Indian Traditional Games

Games in India date back to our mythological stories. The pages of our rich history have a major description of various games that were played by the kings as well as the normal people.

Playing games for people has been one of the most popular ways of social interaction. India is well known for its traditions and culture as so are Indian games

There are many games that originated in India but have taken over the world in no time.

Indian traditional games got an overwhelming response across the globe. Playing games was a great source of entertainment for people back then when there were no TVs and smartphones.

These games have transferred from generation to generation and continue to be loved.

Remember the time of our childhood when we had no smartphones, and we would just wait to go to school or to parks in the evening to play with our friends?

Summer breaks and winter breaks were looked forward to, to playing our traditional games with our friends and family. Playing games have been an integral part of everybody’s childhood be it us, our parents, or our grandparents.

Games have helped us deepen our friendships and develop a sense of unity. They are the most talked about things from our childhood that we are sure, you all will want to relive and relish.

With everything going digital, games too have gone virtual, but our traditional games still hold a special place in our hearts.

Some of the traditional games of India are still played and have managed to their way to online gaming apps. As the pandemic has drawn us apart, these online games have brought us together.

There is a long list of ancient traditional games in India, some made by Gods to defeat their enemies, some by the kings, and the others by the commoners.

List of Top 8 Traditional Indian Games to Explore

1. Pachisi Game

One of the most played traditional games in ancient India, the pachisi game is played on a cross-shaped board with 3 long cylindrical dices and pawns.

The aim of the game is to take out your pawns from the center of the board also known as charkoni and put them back after taking a complete tour of the board.

The one who puts back all the pawns the first wins. The game has a narration in the epic Mahabharata under the name of ‘pasha’.

Ludo is the new version of the traditional pachisi game with changes here and there. The game can be played by 2-4 players alone or in teams of two.

The four colors used in the game traditionally were red, yellow, green, and black.

You can read in detailed about Pachisi Game

2. Chaupar Game

This too is a board game and is quite similar to the Pachisi game.

The difference between the two is that- Pachisi is played with long cylindrical dice whereas chaupar is played with cowrie shells to play the chaal/ move.

The symmetrical cross-shaped board was traditionally made of cloth or wool. There are various variations of the game played in India.

Chaupar used to be the rich man’s game. There is a Chaupar court in Fatehpur sikri as the game was loved by king Akbar.

Chopat/ Chaupar is considered to be a variation of a dice game played in Mahabharata between Yudhishthira and Duryodhan.

3. Gilli danda

Gilli danda is an outdoor game played with two sticks of wood, one being a longer one known as danda and the other smaller oval-shaped one known as gilli.

This ancient traditional game of India is mostly played in rural areas and originated around 2500 years ago.

Gilli Danda is played with 4 or more players in even numbers. The players stand in a circle and try to balance the gilli on a stone where one end of the gilli touches the ground and the other one is in the air.

The player then flips the gilli in the air and tries to strike it with the danda. The far the gilli goes, the more are the chances of winning.

4. Lagori

Lagori also known as Seven Stones is a traditional game originating from the Indian subcontinent played with a ball and a pile of seven stones.  It is also an outdoor game mostly played in rural areas.

There is a mention of this game in the holy text of Bhagwata Purana where Krishanji is playing the game with friends.

The game is played in teams, one player from each team throws the ball at the pile of stones to make them fall, while the players from that team try to put them back in place.

The other team, on the other hand, tries to hit the players with the ball and hinders their actions. If the ball touches any player, then that player will be out while the rest of the team members will continue to play.

5. Kancha

Kancha/goti is one of the most played traditional games in India. The game is very simple yet very interesting to play.

There is a circle made with chalk/powder/ sand, there are several marbles (kanche) placed in it, and the player must hit and move as many kanches as possible to beat the opponent.

If you miss the shot, the turn goes to the next player. The game can be played by a group of people together.

6. Kho Kho

We are sure you must have played this game or heard about it. This outdoor game is played on a playground.

There are 9 players from the attacking team in the playground and 8 of them sit in a line with 3 runners from the defending team who run to protect themselves from getting caught.

The players sitting in the line face in alternate directions. There are 12 players from each team in the game where 9 of them play.

7. Kabaddi

Kabaddi is the national game of Bangladesh but this is one of the most played and popular games in India. The game is played by 7 players in two teams.

The aim of the players in the game is to enter the other opponent’s court and touch as many defenders as possible to win the game.

There are various tournaments of kabbadi held across the world like Kabaddi World Cup, Asian Games, Pro Kabaddi League, Indo International Premier Kabaddi League, Super Kabaddi League, etc.

8. Carrom

The game lives in the hearts of many. This game has been a part of all our social gatherings. Carrom means to strike and bound.

The game is played with 2-4 players in teams and even individually.

Carrom has gone out of the boundaries of India and reached across the globe where many tournaments are held to relish the game.

The list of these traditional games is long and adds a lot of entertainment to your daily schedule.

Why are Indian Traditional games important?

The ancient traditional games of India remind us of history and makes us feel connected to our country and countrymen. It develops a sense of equality amongst the youth.

They also evolve skills like patience, teamwork, and confidence. You can spend some quality time with friends and family and get to know more about your culture and history.

What are the benefits of Indian traditional games?

Traditional games give a boost to children’s intellectual levels as well as physical wellbeing. The best part about these games is that they don’t require a lot of equipment.

These games are simple and can be played in large groups of people. There is also one more thing about these games which makes them so popular, these games are safe to play, and parents don’t have to supervise their kids.


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