Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Palatial Chettinadu House: Located, Dismanled, Transported and Reconstructed at Dakshinachitra, ECR, Chennai

Typical House of Nagarathar of Chettinadu recreated at Dakshinachitra, ECR Chennai

Exterior showing திண்ணை [ tiṇṇai ] , a raised floor of the veranda outside the house , a pial of the Chettinadu House at Dakshinachitra
Interior showing திண்ணை [ tiṇṇai ] , a raised floor of the veranda inside the house , a pial of the Chettinadu House at Dakshinachitra
Interior showing the Veranda and the Open Courtyard of the Chettinadu House at Dakshinachitra
This picture shows the exterior facade as well as the interior of the house at Dakshinachitra which is the reconstruction of the common facade of smaller Nattukottai Chettiar merchant houses from 1850 through the 19th century.

This Nattukottai Chettiar merchant house was located at a village in Ariyakudi (near Karaikudi). The house has been transported brick by brick and reconstructed at this ‘heritage centre.’ A team comprising architecture students, carpenters and workers was set about measuring, photographing and carefully dismantling the house. The dismantled house was  then transported to Dakshinachitra (in 50 -60 lorries). According to Deborah Thyagarajan from Dakshinachitra “Reconstruction of the prototype often costs as much as three times the original value of the house.” Since approximately 30% of the timber required replacement. At Dakshinachitra,  the reconstruction was carried by highly skilled artisans and craftsmen experienced in Chettinadu traditional house construction . The house was reconstructed at a cost of Rs. 15 lakh with ornate doors and woodwork. Please note the outside columned veranda of Burmese teak.

It is very important to read the information provided at houses and exhibits to fully appreciate its cultural significance and observe details that might otherwise be overlooked.

Chettinad is the homeland of the Nattukottai Chettiars called the Nagarathars and they are a prosperous banking and business community. It is a place of rare charm, and a must visit destination.  You may find palatial mansions and huge houses embellished with marble and Burma teak. A map comprising the villages forming part of Chettinadu region comprising  seventy six villages located in Pudukottai, Pasumpom Muthuramalingam and Sivaganga districts of Tamil Nadu is shown here.
Map of Chettinadu Region. Village Names given in Tamil
Dakshinachitra – As name suggests, it means a “picture of South”. It is a heritage museum. Dakshinachitra is a non profit community service project of the Madras Craft foundation for the promotion and preservation of the cultures of the diverse people of India with emphasis on Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

Working days

It is open on all days except Tuesday. There is an Entry Fee of Rs. 100/-. Camera Charges are Extra. Credit cards are accepted at the counters.
How to Reach?

Dakshinachitra is a little out of the city (25 kilometers away from Chennai).  a 30 minute drive out of Chennai on the East Coast Road. While public buses ply the route, using private transport will save you a fair walk from the bus stand to the Centre.

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