Kushti is our traditional game, and this game has been played since the Ramayana yug and Mahabharata yug. If you know our history, you probably remember the Kushti between Bali and Ravana and the Kushti between God Krishna, Balrama, and Jarasandha. Time changes, but the love of Kushti never changes by time or region. Kushti is known by names such as Wrestling, Pehlwani, Dangal, Mul Yudh, and so on.  So, after knowing a little about Kushti, you must be curious to learn more: Here, we provide more information about it. 

“Khushti” or "Pehlwani”, a mud wrestling style that evokes the culture of Indian soil, originates from a time when Mughal rulers ruled over this vast country.

It is an ancient and traditional sport played on a field known as AKHADA. They learn here and engage in friendly competition with one another. The trainer, or Ustad, is the one who instructs them. This sport is well-liked in India and worldwide; it is also famous. In this article, we cover the main aspects of Kushti, such as how to play Kushti, the history of wrestling in India, and kushti wrestling rules.

What is Kushti?

The Pehlwani refers to both the form of Indian wrestling and the Pehlwani, the wrestler. Akhada has a traditional Indian wrestling match called a Kushti game. The Indian wrestling arts school, or Akhada, is a venue where it is practised effectively. The Indian wrestler, or Pehlwan, is sound asleep while adhering to a rigid set of guidelines created by the trainer, known as Ustad. In India, only a few Akhadas are surviving. A few committed individuals continue to work to save the cognizant. Over time, Kushti has become a trendy sport in India and neighbouring countries. 

As you all know, Kushti, or Pehlwani, is a type of wrestling popular in several regions on the Indian subcontinent. It is said to be a branch of Malyutham's more varied art. Kushti primarily comprises grappling contests to pin an adversary such that his back and shoulders are in touch with the floor.

What is the History of Kushti—Indian Wrestling?

The history of wrestling in India started with the Mughals, who were of Turko-Mongol descent, and began to dominate India in the 16th century after capturing the country. By combining the roots of the regional martial arts Malla-Yuddha with the influence of Iranian and Mongolian wrestling, they created the modern game of Kushti. Babur, the first Mughal emperor, was a wrestler by trade and was rumoured to be able to sprint rapidly and far while carrying a man under each arm. In a variation known as Naki Ka Kushti, wrestlers of the Mughal era occasionally even competed while sporting Bagh Naka on the one hand. 

The traditional style of Indian wrestling dated back centuries and was developed in Persia, particularly during the Mughal era in the 16th century. The mighty Ramadasa, known as the “Father of Indian Athletics,” traversed the nation in the late 17th century to inspire people to engage in physical exercise as a form of worship for the mighty God Hanuman. It is an ancient sport still being practised despite our elders' lack of understanding.

Kushti was boosted by Maratha rulers' offering vast sums of prize money. At the time, every Maratha kid was said to be able to wrestle, and several ladies enthusiastically took up the game. Kushti's prominence was maintained under colonial rule by nearby princes and kings. Rajputs loved watching wrestling; they played it with great courage. Uttar Pradesh and Punjab were said to host the best kushti in India.

Indian wrestlers of the calibre of Great Gama and Gobar Goho were well-known. When all seven wrestlers from India completed the Greco-Roman and Free-Foam wrestling events at the 4th Asian Games in Jakarta in 1962, they were placed on the decoration list. They received twelve prizes, marking the height of their greatness. This execution was repeated when all eight wrestlers sent to Jamaica for the Commonwealth Games met their country's requirements to win medals. India was one of the first eight or nine nations to legalise professional wrestling in the 1960s, and in 1967 it hosted the world championships in New Delhi. 

How to Play Kushti – Indian Wrestling

A game is played in an area called Akhada, filled with clay or Mitti (Dirt), representing mother earth. They pay homage to this ground since it is their training ground, stadium, and an essential part of their lives. Before starting playing Kushti, players must have to apply Mitti (dirt) on their bodies and wear only a single cloth called Langot or short Lungi. Then they can start their Kushti, and before entering the Akhada, they must apply tilak on their forehead, the sign of victory and blessing. 

Players must contact each other's opponent's shoulders on the ground to win the Kushti game. Although it might seem straightforward, it is not as it seems. 

However, players can employ body locks, throws, submission holds, pins, etc., on their opponents instead of punching or kicking them. There are two most well-known methods that you may have heard about. The Kasauta and Dhobi Pachad (shoulder throw and strangle pin down). Other nations employ a different technique known as triangle chokes and all. 

What are the Rules of Kushti?

Different names are known for Kushti as per the region, such as Dangal, Pehlwani, Malyudh, Indian Wrestling, Gatta Gusthi, and so on.  They have their own rules, which must be known by the individuals. It does not matter if you are a player or a spectator. You must know the rules of Kushti to understand the game better. Here are the laws of Kushti; read below: 

  • Both players are presented before the match begins, played on a field known as Akahada. 
  • The ground must be at least 14 feet away and can be either round or square in shape. 
  • Both players begin to gain control of each other by tossing some Mitti (dirt) on their respective bodies. 
  • Usually, matches last 20 to 30 minutes. However, this might vary depending on where you play. 
  • The player and his opponent cannot be punched and kicked by each other. 
  • Players can leave the ring’s perimeter but must stay inside it to complete it. 
  • The players have won when both of the opponent's shoulders are brought to the ground at once.
  • Players may also succeed through knockout submissions.

Since there aren't any rounds yet, each session's duration is predetermined and is usually around 30 minutes. Should the two contestants agree, the match's duration may be extended. The average length of a matching enhancement is between 10 and 15 minutes. The opponent's shoulders and hips must remain on the ground the entire time to win, unlike tangle-based wrestling.

However, other methods such as knockout, stoppage, or accommodation are also possible. There is no point scoring system in this style of wrestling. Two judges sit on a board with a manager inside the ring who oversees the sessions. After a lengthy and ostentatious puja conducted to God Hanuman, the Dangal begins.


What was intended to be a quick review has grown into a monster-sized piece. Kushti, Malakhra, Gando Makal Pala, Naga wrestling, Mukna, Inbuan, Gatta Gusthi, and Kirip are among the performing arts you've had the privilege to observe. And with some of these looks, we've hardly really begun!

As you can see, the history of wrestling in the Indian subcontinent is rich and varied. Hopefully, the sport will benefit from its illustrious history and have a successful future in all its forms.

We feel that all of these forms are a part of India's cultural legacy. As such, efforts must be made to ensure they continue to exist, even though some of these styles have had more exposure and significant influence than others.

Frequently Asked Questions 

  1. Are Kushti and wrestling the same?

Yes, Kushti and Wrestling are the same game. Kushti is a generic term for Indian traditional wrestling, and it takes place in a dug-out pit filled with river sand. And if players play Kushti internationally, it is placed on the coloured mat, where both opponents have to follow the same rules; 

  1. Which state is famous for Kushti?

India mud wrestling, also known as 'Kushti or Pehlwani," which is practised in regions such as Varanasi, Rajasthan, and many cities of Uttar Pradesh, is gradually disguising itself behind so-called gyms. Also, Punjab is exceptionally well known for its wrestlers, also called Pahalwan, as well as one of the best places to learn Indian wrestling or Kushti.

  1. What do Kushti wrestlers wear?

They are brought to an akhara, a traditional wrestling school, where they are apprenticed to the guru of the area. The loincloth is the only thing they use for training. Physical exercise is intended to increase strength, muscular mass, and flexibility. Indian males typically wear the kaupinam, kaupina, langot, or lungooty (lango) as a loincloth or undergarment while practising or sparring in dangal during traditional wrestling akharas.

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