A bolnagri keyboard layout for Windows

I have recently got a new laptop, my trusty old ThinkPad R40e has cracks in the case and doesn’t always load. I’m not sure how old it is, but it is an IBM thinkpad and the brand switched to Lenovo in 2005. I have run Linux on my old laptop for a while, but have not yet successfully installed it on my new one yet.  One of the best things about the Linux release was the Bolnagri keyboard layout. This puts most of the devanagari characters in on keys which have the same or a similar sound on the Latin QWERTY keyboard. For example, the “d” key gives द and the shift D key ध. Vowels are slightly more complicated, as you have to hold down the ALT-GTR key for the independent forms. For example typing “ki”  gives कि and kI gives की , whereas AltGtr+i gives इ , and AltGtr+I  ई. This makes it very easy to use for someone who is used to the QWERTY layout; to type “namaste” I type the keys “nmsxte”, giving नमस्ते. (the x key is the virama character, which suppresses vowel sound).

I have made a couple of tentative attempts to learn Hindi. Thinking that I would try some more, I started by producing a Bolnagri keyboard for Windows. Maybe this was just so that I could stay in my comfort zone. Anyway I am sharing it as free to use for any purpose, of course with no warranty. For many people this will be the quickest and easiest way to start typing devanagari.

The Advantages of Bolnagri

The oficial Hindi keyboard layout is InScript. This has a logical layout with vowel sounds towards the left of the keyboard.  The Bolnagri layout follows the phonetics of the QUERTY keyboard. This means that someone with a QWERTY keyboard can use devanagari immediately, only occasionally refering to the layout images to find the more unusual characters.

Bolnagri keyboard layout

Bolnagri keyboard layout - basic keys

Bolnagri With Shift

Bolnagri With Shift

Bolnagri with AltGr

Bolnagri with AltGr

Bolnagri with Shft + AltGr

Bolnagri with Shft + AltGr

As well as being able to use it quickly without much training, its quite possible to use the layout without keyboard stickers. In fact most keyboard stickers would need cutting to use with the bolnagri layout.

Should I use Bolnagri or InScript?

The Bolnagri layout will probably be good for you if:

  • You have a QUERTY keyboard.
  • You are already familiar with the QUERTY keyboard layout.
  • You will do some typing in a language that uses the QWERTY layout and some in devanagari.
  • You don’t do typing in other indic scripts(unless you want to set up a bolnagri layout for the script)
  • You don’t need to be able to go up to an indic computer and use it witghout installing software.

The InScript keyboard layout will be best for you if:

  • Your computer has an InScript keyboard.
  • You never  type in languages that use the QUERTY keyboard.
  • You type in other indic scripts (computers will already have InScript layouts for these)
  • You need to be able to go up to an indic computer and use it witghout installing software.
  • You want to be able to type in the Devanagari script really fast and are willing to spend longer learning the layout.

Installing the keyboard driver

If you are running Linux you will already have a bolnagri keyboard setup, just select it as the keyboard. If you are running windows you can install the bolnagri setup as follows.

If you want to edit and customise the layout, download the file bolnagri_v0.1.klc  from this location. This can be loaded into the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator, edited as needed and used to produce a new package.

If you want to just use the layout as-is download bolnagri_v0.1.zip by clicking “File->Download original”. Unzip the directory then run “setup.exe” from the unpacked folder. After running this you will be able to add the keyboard from the control panel. In windows 7 this is “Control Panel->Clock, Language, and Region->change keyboard and other input methods->change keyboard->Add.

Adding the Bolnagri Keyboard in Windows 7

Adding the Bolnagri Keyboard in Windows 7

The above screenshot shows the bolnagri keyboard added and moved to the highest position from Hindi. The default is still the UK QWERTY keyboard, but this can now be switched from the language bar.

If this is useful to you or you have any comments, please reply to this article.


20 thoughts on “A bolnagri keyboard layout for Windows

  1. Pingback: Free Windows Keyboard Mapping for IAST/ISO 15919 « Tandava's Technical Blog

  2. thanks!
    this is so helpful!
    I am a Sanskrit student and was struggling with the fonts so far.
    One question- how do you write the anusvara in Bolnagri?

  3. Namashkar,Sivan,
    I’m glad it’ s useful to you. The anusvara is on the key marked on my keyboard with ¦, `, and ¬, which is to the left of the number rows. You use it by typing it after the character, for example typing hi`dI produces हिंदी. The chandrabindu comes from the same key with the shift so typing hu¬ gives हुँ.

    Please ask if you have any other queries.

  4. thanks!
    I’ve been using your other key-board, the one for Latin transcript, allot lately and enjoy it! still I have a few things I didn’t find out about it, and would appreciate your help! (all my questions concern the Latin letters)

    1. where is the sign for visarga (ḥ)

    2. where is the sign for the palatal n (ñ), the one that usually comes before j/c?. for example, with the word jñāna, knowledge.

    3. there is a convention for marking long vowels that are there because of sandhi of two vowels, and not as a “natural” part of a word. we show them as â, î etc, with contrast to the “normal” long vowerls that are marked as ā, ī etc.
    do you think it is possible to add these symbols?

    thanks again, and happy new year!


    • Namashkar Sivan.
      The palatal n is on the key that gives # unshifted and ~ shifted.Used with AltGr it gives ñ and Shift-AltGr Ñ.

      The visarga is missing, I will add it to the AltGr-h (and shift for capital). I will also probably swap ṅ and ṇ, for consistency with other letters. I will have to think about where to add the â, î, etc.

      I will let you know when I have done this, it is late today so it won’t be until later in the week sometime.

      I’m glad the keyboard mapping is useful to you.


    • Sivan,
      i have created a new layout with the ḥ character as well as the â, ê, î, ô, û characters and the capital equivalents. See this article for details and file locations.

      As I mention in the article there were three options for the circumflex (â) characters. I picked using the caps lock key, but if this proves difficult and you think an alternative would be better please let me know.

  5. Pingback: I have an updated Free Windows Keyboard Mapping for IAST/ISO 15919 « Tandava's Technical Blog

  6. करूणाकर ने यह लिंक टिकाया. एक और बढ़िया कीबोर्ड है.
    वैसे, आपने विंडोज के लिए माइक्रोसॉफ़्ट इंडिक आईएमई 2 आजमाया क्या? उसमें भी इसी तरह फ़ोनेटिक टाइपिंग की सुविधा है. क्या वह समस्या पैदा करता है या कुछ कमी है?

  7. Thanx. You come from the linux route. Now wonder you like bolnagri. But why have you removed the dot function under consonants like k, f, g, and j? Or have I missed it? Please help.


    • Hi,
      You type z (giving श) then x (giving श्) then r (giving श्र) then I (shift-i) giving (श्री). Remember that x is the virama (vowel suppressor) , and श is on the z key as s is already used for स and S (shift-s) for ष.

      So the sequence is zxrI

  8. Reblogged this on itsSri and commented:
    ताण्डव जी,
    हिन्दी बोलनागरी कुन्जी पटल प्रसारित करने एवं मेरी वांछित जानकारी देने के लिये धन्यवाद.

  9. This is a great job done by you. Like you, I have been using the bolnagri layout extensively on linux and used to miss it on windows. Now I won’t do that. Thanks a lot for sharing.

  10. I want to use this also on windows RT. Since setup.exe will run only on x86 device, is there any work around for this to work on Windows RT? For example, pasting bolnagri keyboard layout in system32 or some location would work?

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