Penang Nagara Viduthi (literally Penang Town Lodge) at 24 Lebuh China, 10200 Penang Malaysia was built in 1932 by the relentless efforts put in by the Late P.N.M Muthupalaniappa Chettiar JP of Athangudi, who was then residing at Bukit Mertajam, AR.RM.Letchumanan Chettiar and PL.S.Sellappa Chettiar of Ipoh and officially launched on 25th day of the Tamil month of Aavani in the year of Aangirasa (9th September 1932). After the demise of Mr Muthupalaniappan, the Penang Nagarathars were entrusted with the care and maintenance of the Penang Nagara Viduthi for and on behalf of the Nattukkottai Nagarathars of Malaysia.
The building is situated in the heart of Georgetown city, Penang and is a double storey building with a built-up area of about 9,600 square feet. This building served and is still being used as a lodge for the Nagarathars, coming to Penang, from anywhere in the world, who were charged a very nominal daily rate. In 1952 they paid a daily rate of 25 cents (called Magamai) per person per day, to the caretaker who would oversee the day to day running of the Nagara Viduthi. A cook was employed and meals were provided thereat for a very modest sum of money. This princely sum of 25 cents per day from the visitors was enough to pay the salaries of a clerk, a janitor and the cook. When the ships plied between India and Malaya, Chettiars sailed in to Penang, stayed at the viduthi before they continued their overland journey to their destinations and vice versa. Similarly Chettiars who lived in Indonesia did the same. Eventually the number of visitors dwindled due to the ships sailing between Malaysia and India stopping their services and the gradual decline in the number of Chettiars in the country. Nowadays generally the Viduthi is full only during the Thaipusam festival in Penang and not at other times.
When the Nagara Viduthi was functioning in full swing, annual meetings were held between the Nagarathars of Malaya to decide upon the overseeing and management problems of the Viduthi in the Viduthi itself. After the Japanese Occupation, this meeting began to be held annually at the Waterfall temple where the Penang Nagarathars had taken refuge, on the Kavadi Pooja day during the Thaipusam festival.
This, inherited 80-plus-years-old, building is in disrepair and is due for a facelift and complete renovation and work is due to start very soon.