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From Chess To Cricket: Know The Journey of Sports In India

From Chess To Cricket: Know The Journey of Sports In India

Sports originated in India around 8000 years ago, during the Indus Valley civilization. One of the oldest and most advanced civilizations was the Indian one. The civilization’s clean architecture, hygiene, and a general understanding of town planning continue to astound many historians. Though, they did not stop there. Numerous pieces of evidence point to the existence of dice and early chess games. Seals found at Indus Valley archaeological sites and other artifacts provide additional evidence that hunting and boxing were popular sports back then. Scroll to read The Journey of Sports In India.

From Chess To Cricket: Know The Journey of Sports In India

Sports in Ancient India

In and around 975 B.C., wrestling and chariot racing were popular in both India and Greece, the birthplace of the Olympics.

Dehvada, also known as the body way, is referred to as “one of the ways to full realization” in Vedic India. The men of size and circumstance were skilled competitors with one another in chariot racing, archery, horsemanship, military strategy, wrestling, weightlifting, swimming, and hunting during the Rig Veda, Ramayana, and Mahabharata periods.

The teacher-student relationship has been seen as an essential component of India’s sporting history ever since the Vedic era when it was first written down.

As Buddhism spread throughout India, sports experienced a surge in popularity. Numerous intriguing games are described by Tiruvedacharya in Villas Mani. They are hammer throwing, chariot racing, equitation, and archery. Someshwar talks about Bhrashram (modern weightlifting), Bhramanshram (modern walking), and Mall-Stambha (the sport of wrestling) during Manas Olhas (1135 A.D.).

The similarities between modern Olympic sports and traditional Indian games are obvious. There is a long history of sports in India, and some of the activities that are thought to have originated there include chess, wrestling, polo, archery, and hockey (perhaps a modified form of polo).

History of Sports in India during the Vedic Era

Indian sports have a long history that dates back to the Vedic era. Around 1900 BC to 7000 BC, during the time of the Ramayana and Mahabharata, men of status and honor were expected to compete in activities like archery, horsemanship, wrestling, weightlifting, swimming, and hunting.

It is said in the Atharvaveda, one of the Vedas, that “Duty is in my right hand and the fruits of victory are in my left.” It essentially expresses the same idea as the customary Olympic oath.

What India Gave to the World Sports: The Journey of Sports In India

Chess or ‘Chaturanga

From Chess To Cricket: Know The Journey of Sports In India
Credit: Wikipedia

In addition to the idea of zero and the basic theory of atoms, India has contributed several inventions to the world. Chess is the most well-known of them. Chess, often referred to as “Chaturanga” in the past, was created by the Gupta Dynasty, which ruled from 280 to 550 AD. Translated, chaturanga means “four divisions” or “four corps.”

Chess later spread around the world and developed into what it is today thanks to the Arabians, who dubbed the game “Shatranj.” Other well-known board games like Snake and Ladder, Suits, and Ludo were also introduced to the globe by India.  


When it comes to on-field sports, the country is likewise credited with making a substantial contribution. Kabaddi, a popular sport throughout the world, was created in ancient India. Kabaddi is thought to have originated in Vedic India, while its precise origins are still up for debate. While it is thought that the Yadavas, a prehistoric culture living on the western edge of the country, enjoyed playing the game.

A shred of evidence can be found in the Mahabharata, which describes how Arjuna can infiltrate enemy territory and kill enemies without being seen. This fits in perfectly with how Kabaddi is played.

Nevertheless, despite the contradicting accounts, India is still recognized for making the sport more well-known by turning it into a competitive sport.

Wrestling or ‘Pehlwani’

From Chess To Cricket: Know The Journey of Sports In India
Credit: Olympics.com

There is proof that wrestling was practiced in ancient India in addition to ancient Greece and the Roman Empire, where it is thought to have originated. ‘Malla-Yuddha’ was the name given to it at the time.

It is said to have started at least in the fifth millennium BC. The name is Malla Purana refers to an encyclopaedia on the sport. It was the forerunner to modern wrestling, having been created in the 13th century.


The present version of badminton was developed in India while having its roots in England. In the 1860s, the game developed into its current form in the fortified city of Poona. In reality, when it was performed by the British, it was referred to as “Poona” in popular culture.

In addition to these, India also has other sports including Kho-Kho, Carrom, and martial arts styles like Kalaripayattu.

History of Sports in India – Role of Buddhism

Buddhism has had a significant role in promoting a culture of fitness and sports across the majority of northern India, according to the history of Indian sports. This makes sense given that the leader, Gautama Buddha, was an expert in both archery and hammer throwing. Mallakhamb was mentioned in the 850-year-old Chalukya classic Manas-Olhas.

After 700 years, during Peshwa Bajirao’s rule, this sport gained significant attention. Manas-Olhas also described archery (Dhanurvidya or Dhanur Vinoda), armed combat (Anka Vinoda), and a horse-riding game (Vajivahyali Vinoda) in his writings.

Since the Mughals were ardent polo players, they carried the sport to India, where it quickly gained a following among numerous royals. In addition to polo, the kings supported boxing and wrestling as sports. Swami Vivekananda, one of India’s finest figures, famously said: “You will be nearer to Heaven through playing football than by studying the Gita.”

Being a fencer, boxer, gymnast, and swimmer himself, Vivekananda had a thorough understanding of the value of sports and how they might enhance people’s life.

History of Sports in India during the British Era

The oldest football club, Mohun Bagan, was founded in the year 1889 A.D. After 1911 when the Bengal audience replied to British jabs with a physical cultural movement, it continued to grow. As a result, the Indian Football Association final was won. In the sports of cricket, kabaddi, chess, hockey, wrestling, pool, and badminton, India has held the title of world champion on occasion.

Since we first competed as a team in the Olympics in 1920, we have taken home 28 medals. Between 1928 and 1980, India won eight of the nine gold medals in hockey. According to a recent RTI filing, hockey is not the national game of the United States. In actuality, no sport has been proclaimed the national game of India.

The great part of Indian sports dates back to the Vedic era. There are several clearly stated principles in the Atharva Veda teachings, such as “Duty is in my right hand and the fruits of victory are in my left.” The words “For the Honour of my Country and the Glory of Sport” are similar to the old Olympic oath.

Modern-Era Sports of India

Dominance in Hockey

From Chess To Cricket: Know The Journey of Sports In India
Credit: Mykhel.com

India became a hockey superpower in the 20th century. The Indian hockey team dominated the sport for nearly six decades after making its Olympic debut in 1928, winning gold eight times. The only other team to win six straight Olympic gold medals is India. During this period, the club scored a staggering 178 goals while only giving up 7. No other team in the entire world has been able to match such domination.

The nation has produced many legendary hockey players, including Major Dhyan Chand (who is regarded as the best player to ever play the sport), Sr. Balbir Singh, Udham Singh, and Gurbux Singh.

The Rise of Indian Cricket

 But in the final decades of the century, cricket’s ascent in India virtually happened at the same time as hockey’s demise. In 1980, India captured their final Olympic gold medal. When Kapil Dev famously won the 1983 World Cup (then known as the Prudential Cup ’83) in the Lord’s Stadium three years later, cricket passion swept the entire country.

It is safe to conclude that the fever is still present because the majority of the nation continues to closely watch the Indian National Cricket team. Since its 1983 peak, the squad has gone on to win numerous awards, including two Champions Trophy (2002, 2013), a T20 World Cup, a World Cup (2011), and another World Cup (2011). Cricket greats like MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Kapil Dev, Sachin Tendulkar, and Kapil Dev were all born in this nation.

Badminton – The New Cricket?

From Chess To Cricket: Know The Journey of Sports In India
Credit: Photo by Franco Arland/Icon Sport

 India does not have much to show for in the world of badminton aside from the renowned Prakash Padukone, who was the first Indian to win the All England Badminton Championships in 1980, followed by Pullela Gopichand (who also won the championship in 2001).

But all changed when Saina Nehwal, then 22 years old, won a bronze medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics in London, becoming the first Indian shuttler to take home a medal in the prestigious event. The popularity of the sport in the nation is thought to have changed during that period.

The youngster’s incredible victory was made possible in large part by Gopichand and his badminton academy. With the emergence of players of the highest caliber like PV Sindhu, Srikanth Kidambi, and Parupalli Kashyap during the ensuing years, Hyderabad became known as the nation’s badminton capital. The first Indian woman to ever accomplish the feat, Sindhu earned the badminton silver medal in the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

The player’s victory on the podium helped Badminton gain popularity in India. Numerous gifted young shuttlers, including Sameer Verma, Lakshya Sen, and Anura Prabhudesai, are now anticipated to carry the torch.


Sports shooting undoubtedly has the best chance of becoming the most popular activity in India. India’s current sports minister, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, started it all with a silver medal at the 2004 Olympics. But in the subsequent competition, Abhinav Bindra upped the ante with a gold medal that broke all previous records. Other skilled shooters Gagan Narang, Jitu Rai, and Heena Sidhu provided him with excellent support.

Young athletes like Manu Bhaker, Saurabh Chaudhary, and Mehuli Ghosh, who all won medals at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games, will have high expectations for the 2020 Olympics.

With their outstanding results, these athletes and many more have laid a solid foundation and served as a major motivation for present and future athletes.

Sports In India Today

From Chess To Cricket: Know The Journey of Sports In India
Credit: Deccanherald

Over the past few years, Indian sports have undergone a significant transformation in terms of appeal, audience, and consumption. The time when only ardent sports fans would watch them is long past. Sports are now a significant source of modern entertainment.

The Emergence of League Sports in India

The IPL model not only generates a lot of money but also a lot of fans. Therefore, it was not unexpected to see other organizers using the same tactic to monetize their specific sports. Examples include the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL), Indian Super League (ISL), and Premier Badminton League (PBL).

All of these have been a huge success in terms of drawing crowds, which has led to sponsors and ultimately crucial funding. Here, sports come out on top, with the clubs offering all the tools required for the youths’ growth. The young players also benefit from their interactions with seasoned international stars in terms of their learning curve.

Additionally, the spiced-up versions of the game can quickly bring forgotten sports back into the spotlight. Consider the case of PKL. The league, which was founded in 2014, managed to draw 397 million spectators in 2018, according to the Economic Times. According to the organizers, the newly established Pro Volleyball League (PVL) was able to draw 147 million spectators in just its first season.

Sports Goes Digital

The digital revolution is the only factor that has altered how sports are followed by the general public. Sports lovers may still watch their favorite games live nowadays even if they are not in front of the TV by using Indian sports websites or one of the several internet streaming services. They might then offer commentary on the subject by This revolution has been furthered by the widespread use of smartphones and the falling cost of internet connectivity.


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