10 traditional indoor games list from ancient India with images

Playing Chess
1Pachisi
2Chauka Bara
3Chaturanga
4Alugulimane/Pallanguzhi
5SonaiKattam
6Cow & Leopard
7Kattam Vilayattu
8Tiger-Goat Game
9Dahdi
10Paramapadam

Anything started in ancient India has been worth a discussion. Be it Art forms like music, dance, indoor games in India, etc. or health-related programs like yoga, pranayama. We have great branches of diversity in everything that we do. Thanks to our elders who were liberal enough to have respected others’ opinions. 

In addition to that, indoor games in India have been an important part of our lives. Be it Outdoors or Indoors. Needless to say, the combination of Brain and Brawn have played together in this land building unity and peace. Each game has a different name given in different places, and have evolved, played in different ways.  

Let us discover the fun in collaboration with learning from the following indoor games in India.

1. Pachisi

What

A strategy game with a flavor of luck. There are several offshoots of this indoor game. But the standard rules are still prevalent in many parts of India. You can buy a board to play the game here.

It looks like below. 

Pachisi Formation

A maximum of four players can play the game. The board or cloth is divided into four parts for each player. There are houses for each player and the goal of the game is to take the game pieces to fruition.

Two dice form the numbers to move the game pieces. 

Why

Planning, fun and entertainment, group strategy

How

Pachisi or Pagade has a history from the Mahabharat, where Shakuni, a part of the Kaurava team is the star player who defeats the Pandavas, their cousin enemies. There is a clear mention of this game that dates back to five thousand years. It is said that Shakuni had the power of rolling the dice according to his wish or the count that is required.

The same legacy has been brought forward by our great ancestors because of whom we have not lost the knowledge of playing this game despite the numerous attacks. 

  • A maximum of four players can play this game
  • There will be two dice, on which will be marked number
  • The count can range from two called Duga, Six – Ittiga to twelve
  • Each person will start with four playing pieces
  • The formation of the playing pieces will be like below
  • There will be milestones on each part of the projection with crosses on them
  • These milestones are safe for the playing pieces
  • Each player can kill the playing pieces of the other player based on the count of dice
  • Once killed the playing pieces have to start from the beginning
  • There is a safe area where the playing pieces are not supposed to be killed
  • The playing pieces can move as singles or as couples
  • The couple playing pieces can be killed only by a couple playing pieces of another team
  • The team with all the playing pieces completing its fruition wins
  • Entering the middle part of the boundary is getting into fruition

2. Chauka Bara

What

A big strategic indoor game in India that can be played in two different versions. A board that you can enjoy playing with can be bought here.

  1. five squares called a house
  2. Seven squares

Each game of the five squares two players may take up to one hour. While the seven houses game of four players can go up to a day, depending on the experience of the players. This is the second most famous game played in the indoors of India after Pagade or Pachisi.

Why

Planning, fun and entertainment, group strategy

How

As told earlier, there are two versions of this. Either the board will be of five squares (which is a smaller version) or it will be of seven squares (which will be comparatively slower, complicated and funnier). 

Let us first consider the five square version of the game. The goal of the game is to ripen all the seeds. Each player will have four seeds and a house to harvest it. They have to follow the below path to fruition (which will be the middle house). There can be a maximum of four players who can play this. 

There are milestone places apart from houses where the seeds can stay without getting killed by the other seeds at the same place. Other than these milestones that are marked by a cross, the other places are open to a fight.

  • There will be four seeds
  • They start from a players house
  • There will be a set of four shells of which the players to count from one through eight, like dice
Kavade
  • Each seed has to go towards fruition in a dedicated path as shown in the diagram
Check Mate
  • There will be milestones where they can take rest
  • To kill the other seed, they have to visit the same square as the other seed of the other player
  • The seed getting killed has to be in squares other than housed and milestones
  • To get inside the inner square, at least one of the seeds should have killed
  • Once they get inside, two seeds can get together and form a powerhouse
  • The powerhouses can move only in even counts
  • Two counts are a single move for a double
  • A single seed cannot cross the double powerhouse
  • It has to stay with them for a chance
  • If within this the double moves away the single sitting in their house gets killed
  • If the double does not move away the single seed can move ahead without getting killed
  • One double can kill the other double
  • Whoever takes all the seeds to fruition is the winner

Seven Square Game

Chauka Bara Seven House

This is complicated in the sense that

  • There are six seeds to go to fruition
  • A set of six shells to count from one through twelve
  • Seven squares with three layers to get inside
  • Several milestones
  • The path will be a little complicated
  • So naturally, it takes a longer time to complete this

3. Chaturanga

What

An indoor game in India encouraging a strategic fight between two players, amidst eight squares on all sides. This game was played in Ancient India specifically among kings, due to it’s the master strategic approach.

It was initially called “Ashtapada” due to its eight squares or path. After some time it was called Chaturanga. This same thing was called by the Persians who took the game to their native place. Due to a dialect change, they started calling it Shatranj and to date, it is called by both the names. Similarly, checkmate came from the words of Persia, shah met, which means the king is dead. Shah Met was taken from the Sanskrit word, Kshatra Mritah again meaning the same. A wooden chessboard of good quality can be bought from this link.

The goal of the game is to kill the king or is called Checkmate (and now you know how this word came into existence).

Why

Wisdom, Intelligence, forethought

How

There are different animals, that were used in ancient India as playing pieces in Chess. But the English words are quite different, they cannot be translated. They are as follows:

Chess Game Pieces
  • King – 1 King
  • Queen – 1 Queen
  • Camel – 2 Bishops
  • Horse – 2 Knights
  • Elephant – 2 Rooks
  • Soldier – 8 Pawns

They have designated moves as follows. 

With those moves, the players have to fight. It is not important to kill as many playing pieces as possible. But to checkmate. The earlier the checkmate the faster the win to the person who called for checkmate. Every move counts for both the players and opponents.

Check Mate

4. Alugulimane/Pallanguzhi

What

A box with seven pits on each side has to be filled with five seeds on each pit in this indoor game in India. Two players will play the game by one of them starting from their side pit picking up all the seeds and distributing among the other places one after the other.

At the end of distribution the pit beside the last distributed pit, it has seeds, belongs to the player who distributed. At the end of all distribution and more sets whoever owns seeds are the winners. To buy a neat foldable board, please visit this link and enjoy the game.

Why

Wisdom, Forethought

How

There will be seven pits on both sides of the box. Each player has to sit opposite each other. Seeds will be equally distributed on the pits, usually five on each pit. One of them starts playing by taking the seeds from one of the pits. 

Alugulimane
  • The pit that they start distributing the seeds from will be from their side
  • Distribution is one on each of the other pits till the seeds get over
  • Once the seeds get over, they will start from the next pit
  • They will take however many seeds are on the next pit 
  • If the next pit turns out to be empty, the player has to move to the second next pit and accumulate all the seeds on that pit for themselves
  • Next player begins the same process from their side
  • Meanwhile, when four seeds accumulate together on a side, the player can take out the seeds and add them to the remaining
  • Once all the seeds get over, eg. one or two remaining in the pits, they the player from the side takes it
  • Now, they again start adding their seeds to the pits on their sides
  • One of the sides will not be complete as the other player will have more seeds
  • The same steps are repeated until one of them completely loses their seeds

5. SonaiKattam

What:

This is an Indian indoor game played by two players or two teams. It is played on a rectangular game board. Each player will play the game using eight game pieces or coins. The player who strikes all the game pieces of the opponent wins.

Why:

It improves the power of concentration and calculation. It develops patience and a friendly attitude towards the opponent. 

How:

Sonai Kattam
  • Two persons or two groups play the game
  • The rectangular board consists of eight rectangles horizontally and five or more vertically, depending on the player’s interest
  • The players will place the game pieces on the board horizontally in the bottom-most row
  • There are two rectangular dice which allows players to play the following numbers
    • One – also called Thayam. Players will get another chance to play
    • Two
    • Three
    • Blank – also referred to as four
  • To move the first coin from the first row, number one or Thayam from the dice has to be rolled
  • As a convention, one player can start from the left side and the other from the right
  • When all the game pieces reach the second row making the first row fall vacant, it is called Malthayam
  • Once the game pieces reach the second row they can overtake or make use of any number from the dice
  • Until all the game pieces reach the second row, they cannot play any other number from the dice than Thayam or one
  • It is only when the game pieces reach the second row that the actual fight begins. Based on the number on the dice they can strike the opponents and reach the end row
  • By striking all the game pieces of the opponent, the player wins

6. Cow & Leopard

What

Again, an Indan indoor strategy game. Each strategy game is more difficult than the other. Two players, one cow, and the other leopard. The goal of the game is similar to that of the tiger and goat. Here the formation and introduction of cows to the board are different. 

Why

A well balanced analytical and strategic thinking, with an idea to face complexities

How

Cow and Leapord Game

Two players will play the game. There will be 12 game pieces of cow and three-game pieces of leopard.

  • The cows will form a pattern on the board as shown below
  • There will be eight cows placed on the board
  • Cow player will keep introducing one cow at a time on his chance
  • Tiger player and cow player will alternate their turns
  • Cows cannot move the already existing cows until all the twelve cows are introduced on to the board
  • Leopards, on the other hand, will be three in number introduced to the board one at a time
  • Once all the cows are introduced, given a chance the leopard jumps the cows and kills it
  • If the leopard kills at least twelve cows leopard wins
  • Immobilizing the leopards the cows win

7. Kattam Vilayattu

What

This is the ancient Indian version of Tic Tac Toe. It can start as a simple 3×3 squares to a level three. The goal is to place the game pieces in a row. The row can be diagonal, horizontal or vertical. This row has to be accomplished by not allowing the opponent to accomplish. The traditional pack of this game can be bought from this link.

Why

Pocket full of fun, Futuristic thinking, analytical skills

How

Kattam Vilayattu

Like tic tac toe, each player introduces one of the game pieces to the board one by one alternatingly.

  • The game pieces are placed each one at a time
  • A total of five game pieces are given to each player
  • While placing them on the board, aforethought of forming a straight row is the key
  • Whoever forms the straight line with three-game pieces is the winner
  • None of them being able to form the formation takes the game into a draw

8. Tiger-Goat Game

What

This is a two-player Indian indoor game where one is the goat and the other the tiger. The board will be similar to how it is in the above diagram. The goal of the goat player is to stop the moves of the tiger, while the goal of the tiger player is to kill all the goats. To buy a packed game click here.

Why

Strategy, Cornering the opponent, Analytical Skills, quick decision making, and Concentration.

How

Tiger and Sheep Game

The game pieces of each player are kept on the board. The tiger player uses three of his game pieces. Whereas the goat player uses fifteen. Tigers are placed inside the apex and the goat on the rest of the board grouped. 

  • Each of the game pieces is placed on the intersection of the lines
  • Both the players can move their game pieces to any of the next intersection. There are no two moves
  • When a goat comes in contact with the intersection where a tiger is placed, the tiger can cross over it by killing it
  • When there is no place for the tiger to hop to the next intersection the tigers move is jammed
  • Likewise, when all the three tigers are stopped, goat wins
  • On the contrary, when the tiger kills all the goats, the tiger wins
  • A tiger cannot jump over another tiger
  • A goat cannot jump over another goat same way

9. Dahdi

What

Dahdi is a strategic Indian indoor game that is played on the floor or board. The goal of the game is to get as many points as possible by getting the game pieces in a single row. The game board looks like below.

It looks more like noughts and crosses. But here, the moves are not as simple as they are in noughts and crosses. The strategies to be used becomes complex and complex. To enjoy playing the game, purchase it from this link.

Why

Strategy, Forward-Thinking, Analytical Skills, quick decision making, and Concentration.

How

Dahdi

Two players play this game. Each player will have a set of nine-game pieces. As shown in the diagram, the game pieces are placed on the intersections. 

  • Game pieces can be moved either horizontally or vertically
  • The players plan to complete rows of three on the board
  • Their opponents obstruct them from doing so while they try to form
  • Although it looks similar to noughts and crosses, this goes on to be more complex as the game progresses

10. Paramapadam

What 

This indoor game in India is nothing but Snakes and Ladders. Paramapadam is an abode of Lord Vishnu called Vaikuntha. The goal of the game is to reach there with all the problems and distractions which are attributed to snakes. The virtues of human beings are attributed to ladders. This is a very good moral game in terms of learning good qualities to reach there. The fun of enjoying the actual paramapadam (Snakes and Ladders), please click this link.

Why

To learn good qualities, Being humble and grounded.

How

A maximum number of four players can play this game sitting on the edge of the board. These players will have a dice with numbers from one to six. Depending on the number got once the dice are rolled

  • Each player will move their game piece starting from one
  • While they move, they come across either snakes or ladders
  • Ladders indicate virtues of life and take to a number well ahead of the current one
  • When they come across snakes, it means they have done a sin and that they have come back to a number that they are already well ahead off
  • Whoever reached the hundredth number is the winner

Hundred was the average age of a person when the game was started in the Gupta period.