Some were guesthouses where accommodation was free of charge. Choultry can also be spelled choultree or choltry, and is also known as a chatra, satram, chatram or dharmasala.
Choultry is a peculiar word of origin in South India and of doubtful etymology; In Malayalam -chaawati, In Telugu and Tamil chaawadi, [tsavadi, chau, Skt. chatur, 'four,' vata, 'road, a place where four roads meet]. In West India the form used is chowry or chowree (Dakhan. chaori). A hall, a shed, or a simple loggia, used by travellers as a resting-place, and also intended for the transaction of public business. In the old Madras Archives there is frequent mention of the "Justices of the Choultry." A building of this kind seems to have formed the early courthouse. It is widely considered to be an Anglo-Indian word which was a corrupted form of the Telugu word Chaawadi.
- In South India, especially in Karnataka a choultry can also denote a Hindu wedding hall.
- According to Seringapatam 1799 terminology, a choultry may be rest house, courthouse, shed, inn or caravanserai, pillared hall or temple colonnade.
Usage example 1: "Is the order of the Naidu required in order to procure gruel at the choultry?" 
Usage example 2: "A choultry is a building, generally open, of a construction similar to that described in the text, and is an usual appendage to Hindoo temples. Numbers of them are, however, to be found on the high roads in the Peninsula, totally unconnected with any religious edifices; being raised by the devout charity of opulent individuals for the general accommodation of travellers of every description without exception. A tank for the further refreshment of passengers is always dug near it."
- The Stanford Dictionary of Anglicised Words and Phrases Edited for the Syndics of the University Press by Charles Augustus Maude Fennell, John Frederick Stanford
- Percival, P (1874). Tamil Proverbs with Their English Translation. Madras: Dinavartamani Press. pp. 289, #3078.
- N.E., Kindersley (1794). Specimens of Hindoo Literature: Consisting of Translations, from the Tamoul Language, of Some Hindoo Works of Morality and Imagination.... London: W. Bulmer and Co. p. 329. Retrieved 17 June 2014.