Celebrating our culture – 6 Traditional Games of India

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Traditional Board Games of India

Have you heard of Pagade? How about Pallanguzhi? Or Chowkabara? These board games have been an integral part of Indian culture and have been around for centuries. Ask your parents or grandparents about the board games they played and you are sure to hear one of these names.

Indian Board Games

With the arrival of modern board games, video games, and gadgets, the younger generation has hardly any exposure to these games from our traditions. Unlike the expensive board games of today, traditional Indian games were simple and made of natural materials. In fact, many of these were just drawn on the floor and played with cowrie shells, tamarind seeds or pebbles! With tweaks and regional variations, these games were known by different names in various parts of the country.  These centuries-old games are highly addictive and will bring out the competitiveness in you!

Here are 6 of our favourite games that we think everyone must play!

  1. Aadu Puli Aatam

Traditional Games of India - Aadu Puli Aatam

This is a two-player game of skill, strategy, and thinking. This game has 3 tigers and 15 goats. The tigers try to kill the goats while the goats try to corner the tigers so they cannot move. This game requires concentration and planning.  Aadu Puli Aatam is also called as The Tiger and the Goat, Puli-Meka, Adu-Huli Ata, Bagh Aur Bakri.

  1. Chowkabara

Traditional Games of India - Chowkabara

This is a four-player game and is similar to Ludo. The aim of the game is to take your counters from the starting point to the safety of home. This game goes by the name of Eight and Four, Kattam Kali, Chauka Baara, Changapoo, Ettu Veedu, Kattam Kazhi and Aada Sada.

  1. Pallanguhi

Traditional Games of India - Pallanguzhi

This game consists of a wooden board with 14 cups in it and involves distribution and counting. Variations of the game appeal to different ages and make it challenging and exciting. It is known by different names like A Cup and Coin Game, Vamanaguntalu, Mancala, Olinda Kaluja, Aliguli Mane, Adu-guni Mane, Chenne Mane, Saat Kooti, Kutki-Boia

  1. Chaupad

Traditional Indian Games - Chaupad

Chaupad is a traditional dice game and is believed to be among the oldest games from India. Legend has it that Emperor Akbar played it on giant boards with women from his harem moving instead of game pieces. This game is believed to be the source for the popular game – Ludo. No other game is played in so many different variations all over India as Chaupad and goes by names like Pagade, Pachisi, Chaupar, Aksha Kreeda, Dayakattam, and Chokkattan

  1. Paramapada Sopanam

Traditional Indian Games - Paramapada Sopanam

This game is popularly known as Snakes and Ladders. Some other names are Moksha Padam and Gyan Chaupar. Parama Pada Sopanam means Steps to the Highest Place (where Parama Pada means highest place and Sopanam means steps). The game was believed to be symbolic of a man’s attempt to reach God. The ladders represent virtues and the snakes represent vices. It was a very popular game to be played its main purpose was not only entertainment but also to teach morality.

  1. Pancha Kone

Traditional Indian Games - Pancha Kone

Pancha Kone is a popular game across the country and examples of this game board can be seen carved in old temples and monuments. This is a strategy game that is loads of fun. It is also known as Nakshatra Vilayattu or Nav Goti.

Go on and play the way ancient India did! Let us revive these games and give our children a peek into our rich and playful past! Do share your favourite childhood board game in the comments below.


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