Traditional Indian Sports are the games that originated in ancient India or games played during old times such as Kushti or Malla-yuddha, Vajra-mushti, Mallakhamb, and kabaddi. It’s only now that Mallakhamba has gained national importance, but there are numerous other regional sports which too should come to limelight. Here is the list of a few well known traditional games of the Indian states.
Pachisi was the national game of ancient India, which means twenty-five in Hindi and played on a board or circular board. The name of the game is derived from the Hindi word paccīs, meaning "twenty-five", the largest score that can be thrown with the cowrie shells, thus this game is also known by the name Twenty-Five. There are other versions of this game where the largest score that can be thrown is thirty.Pachisi is a game for two, three, or four players, four usually play in two teams. One team has yellow and black pieces, the other team has red and green. The team which moves all its pieces to the finish first, wins the game.
Chaupar or chopad is a circle board game of India like pachisi with four players and a variation of Indian epic Mahabharata dice game. Chaupar originated from ancient India from pachisi with more skill and complex rules and variation.
Chaturanga was a Chess-like game of ancient India with similar rules to shatranj. The game was first known by the Gupta Empire but much older than we know, An ancient Indian board game with four divisions of an army.
Seval Sandai (Cockfighting)
Seval Sandai or cockfighting is one of the most popular rural sport still exist in Tamil Nadu and the coast of Andhra Pradesh. Cockfight game was very popular in ancient India, especially in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and the Tulu Nadu region of Karnataka.
Maramadi Bull Surfing, Kerala
Maramadi Bull Surfing race from Kerala takes place in Anandapally village were a pair of bulls race with different categories for speed and style in paddy fields. The oxen are specifically trained with the professional jockeys and one of the lesser-known sports of Incredible India.
Kambala is an annual festival that is one of the most popular and unique sport in Karnataka mainly in districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi. This buffalo race is a simple sport where the pair of buffaloes run one by one.
Jallikattu, Tamil Nadu
Jallikattu is a traditional sport of Tamil Nadu practiced during the Pongal celebrations in January. Pulikulam or Kangayam breed of cattle is used for Jallikattu where Bulls are released into the crowd and participants have to remove flags from bull’s horns.
Hori Habba, Karnataka
Hori Habba sport is part of the Deepavali festival celebrations and bulls run through the crowds. This rural sport practiced mainly in Shivamogga districts of Karnataka and similar to Jallikattu of Tamil Nadu.
Bullock Cart Race, Maharashtra
Bullock cart race of Maharashtra is a popular tradition known as Bailgada Sharyat. As per the law, now the sport is banned in the rural area of western Maharashtra as well the same law applies to Jallikattu and bull race at Kila Raipur games.
Pallanguzhi, Tamil Nadu
This traditional ancient game is very popular among the kids and old people especially in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka (Ali Guli Mane), Andhra Pradesh and Kerala also played in Sri Lanka. Pallanguzhi is an indoor board game, played by two players on a rectangular board.
Dhopkhel (Ball Game)
Dhopkhel is an indigenous game of Assam is a seasonal game that requires speed, stamina, and acrobatic skills. This ball game from Assam state played between two teams during the festival of Bihu.
Yubi Lakpi (Coconut Snatching)
Yubi lakpi is generally played barefoot with 7 players in each two team over a 45 meters long pitch and also known as coconut snatching. This game played in Manipur with coconut and a lesser-known traditional football game in India.
Insuknawr (Rod Pushing)
Insuknawr game involves a round wooden rod or bamboo rod between two players are trying to push his opponent out of the ring. This rod pushing sport played in Mizoram state of North-East India and most popular among the Mizo community.
Camel Racing, Rajasthan
Pushkar Fair and Nagaur Fair both are known for performances like bullock cart races, cockfights, camel dances, tug-of-war, and camel races. Nagaur cattle fair is a tourist attraction for domestic and international travelers.
The game begins with all players holding their wound top and the players throw their tops at the same time – this is the ‘toss’ for the game. The "toss" is decided by the top spun and picked up quickest. The players who finished the toss successfully try to spin the top over the tops in the circle trying to break them and/or trying to knock them out of the circle. Each time the spinning tops have to be picked up successfully to continue.
Gilli Danda also known as Viti Dandu and by other variations, is a sport originating from the Indian subcontinent, played in the rural areas and small towns all over South Asia. The game is played with two sticks: a large one called a danda which is used to hit a smaller one, the Gilli. Other than using a smaller target stick, rather than a ball, it bears many similarities to bat and ball games such as cricket and baseball.
The word Mallakhamb also refers to the pole used in the sport where the pole is usually made from Sheesham (Indian rosewood) polished with castor oil. Mallakhamb is a traditional sport, originating from the Indian subcontinent, in which a gymnast performs aerial yoga postures and wrestling grips in concert with a vertical stationery or hanging wooden pole, cane, or rope.
Seven Stones is a game from the Indian subcontinent involving a ball and a pile of flat stones, generally played between two teams in a large field. Seven Stones dates back to the Bhagwata Purana and claimed to be the oldest games that originated in India.