richness allowed the community to build a dense network of 96 villages among which 73 remain, according to the Maniyadi Sastram texts, the traditional planning and lifecycle precincts.

All the Chettiar settlements possess outstanding physical characteristics of urban and land-use planning with their South-North/East-West grid pattern, including water system, and the development of palatial architecture which depict a unique cultural interchange of cultures with influences from all over the world and the combination of the vibrant Tamil traditions. These settlements and the architecture, built from 1850’s to 1940’s, are directly associated with the rich living heritage specific to the Chettiar community.

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