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The history of sports in India dates back to the Vedic era. Physical culture in ancient India was fed by a powerful fuel--religious rites. There were some well-defined values like the mantra in the Atharva-Veda, saying," Duty is in my right hand and the fruits of victory in my left". In terms of an ideal, these words hold the same sentiments as the traditional Olympic oath: ".......For the Honour of my Country and the Glory of Sport." The founders of the Olympic idea had India very much in mind when they were deciding on the various disciplines. There is a fascinating link between Greece and India which stretches back to 975 B.C. The zest for chariot-racing and wrestling was common to both the countries.

In India, dehvada or the body-way is defined as "one of the ways to full realization." In the day and age of the Rig-Veda, Ramayana and Mahabharata men of stature and circumstance were expected to be competent in chariot-racing, archery, horsemanship, military tactics, wrestling, weight-lifting, swimming and hunting

The guru-shishya (teacher-pupil) relationship has always been an integral part of Indian sport from time immemorial. Indian sport reached a peak of excellence when Buddhism held sway here. In Villas Mani Majra, Tiruvedacharya describes many fascinating games, namely, archery, equitation, hammer-throwing and chariot-racing. In Manas Olhas (1135 A.D.), Someshwar writes about bhrashram (weight-lifting), bhramanshram (walking) and also about Mall-Stambha (wrestling).

It is more than likely that many of today's Olympic disciplines are sophisticated versions of the games of strength and speed that flourished in ancient India and Greece. Chess, wrestling, polo, archery and hockey (possibly a fall-out from polo) are some of the games believed to have originated in India.

Popular Sports in India

Hockey

Hockey's birth place is Asia and Persia is credited with having devised it about 2000 B.C. It is said that Greeks and Romans played hockey but nothing is known about the nature of the game that they played. The earliest mention of the present day game dates back only to 1527, when the Galway Statutes included 'hokie'- the hurling of little ball with sticks or staves in a list of prohibited games.

Modern hockey, as created in England, resembles closely games once popular in the British Isles and there is no doubt that hockey's immediate fore-runners were the Scottish shinty, the English and Welsh bandy an the Irish hurling.

The game has witnessed numerous refinements over the years. Among the earliest refinement was the prohibition of raising the stick above shoulder level.

Hockey became popular in India when the British Regiments played the game in India and introduced it in the British India Regiments who quickly picked up the game. The first hockey club was formed in Calcutta in 1885-86 followed by Bombay and Punjab. The Bengal Hockey was the first Hockey Association in India founded in 1908. The second was formed in 1920 in Karachi by the name 'Sind Hockey Association'. In the Olympic games, India played hockey for the first time in 1928 held in Amsterdam. She reached the finals defeating Austria, Belgium, Denmark and Switzerland. In the final, India defeated Holland by three goals to nil. 

Cricket

Cricket can claim a longer history than any other team game. Historians have attempted to trace its origin in various ball games played by ancient races and, even if some of these derivations are a little far-fetched, we can at least say that 250 years ago the game was being played in a form not so very dissimilar from that of today. Hampshire, particularly the village of Hambledon, Surrey and Kent really pioneered this game that was later to be taken so seriously at the other end of England, though the great days of the Hambledon cricketers were somewhat later than our late 17th century starting point.

Cricket, like Hockey, was brought to the Indian sub-continent by the British. There are references to cricket having being played in India in the early parts of the 18th century. By the beginning of the 19th century the game was being played in the cities of Bombay, Calcutta and Madras.

The presidency matches began in 1892-93 between Parsis and Europeans and the tournament became the Bombay Triangular, with the Hindus fielding a team in 1907-08. In 1912-13, the tournament became quadrangular with the entry of Muslims in the field. With the efforts of several Princes, H E Grant-Gloven and A S de Mellow, the national championship, the Ranji Trophy began in 1935.

India played its first official Test against England in 1932.


Kabaddi

Though kabaddi is primarily an Indian game, not much is known about the origin of this game. There is, however, concrete evidence, that the game is 4,000 year old. It is a team sport, which requires both skill and power, and combines the characteristics of wrestling and rugby. It was originally meant to develop self defence, in addition to responses to attack, and reflexes of counter attack by individuals, and by groups or teams. It is a rather simple and inexpensive game, and neither requires a massive playing area, nor any expensive equipment. This explains the popularity of the game in rural India. Kabaddi is played all over Asia with minor variations.

Kabaddi is known by various names viz. Chedugudu or Hu-Tu-Tu in southern parts of India, Hadudu (Men) and Chu - Kit-Kit (women) in eastern India, and Kabaddi in northern India.

The sport is also popular in Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Japan and Pakistan.


Kho Kho

Kho-Kho ranks as one of the most popular traditional sports in India. The origin of Kho-Kho is difficult to trace, but many historians believe, that it is a modified form of 'Run Chase', which in its simplest form involves chasing and touching a person. With its origins in Maharashtra, Kho-Kho in ancient times, was played on 'raths' or chariots, and was known as Rathera.

Like all Indian games, it is simple, inexpensive and enjoyable. It does, however, demand physical fitness, strength, speed and stamina, and a certain amount of ability. Dodging, feinting and bursts of controlled speed make this game quite thrilling. To catch by pursuit - to chase, rather than just run - is the capstone of Kho-Kho. The game develops qualities such as obedience, discipline, sportsmanship, and loyalty between team members.

The rules of the game were framed in the beginning of the 20th century. At Gymkhana Poona, a Committee was formed in 1914, to frame its rules. The first ever rules on Kho-Kho were published from Gymkhana Baroda, in 1924. In 1959-60, the first national Kho-Kho championship was organised in Vijayawada (Andhra Pradesh). The Government has initiated the following awards for the game: Arjuna Award, Eklavya Award for men, Rani Laxmi Bai award for women, Veer Abhimanyu award for boys under 18, and Janaki award for girls under 16.


Golf

In India you can play golf almost anywhere, for this sport is widely played by a cross-section of people. In the hills and high Himalayan fastness, in metropolitan cities and in small towns, by lakes and forests, or surrounded by tea estates, out in the deserts and in old cantonment...the flavour of India is visible everywhere.

India was the first country outside Great Britain to take up the game of golf. The Royal Calcutta Golf Club, established in 1829, is the oldest golf club in India and the first outside Great Britain. Because of the British rule, the eighteenth century saw a mushrooming of new golf clubs in India. The founding of the Royal Golf Club of Calcutta in 1829 was followed by the now-defunct Royal Bombay Golf Club in 1842 and the Bangalore Golf Club in !876. The Shillong Golf Club incorporated a golf course in 1886.

Golf has already been played in India for 59 years before the first major course was opened in the USA and Europe in 1888. By the end of the !9th century, India had a dozen golf clubs.

What makes golfing in India exciting is the diversity of its courses. Not only does it have the oldest gold club in the world outside Great Britain, but also the highest, at Gulmarg (altitude 2,700 metres) in Kashmir. There are golf courses in the mountains, plains, deserts and at beach resorts. The environment of each course is unique in its culture and history, highlighting all that makes India a diverse destination. In fact, it would not be wrong to say that one of the best ways to experience India is through its golf courses.

Most of India's courses are well connected by road, rail, and air, and have excellent accommodation facilities. Unfortunately, India still has to rely on the West for golfing equipment, and visitors are advised to carry their own sets, with an ample supply of golf balls.

Till the '50s, golf clubs in India were affiliated to the Royal Calcutta Golf Club, which followed the rules of St. Andrews in Scotland. In December 1955, a group of golfers got together to form the Indian Golf Union as the controlling body for the game.

The Indian Golf Union is now affiliated to the World amateur Golf Council, and has done a great deal to promote golfing in the country. In 1957, it started its first training camp at the Royal Golf Club in Calcutta, where assistant professionals and caddies were brought from all over the country and trained to teach golf.

The year 1958 is a landmark in the history of Indian golf. For the first time, the amateur Indian Championship was moved away from the Royal Calcutta Golf Club to be played alternately at Delhi, Bombay and Calcutta. The most important annual event in the calendar of the Indian Open Golf Championship was first played in Delhi in 1964, and won by the Australian golfer, Peter Thompson.

Golfing in India has come a long way, and a large number of Indian players now compete on the international circuit. Golf enthusiasts continue to grow in numbers, and new courses are added almost every year. And what could be a better feather in India's golfing cap than the fact that Delhi was chosen to host the first ever golf competition for the Asian Games in 1982.


Other Sports Played in India

Archery, Athletics, Badminton, Basket Ball, Billiards & Snooker, Bowling, Boxing, Chess, Handball, Judo, Kayaking, Net Ball, Polo, Shooting, Swimming, Table Tennis, Volley Ball, Weightlifting & Wrestling.


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