Traditional Games of India

‘All work no play makes jack a dull boy’.That’s something we have being hearing since our school days. Games play a very important role in shaping our personality. However the aim of playing games in ancient days was to improve or hone your skills.Other than that it used to be a great timepass for television and radio had not imprisioned their lives. However one cannot do anything but feel sad about such wonderful games squandered away to video games and Xbox.

However many cultural institutions and organisations are trying hard to keep such ancient and traditional games alive but on ground they seem to be slowly fading away. But their presence can still be felt in many rural areas even today where children don’t have access to video games.Through this article i wish to highlight many such traditional games prevelant in India by summing up a list of games played in rural as well as some urban areas even today.


Gilli Danda is a traditional version of cricket in India that is believed to have evolved 2500 years ago during the Maurya Empire. The game is played with two sticks: a large one called a danda, which is used to hit a smaller one, the gilli. The aim of the game is to hit the smaller stick (gilli) with Danda so that it goes the farthest distance.  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.



This is a game which every kid can relate to as one of their favorite game in school. It consists of two teams usually having 12 players. 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.



This is a game that takes a lot of concentration and precision to target a stack of stones but the game does not end there. A small stack of flat stones and a ball are the two things required in this game. Each team takes their turns at toppling the stack and then they run while the other team has to hit/touch each of the players in the opposing team with the ball. If the team that takes their shot at the stack manage to rebuild the stack before they are hit/touched by the ball then they win. Any player who is hit is out of the game. This game is also known by many by the name of Satoliya.



This is a game that is played across India in villages. These beautiful and colorful Bambarams come in different shapes and colors , also the game is pretty simple. It is a game that simply involves spinning a wooden lattu which has grooves in its lower half and a nail at the bottom to spin on. A cotton string is wrapped around the grooves on the lower half and deploying it makes it spin. The Bambaram that spins for a longer time and the person who deploys that Bambaram wins.

Nadasurabi 2012 040


This is a game that can be enjoyed by any age group .This is a game that is well known to kids in India. This game involves the use of round glass marbles that are easily available at the neighborhood shops. The players are to hit the selected target ‘kancha’ using their own marble ball. The winner takes all Kanchas of rest of the players. This is still my dad’s favorite game and these kanchas used to be traded between kids as currencies. Isn’t that cute!



This is a game usually played by the girls. 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. We have heard even U.S first lady Michelle Obama loves to play this game. No wonder this game has left quite an impression.



This one is a very simple game and can be played anytime and anywhere. 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.



This one is a really interesting one. The game is played by two players, with a wooden board that has fourteen pits in all. There have been several variations in the layout of the pits, one among them being seven pits on each player’s side. The pits contain Cowry shells, seeds or small pebbles used as counters. There are several variations of the game depending on the number of shells each player starts with. This game ends when all the coins go to the other player’s pit.



Kabbadi is a contact sport that originated in Ancient India. This game is played in every village and there are different names to it in different places in India. In the international team version of kabaddi, two teams of seven members each occupy opposite halves of a field of 10 m × 13 m in case of men and 8 m × 12 m in case of women. Each has three supplementary players held in reserve. The game is played with 20-minute halves and a five-minute halftime break during which the teams exchange sides.



This is a common sight where you would see small kids playing with rubber tyres with a stick in their hand in every village. The rule of the game is very simple. The person rolling the tyre has to keep it from falling down with the help of the stick and whoever rolls the tyre for a longer time wins the game.


If you want to share any such traditional games of your country or any game similiar to the above listed, please do inbox us or leave a comment below.

6 thoughts on “Traditional Games of India

  1. Enjoyed reading this, thank you. Many of these games are traditional in other countries too. Gilli Danda is called Tipcat in England although it is not played there very much any more. Gutte is played around the world under names such as Jacks, Five stones, Gonggi, etc. It is fun to try and reintroduce these games to children who have never played them before.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad to know you liked it.I didn’t know Gilli Danda is played in England too. It’s god to know that these games are played in other countries too but sadly the kids have lost touch.


      1. Indeed it is sad when traditional games are lost, but if we keep writing about them maybe more people will rediscover them. In Korea many celebrities play some of the old games on variety shows such as Running Man and those games have become more popular again.


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