Souvenir – Kavad, from Rajasthan

When I travel I always tend to pick up a few souvenirs, nothing unusual, I am sure you do too. Sometimes it is confusing what to pick, but in Rajasthan I found myself confused over what not to pick. The wide range of knickknacks and keepsakes I saw there was astounding, all within a reasonable price range too!

One bright little thing that caught my eye was the Kavad, a portable temple made of wood. They are one of the oldest interactive story telling tool. I held one in my hand. It was very light to hold and measured less than ‘one foot by one foot’ in dimension. There were doors waiting to be opened, small little doors with what looked like angelic forms painted on them. I open them only to see folded doors again. I keep on unfolding them one after the other and the painted panels open up on either side. The first door that I had opened is now behind one of the open panels.

kavad, from Rajasthan


“If you observe carefully, there are different stories in the panels in either side,” said the sales guy of kavad as I stared at it in amazement! “It is like a book,” he stressed. I folded the doors and unfolded them again. Yes, stories of Lord Krishna on one side and stories of Lord Ram on the other. The last door of Kavad conceals the supreme deities: Ram, Lakshman and Sita or Jagannatha, Balabhadra and Shubhadra.

When professionals tell stories through these kavads, they expect you to drop some money in the donation box below the temple. The small box is in the lower part of the portable temple.

kavad. souvenir from Rajasthan


A kavad cost just Rs.250! Will it provide at least a one time meal to the artisan and his family? I didn’t have the heart to bargain. I picked up this piece in Chittorgarh, Rajasthan. They are also available at exhibitions of Rajasthan hosted by other states.

Kavad History

Kavad is made of Mango or Seasame wood, by the wood carvers of Bassi a small town 25 kilometers north-east of Chittorgarh. Men make these, small box like, temples with hinged doors; women paint them with stories from epics. They were the tools of professional bards, known as Kavadia Bhatts, who traditionally traveled from village to village. They chant the tales of epics keeping alive the 400 years old tradition. There are mentions that this art is said to be about 2000 yrs old! This form of story telling has existed from the time of King Vikramaditya of Ujjain.

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Chittorgarh Fort, Rajasthan
Rajasthani Hospitality

55 Responses to “Souvenir – Kavad, from Rajasthan

  • Even I collect souvenirs like this one.

    The price was very less considering the work it has.

    Yes, the Kavadias travel from one place to other on foot.

  • I love souveniers and such interesting ones filled with folk lore that speak so much of our heritage..

  • A lovely thing, bot in how is looks, and what it’s for – and your description only enhanced it!

  • You have been posting some great things. The City of Lakes is fascinating.

    The little temples are nice. I have never heard of using Sesame wood. That is exotic to me.

  • Hi Indrani! Love this one. I wanted to bring one similar, but was discouraged to do so because it wouldn’t be easy to carry in the plane… Next time I’ll make it…
    Also interested in Rajasthan? Blogtrotter has it! 😉 Enjoy, comment and have a great weekend!

  • You always have the best international pictures. 🙂

  • What a fascinating find!!!

  • Very interesting! I love souvenirs as well. One of my favorite things about a trip is the shopping.

  • That’s a lovely souvenir. I wish the artisans benefit more from their handwork…

  • very COOL find!! (I’m with you on the bargaining . . . )

  • A very lovely piece and by the look of it quite a bit of work has gone into the making of it.

  • Looks so colourful and so very Indian !!

    beautifully narrated tooo !

  • What a wonderful souvenir. The craftmanship is amazing. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  • fantastic work, wonderful details. this is a very interesting souvenir

  • Beautiful just beautiful. It’s amazing what you can find in another countries. When I lived in Paraguay there is a town where this special kind of lace is made. It’s beautiful and delicate and cost so little. I felt like I wanted to pay more for it because there was nothing else like it.

  • This is great! I’ve never seen anything like it before.

  • That is a great souvenir.Perfect choice.

  • What a great find! Thanks for the history behind them as well. I always learn something when I drop by.

  • What a great souvenir!

  • the detailing on the Kavad is simply amazing

  • Wow ! Lovely design. But, I wonder what you will put there 🙂

  • This is very interesting.

    I have heard of triptyches and seen some,too, which are basically like this – multi panelled ones are called polyptyches – into three sections, or three carved panels which are hinged together and folded. The purpose is the same – mostly religious art.
    Very nice that you bought it.

  • Wow! but then even I wish they are being compensated fairly for their talent.

  • Hi Indrani!
    So, everybody was busy with Valentine’s Day, nobody paid attention to Rajasthan? Great mistake… ;))
    Have a great Sunday!!
    Blogtrotter

  • that is really interesting – I have never seen a kavad before…just last week i was told about a friends daughters wedding there – all dhoom dhaam bits of it..one hell of a place. I have been only to some parts of rajasthan, myself.

  • Very intriguing souvenir, one you can be proud to show to friends. I haven’t seen one of these kavads before.

  • What an interesting souvenir!

    My dining room table is made out of mango!

    Thanks for visiting my PSF

  • Simply fantastic- both the pictures and the narration.

  • such a nice description.surely kudos to you.anyways you have been tagged by me.if you having time kindly go through my latest post..
    gud day then….

  • Wonderful form for a book to take, I love unfolding things.

  • A treasure indeed!! What intricate work to take the time to paint the story and carve this wonderful piece. I would also say a perfect find!

  • this is such a beautiful souvenir. once we buy it i guess we will keep it like almost forever 🙂 as a decorative piece

  • A portable temple….. pretty useful to a religious lady on the move..!!

  • truly amazing!

  • I found this blog post while searching for Bassi Chittorgarh Handicrafts. Last november I was in Pushkar and picked up a Kavad for Rs.300. It was something I've never seen before and was so fascinated by its origin. Then I saw that the thing has a seal of Bassi Arts and Crafts on its back and so I started googling hoping I'd find some content about it. And I did. Thanks for this post. I am so tempted to visit Bassi now.

    Sanjukta

  • Awesome. Never heard of it TFS

  • Lovely souvenir. We had been to Rajasthan.But we didn’t see this souvenir.

    Cheers,
    Sriram & Krithiga

  • I started looking at first picture and was like ok..hmm ..souvenir…. and when I go on scrolling it kept opening new folds lol.. nice post… My souvenir post ia also coming.. scheduled it.

  • interesting Post !

  • Very innovative souvenir. Very fascinating.

  • yogi Saraswat
    1 year ago

    Have been there in Chittorgarh and in Bassi too but never heard about it . what a beautiful souvenir.

  • It is so aesthetically pleasing. The souvenir looks beautiful 🙂

  • Beautiful art form and souvenir Indrani! Thank you for sharing this.

  • ohh wow these are very pretty..a nice thing to have

  • It looks epic cool! Never came across it myslf!

  • Such a beautiful souvenir !! I really loved the concept of folding doors and stories on it.

  • This is something very new to me. Thanks for sharing the details 🙂

  • It looks very beautiful. I have not seen this on my Rajasthan visit. Well, I will surely look for it when ever I go back. Thanks for sharing.

  • Well written and easy to understand for a newbie (as I’ve read this stuff first time).

  • Unique and interesting.
    A very artistic one too. 🙂 Great find.

  • Looks so cool! Didn’t know it was a temple , I only knew it as a story telling tool.

    Nice one.

  • The Kavad looks amazing.
    Thanks for sharing dear 🙂

  • Jyothi D'mello
    1 year ago

    A beautiful portable temple. Loved the vibrant colors.

  • Such a beautiful Souvenir it is! Colors and design, every single thing is so beautifully crafted. 🙂

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