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10 Popular Games You Probably Didn’t Know Were Played In Ancient India

A piece of history, a bit of glamour and a whole lot of nostalgia is tied to these ancient Indian games. Get out of your air conditioned rooms and come away from your gadgets to try these awesome games that seem to be long forgotten, or remembered in completely different contexts!

10 Popular Games You Probably Didn’t Know Were Played In Ancient India

India has always been rich in culture and tradition, and games have been an important part of Indian culture since forever. Be it Lord Shiv and his consort Parvati playing Pachisi, the Pandavas loosing Draupadi over a game of dice or the Mughals enjoying an afternoon of chess – games and sports have always played an important role in the history and mythology of India. Gradually the time changed and so did our sports.

In a time of Play Stations, video games and gadgets, we all have almost forgotten the traditional games of India. Remember the times we couldn’t wait to come back from school so that we could go and play a couple of rounds of kith-kith (Hopscotch) with our friends?

So why not recall and replay all these traditional Indian games this summer? Here is the list of 10 such games and sports-

1. Satoliya


The game is also called Pithoo or Lagori in some parts of India. Any number of people can play it. It needs seven small flat stones; every stone size should be less than the other stone. Keep the stones on each other in decreasing size order. Hit the pile with a cloth ball from a fixed difference. Read the complete rules of the game here. You can also buy this game online.


2. Gutte

This traditional game is played by both children and adults. This simple game requires 5 pieces of small stones. You spin one stone in the air and pick other stones from the ground without dropping the stone in the air. This game can be played by any number of people.

3. Kancha

Pic courtesy:
Pic courtesy:

Kancha was one of the most popular games among children in the neighbourhood. It is played using marbles called ‘Kancha’. The players are to hit the selected target ‘kancha’ using their own marble ball. The winner takes all Kanchas of rest of the players.

4. Kho Kho

Pic courtesy: Mester Jagels (Wikimedia commons)
Pic courtesy: Mester Jagels (Wikimedia commons)

It is one of the most popular tag games in India. It consists of two teams. 1 team sits/kneels in the middle of the court, in a row, with adjacent members facing opposite directions. The team that takes the shortest time to tag/tap all the opponents in the field, wins.

5. Gilli Danda

Pic Courtesy: Debmalya Mukherjee (Flickr)
Pic Courtesy: Debmalya Mukherjee (Flickr)

The game requires two sticks. The bigger one is called “danda” and the smaller one is called “gilli“. The player then uses the danda to hit the gilli at the raised end, which flips it into the air. While it is in the air, the player strikes the gilli, hitting it as far as possible. Having struck the gilli, the player is required to run and touch a pre-agreed point outside the circle before the gilli is retrieved by an opponent.

6. Poshampa

Pic courtesy:

Two people stand with their hands locked together above their heads and sing a song. The other kids pass from under that bridge and the one who gets caught (when the hands come down like a cage at the end of the song) is out.

7. Chaupar/ Pachisi

Pic courtesy:
Pic courtesy:

Each player’s objective is to move all four of their pieces completely around the board, counter-clockwise, before their opponents do. The pieces start and finish on the Charkoni.

8.Kith Kith

Pic courtesy:
Pic courtesy:

See an open surface and a chalk to draw? Lets play Kith Kith! A popular playground game in which players toss a small object into numbered spaces of a pattern of rectangles outlined on the ground and then hop or jump through the spaces to retrieve the object. This popular game is also played in other countries and is loved by all.

9. DhopKhel

Pic courtesy:
Pic courtesy:

Dhopkel, a game popular in Assam is similar to Kabbadi. Dhop is the name given to a rubber ball that two teams throw across a central line into each other’s courts. Each team sends a player into the opponent’s court; the aim is to catch the ball his team throws and make his way back to his team without allowing the opponents to touch him to earn points.

10. Pallanguli

Pic courtesy:
Pic courtesy:

This board game with 14 cups is set out with six seeds in each cup; the players distribute these seeds into the other cups until there are no seeds left. The person who reaches two consecutive cups without seeds has to bow out of the game.

Go why not reconnect with our roots and enjoy these lesser known traditional games of India?

About the Author: Born with a hobby to travel, talk, express and write, Shreya gets to do all of that and is even paid for it! Interested in rural development and social issues, she dreams of actually bringing a change in society and writing a book of her own one day. When she is not preaching others about a better India she is busy watching movies and playing video games. Follow her on twitter: @shreya08

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