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Karaikudi is located in Sivagangai district between Thiruchirapalli - Rameswaram High road. It got its name because of the famous plant called "karai" which is widely spread over this area. The famous temple Pillaiyar Patti is 12 kilometers away from Karaikudi. The city is known for Sri Meenakshi-Sundareswarar temple, also known as Shiva temple which has 108 statues of Ganapathi. Karaikudi is the native land of Nattukottai Chattiar (Nagarathar) trading community. Almost every second house in the region has some relative living abroad, mostly in Myanmar (Burma) and Sri Lanka but also in other south-east Asian countries. Sekkalai is located at the northeast of Karaikudi, and was known as Jain Kunda Puram. In the North-east of Karaikudi is Muthu Pattinam which is known for Muthu Mariamman Temple. At the center is Kallukatti where the famous temple Koppudaiamman is located. The river Thennar flows through south Karaikudi. "Tamil Thai Kovil," "Kamban Manimandapam," the "Vallal Allagappar Statue," "Kaviaraser Kannadhasan Manimandapam and Statue" are some of the attraction in Karaikudi.
The Chettinad palace located at Kanadukathaan was built in 1912. It is open to visitors, it has Burma teak, granite pillars, stained glass and imported Italian tiles used in its construction. Other towns similar in character to Karaikudi are Pallathur, Athangudi, and Kothamangalam. All these town have some of the most lavish houses in Chettinad.
Vairavanpatti: The Vairavanpatti temple is on the Karaikudi-Madurai road, about 15 kilometers from Karaikudi. A splendid 19th century temple water pool is testimony to Dravidian architectural skills. The Nagarathar Country Airwave Theertham, a sacred spring is said to have miraculous healing powers. The temple has 23 bronzes, all dating to the first renovation, and 12 Vahanams. The temple also has several striking wall paintings, 37 based on the Vairava Puranam and 43 relating to the ancient Hindu epic Ramayana. There are also painting of scenes from the Mahabharata. The main deities here are Lord Aatkondanathar and Sivapurandevi.
Pillaiyarpatti: The best known of the Nagarathar clan temples, Pillaiyarpatti, about 12 kilometers from Karaikudi on the road to Madurai. It attracts visitors in large numbers from all parts of India and abroad. The Karpaga Vinayagar here is a huge bas-relief in a cave hewn out of a hillock. It is a splendid example of the art of the South Indian sculptor. The tall sculpture is more than 6 feet tall and dates back to the 5th Century CE. The Rajagopuram is on the eastern entrance and rises to five storeys. The temple is rich in stone and terracotta sculptures. There are 30 bronzes in the temple that date from the 10th century. The main deities here are Karpaga Vinayagar, Lord Thiruveswarar and his consort Sivagami.
Velankudi: The last clan temple is the Velankudi temple that is located on the Karaikudi-Thiruchirapalli road, about 10 kilometers from Karaikudi, in an area abounding in Vela trees. With just 46 police and a population of less than 200 in its four villages, this is smallest temple clan among the Nagarathars. A curious feature is that their numbers have not changed for over a hundred years. The result is a temple to which scant attention has been paid towards renovation. The last Kumbhabhishekam for the temple was performed in 1937. The temple was granted to the Nagarathars in 718 CE.
Mathur: The Mathur temple is a little more than 5 kilometers from Karaikudi. It can be reached not long after passing Iluppakudi. Burial urns found in the vicinity indicate that there were settlements here more than 1500 years ago. The temple is rich with sculptures, and there is a unique piece at the entrance to the Mahamandapam, where the steps, the two flanking elephants and the pedestals for the two doorkeepers have all been hewn from one stone. The nearly 70-foot tall Rajagopuram here has been constructed in five storeys. The Vizha Mandapam or the festival hall in front of the Rajagopuram or the main tower, at the entrance was built in 1949 and can seat 500 persons within the hall and another 500 around it. The main deity here is Lord Ainootheswarar and his consort Periyanayaki.
These are some of the interesting places to see in Karaikudi and neighboring area:
1. Chettinad Houses KaraiKudi, Pallathur, Athangudi and Kothamangalam have the Most lavish houses in the Chettinad.
2. Chettinad Palace The Chettinad Palace at Kanadukathan - it was buit in 1912.
3. Koviloor - 4 km Ancient Shiva Temple.
4. Kundrakudi - 9 kilometers Arulmigu Murugan. Temple.
5. Pillaiyar patti - 12 kilometers Karpaga Vinayagar Temple.
6. Nemam - 12 kilometers Sri Jayam Konda Soleeswarar Temple.
Hotels in Chettinad region:
Saratha Vilas Heritge Hotel, Karaikudi - 8 luxurious rooms
The Bangala Hotel, Karaikudi - 25 rooms
The Vasalam,Karaikudi - 15 rooms
Distance from Karaikudi in kilometers and miles:
Madurai - 80 kilomters or 50 miles
Thiruchirapalli (Trichi) - 110 kilometers or 68 miles
Rameshwaram - 120 kilometers or 75 miles
Thanjavur - 136 kilometers or 85 miles