Karaikudi is located in the heart of Chettinad, a distinct region that lies to the east of Madurai. Occupying Tamil Nadu’s hot and dusty coastal plain, Chettinad is historically associated with trade and commerce and has provided a home to several of southern India’s wealthiest trading families. During the 19th and early 20th century, this merchant and banking community made their fortune overseas, working and living as far afield as Myanmar, Sri Lanka and South East Asia. Returning to settle in Chettinad, Karaikudi and the surrounding towns and villages, fortunes were spent on elaborate mansions and imposing palaces which over time have decayed and even been abandoned. These homes remain architectural masterpieces and an enjoyable day can be spent exploring them. The Chettinad region is also known for its textiles, antiques and local crafts.