The Nagarathars (also known as Nagarattar) are a Chettiar community that originated in Kaveripoompattinam under the Chola kingdom of India. They are a prominent mercantile caste in Tamil Nadu, South India.

Business community

Nagarathar business people are Hindus, predominantly originating in the Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu. They have been trading with Southeast Asia since the heyday of the Chola empire, but in the 19th Century they migrated to countries throughout Southeast Asia. (See Tamil diaspora)

Nagarathars, also known as Nattukkottai Chettiars, were an important trading class of 19th and 20th century South East Asia and spread to Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Malayasia, Singapore, Java, Sumatra, and Ho Chi Minh City. Changing political and economic situations since that time have caused many of these communities to disappear as their members returned to India or sought other, more hospitable homes.

Chettiars were traditionally involved in occupations like moneylending and wholesale trading. Banks established by Chettiars include the now defunct Bank of Chettinad, and the now ICICI merged Bank of Madurai founded by Karumuttu Thiagarajan Chettiar (an Architect par excellence, Textile Don, highly principled Educationist and Philanthropher), Indian Overseas Bank founded by Shri. M. Ct. M. Chidambaram Chettiar, and Indian Bank founded by Raja Annamalai Chettiar. Nagarathars are known for their philanthropy; building temples, and schools and maintaining them throughout Asia.

Religious influence

Nagarathars spread Hinduism in Asian countries as well as business. Even today, one can find temples dedicated to the Hindu deity, Murugan, spread throughout Asia. There are Thandayuthapani temples in 15 locations in Malaysia, two in Singapore, 50 temples in Myanmar, and two in Ho Chi Minh City. Sri Lanka has three of these temples, as well as the famous Selva Vinayagar Temple (Kandy). There are also temples maintained by Nagarathars in locations across the globe, including North America. Inscriptions within the Karpaka Vinayakar Temple at Pillayarpatti dating between 1091 and 1238 indicate that the Pillayarpatti Nagarattar became the custodians of the temple during the 13th century, in its second growth phase.


The king of Pandiya gave the Nagarathar community nine villages around Pudukottai to settle. They built a Shiva temple in each of them and created the "9 temple" or "9 koil" division of the community. Initially, the Nagarathars lived in 96 villages surrounding the temple, but as of 2007, they have reduced their size to 74 villages. The koil is used as a primary classification for the community. Members of each temple society treat each other as brothers and sisters or "pangalis" and thus marriage is not allowed amongst members of the same temple. Men and women of different temples marry, and the bride automatically becomes a member of the groom's temple.

The koils are:

  • Illaiyathangudi —
  • Mathur —
  • Vairavankoil —
  • Nemamkoil —
  • Illupaikudi —
  • Surakuddi —
  • Velangudi —
  • Iranikoil —
  • Pillaiyarpatti —

Some of these temples have sub-divisions.

  • IIaiyatrangudi: Kazhani Vaasarkkudaiyar, Kinginikkoorudaiyar, Okkurudaiyar, Pattanasamiyar, Perusenthurudaiyar, Sirusenthurudaiyar, Perumaruthurudaiyar
  • Mathur: Arumbakkur, Kannur, Karuppur, Kulathur, Mannur, Manalur, Uraiyur.
  • Vairavankoil: Kazhani Vaasarkkudaiyar, Maruthenthirapuram, Periya vahuppu, Pilliyar vahuppu, Theyyanar vahuppu

Nagarathar villages

The original 96 villages in which the Nagarathar lived are listed as follows:

Therkku Vattagai (South)

# Name
1 Nattarasankottai —
2 Paganeri —
3 Madagupatti —
4 Okkur —
5 Cholapuram —
6 Kalayarmangalam —
7 Kandramanickam —
8 Vettriyur —
9 Natarajapuram —
10 Pattamangalam —
11 Kollangudi Alagapuri —
12 Chokkanathapuram —
13 Alavaakkottai —
14 Keela Poongudi —
15 Sakkandhi —
16 Karungulam —
17 Aranmanai Siruvayal —
18 Panangudi —
19 Sembanoor —

Mela Vattagai

# Name
20 Kilasivalpatti —
21 P. Alagapuri
22 Kandavarayanpatti —
23 Pulangkurichi —
24 Aavinipatti —
25 Mahibalanpatti —
26 Viramathi —
27 Nerkkupai —
28 Sirukudalpatti —
29 A. Thekkalur —
30 Sevoor —

Keela pathoor Vattagai

# Name
31 Arimalam
32 Rayavaram
33 Kadiapatti —
34 Thenipatti —

Keela Vattagai

# Name
35 Devakottai
36 Thanichaoorani —
37 Aravayal —

Mela pathoor Vattagai

# Name
38 Valayapatti
39 Kulipirai
40 Nachandupatti
41 Melachivalpuri
42 Kopanapatti
43 Rangiyam
44 Kuruvikondanpatti
45 V.Lakshmipuram
46 Ulagampatti
47 Pon. Pudupatti
48 Vendanpatti
49 Vegupatti
50 Virachilai
51 Panayapatti
52 Mithilaipatti

Pathinaru Vattagai

# Name
53 Karaikudi
54 Kandanur
55 Kottaiyur
56 Uyikondan Siruvayal
57 Kothamangalam
58 Nemathanpatti
59 Ariyakudi
60 Amaravathiputhur
61 Managiri
62 Nachiapuram
63 Konapet
64 Athangudi Muthupattinam
65 Ramachandrapuram
66 Shanmuganathapuram
67 Pallathur
68 Puduvayal
69 Ko. Alagapuri
70 Kanadukathan
71 Ko. Lakshmipuram
72 Palavangudi
73 Chokalingamputhur
74 Kallal
75 Kallupatti
76 Siravayal
77 Athangudi
78 Viswanathapuram
79 Sivayogapuram
80 Karaikudi Muthupatinam

Notable Nagarathars

Some notable members of the Nagarathar community include:

  • Kottaiyur Raja Muthiah Chettiyar,His name Recorded in Guinnes Book of World Record For maintaining a Library in his own house.
  • Karumuttu Thiagarajan Chettiar, Founder Bank of Madura, Thiagarajar Group of Textile Mills and Educational Institutions, Tamil Journalist and Editor, Philanthropher, Architect par Excellence
  • Rajah Sir Annamalai Chettiar, Founder and Pro-Chancellor of Annamalai University, Philanthropist, and the Rajah of Chettinad
  • Rajah Sir Muthiah Chettiar, Rajah of Chettinad, Pro-Chancellor of Annamalai University, philanthropist, patron of the Arts, industrialist, and first Mayor of Madras City.
  • Rani Lady Meyyamami Achi, Rani of Chettinad, patron of the Arts and charities.
  • Dr. Alagappa Chettiar, Philanthropist, Industrialist, Founder and Pro-Chancellor of Alagappa University.
  • M. A. Chidambaram Chettiar, philanthropist, industrialist, and former President of BCCI (the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai is named after him)
  • A.C. Muthiah Chettiar, industrialist, philanthropist, former President of BCCI.
  • Justice AR.Lakshmanan Chettiar, Former Judge of the Supreme Court of India, Chairman of the Law Commission of India.
  • Dr.M.A.M. Ramasaamy Chettiar, Industrialist, Philanthropist, Pro-Chancellor of Annamalai University, patron of the Arts, and Parliamentarian.
  • Diwan Bahadur A.M.M. Murugappa Chettiar, philanthropist,Industrialist and founder of Murugappa Group.
  • Palaniappan Chidambaram known as P.Chidambaram, Chettiar of Kanadukattan,is the Finance Minister of India.
  • Kavignar Kannadasan, noted poet.
  • Kalaimamani "Kathal" Aru .Ramanathan Chettiar of Kandanur, novelist, wrote Raja Raja Cholan Drama and Veerapandiyan Manaivi; publisher, Prema Pirasuram; Chief Editor of the magazines Kathal, Marma Kathai, and Kalaimani.
  • A.V. Meiyyappa Chettiar, philanthropist, industrialist, founder of AVM Productions and Studios.
  • A.Subramanian Chettiar, industrialist, Anglo French Textiles.
  • Rama. Thiyagarajan of Rayavaram, publisher and editor of the Tamil magazines Papa (children's) and Thirai Oli (cinema)
  • Kuzhanthai Kavignar Azha Valliappa, poet.
  • Tamizhvanan, popular writer and the editor of the Tamil magazine, Kalkandu.
  • Vai. Govindan, publisher of Sakthi, a periodical.
  • S.A.P. Annamalai Chettiar, Chairman and Chief editor of the Tamil weekly Kumudam.
  • Vasanth, Tamil film director who has directed over 25 films.
  • Rama Narayanan, Tamil film director who has directed famed films like 'aadi velli'
  • "Panchu" Arunachalam, Famous Cine Producer (P.A Arts) and Story Writer
  • Karu.Palaniappan, Cinema Director (Parthipan Kanavu,Pirivom Santhipom etc.,)
  • "Abirami" Ramanathan, MD, Abirami Mega Mall & Theatres, Purasaiwalkam,Chennai
  • Nagappan,Financial Advisor (Who comes in SUN TV Program)
  • S.P.Muthuraman,Cine Director, directed as many as 27 Rajnikanth films (including Priya,Netri Kan,Mr.Bharath,Dharmathin Thalaivan,Pandian)
  • Sa.Meyyapan, Vetri Guides, Manikavasagar Publications
  • Suba.Veerapandiyan ,brother of SP.Muthuraman
  • Sri Chockalingam, High Court Judge, Chennai
  • Sri.Cho.Cho. Mee. Sundaram, who won Porkili,a very good orator and a Poet, from Devakottai
  • Sri S.S.Meenaksh Sundarm who presided over "coffe board" at Bangalore, then the "Milk Board", later served as Prime Ministe's office during Mr.Deve gowdas Period
  • Mr.Hari of Devakottai the PRO for Mr.Obama,the US presidential candidate
  • Seenu Mohan - Noted Stage Dramtist and Film and Television actor

See also


  • Rajeswary Brown. (1993). Chettiar capital and Southeast Asian credit networks in the inter-war period. In G. Austin and K. Sugihara, eds. Local Suppliers of Credit in the Third World, 1750-1960. New York: St. Martin's Press.
  • David Rudner. (1989). "Banker's Trust and the culture of banking among the Nattukottai Chettiars of colonial South India". Modern Asian Studies 23(3), 417-458.
  • Heiko Schrader. (1996). "Chettiar finance in Colonial Asia". Zeitschrift fur Ethnologie 121, 101-126.
  • Nagarathar Kalaikalangiyam by Meyappa Chettiar
  • The Chettiar Heritage Book
  • Nishimura, Yuko Gender. (1998). Kinship and Property Rights: Nagarathar Womanhood in South India. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195642732.

External links

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