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Colour Journey: Handcrafted Athangudi tiles line floors and doors of Karaikudi:A glimpse into the colourful town of Karaikudi, Tamil Nadu where contrasts of lavishness and simplicity can be seen in various aspects of day to day life. The people of Karaikudi share a love of décor and travel that manifests in multicultural characteristics of their architecture.

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Showcase 08 Jan 2017

Colour Journey: Exploring the old world charm of Karaikudi, the birthplace of Athangudi Tiles

Juxtaposing the splendor of travel with splashes of art; Colour Journey weaves a motley of narratives to take you on an expedition through the hues of our country. Navigate the plains and plateaus to see a kaleidoscope of crafts come alive – from scattered work desks to brightly coloured homes.

Colour Journey: Handcrafted Athangudi tiles line floors and doors of Karaikudi:A glimpse into the colourful town of Karaikudi, Tamil Nadu where contrasts of lavishness and simplicity can be seen in various aspects of day to day life. The people of Karaikudi share a love of décor and travel that manifests in multicultural characteristics of their architecture.

Quaint huts line the roads as you step into Karaikudi, a little heritage town tucked away in southern Tamil Nadu. Lush expanses of tall groves canopy the lanes, as peacocks run amidst coconut trees and vast expanses of green. Venturing deeper into the dense landscape, temple bells in the region hum a melodious welcome.

Dotted with many world-renowned temples, each family in Karaikudi is born into one of the nine main temples. A few lanes in, regal homes replace dense groves and numerous temples. A glimpse into the abodes tells us about the locals – Chettiars, known as traders and moneylenders for their mastery with accounting. Their love for décor and travel manifests in every inch of their homes and the attention to detail

Walking into a Chettiar mansion is like a quick tour around the world. Exuding their legacy, enveloped in rich colours, a potpourri of South Indian, Eastern and European influences floods the rooms; making them the perfect choice for heritage hotels and tourism spots drawing travelers from across the world. Pillars from Burma, tiles from Japan, marble from Italy and mirrors from Belgium among other little bits and bobs packed into the mansion tell tales of opulence.  But for Chettiars, it’s about a melodious confluence; while their homes are decked with lavishness, they resort to a simple white shirt and veshti (traditional men’s garment).

A few kilometres away, the quaint Athangudi village, awaits visitors – homes floored with handcrafted tiles, doors painted in a riot of colour, each house – small or big – is adorned with enchanting patterns. Known for its rare handmade patterned tiles around the globe, most families in the village work at the tile factories all day taking the craft forward, while always greeting visitors with gleeful smiles and open homes.

With small factories that have no more than four workstations, artisans handcraft each tile making them a skillful combination of intuition and understanding. Frames form the base for the process while also being vital to the aesthetic. Made with precision by the village’s expert artisan, Munnusami, all the frames are bent with accuracy, sometimes taking up to 10 days to ensure that colours won’t bleed into each other. Artisans in the factory set each tile on a glass pane, draw patterns and fill in the mould with large ladles, producing 100 tiles a day. Using a combination of soil and dyes to get the colours right, earthy hues – warm reds, fresh greens, bright yellows, vibrant blues, calming whites and strong blacks; they seal and cement their stories, tile-by-tile, travelling homes across the world.

Blooming regardless of the season, the eco-friendly Athangudi tiles rope in visitors to the village from all over, synonymous with precision, detail and a burst of hues. As floral motifs and geometric prints are etched onto tiles, the villagers and their infectious energy glides through the air, framing every home and heart with the desire to keep creating.

Karaikudi was part of the expeditions of Season 03 of Colour Journey. There have been 4 successful seasons of Colour Journey in all. For all the stories of Season 03, visit http://asianpaints.com/colourjourney/season3/