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Five board games that originated in ancient India

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India is, along with China, one of the geographic territories where most of the board games we still know today were born or invented.

Here we will see a brief list of the five board games that originated in India and currently have millions of followers worldwide.


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The carrom game originated in the Indian subcontinent, invented by the Maharajas, although no concrete evidence is available.

A carrom made of glass is still available in one of the palaces in Patiala, India.

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In 1988 the International Carrom Federation was formed in Chennai (India). Still, the game has been top-rated throughout many countries of South Asia, such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal.

The equipment to play Carrom is quite standard; you need a square table with 29-inch sides and 21 checkers (9 black, 9 white, 2 strikers and 1 red). The table has four holes, one in each corner, and has raised edges; usually, geometric figures useful for the game, such as the center circle, are drawn on the surface.

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This outdoor game originated in the ancient Tamil region, which is predominant today in the state of Tamil Nadu and parts of other South Indian states.

The Tamil empire spread this game to Southeast Asia during its maritime trade.

The word ‘Kabaddi’ may have been derived from the Tamil word “kai-pidi,” meaning “holding hands”.

The sport is known by various names regionally: ‘chedugudu’ in Andhra Pradesh, ‘kauddi’ in Punjab, ‘bhavatik’ in Maldives and ‘hadudu’ in Bangladesh.


Ludo, like Parcheesi, derives from the game pachisi originating in 6th century India, and the earliest evidence of this game in India is the representation of boards in the Ajanta caves.

The Mughal emperors of India played this game, a notable example being Emperor Akbar.

In England, pachisi was modified to use a die and was patented as “Ludo” in 1896, being the game most used throughout history by the Royal Navy.

Snakes and ladders

Snakes and Ladders is an ancient Indian board game today considered a world classic. It is played between two or more players on numbered squares.

This game was called “Moksha Patam” in ancient India, although its name varies among different regions and countries.

The game reached England when India was its colony with the original name, “Snakes and Ladders”, and from there, it went to the United States, where it is known as “Chutes and Ladders”.

the origin of chess

Chess: the most famous traditional game from India

Chess is an ancient Indian strategy game that developed during the Gupta Empire around the 6th century AD.

The chess we play today is the latest version of the Indian game ‘Chaturanga’, which is the most likely ancestor of the Eastern strategy games ‘Shogi’, ‘Xiangqi’ and ‘Janggi’. However, its first representation came from Indian mythology in the 7th century.

It was adopted as ‘Shatranj’ in Persia, the form of chess brought to late medieval Europe.

Its original name, ‘Chaturanga’, comes from a battle formation mentioned in the Indian epic Mahabharata, referring to the four divisions of the enemy army: elephants, horse-drawn chariots, cavalry, and infantry.

And speaking of strategy games, today, India has also modernized itself by including in its traditional games another kind of entertainment. Of course, we are talking about casino games to be played online, such as card games like Teen Patti and Rummy, and typical online games like roulette, poker, and blackjack.

So, if, after playing these ancient and typical Indian games, you feel like trying modern online games, there are reliable sites that you can also access from your smartphone, where you can choose different games according to your preference.


The importance of ancient games is not to be underestimated. They are expressions that can be considered the common heritage of humanity and are total social facts that involve the world globally: economic, political, social, and cultural.

In the case of India, we remember this country as the home of some of the oldest board and card games in the world, which have over time developed and spread across the entire planet over the centuries.

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James Musoba
James Musoba
Studying Africa's startup and technology scene. I always look forward to discovering new exciting inventions and vibrant entrepreneurs.

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