| May 24, 2014 | Reply

parador-gardenIn India, the concept of shelter for travelers is not new. The historical records and books mention the words like “Dharamshalas”, “Viharas”, Sarais” & “Musafirkhanas”. These establishments provided a home to all the tourists whether they are pilgrims, scholars, adventurers or merchants. The shelter under various names has always been a part of Indian culture as a valuable institution, providing a vital service. The ancient Buddhist Monks were probably the first to institutionalize the concept of a shelter in India. The cave temples scattered all over the South Western region of India have both a “Chaitya” (Sanctuary) for worship and prayers and “Viharas”(Monastery). These monks, although living in their quit retreats away from townsand villages, were nevertheless mindful of the needs of travelers and pilgrims who found shelter and food at these monasteries. It is interesting to note that these monasteries were located on the ancient trade routes between important centers of pilgrimage of the region. It is gathered from some inscriptions that merchants gave liberal donations for the construction and maintenance of these establishments. Mere charity was obviously not the motivation in these displays of generosity. The traders traveled with their merchandise and money on these routes and the “Viharas” were their “Hotels”. In the medieval period this ancient institution gradually assumed a more secular character. Although religious centers invariably had “Dharamshalas” and “Musafirkhanas” attached to them, the caravan “Sarais” appeared as an exclusive travelers lodge with a nanhai (Cook) attached with it. Sher Shah Suri, the great Afghan emperor, the builder of the Grand trunk Road, is credited with having built“Caravas” “Sarais” at regular intervals all along this highway creating favorable conditions for commerce and travel. However, he was not alone in this venture. The Mughals built such facilities all over their empire. Later on Kings, Rajas, Nawabs and other rich businessmen built Sarais making traveling less difficult. At apx the same point of time, the Inns were the western Counterpart of India’s Sarais. With the expansion of the commerce, traveling became profitable and with it enverged the business of providing comfortable shelter and good food to the growing number of travelers. The Sarais in India, like Inns in Europe or the stage coach stations in the U.S.A. of the 18th & 19th centuries, stood all along the well traveled routes. They provided food and shelter to the travelers and fodder to their horses. The amenities these early hotels offered would seem to us to be primitive but they confirmed to the life style at that age. However, with the passage of time, the age old institution of the Sarais adapted itself to the changing and modern World. Very soon in early 20th century hotels were also built in India like Oberoi Maidens of New Delhi & Taj Mahal Hotel of Bombay etc.


 A hotel can be defined as the establishment whose primary purpose is to provide accommodation services to a bonafide traveler and other services such as food and beverage services, housekeeping services, laundry services and uniformed services etc. In other words a hotel is an establishment that provides paid lodging, usually on a short term basis. Hotels often provide a number of additional guest services such as Restaurant, Conference Services, Swimming Pool, and Meeting Halls etc. In Australia, a hotel may also be an establishment that serves alcoholic drinks and meals in a casual setting but which does not necessarily provide accommodation.

This type of establishment would more usually be called a PUB or BAR in other countries. In general use, in Australia, the term hotel & pub are usually taken to be the synonyms of hotel which is not the case in rest of the World. In a Layman’s language hotel can also be referred as “Home away from Home” Hotel or Inn is defined by a British law as a “place where a bonafide traveler” can receive food and shelter, provided he is in a position to pay for it and is in a fit condition to be received.


 The hotel industry is perhaps the oldest endeavors in the World. The first inns go back to the 6th century B.C. and were the products of the urge to travel, spurred by the invention of wheels. A hotel must provide rooms and meals. The provision of beverages is subject to local customs and practices. The earliest inns were ventures by husband and wife teams who provided large halls for travelers to make their own beds and sleep on the floor. They also provided modest wholesome food, beverages and stabling facilities. The host’s wife or his wenches were provided the entertainment and recreation and the entire cooking, service was provided by the husband and wife team.

Category: Wisdom

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