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A 1792 painting of a Hindu temple and choultry (a travelers' rest house).

Choultry is a resting place, an inn or caravansary for travelers, pilgrims or visitors to a site, typically linked to Buddhist, Jain and Hindu temples. They are also referred to as chottry, choultree, choltry, chowry, chawari, chawadi, choutry,

 chowree or tschultri.[1][2] This term is more common in South India, Central India and West India, while in North India similar facilities are called Dharmshalas. They are known as a chatra, satram, chatram or dharmasala in eastern regions of India.[3][4][5] The choultry concept and infrastructure in South Asia dates back to at least the 1st millennium, according to epigraphical evidence such as stone and copper plate inscriptions.[6][7]

A choultry provides seating space, rooms, water and sometimes food financed by a charitable institution. Its services are either at no cost, or nominal rates, or it is up to the visitor to leave whatever they wish as a donation. They were also used by officials traveling on public business.[1] Many major temples have mandapam and pillared halls, some called Thousand pillared halls with an attached kitchen for servicing pilgrims and travelers to the temple. The term choultry may overlap with a mandapa.[2][8][9] Many Hindu monasteries (matha) also built and operated such choultries.[10]


In Malayalam, chávadi[2] or chaawathi, In Telugu and Tamil chaawadi, [tsavadi, chau, Skt. chatur, 'four,' vata, 'road, a place where four roads meet]. Alternatively, it is derived from chatra (छत्र) which means "umbrella, cover", or chraya (श्राय) which means shelter.[11][12] In West India the form used is chowry or chowree (Dakhan. chaori). A pillared hall, a shed, or a simple loggia, used by travellers as a resting-place.

Other usages[edit]

In South India, especially in Karnataka a choultry can also denote a Hindu wedding hall.[citation needed]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b The Stanford Dictionary of Anglicised Words and Phrases Edited for the Syndics of the University Press by Charles Augustus Maude Fennell, John Frederick Stanford, pages 244, 235, 242, 781
  2. ^ a b c Hermann Goetz (1959). India: Five Thousand Years of Indian Art. Crown. p. 183., Quote: "Here pilgrims could rest, or look at the processions, or buy house-idols, lamps, rosaries or various souvenirs. These mandapas (or chavadi, choultry) are of two types: (...)"
  3. ^ James Lochtefeld (2010). God's Gateway: Identity and Meaning in a Hindu Pilgrimage Place. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-045264-3.
  4. ^ Surinder M. Bhardwaj (1983). Hindu Places of Pilgrimage in India: A Study in Cultural Geography. University of California Press. pp. 219 footnote 4. ISBN 978-0-520-04951-2.
  5. ^ S. M. Dubey (1978). North East India: A Sociological Study. Concept. p. 193.;
  6. ^ Robert Sewell. Lists of the Antiquarian Remains in the Presidency of Madras. Government Press. pp. 289–290, 104, 115, 122, 123–125.
  7. ^ Ramendra Nath Nandi (1973). Religious Institutions and Cults in the Deccan, c. AD 600-1000. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 7–9, 79–83. ISBN 978-0-8426-0564-9.
  8. ^ Choultry, Merriam-Webster
  9. ^ Veronica Murphy; Mildred Archer; Graham Parlett (1992). Company Paintings: Indian Paintings of the British Period. Victoria and Albert Museum. pp. 40–41.
  10. ^ Office of the Registrar General of India (1965). Census of India, 1961. Manager of Publications. pp. 2, 111–112.
  11. ^ K. D. Bajpai (1972). Studies in History. Munshilal. p. 192.
  12. ^ Deve Gowda Javare Gowda (1998). Village Names of Mysore District: An Analytical Study. Asian Educational Services. p. 56. ISBN 978-81-206-1390-4.

External Links[edit]