What are the Top Sports Invented in India?

Explore the roots of badminton, chess, kabaddi, and ludo – sports born in India and now global sensations. Learn their fascinating histories and impact.

Over the decades, India as a country has gained an undeniable dominance in the field of sports. With a storied history of sports that spans over decades, India has established an illustrious legacy of excellence and unwavering commitment. While the country has introduced numerous prominent athletes to a wide array of global sports, including the cricketing icons Kapil Dev, Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli, basketball legends including Raspreet Sidhu, Bikramjit Singh Gill, Dhruv Sushil Barman, wrestling stalwarts including Sushil Kumar, Geeta Phogat, Bajrang Punia, tennis dominators including Sania Mirza, Mahesh Bhupathi and Vijay Amritraj, India as a country has clinched numerous high-stake medals and tournaments at the global scale, displaying its unmatched prowess over diverse sports. 

While the Indian players have dominated Western sports with their undefeated performances on a global scale, the country has also made significant contributions to the sporting world by introducing a wide range of sports that are currently played by numerous countries in highly competitive tournaments and leagues around the world. 

In this article, we will take a look at the top four sports that have originated in India and transformed as the leading and intensely competitive sports at an international level. 

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  • Badminton

Although badminton is considered to be a national game of Indonesia, and it is believed to have its roots in ancient China and Greece, the game was originally invented in India in the mid-19th century by the emigrant officers of British India. The British officers replicated the earlier variant of battledore and shuttlecock, and it became extremely popular in the 1870s. Additionally, a similar game of battledore and shuttlecock was gaining immense popularity in the Thanjavur Maratha kingdom in the same period, the only difference was that in Thanjavur, the game was played with a ball made of wool instead of a shuttlecock. In its early days of inception, the game of badminton was popularly referred to by its indigenous names “Poonah” and “Poona” as it gained immense prominence in Pune, where the first set of rules were drawn in 1873. Later in 1875, the British officers who returned to their homeland started playing badminton, with their shuttlecocks coated majorly with Indian rubber.

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  • Chess

As a highly competitive sport that draws active participation from over 172 countries, the game of Chess was originally invented in India over 2000 years ago in the 6th century under the gupta dynasty. Originally manifested as a royal game, chess was majorly played in kingdoms. However, later on, as the popularity of the game increased among the Indian masses, chess became a go-to game for people in villages as well. The game of chess was considered to be the prowess of reigning kings of Indian dynasties who used to consider the game as a platter of, an army with infantry, cavalry, elephants and chariots, later transformed into the modern pawn, knight, bishop and rook. Often revered as the game of “Chaturanga” in India, various spiritual scriptures portray the deities of Indian culture, including Radha-Krishna playing the game, strongly indicating the Indian origin of the game.

  • Kabaddi

The sport of Kabaddi is now considered to be a highly competitive game with numerous nerve-wracking championships, such as the Pro Kabaddi League that was started in 2014. The game of Kabaddi has its roots embedded in Indian ancient culture and its history dates back thousands of years to the Mahabharata era when Kabaddi was played as a symbol of strength and physical dominance. The Hindu mythology Mahabharata states that Arjuna, a panda and a warrior mastered the game of kabaddi under the guidance of lord Krishna, who was the master of the game. It is largely believed that the sport of kabaddi was originally referred to as Chedugudu or Hu-Tu-Tu, and originated in the southern part of India in Tamil Nadu. Currently, the game of kabaddi enjoys enormous popularity and viewership with, active inclusion in the most competitive and reputed game formats, like the Olympic Games.

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  • Ludo

One of the most popular games in Indian households, Ludo was originally conceptualized in India as “Pachisi” in the sixth century CE. According to Hindu mythology, it was the game of Pachisi that led to the war of Kurukshetra. Legendary Mughal emperors, including Akbar, were fond of the game and used life-sized boards and living species to play the game of Pachisi instead of the wooden board or tokens. Many historians suggest that the floors of the historic venue Fatehpur Sikri largely resemble a ludo board. The indigenous game of Pachisi was later modified into the game of tokens and a cubic die, and was patented as Ludo in England. In 1891, the game of Pachisi was transformed into a board game by the British Royal Navy and was patented as “Ludo”. 

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