SARATHA VILAS HOTEL - CHETTINAD

A Luxurious Heritage Mansion

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Like all the mansion in Chettinad, the house was constructed following the rules of Vastu Shastra, the traditional science of architecture of wellbeing. It is comprised of a succession of inner courtyards and halls laid out on a longitudinal axis opening a perspective along the entire length of the house.

The main verandah at the entrance of the mansion is guarded by columns of dark marble and opens into a grand hall crowned with chiseled woodwork painted in delicate colors. The central courtyard is surrounded by carved granite pillars in the style of Dravidian temples and is followed by a dining room encircled by an arcade of heavy stone columns under decorated cornices covered by a pressed metal ceiling imported from England.

The perspective which crosses the whole house from West to East, opens on the ancient kitchen courtyard, today the open-air restaurant, then finally on the garden planted with hundred-year-old coconut palms where we installed the swimming pool.

For finishes and decoration, the founder, Subranania Chettiar, does not hesitate to bring the best from around the world: Burmese teak, ceramics from Japan or Europe, marble from Italy and Belgium, the great crystal chandeliers and mirrors from Belgium. The result is a blend of unique and sophisticated Tamil and Western architecture.

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Tamil Traditional Magnificent Architecture

The different architectural influences reflect the Chettiar way of life who combined their vibrant Indian traditions with influences from around the world.

Facade

One can also see Western influences on the main façade and upper floors, featuring classical architecture details, such as colonnades, cornices, multi-level balustrades, parapets and symmetrical organization following the classical style.

The facade of Saratha Vilas is a blend of Tamil and Baroque architecture.

One can see sculptures of the deity Gaja Lakshmi, different levels of parapets, loggia and verandah shades separated from the street by a high compound wall and a front garden.

Thinnai

The main entrance verandah, called Thinnai, was used by the men for business. We can find the Thinnai at the entrance of all kind of Tamil houses, from the humbles to the sumptuous ones.

The Thinnai at the Saratha Vilas is surrounded by series of black stone colonnades in a western style and floored with marble from Italy and Belgium.

Main Hall

The main hall is the masterpiece of the house, with an outstanding wooden ceiling, large chandeliers imported from Europe, and Italian and Belgium marbles on the floor. For the finishes and decoration, the founders did not hesitate to use the finest materials available from all over the world.

The result was a unique and elaborate blending of Tamil and European architecture.

Wedding ceremonies used to take place in this huge hall where hundreds of guests gathered together. Today it can host exhibitions and events.

Main Courtyard

The Chettiars took their climate into consideration in the design of their homes and the materials used as Chettinad is a hot and semi-arid region. The houses were built around an East/West central courtyard which brings shade, light, coolness and air to the entire home. The materials used for construction and the essential components of this luxury home are brick and lime plaster walls, terracotta tiled roofs, stone pillars, teak columns, and marble and stone floors.

The main courtyard is the heart of the house (naduvasal) where all the family ceremonies used to take place; the valuable marriage dowries were kept in the smaller rooms, the puja rooms (arai) on each side of the courtyard.

Dinning Hall

In this large hall, the guests took their meals during the festivities, notably the weddings. Breakfasts, lunches or dinners were served in successive waves, to hundreds of people seated on mats on the floor. The meal was served on a banana leaf placed on the ground in front of the guests. A multitude of dishes were placed on the banana leaf by the servants.

Today, it is still the dining room of the house for rainy days, when it is not possible to take meals outside.

Moonamkattu

The famous Chettinad dishes were prepared in the kitchen courtyard during giant weddings held in the house. The whole courtyard was occupied with the preparation and cooking of the festive dishes under the control of the women of the family. The daily kitchen was also located in this courtyard. It has been transformed into a kitchen for the hotel. We prepare the traditional gastronomy of Chettinad, prepared however by limiting the addition of salt and oil, very present in traditional recipes.

Meals are served in this courtyard, in the shade of the lean-to during the day, under the open sky in the evening.

A Place to Stay in South India

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