Exploring India Through Traditional Board Games

We all are aware of various type of broad games, and strategy games both for leisure and serious activity. However, what s interesting is that many of these games can be traced back to historical as well as mythological times, especially in an ancient country like India. What is more interesting is that, as a traveller, one can look forward to various experiences related to it. In fact, the idea for this post comes from something interesting I came across during my travels. So, here are a few such games and where to travel to India tied up with these experiences. 

Snake & Ladder 

Years ago, during a trip to Chamba, I had come across an medieval pahadi miniature painting of snake and ladder game as you can see above as the featured image. It is an ancient Indian board game, is a captivating blend of luck and strategy and elieved to have been inspired by a moral lesson on karma and destiny. This dichotomy mirrors life’s unpredictable journey, where one’s actions can lead to either triumph or setback. 

Teen Patti

Also known as Indian Poker, this is a popular card game often played during festivals such as Diwali. It involves a group of players who bet on the best three-card hand. There is a tradition of playing it in parts of Western India during a certain period of the year. Some researchers connect this tradition the Lord Krishna as it is played during the month just before Janmashtami, the day of his borth celebrated as a festival. You can combone this with the iconic Dahi Handi celebration sin Maharashtra during Janmashtami. Anyway, to try it anytime here is a site where you can play online teen patti .

Teer in Meghalaya

Teer, a traditional archery game indigenous to the northeastern state of Meghalaya, transcends mere sport to become an integral part of the region’s cultural fabric. Played with bamboo bows and arrows, Teer holds deep historical roots, dating back centuries in Khasi and Jaintia folklore. In fact, it is the only form of gambling legally allowed in the state. On the otehr hand, it is also one of the most scenic and touristy states in India with its waterfalls, valleys, and living root bridges. So, you can combine the sport with a bit of adventure here.

Dice Games of Ajanta and Ellora

Ajnta Paintings feature many such games

There are many ancient dice based games that can be seen in the paintings and sculptures of iconic Ajanta and Ellora Caves, which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites too. If you visit this places, you will spot various artworks with mythical figures rolling the dice. The most famous of them probably is the story of Vidupapandita, where the story is narrated through a board game and which is depicted in a painting on the 2nd Cave at Ajanta. Here is a good report on the same. 


PC: Dezalb/PIxabay
PC: Dezalb/PIxabay

Pachisi is probably the most famous game of its kind in INdia because this is the  game they played in Mahabharata and the vents during the game eventually led to the great war of Kurukshetra. It remained popular throughout different eras and did you know that Emperor Akbar used to play it with his nobles, not as a meere board game but he had people dress up as pieces and move around the entire ourtyard of his palace. If you visit Fatehpur Sikri in AGra, you will still find the marks meant for Pachisi on the courtyard. 

So, this is it for today. I hope I have managed to intrigue you enough so that you can look for these aspects too during your next trip.

Jitaditya Narzary

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