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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ Like Murad before him, Dara was seized, manacled and sent to Delhi in a closed howdah.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Howdah \How"dah\, n. [Ar. hawdaj.] A seat or pavilion, generally covered, fastened on the back of an elephant, for the rider or riders. [Written also houdah.]

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1774, from Persian and Urdu haudah, from Arabic haudaj "litter carried by a camel" (or elephant).


n. 1 A seat, usually with a canopy, carried on the back of an elephant or camel. 2 An ornate carriage which is positioned on the back of elephants or occasionally other animals, used most often in the past for rich people who travelled in India via elephant.


n. a (usually canopied) seat for riding on the back of a camel or elephant [syn: houdah]


A howdah, or houdah ( Hindi: हौदा), derived from the Arabic هودج (hawdaj), that means "bed carried by a camel", also known as hathi howdah (हाथी हौदा), is a carriage which is positioned on the back of an elephant, or occasionally some other animal such as camels, used most often in the past to carry wealthy people or for use in hunting or warfare. It was also a symbol of wealth for the owner, and as a result was decorated with expensive gems.

Most notable are the Golden Howdah, the one used in display at the Napier Museum at Trivandrum which was used by the King of Travancore and the one used traditionally during the Jamboo Savari (Elephant Procession) of the famous Mysore Dasara. The Museum at the Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur, Rajasthan has a gallery of royal Howdahs.

In the present time, howdahs are used mainly for tourist or commercial purposes in South East Asia and are the subject of controversy as animal rights groups and organizations, such as Millennium Elephant Foundation, openly criticize the use of the howdah, citing information that howdahs can cause permanent damage to an elephant's spine, lungs, and other organs and can significantly shorten the animal's life.

Usage examples of "howdah".

There, under two green umbrellas, like two fat rajahs in their shaking howdahs upon the backs of two white elephants, the friends would sit in solemn equanimity awaiting the evasive cunner, the vagrant perch or cod or the occasional flirtatious eel.

And the elephant turned on a circle and caught him up, throwing him far enough back, so the Gul Moti could help him into the howdah.

Fogg took the howdahs on either side, Passepartout got astride the saddle-cloth between them.

He hailed a pentapedal carrying-beast and gave it detailed directions to the terminal before lifting Bram to the passenger howdah.

He saw something else, too--he saw Beng Kher remonstrating with his companion, and then for the first time he recognised the other man in the howdah as Bharata Rahon.

I saw Bharata Rahon suddenly stab you and then throw you from the howdah of your elephant.

After they had first mounted into the red howdah at Hurda, the messenger of the Kabuli had disappeared into the crowd and was not seen again.

Then the Baluba boys carried the severely wounded on to the howdahs of the elephants, the Ubangi bowmen were assembled and dispatched up over the hills in a body, and finally the Tuaregs gathered around to form an escort for Julebba herself.

As Hsuang waited for the man in the howdah, his subordinates quietly stood at his back, adjusting and readjusting their armor, or speaking with each other in tense, subdued tones.

He ordered his bodyguard that no one, not even the Rajah of Berar whose troops were garrisoning the village, should be allowed into the courtyard, then he instructed his servants to detach the golden panels from the howdah and add them to the boxes of treasure.

Fogg took the howdahs on either side, Passepartout got astride the saddle-cloth between them.

Watching him stride toward the howdahs, the stablekeeper was seized by a sudden impulse.

The leader was standing off to the side of the road, watching the progress in loading the howdahs on the two elephants assigned to the foreigners.

Kushan soldiers—ruffians, the lot of 'em, filled with unbridled lust—constantly surrounding the foreigners' howdahs and tents, filled with so many lovely girls.