Top 15 Most Popular Traditional Indian Games That Are Still Relevant Today

Time changes everything, and so does tradition. Sports like Lippa, and Gilli-danda were one of the few Traditional Indian Games that people in India used to play, but unfortunately, all have been forgotten. In rural areas, it might be still relevant but soon the new technology effects will be shown there too, as has been shown in urban areas. With the change in technology, even outdoor game concepts have been transformed into Online or offline games. Sadly, today’s Kids spend so much time playing computer games that they no longer appear to value traditional games.

Back in the day kids simply couldn’t wait to go out and play a few rounds of kabaddi after school with their friends. Playing those games has its own merit too as the indigenous games have many health-related benefits such as improved stamina, physical fitness, etc.

But we cannot always blame the new technology or innovation released every few years. While Tradition is important, along with that new innovation is as important as tradition. It’s just that there should be a balance between these two. While the old folks blame new technology and think they are corrupting the younger generation, meanwhile younger generation can’t be bothered with tradition. By keeping a balance between the two, we can achieve harmony. But recently we have seen a boost in traditional / Desi Games. The Government has been seen promoting the Indian games throughout the nation. Now we’ll talk about Two Types of Indian Traditional Games – Indoor Traditional Games and Outdoor Traditional Games.

Top 15 Traditional (Desi) Games In India That Every Indian Child Should Know

In India, well-known Indian traditional games like kabaddi, kho-kho, etc are part of the rich history and culture of India. Here are the Top 20 traditional / Desi Games In India.

Traditional Indian Indoor Games

1. Chaupar / Pachisi –

Pachisi is one of the popular board games in ancient India. The game has been mentioned throughout the history of India, whether it’s in epic Mahabharata or during dynasty rule in India by Mughal, Cholas, Rajputs, etc. The game is said to be invented around the 4th century. At Least two players are required to play this game. This game was mainly played during Mughal rule as they were fond of it. The game was played in symmetrical cross cloth and players had to roll the dice and move their pawn according to the number acquired by the dice. Now as time progressed the game also progressed and is currently known as Ludo.



Each arm of the board for the game of Pachisi is divided into three adjacent columns of eight squares. The board is shaped like a cross. The middle square at the end of each arm and the fourth square from the end of the arm on either side are each highlighted with a cross or some other identifying mark. The term “castles” refers to these squares. A sizable square known as the Charkoni is formed in the center of the cross.

The goal for each player is to slide all four pieces down the middle of the nearest arm, counterclockwise around the edge of the board, back up that arm, and finally back into the Charkoni. To distinguish them from pieces that are just starting, the pieces are turned on their sides as they return up the middle of the arm towards the Charkoni.

2. Lattoo

One of the most popular local games in India is Lattoo. It is said that the game has been played since 3500 BC. Generally, the lattoo is made of wood but during ancient times, it was made up of clay. The game is all about making the lattoo spin smoothly. The main thing is to spin the lattoo for the longest time by adding a few tricks. How to play? There is a string or thread which helps to spin the top. Basically, you cover the lattoo with the thread in a way that when you pull the thread quickly the lattoo starts spinning. Now, this is just a simple trick, there are various modifications and techniques applied by the player. Normally players spin the lattoo which can be done by anyone after a few tries. The main thing is to apply your own trick in a unique way like spinning the lattoo on top of the string, etc.


3. Pancha Kone

Pancha Kone is one of the traditional Indian games. The game has been engraved in various temples and monuments all over India. This game is the foundation for Chinese checkers. Pancha kone refers to five cones or corners. It is played on a board that has been painted with five-point stars. In order to win, the player must move all the way across the board with just one piece. This game is played widely throughout the nation, and old temples and monuments may still have copies of the playing board. It is a lot of fun to play this strategic game.

Pancha Kone

4. Five Stones / Gutte

Five Stones / Gutte is one of the most fun traditional Indian games to play. There is no gender specification for this game but usually, girls play this game. There are many benefits of playing this game, you may wonder how? Well, it helps to improve your coordination, concentration power, reflexes, etc. The game is a simple and very engaging game. The game is played by placing five stones on a flat surface. The player picks one stone and tosses the stone in the air, while one stone is in the air, the player has to grab another stone from the surface and catch the tossed stone from the air within that fraction of a second. After that, the player tosses two stones in the air, then grabs another stone from the surface, and so on. It’s crucial that you avoid letting the stones you’ve thrown into the air land on the ground. Once you get the hang of it, you can have hours of entertainment, but it takes some practice.

Five Stones

5. Antakshari

One of the most fun games you can play with anyone. The game is played during some events like weddings or some play the game during their free time. The game can be played anywhere, are you traveling? You can play this game on a bus or in a car. Generally, there are two teams playing this game. The game starts when one team sings a song and the opposite team is required to perform a song that starts with the final consonant of the one that was performed by the first team. Both teams alternate until one of them runs out of songs and loses.


6. Moksha Patam

A board game called Moksha Patam is thought to have originated in ancient India and has since spread to various areas of the world. It is now referred to as Snakes and Ladders. It was used to entertain people and instruct young people on morals in ancient India. There was a deep meaning when it was played during ancient times. The moral behind playing the game was to teach the people that to reach heaven or attain moksha, you have to reject or abandon the desire of passion. The religious head used the game as a source to teach their students the difference between good and evil. While the ladders symbolize good and the snake symbolizes evil. The game can be played by 2-4 people. The game is generally popular among the younger generation.

Moksha Patam

7. Pallankuzhi

The game is quite popular in South India, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia. A rectangular board with two horizontal rows and seven vertical columns serves as the game’s playing surface. As a result, there are 146 counters and 14 cups on the board. Typically, counters consist of cowry shells or tamarind seeds. This game can be played by two people at once.

The starting player chooses a counter from one of the holes on their side and distributes it counterclockwise, one counter to each cup. They proceed to their opponent’s cups once they have used all of their cups. Following the end of their counters, they choose the counters from the following cup to continue the game. The player captures the counters in the subsequent cup if the last counter falls into one with an empty cup beyond. A new player is introduced. Up until the final counter lands in a cup with two empty cups beyond it, the play continues. No further counters can be captured by the player, and their turn is done.

Traditional Indian Outdoor Games

8. Gilli danda

Gilli Danda is a combination of popular games Cricket and baseball. This game requires two sticks. One small stick is in oval shape called Gilli and another long stick is called a danda. The Gilli is a little stick that must be struck as far as possible with the danda or the longer stick. Before the opposing side can retrieve the Gilli after being hit by it, the player must run to a specific location. The secret to winning this game is all in the technique of raising and hitting Gilli.

Gilli danda

9. Chhupan Chhupai

Chhupan Chhupai is one of the most popular Outdoor games in India. The game is generally known as “hide and seek” all over the world. There are two kinds of players in this game. One is called the seeker and another one is the hider. Generally, there is only 1 seeker but the seeker number can be increased if there are more than 20-30 hiders. Hider hides while the seeker seeks. The seeker wins if the seeker seeks out all the players and the first player who is caught turns into a seeker in the next round. If the seeker can’t find all the hiders and seeker loses the game.

chupan chupai

10. Kancha

Kancha is yet another popular desi game among the younger generation of rural areas. The game term kancha means marble, also known as gotti or goli. In this game, a player termed a striker strikes another player’s marble by using his own marble. After one chance, another player will do the same. If a player misses their shot, he has to use another marble and try to strike again. The one who loses all its marble or one who decides to end the game will lose the game along with their marble. How do you play it? The marble is held between the right hand and the forefinger of the left hand. The finger is pulled backward and is released with pressure almost in spring action. There are various versions of the game from easy to complicated ones. Kancha may be played with any number of participants and is particularly well-liked because it can be done outside and in any kind of weather.


11. Nondi/Hopscotch

Another popular desi game among the younger generation. This game is mostly played by girls. The game is called nondi or kith kith in India but throughout the world, it is known as hopscotch. A ladder grid is drawn on the floor and numbered. Every ladder is given a number between one and six, or occasionally between one and eight or ten, and a ladder-shaped pattern is created on the floor. The next step is to hurl a little stone or other flat objects onto any of the grids that have been drawn. The goal is to reach the numbered block by hopping without touching any of the grids’ edges.


12. Lagori

Lagori or sitoliya is yet another traditional game that is popular among the younger generation. The game is played with a set of 7 stones and 1 rubber ball. There will be two teams against each other and one team will consist of at least 3 players. The 7 stones are stacked on top of each other and each team has 9 chances to knock off the set of 7 stones with a ball. After the stones have been knocked, the other team takes possession of the ball and tries to strike any member of the first team below the knees. The first team makes an attempt to reconstruct the stone pile at the same moment. They receive a point if no member of the first team is struck before the stack is finished. If any player is struck, the opposing team scores.


13. Kabaddi

Let’s start with one of the most popular traditional Indian games in the nation. It is a game based solely on strategy and strength that is played without any gear or equipment. A single player from each team attempts to touch down and enter the area of the opposing team throughout the game, which is played between two teams. The player must contact as many opponents players as possible and cross the finish line. All the while singing the word “kabaddi”. The players that were “touched” are ruled out. At the end of the match, the team with the fewest players is declared the winner. The game can definitely have you on the edge of your seat.


14. Kho-kho

Kho Kho, another team sport, is incredibly well-liked among students. The other team runs around the first team while they sit in opposite directions. There are two teams in this game, each with nine players. Eight players are squatting in a row on the ground, facing in opposite directions, with one player acting as the active chaser. A player who is the runner circles the chaser. The chaser should make contact with the runner in order to win the game.

The chaser must run from end to end while the runner can move in between the players who are seated. The chaser, however, can touch any of the players who are seated and say “kho,” at which point the player enters the position of the chaser, and the chaser assumes the position of the sitter. This game moves quickly and lasts for more than 30 minutes.

It is the next popular tag game after kabaddi. Kho-Kho is a traditional Indian sport, which is one of the oldest forms of outdoor sport, dating back to prehistoric India. It is most often played by school children in India and is a competitive game.

kho kho

15. Aankh Micholi

Aankh Micholi is just a variation of another popular Indian game- Chhuppan Chhuppai. Both boys and girls actively participate in this group activity. With the help of some cloth, the denner, one of the participants, is blind folded. The denner must seize one of the other players while blindfolded. To avoid being grabbed by the denner, all other players scatter over the open area. The players are allowed to make noises in order to provide the denner cues about where to go. When the denner is successful in catching one of the players, their turn is over. The game continues until all participants agree to call an end to it, at which point this person assumes the denner role for the next turn.

Aankh Micholi is just a variation of another popular Indian game- Chhuppan Chhuppai. In this game, the denner is blindfolded, and the other players run around him/her. To make the game more fun kids call out the name of denner or touch him/her slightly. If the denner touches any one of the players, he/she is blindfolded next. This game is very helpful in developing the kid’s alertness, and sensory skills and exercising their tactical sense.

traditional Indian Games

These are some of the top Indigenous Games in India.

What Are The Benefits of Indian Traditional / Desi Games?

Playing Indian traditional games comes with many benefits in a child’s life. By engaging in sports and physical activities, a child develops resilience as well as mental and physical strength.

Here are some of the benefits of playing Indian desi games.

Top 10 Benefits of Playing Indian Traditional Games

  1. Helps in improving Social Skills.
  2. Helps in Improving Reflexes and Hand-eye coordination.
  3. Helps in Mental Development.
  4. Preserves Indian tradition as kids learns about our culture.
  5. Build Life skills.
  6. Helps in physical health like stamina, and improvement in physical structure.
  7. Encourages kids to be disciplined.
  8. Promotes a winning attitude.
  9. Improves Observation skills.
  10. These games keep kids happy and positive.


Why are Indian traditional games important?

Traditional games are important for many reasons. They provide cultural context for people and help them understand their surroundings better, teach people about the world, and strengthen connections between friends and family. Playing a traditional game, like an outdoor or board game, can help the children think creatively, learn teamwork skills, Develop strategies and tactics, and converse with adults. Games are the best way to teach your child many skills.

What Are Traditional Games?

The traditional game is an activity that has been played for generations, often over thousands of years. Most of these games have been passed down through oral traditions and originated in tribal cultures. Some of the traditional games are Kabaddi, kho kho, etc.

Why Are Traditional Games So Important For Children?

Although this is not always a bad thing, there are times when we notice that our kids simply ignore the traditional children’s games that have so much to offer. As always, neither extreme is advised. It’s fantastic that kids love new gadgets, but they should still find delight in playing traditional games with their parents, in the street, with their friends, and in front of the TV.

As long as they learn how to play them, kids will always like old games. They can also gain a lot from playing these games because they encourage physical activity, social interaction, creativity, imagination, competition, camaraderie, and a host of other advantages that might fill a whole article.

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