A Cultural Region known for its Outstanding Heritage
The Saratha Vilas is located in the village of Kothamangalam, in the
heart of Chettinad, a rich cultural region known for its outstanding
architecture and living heritage.
Chettinad, a unique and little known architectural heritage
Chettinad is a semi-arid plain of 1,550 square kilometers in the heart
of Tamil Nadu, inhabited by some 110,000 Chettiars who are spread over
two towns and 73 villages.
Since the time the community was founded, the Chettiars have upheld a
vision of urban planning and development and have built thousands of
palatial homes forming architectural ensembles which make this area an
outstanding heritage region.
The 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 19th century when they were at
the peak of their economic power. As a result of their traveling, the
Chettiars integrated diverse influences into their traditions which
contributed to their uniqueness. Their villages were constructed upon
precise and sophisticated rules of urban planning, represented namely by
orthogonal streets and specific water management systems.
The houses, which evolved over two centuries, are veritable palaces, and
one can see hundreds of them in each village. On the ground floor, the
architecture is typically Tamil, while one can see Western influences on
the higher floors. This reflects the Chettiar way of life, a combination
of their vibrant traditions with the global economy. In order to build
these palaces, materials and expertise from all over the world were
used, only adding to the cultural glory of Chettinad.