The elaborate palaces of Chettinad are a triumphant mash-up of architectural styles, finds Caroline Bugler

Standing in a dusty street in the village of Kanadukathan in Tamil Nadu, it's easy to imagine you've been transported to a film set before the action begins.

The place is deserted, but stretched out in front of the main square is a palace, a dazzling spectacle of whiteness with door and window details picked out in terracotta, green and yellow paint. Balustrades on its roofline are topped with vases that could have been plucked from an Italian Renaissance place. A canopied entrance looks like

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