A uniquely Nepali institution found in every hill village, the chautaara is a resting place that serves important social and religious functions. The standard design consists of a rectangular flagstoned platform, built at just the right height for porters easily to set down their doko, or basket, while two trees provide shade.

Chautaara are erected and maintained by individuals as an act of public service, often to earn religious merit or in memory of a deceased parent. Commonly they’ll be found on sites associated with pre-Hindu nature deities, often indicated by stones smeared with red abhir and yellow keshori powder. The trees, too, are considered sacred. Invariably, one will be a pipal, whose Latin name (Ficus religiosa) recalls its role as the bodhi tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment. Nepalis regard the pipal, with its heart-shaped leaves, as a female symbol and incarnation of Lakshmi, and women will sometimes fast and pray for children in front of one. It’s said that no one can tell a lie under the shade of a pipal, which makes the trees doubly useful for village assemblies. Its “husband”, representing Shiva Mahadev, is the bar or banyan (Ficus bengalensis), another member of the fig genus, which sends down Tarzan-vine-like aerial roots which, if not pruned, will eventually take root and establish satellite trunks. A chautaara is incomplete without the pair; occasionally you’ll see one with a single tree, but sooner or later someone will get around to planting the other.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Nepal features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Nepal, two years on: why the time to go is now

Nepal, two years on: why the time to go is now

In April 2015, Nepal hit global headlines when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake devastated the country, killing almost 9000 people. Two years on, Nepal continues to…

03 Jul 2017 • Daniel Stables insert_drive_file Article
Stunning documentary on Nepal shows restoration of the country's sites

Stunning documentary on Nepal shows restoration of the country's sites

"The only thing you could focus on was the fact that the earth was moving from side to side by about eight to ten metres." These are the words of Kathmandu resi…

07 Jun 2016 • Lottie Gross videocam Video
Painting the town red, pink, green and yellow: Holi Festival 2016 in pictures

Painting the town red, pink, green and yellow: Holi Festival 2016 in pictures

Every year, Hindus around the world celebrate Holi Festival: the festival of colours. The event attracts many non-Hindus to take part, too, with hundreds of p…

24 Mar 2016 • Lottie Gross insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Mandatory - can not be deselected. Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

PHPSESSID,aelia_cs_selected_currency,cookie_notice_accepted,RS,bp-message,bp-message-type,id,UIDR,w3tc_logged_out,__cfduid
__cfduid

Statistics

Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.

__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid,__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xt
__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid
__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xtc

Marketing

Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID,__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll,c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs
__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID
__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll
c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs