Agraharam - Brahmin Enclaves of South India

Agraharam in Thanjvur District, Tamil Nadu
Many kings or noble families used to grant lands and income from these lands for religious purpose, particularly to Brahmins, to maintain temples or pilgrimage site on that land and to sustain their life. These land and monetoary donations were known as Agraharam or Agrahara.

The Agraharam was also known as Chaturvedimangalam, Ghatoka and Boya in some regions.

The name Agraharam originates from the fact that they have houses on the either both side of the road and the main temple lies at the center, thus resembling a garland or necklace around the temple. The temple usually dedicated to Lord Shiva or Lord Vishnu.

Agraharams were first started in the rule of Pallavas. They were first mentioned in the 3rd Century Sangam Age work Perumpanatruppadai.

First, they were dependent on royal patronage but later Agraharams created a self sustaining economy. There are very few Agraharams left in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.