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An Agraharam in Thanjavur District
An Agraharam from Tirunelveli assembled within the DakshinaChitra museum.

An Agraharam or Agrahara is the name given to the Brahmin quarter of a heterogenous village or to any village inhabited by Brahmins. Agraharams were also known as Chaturvedimangalams in ancient times. They were also known as ghatoka, and boya.[1]

The name originates from the fact that the agraharams have lines of houses on either side of the road and the temple to the village god at the centre, thus resembling a garland around the temple. According to the traditional Hindu practice of architecture and town-planning, an agraharam is held to be two rows of houses running north-south on either side of a road at one end of which would be a temple to Shiva and at the other end, a temple to Vishnu. An example is Vadiveeswaram in Tamil Nadu.

With Brahmins taking up professions in urban areas and some migrating abroad agraharams are vanishing fast. Many of the traditional houses are giving way to concrete structures and commercial buildings.


The earliest existing description of an agraharam has been found in a 3rd-century AD Sangam Age work called Perumpāṇāṟṟuppaṭai.[2]

The houses had in front of them, a shed with short legs to which were tied fat calves; the houses were washed with cowdung and had idols (inside them). Domestic fowl and dogs did not approach them. It was the village of the guardians of the Veda who teach its sounds to the parrots with the bent mouth. If you (bard) reach (the place), fair faced bangled ladies who are as chaste as (Arundhathi) the little star which shines in the north of the bright, broad sky, will after sunset feed you on the well-cooked rice named after the bird (explained by the commentator as the rice called irasanam) along with slices of citron boiled in butter taken, from the buttermilk derived from red cows and scented with the leaves of the karuvembu, and mixed with pepper-powder, and the sweet-smelling tender fruit plucked from the tall mango tree and pickled[2]

Places with the name Agraharam or Agrahara[edit]

Andhra Pradesh[edit]

There are a number of places in Andhra pradesh named agraharam. These places may have originated as Bramhin-populated villages. Examples of such settlements include:

  • Agraharam, Kanuru, in Peravali mandal of the West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh state, India
  • Agraharam, Siddavaram, in Porumamilla mandal of Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh state, India
  • Aatreyapuram Agraharam, village and a mandal in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh state, India.
  • Chennupalli Agraharam, in Ballikurva mandal of Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh state India
  • Chintapalli agraharam, in Pentapadu mandal of West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh state India


There are a number of places in Southern Karnataka named agrahara. These places might have, probably, originated as Brahmin villages.

Tamil Nadu[edit]


Kalpathy Agrahara, Kerala
  • There is a famous Agraharam in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala called Valiya Sala which is the lengthiest Agraharam in India.
  • Agraharams in Palakkad district are around 96. When the count of villages in the municipal area, they are around 18 of them. The concept is similar with houses in row on both sides and a temple at one end. They may differ in shapes - some are in straight line, some are T shaped and few have multiple temples within the village.


  1. ^ P. 266 Precolonial India in Practice : Society, Region, and Identity in Medieval Andhra: Society, Region, and Identity in Medieval Andhra By Austin Cynthia Talbot Assistant Professor of History and Asian Studies University of Texas
  2. ^ a b P. T. Srinivasa Iyengar (1929). History of the Tamils from the Earliest Times to 600 A. D. pp. 388–389. 

External links[edit]