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Five Ancient Board Games that have originated from the sub-continent

ancient board games

It seems surreal to think that COVID-19 has been disrupting the lives of billions for more than a year now. What started as a small, unknown virus in China has quickly spread across the world, trapping people inside their homes. India has had to face the devastating effects of the virus having initiated another lockdown just a few months ago.

With lockdowns becoming a regular occurrence in the last year or so, Indians have had to find creative ways to kill their time. This has included bingeing shows on streaming services such as Netflix and playing casino games in online casinos. Games such as vip forum satta king desawar andar bahar are now available for you to enjoy at your favourite online casinos.

Even the free to play games market has flourished with Ludo King becoming one of the most downloaded apps in India. While both Ludo and Snakes and Ladders are board games that we have all enjoyed in our childhood, very few are aware that their origins lie in ancient Indian culture. 

Some early variations of these games were found in the Indus Valley civilization with world renowned scholars such Irving Finkel trying to decipher the rules of these fascinating games they have uncovered. 

In this article, I will shed light on five ancient board games that have originated from India.


The word chaturanga first appeared in the Mahabharata and Ramayana. Played by the royals, Chaturanga was devised to teach young princes about the four parts (angas) of the royal army which was made up of infantry, chariot, cavalry and the elephants. The game was then heavily modified by the European settlers and now goes by the name of chess. 


Described in the ancient text Mahabharata under the name of “Pasha”, Pachisi saw its popularity soar during the age of the Mughals. A giant outdoor game board was built by Akbar in the courtyard of the Fatehpur Sikri Fort near Agra. The name comes from the Hindi word paccīs, meaning “twenty-five”. This in turn refers to the largest score that a player can score using the shells. Some other versions can have a score as high as 30. Chaupar is the most popular version but over the years, others have also been discovered including Barjis and Jeu des petits chevaux which are played in France.

By far the most popular version that exists today was reintroduced to Indian culture by the British and goes by the name of Ludo. Various game studios took the pandemic as an opportunity to introduce this version in the online app stores and have been met with resounding success with downloads accumulating in the hundreds of millions.


Known as Kuzhipara in Malayalam and is the oldest form of the Mancala game. The origins of the game can be traced back to the Chola dynasty in India. Over the years the game became increasingly popular in Tamil Nadu and is played on a wooden board. It works on the simple premise of the player capturing more seeds than their opponent. 

Jhandi Munda

Jhandi Munda is a board game that uses six dice each having six sides. Each side represents a different shape, (spade, heart, diamond, flag, face and club) and the game has been fairly popular in the gambling circles since the 18th century. The game involves betting on the right outcome of the dice i.e betting on the shape that will appear after the dice has been rolled. The player with the highest number of successful answers wins the game. 

While the game is predominantly played in north-eastern part of India, it has managed to amass a following in Nepal where it goes by the name of Langur Buria. More recently Jhandi Munda has become a regular feature in online casinos. 

Chowka Bhara

While some may consider this to be less fun compared to the games mentioned above, Chowka Bhara was introduced to sharpen the mathematical skills of young children. The game originates from the Vedic period of Indian history and is even mentioned in Mahabharat. Pandavas gambles away his wife and kingdom because of losing in this game. 

A strategy game where the player is required to get all their coins in the innermost square. The number on the dice dictates the steps you move on the board and is therefore a game of both skill and luck. Across the Indian sub-continent, it goes by various names including Khaddi Khadda in Punjab, Kavidi Kali in Madhya Pradesh and Challas Aath in Maharashtra. These are ancient board games which are now available online in the new version, play and enjoy the games. 

Related: Lottery Business in India – Ban or What? Which states allow?

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