KAAVAD – Traditional Storytelling form of Rajasthan

India has a rich history and tradition of oral storytelling, right from the old narratives of the Panchatantras and Jataka tales to the regional folk forms propagated by potochitrakars, bauls, harikatha and burrakatha storytellers. Remember the bedtime stories your grandmother narrated to you when you were a kid? Or the night-long plays or leelas you would attend over festivals like Dussehra?

Storytelling defines our culture and identity. It’s a part of Indian rich heritage. One such story telling form of Rajasthan is KAAVAD, which is not known to many of us. Stories of Kaavad mirrors the illustrated past of Indian tradition and heritage that essentially forms the root to a growing tree of knowledge and wisdom.

What is Kaavad?

Kaavad is a 500 year old tradition of storytelling using a wooden box temple with many folded doors. The doors have small paintings on them narrating incidents from a story. The pictures in sequence form a story from Indian mythology or any regular story. The Kaavad-storytellers are called Kaavadiya Bhat. They bring the shrine to their patron’s house to recite their genealogy and stories from the Hindu epic.

Kaavad-Rajasthan

Historical background

It is said that when Shravan Kumar was taking his blind parents for a pilgrimage, Raja Dashrath accidently killed him with an arrow mistaking him for a deer while hunting. Extremely apologetic for his deed he asked dyeing Shravan’s last wish. It is then, when Shravan asked Raja that for now he would not live to take his parents for a pilgrim, he wants the holy shrine to reach his parents. As for Shravan’s parents the Kaavad was symbolized as a gateway to God for the followers who are not able to take the pilgrimage. Since then this was embedded in the tradition of Rajasthan.

Kaavad makers

Suthars (carpenters) who live in Bassi village have been crafting Kaavad since 400 years. Once settled in Nagaur, they were brought to Bassi village in Chittorgarh district. Existing Kaavad families all descend from the same families who migrated from Nagaur to Bassi. Presently only 5 families are involved in making Kaavad. Unfortunately, rest of the suthar families have either found other occupations or changed their product line to daily utility wooden objects.

Kaavad-Rajasthan

How do they narrate stories?

The story begins by opening the small outer doors revealing the decorations on the outer panels to arouse the curiosity by talking through the highlights of the stories depicted in the Kaavad.
The storyteller then opens a ‘donations’ flap located under the decorated panels. The storyteller opens panels, one by one, telling the several episodes of the tale. Sometimes a story could last for several days. One Kaavad can contain many linked tales. The grand finale of the tales comes as the storyteller opens the final panels to reveal a ‘shrine’ –housing 3D sculptures of the hero, his wife, companions, and other characters of the story, where everyone lives happily ever after.

Kaavad-Rajasthan

Present status

The art of Kaavad making has reduced to decorative objects exported to foreign countries. The history and reason for the Kaavad existence has lost its significance due to the rapidly changing world of entertainment. Media and digital world has taken over the performing arts. Thus making Kaavad a decorative object. The art is appreciated not in its original form but merely an exotic work of art that once existed and is only be possessed as a souvenir. As the utility changed so did the Bhat’s source of income. Presently very few Bhats are professionally performing stories. The patrons are fewer so is the demand for Kaavad singing.

Kaavad-Rajasthan

Story telling has been and will remain the most engaging and amazing way to shape not only young minds but to direct the adults at the time of confusion. Idea of using Kaavad as an asset for educating the young minds is a sustainable goal yet to be achieved.

Hidden gems of Uttarakhand, offbeat places to stay this Summer

Heading for Uttarakhand this summer? Looking for some place to stay away from the usual tourists? Bored of staying at the regular hotels and resorts?

Presenting some hidden and secretly kept destinations in Uttarakhand to cheer your vacation up, and to rejuvenate your soul this summer.

See the list of offbeat stays in Himachal Pradesh in earlier issue.

In this issue:

  • The Dak Bungalow, Peora
  • Fredy’s Bungalow, Bhimtal
  • The White Peaks, Nainital
  • Mary Budden Estate, Binsar
  • Innisfree, Almora
  • Kuflon Basics, Uttarkashi
  • Cottage in the Hills, Bhimtal
  • Maati, Munshiyari
  • Itmenaan Estate, Almora
  • Jilling Terraces, Nainital
  • Himalayan Village, Sonapani
  • The Retreat, Bhimtal
The Dak Bungalow, Peora
The Dak Bungalow (Bangla) at Peora is a magnificent old British inspection bungalow built in 1905 along the silk route, on what was the Kathgodam-Almora-Bageshwar bridle road.

Dak Bungalow Peora

After years of dilapidation, the bungalow was leased by Pradeep & Shubha from the District Board in 2005, and refurbished as a homestay. Its original architecture, walls, fireplaces, wooden ceilings and grand verandas were retained, offering an indulgence in colonial royalty, homely hospitality & panoramic Himalayan views.

Fredy's Bungalow, Bhimtal
Fredy’s Bungalow is a place to experience authentic living in the midst of cedar, pine and oak forest overlooking stunning peaks and valleys. There is nothing like watching the sun rise and set keeping aside the usual life rush, while sipping on a hot cuppa.

Fredys Bungalow Bhimtal

The Bungalow is a colonial home refurbished into a resort while keeping its authenticity intact and features 4 exquisite rooms with antique interiors to recreate a living in a colonial era. Every element be it interior or exterior is sure to delight the wanderer in you. It’s absolutely worth taking time off to experience a living here while you set out on trails and explore the regions around or survey the in-house butterfly collection.

The White Peaks, Nainital
This homestay is perfect for writers, poets and artists who can take advantage of a serene environment and create the best of their works. Located in a hamlet called Gagar in Uttarakhand, this house is surrounded by enchanting silver oak forests on all sides.

The White Peaks Nainital

There is a breathtaking 180-degree view of snow-capped Himalayan peaks at the distance and a peaceful company of varied birds who have made this place a home. One can even go on a day trip to Nainital, which is just an hour’s drive away.

Mary Budden Estate, Binsar
Mary Budden Estate Binsar is a 19th century heritage home beautifully restored into a luxury homestay for the discerning guests wanting to spend time amidst serenity and tranquillity of the Himalayas.

Mary Budden Estate, Binsar

The homestay is one of the privately owned estates, set on 5 acres of land, within the Binsar wildlife sanctuary near Almora. Retaining its abiding charm, the estate is a cozy hideaway to unwind and reconnect with the nature.

Innisfree, Hawalbagh, Almora
Innisfree Hawalbagh is the adopted home of Lat, a descendant of Kumaon’s royal Chand Dynasty and a Burmese princess. Together with Lat’s Latvian wife Julia and their mother Aunty Kiran, they warmly welcome travellers into their home and lives.

Innisfree, Hawalbagh

The moment you take a small detour from the main road to reach this beautiful hamlet settled in the midst of clouds, mountains and temples, you experience the exhilarating feeling of being free in the mountains. The fragrance of wild flowers & mountain trees next to the Kosi River is a scent that can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet it will conjure up memories of your childhood summer. The Old Bungalow has come alive with the hosts and their warm hospitality.

Kuflon Basics, Uttarkashi
A half hour drive from Uttarkashi, this homestay in the Garhwal Himalayas is nestled quietly at the edge of the village and the home of a young couple who quit their high-flying jobs in the cities to move back to the mountains they love. They have lovingly handcrafted two brick huts with five rooms and three Swiss tents to host travellers and share their slice of mountain paradise. Such comfort so high up in the Himalayas is a real treat.

Kuflon Basics, Uttarkashi

Indulge in Anil and Sree’s warm hospitality, hearing tales of their adventurous lives in the mountains and their transition from city life. Stroll through the village to meet the friendly mountain folk, sample local and fusion recipes made with local ingredients often found wild in the forest, hike to neighbouring villages that sit atop pretty terraced valleys, trek into the higher reaches of the mountains, and lay back on the “stargazing rock” to spot shooting stars and constellations in a starry night sky.

Cottage in the Hills, Bhimtal
A snaky uphill drive from the Bhimtal lake will take you to another dimension filled with untouched nature, fresh air, vast himalayan flora and flawless beauty. And amidst all of this, you will stumble upon a small fairytale cottage facing the lower himalayas and terraced slopes filled with assorted shades of green.

Cottage in Hills bhimtal

A home deep in the lap of nature where in the mornings you will wake up to the melodious chirping of the birds singing in the woods with the first ray of the sun knocking your door and in the night you will gaze seamlessly into the sky of a thousand stars.

Maati, Munshiyari
This homestay is far, very far. Not from mankind, but from pollution and the madness we face in our daily lives. Located at Sarmoli village, on the upper reaches of Munsiyari town in Uttarakhand, peace and serenity prevail along with the best of natural beauty in this place.

Maati, Munshiyari

Priceless views of snow-capped mountains and the valley below make the stay here an unforgettable experience for anyone who’s a traveller at heart.

The homestay is run by an NGO called Maati Sangathan, which focusses on providing the local women a livelihood through an eco-tourism initiative.

Itmenaan Estate, Almora
Away from the hustle bustle, set amidst lush green terraced plantation, towering pine and oak trees and vibrant red rhododendron, in an authentic offbeat rural setting, Itmenaan Estate near Almora, as the name indicates, offers utmost laid back and serene ambiance to unwind.

itmenaan estate

This Kumaoni style retreat, aesthetically restored from 100 years old regional stone houses to promote sustainable and eco-friendly living, is nothing less than a fairy-tale setting.

Jilling Terraces, Nainital
After a moderate walk through large conifers, thick oaks, luscious rhododendrons, a stray horse chestnut, laden peaches, plums and apple trees and after crossing a few seasonal waterfalls, just as you are about to reach the top of the ridge, you are confronted with a charming 80-year-old stone house with a backdrop of Nanda Devi and the surrounding peaks.

Jilling Terraces Nainital

Set in a 100 acres of flora and fauna of Uttarakhand, Jilling Terraces is the perfect weekend getaway from Delhi to abscond to when you just want to curl up and breathe in spectacular views or spend some quality time with your loved ones.

Himalayan Village, Sonapani
Located amidst beautiful orchards, pine and oak trees, an ideal spot for those with an inclination towards trekking! Explore the adventure of trekking through trails based on your level of complexity and comfort.

Himalayan Village, Sonapani

The 12 cottages offered to stay are well connected yet retain their privacy. The venue detaches visitors from the world of television soaps and takes you on a different journey altogether – one that is closer to nature and its virgin beauty.

The Retreat, Bhimtal
Nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas, this venue will please a conventional heart. Conceived in the 19th century, this getaway location is ideal for one and all – be it nature lovers or trekkers, those with creative inclinations or the ones seeking solitude for meditation.

The Retreat Bhimtal

Give a boost to your appetite with Indian and Continental cuisines in the comfort of a rustic location. This dignified property, home to diplomats across the globe, offers the perfect holiday experience with an ancient touch to it.

Secret places to stay this Summer in Himachal Pradesh

Picture yourself in a morning sipping a cup of tea sitting on the balcony of a cozy rusty cottage surrounded by apple orchards, enveloped within misty jungles, overlooking the majestic Himalayas. Isn’t it the dream about your trip when you visit Himachal Pradesh?

Owning such a house in the Himalayas might be a fantasy for some of us, but experiencing it is a mere question of your intention. The mighty mountains has several serene and beautiful cottages and homestays in Himachal Pradesh that will leave your senses mesmerized.

We have handpicked a few amazing secret places to stay around Himachal. Plan your trips to one of these places this summer, and make your dreams come true!

Baragarh Villa, Manali
Under the shadows of the majestic himalayas, where the rhythm of life surrenders to soothing melodies of nature whispering through fragrant pine breeze and colourful fruit orchards lies a luxurious stone villa.

baragarh-villa

As soon as you enter the premises of the Baragarh Estate , your senses will fuse into a climax of complete harmony and well being amidst lush gardens, apple orchards, kiwi plantations and everything good that mother nature has to offer.

Raju’s Cottage, Gushaini
If you are looking for peace, solitude, calmness, break from the hustle-bustle, chit-chats, bonfires, nature walks midst green cover, musical river flowing besides etc. there is no better place than Tirthan Valley for you.

Raju’s Cottage, Gushaini

Raju’s Cottage in Gushaini is one of the most amazing places to stay in Tirthan Valley. The guest house itself sits perched on a small hill and looks perfectly in place amidst the overwhelming mountains and sparkling greenery. The first glimpse of the guesthouse is breathtaking to say the least.

Darang tea estate, Kangra
The warmth and the hospitality of Darang Tea Estate will ensure that you have a fabulous holiday. The hosts go out of their way to make you comfortable and while the homestay has all the basic amenities one may need, it’s such a great feeling to be pampered!

Darang tea estate, Kangra

There are quite a few monasteries to visit around the homestay and if you are in the mood for some adventure, Bir and Billing is only an hour away.

Dwarika Residency, Shimla
If you have ever dreamt of having your own home in the mountains then this is it! Shelapani is a hidden, untouched and unspoilt little hamlet located in the Shimla district but far far away from the maddening crowd of the main town and this four bedroom villa blends in perfectly with its surroundings.

dwarika residency shelapani

A truly offbeat experience for the peace-seeker in you. A small road through a dense forest of pine trees magically opens up to the astounding beauty of the this serene himalayan villa facing the valley.

Cottage Once Upon a Time, Kasol
The Cottage in Kasol was built with memories of the past. A nostalgia of the times when life was quiet, peaceful and serene and that’s the feeling we would like you to experience this holiday. A feeling of the period we all miss sometimes.

once-upon-a-time-kasol

Enjoy the touch of nature listening to the song of the river or whisper of the cedars and pines. Trek the mountains and walk the jungle trails. Photograph the wild plants and collect their leaves to compile your own album of dried flowers and leaves of different plants.

Tree House Cottage, Manali
Imagine if you were to stay in a tree house, on a lovely snowy day, sipping onto hot chocolate as the snow white washes your windows. Imagine looking at snow covered himalayas from the comfort of your cozy cottages. The Tree House Cottage in Manali is where your imaginations turn into reality.

Tree-House-Cottage-Katrain-Manali

Set atop an oak-tree amidst apple orchards in a landscape of 1.5 hectares, the cottages are surrounded by lush fields, apple, plum and walnut orchard groves, dotted by bunches of colourful scented flowers.

Spirits Unplugged, Shimla
Set amidst dense cedar and pine forests, Spirits Unplugged! is a peaceful, relaxing and photogenic farm retreat with a mesmerising view of the Himalayas – far from the hustle and bustle of city life.

spirits-unplugged-shimla

The newly built stone cottage at the farm sits perched on a hilltop overlooking a majestic valley … with breath taking views of pine forest slopes, a waterfall and organic farms.

Jibhi Cafe & Cottages, Kullu
Jibhi Camp offers beautiful ambiance in the arms of nature. The Camp is a theater where the whispering winds through the woods compose melodies with feeling of the falling flakes of the flowering blossoms with twittering birds and buzzing insects, wafting through woodlands brown from your camp.

jibhi-cafe-cottages

The Seraj valley in Kullu District is one of the most beautiful places in Himachal Pradesh and this camp is located amidst his valley.

Agyaat Vaas, Narkanda
Staying at Agyaat Vaas is rich and unique experience in its own way. Being located amidst lush green surrounding and high mountain peaks, the resort gives a heavenly and spiritual feeling to the guests.

Agyaat Vaas, Narkanda

The absence of the usual noises and the rush of cities and even the smallest town, makes you feel relaxed as soon you enter the Himalayan retreat.

Bundla Tea Estate, Palampur
Tucked away in Palampur, the homestay seems to be just another house in this small town. Basic yet impressive, this lovely homestay wins you with its hospitality!

Bundla Tea Estate, Palampur

Only an hour away from Dharamshala, the town itself is very quiet and naturally the homestay personifies the silence. The view from all the rooms is breathtaking and the sudden spurt of greenness around you will overwhelm you for a few hours.

The Himalayan Trout House, Kullu
Just misty mountains, sparkling streams and waterfalls, the wind in the trees, wild flowers and birds, clear starry skies and white rocks reflecting the moonlight.

The Himalayan Trout House, Kullu

The Himalayan Trout House in Nagini is a friendly well connected, comfortable retreat set deep in the heart of rural Himachal.

Sanjiv's Aira Holme Retreat, Shimla
Located far enough from the revelling crowds, it is serene and homely. The ambiance at the cottage is relaxed and peaceful. Surrounded by deodars, the cottage is enveloped by nature and urban forest within the town. Overlooking a valley, the view is breathtaking of the Tara Devi temple with Chail and its forests.

Sanjiv's Aira Holme Retreat, Shimla

Nestled in tranquility, Billy and Sanjiv’s cottage in Aira Holme, in old Chotta Simla is scenic and cosy.