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What is a Choultry?

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  • Written By: B. Turner
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 14 September 2016
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Choultry is an ancient Indian term used to describe an inn or guesthouse. In middle eastern nations, a choultry was commonly known as a caravanserai. These structures served as a resting place for travelers before the introduction of modern hotels, air travel, and motor vehicles. In ancient times, travel over a relatively short distance could take weeks or even months, with most travelers moving by foot or riding camels. The choultry allowed guests to bathe, rest, and even purchase supplies before continuing on their journey.

A typical choultry offered accommodations for a small fee, and may have been run by a charity or religious organization. Some of these structures also served as public buildings for area residents or travelers with official business. In some areas, the building doubled as a courthouse, or even as a precursor to the modern state building. Others included a marketplace where travelers could set up shop or purchase goods for use at home or on the road. Some experts believe these structures also served as a community center for residents, allowing them to interact with neighbors and take part in entertainment and religious events.

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The choultry helped to facilitate trade throughout the middle east and central Asia, particularly along the famous Silk Road. These guesthouses also served as a link between different nations and cultures, helping to spread new information and knowledge among different lands. Finally, the choultry offered a convenient stop for leisure travelers looking to explore new regions and see the sites.

The middle eastern caravanserai, from the word "caravan," often took on a more distinctive form than the choultry. In the middle east, these structures typically were square or rectangular, with a series of rooms arranged around a central courtyard. The courtyard served as a resting spot for camels and other livestock, and kept these animals protected while their owners rested or conducted business.

In modern times, the choultry also takes on a number of other forms. The word may refer to an architectural colonnade, or facade, which includes a series of columns joined by a single top beam. The colonnade can be either freestanding or serve as the facade for a religious temple or church. Some people also use the term choultry to refer to a modern Hindu wedding hall. These facilities can be found both in India and central Asia, as well as in the United States and other parts of the world.

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