Of Akhaada And Kushti

Decoding the ancient sport of India

‘Kushti’ or mud wrestling is an ancient sport in India and oldest in the world! Traditional Indian wrestling is not just a sport - it is an ancient subculture, where wrestlers live and train together and follow strict rules for everything from what they can eat to what they can do in their spare time. Drinking, smoking and even sex are off limits. The focus is on living a pure life, building strength and honing their wrestling skills. Wrestlers' diets consist of milk, almonds, ghee, eggs and chapattis and each wrestler has a job to do in preparing meals.

And all this happens in an akhaada, a dedicated place or a gym to practice Indian martial arts with facilities of boarding, lodging and training. Though this sport is on the decline, there are still many Akhaadas left, and a few dedicated athletes are working to keep this ancient part of Indian culture alive. Visit one such Akhaada in Gurgaon and witness the unique lifestyle of pehlwans (wrestlers) with strict diet and extreme restraints.