THIS ANCIENT TOWN isassociated with the  Setupatis, local rulers who  rose to prominence in thelate 17th century under the Madurai Nayakas. They derived prestige and income by controlling the isthmus that led to Rameshvaram island. A century later, their rule came to an end when they surrendered to the East India Company in 1792.

To the west of the present town is the palace complex of the Setupatis. Though little remains, the 17th-century Ramalinga Villas  on the north side of the palace complex, still has well-preserved wall paintings. These depict the epics as well as battle scenes, business transactions and royal ceremonies. The tipper chambers depict more private royal scenes, such as family gatherings, music and dance recitals, and hunting expeditions. A small shrine, facing north, is dedicated to the family goddess of the Sotupatis , Rajarajeshvari. It stands immediately south of the Ramalinga Vilas.

On the outskirts of the town is the 800-year-old Erwadi Uargah, housing the tomb of Ibrahim Syed Aulia, a Muslim saint, It attracts devotees from all over India, as well as from Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore during its annual festival in December.

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