Popular Board Games of Ancient India
- December 17, 2021
By Kayva Gokhale
Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the entire world inside their homes, indoor games have become a more popular method of passing time. While families everywhere indulge in games of charades and cards, let’s take a look at some little-known ancient Indian games that were the predecessors of board games like Ludo, Snakes and Ladders, Chess and more.
Illustration: ACK Design Team
Believed to be the predecessor of the modern-day board game Ludo, Pachisi, was a cross and circle board game popularly found in ancient Indian texts. The game was played on a board shaped like a cross. Each player would throw six or seven cowrie shells (used as dice) and move pieces on the board until someone got all their pieces in the finish zone. The word Pachisi is believed to have been derived from ‘Pacchis’ meaning ‘twenty-five’ i.e. the largest score that could be thrown with cowrie shells. This game was so well-loved that emperors like Akbar would routinely play life-sized versions of the game, dividing the court itself into a large Pachisi board, with palace staff taking the place of the coloured pieces.