India's rich culture and history have always been deeply rooted in sports and games. Unfortunately, traditional games like Pallanguzi, Lippa, Kabaddi, and Gilli-danda have been entirely forgotten by today's youth since they are so absorbed in playing video games. The days when children eagerly anticipated going outside to play some Pithoo or Kith-Kith (Hopscotch) with their buddies are long gone. Numerous health problems in children have arisen as a result of the decline in physical exercise. Therefore, bringing back old games will have many positive effects on health. In this article, our experts have presented details on the 20 best traditional games of India. So, keep reading!!


Seeing our children hooked to the TV or phone makes us sad very frequently. It seems especially tough to take children outside during the epidemic. We can't help but ponder about and think back to the old games as we see a generation of kids find enjoyment in electronics and technology. These were the standard games that occupied a significant portion of our free time after school. They physically kept us moving by having us run around on terraces or calm streets. They taught us the value of strong friendships and working as a team. And of course, about a formative period in our life as children.

So what are these age-old games I keep talking about? How are they unique compared to modern Counter-Strike and Candy Crushes games? Let's look at 10 Indian traditional games that have shaped childhood for countless generations. This list includes both indoor and outdoor sports, making it good for developing both physical and mental toughness.

20 Traditional Games Of India

1. Kusti

Kushti and Pehlwani is an amazing traditional game of India. It is one of the oldest sports in India and dates back to the prehistoric period, or around 4000 BC. One of the first mentions of Kushti is found in the Mahabharata epic. Kushti is distinct from free-style wrestling, which is practised all over the world. Kushti games used to terminate when one of the players signalled their defeat. However, modern bouts do have distinct rounds and a referee who steps in when necessary. The Olympic Games now include this sport as one of the competitions.

Rules to play the game:

To play this Indian traditional game, you must touch both of your opponent's shoulders on the ground. Although it might seem easy, it is not. However, you can employ body locks, throws, submission holds, pins, etc., on your opponent 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) (Strangle Pin). Other nations employ a different technique known as triangle chokes and all.

2. Gutte

It is a common Indian traditional game that is played throughout the countryside of the nation. Children and adults alike enjoy playing this age-old game. Five tiny stones are used in the process. Typically, this game is played for fun.

Rules to play the game:

In this easy game, you must pick up other stones from the ground and toss and spin one stone in the air before it strikes the ground. Up until an airborne Gutte hits the earth, the procedure is repeated. When there are several stones in the air, the process becomes more difficult. This old-fashioned game's simplicity and low cost make it beautiful. Furthermore, anyone may participate in this game.

3. Mallakhamb

An ancient Indian discipline known as mallakhamb blends yoga, exercise, and martial arts. It is said to be the "mother sport" of historic India. The words "Malla" and "khamb" both refer to gymnasts. Therefore, "Mallakhamb" often refers to a "gymnasts pole." This activity dates back to the 12th century. Mallakhamb was once used by wrestlers or pehlwans to hone their kushti skills. Today, nevertheless, it is given credit for its merits. It has since become a whole different sport.

Rules to play the game:

The classic kind of mallakhamb is called pole mallakhamb. Participants compete on a wooden pole that is 2.6 metres tall and has a base circumference of 55 centimetres. The pole gradually narrows until it has a top circumference of 35 cm. Comparatively, a shorter pole hanged from hooks or chains serves as the prop in hanging mallakhamb. In a hanging mallakhamb, the pole's base is not in contact with the ground. On a hung rope that is 5.5 metres long and 2 cm in diameter, rope mallakhamb is done.

4. Kabaddi

Kabbadi is a team sport that simply calls for quickness and strength. It was created in India and is today enjoyed all over the world. Hindi for holding one's breath is kabbadi. Two teams of players each include seven to twelve members. Players from one team must enter the territory of the other team. They must attempt to contact as many opponents as they can while doing this. 

Rules to play the game:

The fundamentals of Kabaddi are straightforward: two teams of seven players each compete against one another in a large square stadium throughout two 20-minute halves. Players from each team alternately sprint across the centre line to the opposing team's half of the court, tag opponents, and then run back. The more opponents they tag, the more points they receive; but, if the other team physically stops them from returning to their half of the court, they do not receive any points.

5. Kho-kho

Another well-known traditional Indian sport that dates back to ancient India is kho kho. Kho Kho is the most popular tag game in the subcontinent after Kabaddi. It may be difficult to pinpoint this traditional game's beginnings, although it is thought to be a modified form of "Run Chase." Running after another player and touching him or her to win is how Run Chase is played in its most basic form. It was once referred to as Rathera.

Rules to play the game:

There are two teams in it. Out of a total of 15, 12 nominees are involved in the game. The three players from the defensive team aim to avoid being touched by members of the opposing team at any one time as the nine players on the chasing team alternately sit on their knees facing in opposite directions. The team that eliminates all of its opponents from the field in the quickest amount of time wins.

6. Kancha or Lakhoti

Another intriguing, affordable traditional game created on Indian soil is kancha. It is a game played with dark green glass marbles known as "Kancha," which is popular among kids. To win, a player must use one of his marbles to strike the designated target marble. Traditionally, the game's victor takes away all of the Kanchas from the losers. 

Rules to play the game:

The game is available in several variations, from simple to more difficult. Marble must be aimed at among the other marbles in the circle from a distance in this straightforward Indian game. Another kind of Kancha requires the player to throw a marble into a hole that is a few yards away from them, somewhat like a small game of golf. Given that the marbles were cheap and Kancha could be played in any weather or on any surface, it was popular among kids.

7. Hopscotch or Nondi

This game is in the top 10 games in India and is one of the most played traditional games in the country. The participants make a grid pattern on the mud or concrete floor where nondi is played. It is a modified version of the popular stapoo or kith kith games played as children in Tamil Nadu.

Rules to play the game:

Every box is given a number between one and six, or occasionally between one and eight or ten, and a ladder-shaped pattern is created on the floor. The next step is to hurl a little stone or another flat item onto any of the grids that have been created. The goal is for the player to avoid hitting any of the grid's edges while they make their way to the numbered block.

8. Gilli Danda

One of the most fascinating traditional Indian sports created on the Indian Subcontinent, Gilli Danda, is an amateur sport that is considered to have its roots more than 2,500 years ago. Two sticks are required for this traditional game of India. The longer wooden piece is known as "danda," while the smaller, oval-shaped one is known as "Gilli."

Rules to play the game:

To flip the Gilli into the air, the player must use the danda to strike it at the elevated end. The player strikes the Gilli as far as they can while it is in the air. The player is then needed to sprint and touch a place outside the circle (which is decided upon with the players from before) before the Gilli is stolen by an opponent. The method of rising and striking Gilli is the key to winning this game. The fact that there are no tight regulations regarding the maximum number of participants is one of the outstanding aspects of the traditional game. It may be played with as few as four participants up to 100 or even more.

9. Kambala

The kambala is sometimes referred to as the buffalo race. Karnataka's coastline region hosts this competition. There are two pairs of buffalo competing in this event. One person is riding each pair. The buffaloes involved in this activity must sprint across muddy, slushy paddy fields. Coconuts used to be the prize for playing this sport. Today, gold or silver coins or maybe even a cash award are used as the reward.

Rules to play the game:

The runner balances on a halage, a wooden board supported by the arrangement holding two buffaloes together (called Negilu). With the use of a whip or ropes, the Kambala runner manages the buffaloes. While running, the onlookers are also amused by the runner's high-flying water splashes. On two parallel race courses, two teams of buffalo and their jockeys compete for first place. The race continues all day, and the winners advance to the following rounds.

10. Lagori

Lagori, also known as Lingocha, is another intriguing traditional game that was created in India in the past. It calls for the use of a ball—ideally a rubber ball—and a row of seven flat stones put on top of one another. A minimum of three players and a maximum of nine players may be found on each side, and it is often played between two teams.

Rules to play the game:

The stones are set vertically, and each team has nine opportunities—three players have three tries each—to knock them down from a distance of around 20 feet. The following team gets a chance to throw if the first team is unsuccessful in removing the stones. The defensive team's goal is to hit any member of the throwing team below the knee with the ball. The number of participants or length of a match is not set in stone. Typically, games are played for a set amount of points, generally between 7 and 10. 

11. Ball Badminton

In India, badminton with a ball has a long history. It's a racket game that also uses a wool ball in the shade of yellow. The first people to participate in this sport were the Tanjore royal family in 1856. However, it is now well known throughout India. Fast-paced ball badminton calls for ability, sound judgement, and a few other attributes.

Rules to play the game:

All the rules of a normal Badminton game apply over here.

12. Vallamkali

Boat racing is referred to as vallamkali. One of Kerala's most well-known traditional sports is this one. Extreme teamwork is on display in this sport. To keep the boat stable, all of the rowers must work together and row in unison. This activity takes place in Kerala's backwaters during the Onam festival. The first of these boats appeared in the early fourteenth century. 100 to 120 feet is how long they are. Due to its ability to support enormous loads, it can transport both people and military equipment.

13. Jallikattu

Bull-taming is a sport called jallikattu. This sport is a component of the Pongal celebration in Tamil Nadu. Jalli and kattu both refer to gold or silver coins. Together, they signify money fastened to bulls' horns. The winner of this reward is the individual who successfully tames the bull. This is an ancient sport that dates back more than 2,500 years. It is a long-standing custom that serves as a potent representation of Tamil culture. This sport is played on the third day of the event each year. The pride and culture of the Tamil people include jallikattu. It resembles the Spanish tradition when people flee from raging bulls. They are intended to tame the bulls in this situation.

Rules to play the game:

Participants often simply need to hang on to the bull's hump. In other forms, if they cling onto the bull's neck, horns, or tail, they are disqualified. Depending on the area, the game may have different aims. In certain variations, competitors are required to retain the bull's hump for either 30 seconds or 15 metres (49 ft). The participant loses if the bull throws them or if they stumble. Some variants only permit one competitor. No one prevails if two individuals grip the hump.

14. Kite flying

In India, kite flying is a popular activity for individuals of all ages. Every year on January 14 and 15, during the Makar Sankranti holiday, this sport is played. The date of this celebration is determined by the sun, unlike all other holidays. It occurs on the same day each year as a result. Only the royal family flew kites at first. But with time, this celebration gained notoriety throughout India. Makar Sankranti is also referred to as kite-flying day today. The basic goal of the game is to maintain your kite in the air as long as you can until it is the last one standing. Gujarat, in India, holds an international kite festival on January 14 and 15.

15. Hunting

The original purpose of hunting was to ensure human existence. In addition to seeking food and clothes, he also needed to defend himself against predators. We can now clearly see that hunting's objectives have changed. Only the wealthy could hunt when it became a sport. A bow and arrow were typically used for this type of hunting. However, individuals have started using weapons more recently. Nowadays, hunting is prohibited for several animals since many species are becoming extinct. However, there are a variety of reasons why people engage in animal hunting as a pastime. It aids in stopping the spread of illness, controlling the overpopulation of a certain species, and other things.

16. Archery

The ability to use a bow and arrow is known as archery. Indian archery has a long history that begins with the Vedic era. Man utilised archery for hunting animals in the beginning. It quickly developed into a sport as the years passed. The Mahabharata and the Ramayana are the first Indian literary works that mention archery. Many of the protagonists in these two epics were reputed to be skilled archers. A fundamental requirement for surviving and finding food was archery. The bow and arrow later evolved into a military tool. Today, archery is a recreational activity. Additionally, it is currently a part of the Olympic Games.

Rules to play the game:

In archery, arrows are fired from a bow at a fixed target. On the circular disc used as the target, 10 concentric circles stand in for various tracts. The area of the circle that the arrow strikes determines the scoring. To shoot an arrow at the target is the goal. After the arrow's rear end is in place, the bowstring will be extended to begin the input force that will propel the arrow toward the intended target.

17. Gutte/Five Stones

Both adults and children may enjoy playing the entertaining game gutte. Five pebbles or tiny stones are usually needed. There is no cap on the number of players that may concurrently participate in this game. To collect the other stones that are on the ground while keeping the stone in the air in the air, the player must spin one stone up into the air. The player must then hurl two stones into the air, collect the remainder, and repeat. The winner is the player who completes eight steps in the fewest possible attempts.

Rules to play the game:

To finish the game, you must go through a sequence of eight steps. The winner is the player who completes these eight steps with the fewest errors. One person first starts the game, and if that player misses any steps, the next player gets their turn. This continues until that second player misses any steps. The second round begins after all of the players in the set have finished playing. The first player receives the stones and begins the game from the step he missed in the first round. The winner is the one who completes all eight rounds first.

18. Silambam

An Indian martial technique called silambam employs a stick as a weapon. Tamil Nadu is where this sport first appeared. With a history spanning more than 5,000 years, it is one of the oldest martial disciplines in existence. Most South Indian kings employed the martial skill of silambam in battle has a tenuous connection to Kalaripayattu, the martial art of Kerala. According to one idea, Indian stick combat is where the well-known Shaolin form of martial arts originated.

Rules to play the game:

The Silambam stick is designed to be used in a combat situation between two players. Salutations to God and their Gurus come first. Players should aim to use the Silambam to make physical contact with their opponents. The loser is the player who has received the most touches. The Silambams end is marked with a sticky substance to determine the count of touches.

19. Chaupar

A very old and well-liked Indian traditional game is called chaupar. It dates back to the fourteenth century. It consists of a board in the shape of a cross that is either made of wool or fabric. Wooden pawns & cowry shells are needed for Chaupar. There are four pawns and six cowry shells for each player. Players' movements are dictated by the shells.

Rules to play the game:

At the middle of the board is Home or Ghar. The "home column" for each player's men is the central column on each arm of the cross. Each player begins at the location of the flower depicted to the left of the home column.

Why Are Indian Traditional Games Important?

Any sport or game should be given a significant position in a child's daily schedule and education. Sports aid in the development of a player's physical and mental toughness. However, the largest benefit of traditional games is their ad hoc nature. It doesn't call for pricey infrastructure or specialised instruction. Even though the most well-known games, like kabaddi and kho kho, do have worldwide competitions, the other games are largely regionalised. These games' genuine flavours are hidden in their simplicity and accessibility.

Additionally, they may be seen from a traditional, social, and cultural perspective. In their leisure time, children get together and develop a camaraderie that aids in the development of their social and cultural ties. These kids come from various socioeconomic, religious, and familial backgrounds. However, they discover a shared philosophy and game plan when they come together to play these games. These games don't ask kids to be anything other than themselves, whether they live in rural or metropolitan settings or any income stratum. Not to mention how modest traditional games frequently foster true team spirit inadvertently.

Top 10 Benefits Of Playing Traditional Indian Games

Including any sport or game in a child's daily routine significantly impacts the personality development and maturation of that youngster. By engaging in sports and physical activities, a kid develops resilience as well as mental and physical strength. Similar to how they aid in a child's general development, traditional Indian games.

1. youngster learns how to amuse themselves with fewer resources by playing traditional Indian games.

2. Strengthens the mind.

3. Encourages a mindset of problem-solving.

4. Educates the youngster in social interaction.

5. Makes hand-eye coordination better.

6. Encourages discipline in children.

7. Promotes a winning attitude.

8. Children learn about our culture by participating in traditional Indian games.

9. Meet new people.

10. Children are kept joyful and upbeat by these games.


Traditional games are not just for children. Many of the indoor games are enjoyed by women and may be played by families. For instance, young girls frequently play hopscotch. An excellent game that can be played with teams of different eras is antakshari. These games' primary goals are to unite players and encourage positive interactions. Finally, the methods and tactics used in traditional games of India have a rustic and regional flavour. Their names and playing style are deeply ingrained in the local, regional, and cultural quirks of their environment. As a result, these frequently evolve into much more than simply pass time activities. They develop into a tool for creating groups, personalities, tactics, and a greater comprehension of real underlying beliefs.

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