Contributions Welcome

This blog belongs to everyone interested in preserving and promoting traditional Indian wrestling. Please feel free to contribute photos, videos, links to news articles or your own blog posts. E-mail contributions to

Sep 6, 2008

Practice at Shahupuri Akhara

Practice at Shahupuri

Before practice begins, one wrestler digs the pit with a shovel to loosen the soil. It is then flattened using a heavy stone weight with a rope tied to it, which one wrestler drags around the pit. Often a younger, lighter wrestler will sit on the weight while it is being pulled to offer more resistance.

Wrestlers of Shahupuri Akhara

Aug 18, 2008


Wrestling tournaments, or dangals, are held frequently around India. Winning wrestlers get cash prizes. This tournament took place outside Delhi in late July.

Aug 16, 2008

Preparing food

After cleaning up the wrestlers prepare meals. One of the tasks is grinding up almonds. After the almonds have been reduced to a paste, they are put into a cloth or a strainer and milk or water is squeezed through - producing a protein-filled drink designed to build muscles.

Washing up

Most akharas have outdoor washing facilities. Some have shower heads, but others have a water tank where water is scooped out in buckets to wash.

Working out

Pushups and swinging huge wooden clubs are other exercises wrestlers do to build strength.

Aug 15, 2008

Wrestlers doing squats

Wrestlers perform squats to build up strength in their legs.

Training in the pit

There are no weight classes in traditional kushti, so most wrestlers aim to get as big as they can. Smaller wrestlers often train with much bigger guys.

Morning training at akhara

To get a better grip, wrestlers pour dirt from the pit on each other.

Training in the pit

Wrestling practice begins between 6 and 7 a.m. and lasts for around 2 hours usually.

Aug 14, 2008

Motibag Akhara practice

Motibag Akhara

This akhara has both a traditional clay/dirt pit and a mat as well. Wrestlers split their time training on the mat and in the pit.


The city of Kolhapur is a major center for traditional wrestling in India.


Most akharas have shrines for wrestlers to pay homage to the Hindu god Hanuman - god of strength.

Aug 13, 2008

Practice Match at Akhara


Membership at this akhara is in the hundreds, but some wrestlers only attend practice occasionally. The pit is only big enough for a few wrestlers to train at one time.