Current situation in Chettinad
This region went into decline about sixty years ago as a result of major
economic difficulties following the independence of Burma (Myanmar) and
Malaysia. This in turn led to the gradual disappearance of the
urban and architectural heritage.
Today, besides a few palatial homes which are still maintained by the
families for the purpose of important occasions and gatherings, a
considerable amount of houses have been already demolished, and those
which have survived, whose exact number is yet to be determined, are in
a critical state of conservation. For various reasons, in
particular the lack of financial means of the owners and a joint
ownership, the houses are dismantled for the purpose of sale. This
could totally wipe out the living evidence of a way of life, of an
extraordinary page in history, which constituted the cultural wealth of
India. The dismantling of houses has led to a lucrative antiques
business and many architectural elements, in particular pillars and
doors have been exported all over the world from Kochi, Chennai, Mumbai
and Delhi. In 1947, there were 96 villages in Chettinad.
Today, there are only 75. What will remain of their unique
heritage in ten years?
Development without planning and regulations will entail the loss of
Chettinad’s heritage. A specific regional plan will be necessary to
outline the possibilities of heritage-based development which would
include the following: Definition of the heritage zone; height of the
buildings; alignments; types of windows; materials and colours.
Connectivity, mobility and public facilities also have to be considered.
Demolition, Lack of Maintenance
Altough Kandukathan is still a great testimony to the past glory of the
community’s lifestyle, it is estimated that a large number of heritage
houses have already been demolished such as shown below with red. Only
the mounds on which the homes were built remain or sometimes an entrance
door or a portion of wall. The disappearance of these homes is a
significant loss of living heritage for the different communities in the