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A. K. Chettiyar

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A. K. Chettiyar

இந்தப் பக்கத்தை தமிழில் வாசிக்க: ஏ. கே. செட்டியார்

A. K. Chettiyar (Annamalai Karuppan Chettiyar; 1911-1983) was a pioneer of travelogue writing and documentarty film making in Tamil. He was noted for his documentary on Gandhi. In Tamil, he was known to be ‘Ulagam sutriya tamilan’. (A Tamil who travelled around the world). ‘Kumari Malar a magazine to spread Gandhian principles was founded and run by him.

Birth, Education

A. K. Chettiyar (Annamalai Karuppan Chettiyar) was born to A. Rama Annamalai Chettiyar on November 3, 1911 at Kottaiyur near Karaikudi. Having completed his schooling in Tiruvannamalai, he spent his youth in Chettinadu and Tiruvannamalai .

Starting from the school days he was interested in Gandhi and had gone to prison for getting involved in freedom struggle during that time.

Personal Life

After completing his education A. K. Chettiyar went to Burma to oversee his family business. There he worked as editor for a magazine called ‘Dhanavanigan’ run by Nagarathar community. In 1935 he went to Japan to learn photography at Imperial College of Technology, Tokyo. In 1937, he joined the New York Institute of Photography and completed a one-year diploma course in photography.

A. K. Chettiyar's Kumari Malar magazine

Literary Life

Indhiya Payanangal - A. K. Chettiyar

After returning to Tamilnadu A. K. Chettiyar got involved in family business. His first and only short story called ‘Sarathambal – siru thamaash got published in Anandavikatan magazine in 1928. Though he continued to write many articles in magazines like Sakthi, Anandavikatan, Hanuman, Jothi, Hindustan etc., he did not write any short stories thereafter. He got less inclined towards literature and did not publish any fictional work in Kumari Malar magazine as well.

Kumari Malar

A. K. Chettiyar was attracted towards popular magazines of Chettinadu of his time like ‘Kumaran’, ‘Oozhiyan’, ‘Tamilnadu’, ‘Navasakthi’. In April, 1943 he started a monthly magazine called ‘Kumari Malar’ with the aim of spreading Gandhian philosophy and general knowledge among people. This magazine came with same cover page layout for all volumes, but only background colors changed for each volume. Articles of noted personalities like Rajaji, Kalki were published in Kumari Malar among others. A. K. Chettiyar was the one who encouraged Bharathidasan to write ‘Azhagin Sirippu’ and published it in Kumari malar. Also he took effort and published some rare works of Bharathi. (See Kumari Malar)


A. K. Chettiyar who had travelled to many countries, published all his travel books through ‘Kumari Malar’ publication. He compiled travel articles of many writers written during the period of 1850-1925 and published them in six volumes under the title of ‘Payana katturaikal. Many social aspects such as Travel Kummi (Tamil folk dance), Jatka ride, bus travel, advent of new travel modes like ship, train, advent of electrical equipment and their impact on society were documented in this collection. We can also find articles about diseases like plague, cholera which prevailed during that time.

Tamilnattu payana katturaikal which came out in 1968 having around 300 pages was the most important compilation work of A. K. Chettiyar. His travel books were known for simple and clear language.

A. K. Chettiyar wrote 17 books in total. His first book was ‘Japan’ and ‘Unavu’ being the last one. The book ‘Japan’ was based on his experience during the two years stay in Japan studying photography. It was first published as a series in ‘Thanavanigan’ magazine and then compiled as a book.

A. K. Chettiyar's Gandhi film (In Tamil)

Gandhi Documentary

Documentary on Gandhi was considered to be the most prominent achievement of A. K. Chettiyar.

See: A. K. Chettiyar’s Gandhi documentary


A. K. Chettiyar died on September 10, 1983 at Chennai due to old age.


  • Some volumes of A. K. Chettiyar’s Kumari malar magazine were available in Tamil digital library.
  • A. K. Chettiyar’s documentary on Gandhi was also preserved and available on youtube.

Literary/Historic place

A. K. Chettiyar's Gandhi film advertisement

A. K. Chettiyar made contributions as a writer, journalist, photographer and documentary film maker. He was respected as one of the pioneers in publishing books in the domain of travel, general knowledge and science in Tamil.

He was the pioneer and the first one to take a detailed documentary film in Tamil. His documentary was considered to be a primary one in Gandhian research.


Complied books
  • Punniyavan Gandhi
  • Panbu
  • Koitha malargal
  • Unavu
Kumari Malar publications
Published books
  • Japan katturaigal
  • Ulagam sutrum tamizhan
  • Prayaana ninaivugal
  • Payana katturaigal
  • Andai naadugal
  • Maleya muthal canada varai
  • Carebian kadalum Gayanavum
  • Gayana muthal caspian kadal varai
  • America naattile
  • Europe vazhiyaga
  • Kudagu
  • Itta pani
  • Thiraiyum vaazhvum


✅Finalised Page