Likhai Woodcarving of Uttarakhand


Likhai Woodcarving of Uttarakhand ~ essenceofkumaun

The Garhwal and Kumaon woodcarving is known for its simple but delicate and appealing designs. Houses were furnished with graven wooden doors. The houses in the Kumaon region, Uttarakhand India, mostly hilly areas have the carvings on their doors, windows and ceilings which are adorned in a simple and gorgeous style by the artisans. Artists here are skilled in capturing beauty of Kumaun and displaying then through the craft of wood carving, but this craft is on decline. Few decades ago, carving on the main entrance door was considered a status symbol. At that time, it was part of social status, family which had more carving over the doors was wealthier & had high status in the society. 

Likhai woodcarving of Uttarakhand is a disappearing craft.

Woodcarving ~ Likhai or Kholi

Even today, front doors in Garhwal and Kumaon are gloriously decorated with floral patterns, animals, and birds. These ornamental sculptures of wood on the front doors are in known as “Kholi“ or “Likhai“ which is the kumaoni word for wood carving. 

This is a traditional art & craft form that can be seen across the state of Uttarakhand but is especially dominant in the Kumaon region. While traveling to Kumaon you would see houses with white exteriors and intricate woodwork being done on the outside in blue colour. 

Traditional Kumaoni House

Traditional Kumaoni House consists of:

The Disappearing Craft of Likhai


The fine work on Likhai and walnut wood carvings requires time. Today, people building new homes are unwilling to pay artisans the right amount for their skill and craft. You rarely get to see such traditional door frames in new homes anymore, and its difficult to find skilled artisans who still know the art of Likhai. 

The tools used for carving – chenni, pateshi, aari, basula. Most of them are handcrafted by local mechanics, but they are unavailable in the market. With the advancement in technology, hand work has given way to machine tools and many of us, use branded products built using machines.


To compete with these brands and machine is impossible for artisans and therefore they are fading away. The next generation of craftsmen are not getting into this profession as there is hardly any work left in the villages due to high rate of migration and the amount of physical labour involved makes it even more unattractive for youth.