History of Chettinad Pillars in Tamil Homes

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Chettinad is a region of southern India that covers an area of 1,550 sq km and is home to about 110,000 Chettiars spread across two towns and 73 villages.

They were a mercantile community that traded in everything from salt to gems with countries like Burma, Malaysia and Singapore. Much of their profits went into building palatial decorated homes.

History of Chettinad Pillars

The Chettiars, a trade community that had their origins in Poompuhar, a coastal village near Karaikudi, migrated inland to Chettinad in the 13th century after frequent tsunamis washed away their homes. They became prominent merchants and money lenders in the towns around them.

The wealth they gained through their trading and mercantile activities led them to build grand mansions that displayed their immense affluence. These mansions are known to be the finest examples of traditional Tamil architecture.

These Tamil homes are designed with large spaces in halls and courtyards, ornate embellishments like Belgian glasswork, intricate wood carvings, spectacular ceramic tiles and stone, iron and wooden pillars that have a distinct Chettinad style. They combine a wealth of aesthetic influences from European and Asian cultures to create a unique indigenous blend of tradition and modernity in home design.

Traditionally, these houses were planned with extensive courtyards and deeply-shaded verandahs to provide an excellent inside-outside connect. This helped to ensure that the family could enjoy plenty of natural light and cross-ventilation as well as keep their rooms cool during summer.

In addition, these houses were also designed with a central part of the house that served as the domain of the women in the household. This area was a great place for cooking, entertaining guests and performing religious rituals.

Another important feature of a Chettinad house is the main door that opens to the entrance and serves as the primary entryway to the entire complex. This door is usually adorned with various art works and is the biggest and most visible one in the entire complex.

Many of these doors have a lock on them that matches their size and style. These locks were also crafted on the request of the owners of the mansions to suit their needs and to match their taste and personality.

Aside from these Chettinad pillars, there were several other architectural works and decorations that made the mansions look even more extravagant. These included dome-shaped towers, pedestal urns and other decorative elements.

The pillars in these mansions were made of various materials depending on the financial status of the family. They were carved out of wood, marble or mosaic. These pillars were usually golden in color, matching the interior and exterior of the rooms they supported.

Chettinad Pillar Design

The design of Chettinad Pillars in Tamil homes is a combination of both Indian and European influences. These elements were used to create a rich and warm atmosphere in the homes. They also helped the homes retain their value.

The history of these houses reflects the wealth of the Chettiars, who made their fortunes as traders in Southeast Asia in the 18th century. They constructed palatial mansions that are now a part of India’s architectural heritage.

Most Chettinad mansions were carved out of local limestone, called karai. The interiors were decorated with marble, teak, chandeliers, crockery, crystal and wall-to-wall mirrors.

Many of these mansions are adorned with beautiful sculptures that are inspired by the Hindu epics. The doors of these houses were carved out of Burma teak that imparted warmth to the entrances.

Another important element of these houses is their outer patio, or verandah. This was an integral part of most ancient Indian homes, but Chettinad houses had porches that were more massive and beautifully crafted.

This is because the Chettiars were rich and powerful businessmen who needed to make sure they could have a place where they could entertain their friends and families. These porches were usually surrounded by beautiful wooden or cemented pillars that were painted or had gorgeous carvings on them. The veranda also led to the main entrance of the house.

When you enter the front door of a Chettinad house, you will find a huge and heavy door that is intricately carved and has tinted mirrors. This type of architecture is now being in a constant decline due to the fact that most of these buildings are being occupied by modern people.

However, these buildings are still a major tourist attraction because of their history and architecture. They also have a lot to offer to visitors, such as delicious cuisine and authentic culture.

The design of these houses is unique and reflects the culture of the Chettiars. They are a blend of traditional Indian and European influences that are admired by many.

Chettinad is a very culturally rich region of Tamil Nadu. It stretches across a network of more than 70 villages and is home to the Nattukottai Chettiars. These families travelled extensively throughout South East Asia and were able to use the knowledge they acquired from their journeys to influence the design of these homes.

Chettinad Pillar Materials

Chettinad is a region in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu that is famous for its beautiful and historic houses. The Chettiars were once a thriving mercantile community that traded salt, rice and jewels across the seas. They built palatial mansions in their native villages that display their wealth.

The Chettiars originally settled in the coastal town of Cholas Poompuhar, but in the 13th century they moved inland to a semi-arid area called Chettinad. It was here that they erected their palatial homes.

These grand mansions were designed around large courtyards and deep shaded verandahs that were used for entertainment purposes. They were also ideal for bringing family members together to celebrate special occasions and religious ceremonies.

To add to their opulence, the Chettiars would often decorate their mansions with ornamental elements such as gold and silver. Their doors were also usually carved out of Burma teak, giving them a warm and rich look.

Today, many of these traditional homes have been converted into hotels or residential apartments. If you are planning to renovate your own home, you should consider adding a few elements from Chettinad architecture to create an authentic and rich feel.

You should also consider using the patterned Athangudi tile flooring that is popular in this region. These tiles are handmade by local craftsmen and can be found in a variety of designs and patterns.

Another feature of a Chettinad home that will make it feel more authentic is the use of heavy wooden pillars in the interior design. Combined with other elements such as brass diyas and urlis, these pillars will give your home a sense of tradition and old-world charm.

The pillars can be made out of various materials. Some of the most common options include wood and stone, although you can find a wide range of other materials that can be used for these types of pillars.

In addition to a traditional look, the use of these pillars will also help you save money by reducing the need for additional support structures. Additionally, the pillars will be easier to maintain.

Chettinad Pillar Styles

Chettinad pillars are one of the many elements that make a Tamil home traditional. They are a strong visual statement of the family’s wealth, and you can find them in palatial mansions throughout Tamil Nadu.

The pillars of a Chettinad house are often Burma teak, and they come in various designs. They are often placed in the front courtyard to show off the wealth of the family.

Most Chettinad homes feature large, shady verandahs that connect the inside of the house with outside spaces. These spaces are a great source of natural light and cross-ventilation. They are also important in keeping the rooms cool during hot summers.

These verandas are often used for receptions and other functions that take place during a day, and they are also useful for hosting weddings. These verandahs are usually lined with carved pillars, and they can be quite elaborate in design.

Chettinad pillars come in various styles, and you can choose which one is right for your home. They can be a nice way to add old-world charm to your space, and you can even use them as a way to decorate the exteriors of your home.

They are also very sturdy, so you can rest assured that they will last a lifetime. However, they are prone to rust and oxidation, which makes it vital to maintain them on a regular basis.

Besides the pillars, these houses are also built with large courtyards that are designed to perform specific functions within the joint family set-up. These were used for gatherings such as weddings, as well as for family rituals and ceremonies.

The interiors of Chettinad homes were also very ornate and detailed. Woodwork handicrafts, sculptures and stucco accents were commonly used to enhance the aesthetic appeal of these homes.

Most of the walls in these houses were made from lime or egg plaster, a process that took at least five coats to give them an impeccably smooth finish. Stucco art and wall paintings from stencils were also used to create rich, colourful interiors.

In addition to the pillars, Chettinad houses are also famous for their courtyards and verandahs. These courtyards are important in maintaining a good connection between the inside and outside of a home, and they can be used as functional spaces such as kitchens or bathrooms.

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Arushi Sana
Arushi Sana is the Co-Founder of Santerra Living, a bio-pellet factory that makes a renewable form of eco-coal and Co-Founder of NYK Daily, a global news platform. She was awarded the Times Power Women of the Year 2022, Times Digital Entrepreneur of the Year 2023, Silicon India's Top 10 Women Owned Startups of Hyderabad 2023 and IHW Council Climate Health Influencer 2024. Arushi is also a speaker for Sustainability and Entrepreneurship at various forms like the World Bank, UN International Solar Alliance and Universities, and was also invited to the UN COP28 UAE Climate Conference. She is a Sustainability Consultant for organisations looking to reduce their carbon footprint and also works with brands on social media to help them carve a presence in that niche. She holds a Degree in Computer Science Engineering from VIT University and a Diploma in Marketing Analytics from IIM Nagpur. She has previously worked in Ernst & Young and Deloitte as a Forensic Data Analyst. Arushi is a writer, political researcher, a social worker, a farmer and a singer with an interest in languages. Travel and nature are the biggest spiritual getaways for her, and she aims to develop a global community of knowledge and journalism par excellence through this News Platform.

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