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Famous Ancient Indian Games

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Famous Ancient Indian Games

Yoga, Ayurveda, Zero, and other innovations that are well known worldwide originated in India. Not only are the arts, crafts, cuisines, sciences, and culture of the nation the source of its inventions, but sports as well. You might be surprised to learn that many of the popular video games today originated in India and are now popular worldwide. We present to you a variety of indoor and outdoor sports that date back to ancient India.

Judo and Karate

These combative arts are thought to have their roots in ancient India. Furthermore, it is asserted that Buddhist monks in mediaeval India adopted these martial arts, which they later disseminated to other Asian nations when they travelled. The world, however, views these martial arts as a legacy left by East Asian nations like China, Korea, and Japan.


You might be surprised to learn that ancient Indian monarchs played “Elephant Polo” as a form of recreation. Polo is thought to have its roots in Manipur.

In fact, the Cheitharon Kumpapa court chronicle of the Manipuri kings makes mention of a Polo match that the kings who ascended to the throne in 33 AD played.

This sport, which originated in India, was later popularised by the British and is now played all over the world.


Chess was originally known as “Ashtapada,” and it is one of the oldest games to have its roots in India. During the rule of the Gupta Empire, the game later acquired the name “Chaturanga”. The game was picked up and given the name “Shatranj” by Persian travellers to ancient India. Additionally, evidence of board games like Chess has been found in the Indus Valley civilisation’s archaeological sites. Even among the British, it gained in popularity. India continues to dominate the chess world, in large part due to Viswanathan Anand, a former world chess champion and current world rapid chess champion.


One of the most well-liked traditional Indian sports is kho-kho. However, a lot of historians contend that Kho-Kho was popular for its run-and-chase game in ancient times, was primarily played on chariots or “raths,” and was given the name “Rathera” by the emperors.


After the Pro Kabaddi League was established in our nation, Kabaddi began to gain popularity as a sport. It is thought that Tamil Nadu is where this 4,000-year-old sport first appeared. In addition, this sport is recognised in five different variations in our nation: Suranjeevii, Gaminee, Amar, Circle, and Goongi.


A very old game called “Chausar,” played by the Kauravas and Pandavas, gave rise to the game of ludo, which was first played in the sixth century and was known as “Pachisi.” There is a representation of this game in the Ellora caves, according to many historians. The Mughal kings, especially Akbar, also loved playing ludo. Later on, the British modified the game to use a cubic die and a dice cup and patented it as “Ludo” in England in 1896.

Snakes and Ladders

In ancient India, this game was known variously as Gyan Chaupar, Mokshapat, and Moksha Patamu. It is believed that this game was first played as a morality game. Snakes and Ladders, which was adopted by the British, experienced a similar global success to Ludo.


In fact, India is where badminton as we know it today originated. The game’s modern iteration was first enjoyed by the British. By the 1870s, they had not only mastered the game but also returned with the necessary equipment. The game allegedly made its debut in Europe in 1873 because they were so impressed. Following that, the game was adopted by many nations.

Playing Cards

In our country, playing cards is the most popular pastime, and we frequently play games like Rummy, Bluff, Bridge, etc. today. The fact that the card games originated in India and were first played under the name “Ganjifa” by the Mughal emperors in the 16th century is, however, very intriguing. The game was played with lavish sets of cards made from ivory or tortoise shells and decorated with various precious stones.

Also published on Medium.

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