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Delhi’s Mighty Men

Discover the Thrilling World of Kushti Wrestling in Delhi’s Old Quarter

In the districts north of Kashmere Gate in Old Delhi, you’ll find a fascinating sight that may catch your attention – a high concentration of muscular men. But don’t worry, it’s not an illusion. This dusty quarter is the favored stomping ground for Delhi’s traditional mud wrestlers who practice the ancient art of Kushti, also known as pehlwani. Kushti is a full-contact martial art that combines elements of yoga, philosophy, combat, and intense physical training.

Young men begin their journey in Kushti by enrolling at akharas, specialized training centers, during their early teenage years. Here, they undergo a rigorous daily regimen of exercises, including climbing ropes, lifting weights, and hauling logs, all aimed at building the necessary muscle mass for this demanding sport. Their lifestyle is carefully regulated, with strict prohibitions on activities such as sex, tobacco, and alcohol. Wrestlers live together in simple accommodations under the guidance of a coach who serves as both a mentor and a spiritual guide.

Bouts take place on freshly tilled earth, adding an authentic and gritty element to the proceedings. The objective, as with other forms of wrestling, is to pin your opponent to the ground. However, fights often continue until one wrestler submits or collapses from exhaustion. Regional championships are held where wrestlers compete for the prestigious golden gadas, ceremonial clubs that pay homage to Hanuman, the patron deity of wrestling.

If you’re intrigued by this fascinating sport, many akharas allow spectators to witness the daily training sessions at dawn and dusk, as long as it doesn’t disrupt the wrestlers’ focus. Remember to seek permission first to show respect to these impressive athletes. To learn more about Kushti wrestling and discover the main akharas, you can visit the blog, which provides a great introduction to the sport. Immerse yourself in the world of Kushti and witness the strength, discipline, and tradition that define this unique form of wrestling in Delhi.

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