Traditional Games of Karnataka: Keeping it Classic from Nakku Kallu to Kambala

“Aaata aadava?”(Let’s play!) As the saying goes in Kannada, Karnataka’s vibrant culture boasts a treasure trove of traditional games that go beyond just entertainment; they are the mirror of Karnataka traditions and values. These traditional games of Karnataka were once an intrinsic part of everyday life and today they are seen nowhere. Sadly with the digital age upon us, many of us have lost interest in finding the gems of our culture and have limited ourselves to just screens from phones to windows. There is no place for the old traditional games.

As the famous Hindi proverb says, “Bachpan mein sikhe woh gun, sada dete hain fal”.These timeless games offer a chance to unplug, reconnect, and rediscover the joy of real-world play. From the strategic minds required for Chowka Bara (similar to Pachisi) to the exhilarating chase in Lagori (Seven Stones), these games cater to all ages and interests. So let’s find our old genuine laughter and joy of our childhood and get back to those old traditional games of Karnataka.

TOP 10 Traditional games of Karnataka

Traditional games of Karnataka serve as a captivating link between the past and present weaving together as the fabric of love and deep-rooted traditions and values. Experience the happiness of bonding with others over fun games that bring people of all ages together. Dive into the exciting world of Karnataka’s traditional games and enjoy the laughter and friendship they bring. It’s a chance to make memories and celebrate the timeless connection between people.

See Also:- Traditional Games of Punjab

1. Ashtapada


A strategic board game steeped in Indian tradition which is considered to be the precursor of the the chess board game in India. It is a simple board game with an eight-by-eight grid of unadorned squares. The board is dotted with special spaces called “castles,” offering players a haven where their pieces can rest safe from capture. The ultimate motto of the game is to navigate your pieces back into your castle using a counter-clockwise path aiming for the greatly desired center square.

2. Aliguni Mane

Aliguni Mane
Aliguni Mane

This is a strategy-based board game which is played in the indoors of Karnataka. Aliguni Mane also known as Channe Mane has deep roots in the traditional customs and traditions of Karnataka. This game is generally played with two players and played on a wooden board with fourteen pits. These pits store the 70 Tamarind seeds or cowry shells that further become your warriors in this strategic contest. This seed-sowing challenging game will help one with an increase in logic skills and will develop hand-eye coordination.

3. Nakku kallu

Nakku kallu
Nakku kallu

A Karnataka classic also famous by the name of “Four Stones” is a classic game that is the test of both agility and strategy. Imagine a four-squared court divided into four smaller squares drawn on the ground. Each player picks a square and keeps their eyes on the stones kept in the middle of the ground field. One player becomes the “chaser” and tries to grab a stone before anyone else can snatch one and get back to their square safely.

Nakku Kallu is a game that is a mix of smart thinking and quick movements, so if you think you got agile movements and have the fast pace movements then round up all your buddies and draw the court and get ready for an exciting game of Naaku Kallu.

4. Hagga jaggata(Tug of War)

Hagga jaggata(Tug of War)
Hagga jaggata(Tug of War)

This is an old rope pulling age-old sport which is also known as tug of war in usual common terms and Hagga Jaggata in Kannada. This is the ultimate test of strength and strategy that needs a team to tug off.

Tug of war is a classic game where two teams pull on a rope trying to win. Imagine a rope with a line in the middle and on each side team grabs the rope tight aspiring to win, the referee blows the whistle and the game starts, everyone tries to pull hard trying to move the rope toward their side.

This tug of war or Hagga Jaggata is a game of teamwork and strength, you would need to plan and strategize to win this game.

5. Kambala(Buffalo Race)

 Kambala(Buffalo Race)

Discover the ancient deep-rooted traditions and celebrate the old bonds with the Traditional game Kambala of Karnataka. Kambala is an ancient tradition of Buffalo racing, more than being a race of buffaloes, this game is a celebration of the deep bond between farmers and their buffaloes. Its roots trace back to village life, where it began as a test of strength for these vital farmyard companions. In today’s time, this game is celebrated as a festival and during harvest season special courts and pathways are built to organize this game.

In this game, young riders guide the buffaloes showing off their speed and agility. Kambala is an exciting race where it’s not just about being fast but also about being in control. So if adventure excites you gotta check this traditional game of Karnataka

6. Chowka Bara (chakaara)

Chowka Bara (chakaara)
Chowka Bara (chakaara)

Get on a journey to travel ancient Indian traditional games with the Indian strategy game of Chowka bara- a treasured pastime that continues to captivate players across generations. Also known as Chowka Bara in Mysuru and Chakaara or Chakka in North Karnataka, this game offers a delightful challenge for up to four participants.

This game is similar to modern Ludo game, Chowka bara is a dash of luck and strategic plays and players utilize cowry shells, known as kavade in Kannada to move their Pawns/Gotis/Tokens on the gameboard and to attain the ultimate goal of racing them to the home as a first one to do so.

7. Hand wrestling(Arm Wrestling)

Hand wrestling(Arm Wrestling)
Hand wrestling(Arm Wrestling)

Hand wrestling is a test of strength and firm grip, this is all about simple equipment a willing opponent, and a firm grip. Players lock hands with fingers intertwined and commence a battle of wills. 

The objective of this game is to pin your opponent’s hand to the ground. Before they do the same to you. It’s a test of strength, strategy, and pure determination

8. Parampada


Parampada means “Highest Abode” in Kannada, this game is a twist to the popular classic snakes and ladder game. Just similar to Snakes and Ladder parampada features a race across a numbered board with squares. Played with two or more players this game takes on board and then rolls dice and moves your token across a numbered board. Land on a ladder and whoosh! Up you go! But if a sneaky snake is waiting, you’ll slide down its coils. This is a simple game of luck and strategy that is perfect for family game nights or even for kids.

9.Saalu Mane Ata(Nine-Men’s Morris)/ Navakankari

Saalu Mane Ata(Nine-Men’s Morris) Navakankari
Saalu Mane Ata(Nine-Men’s Morris)/ Navakankari

Get ready to have a captivating duel with the Saalu Mane Ata aka Navankari in many parts of India. Dust off the ordinary strategy games and battle in this two-player game. Saalu Mane Ata utilizes a unique board and just 18 tokens, nine for each player. All you would need is to outsmart your opponent by strategically planning and placing your tokens forming winning three rows. This traditional game of Karnataka has been enjoyed for generations and offers a fantastic opportunity to test one’s mental agility and planning skills the better you are at these the better your winning chances.

10. Adu Huli Aata(Tiger and Goat)

Adu Huli Aata(Tiger and Goat)
Adu Huli Aata(Tiger and Goat)

A game that has the potential to fulfill your dream of hunting because real hunting is illegal so why not try and fulfill your dream of hunting with the Adu Huli Aata aka Tiger and Goat game and unleash your inner hunter in this famous Kannada game.

This is a two-player battle of wits that unfolds on the special game board, one player controls three powerful tigers while the other has 15 speedy goats. This traditional Kannada game is about the tigers trying to capture goats and goats trying to block the tigers and keep themselves safe.

This Adu Huli Aata is a game of strategy and concentration players need to think and strategize the moves keeping in mind the opponent’s strategy gameplay.

Read More:- Traditional Games of West Bengal


Many traditional games have long been part of Karnataka’s vibrant culture, these are not just a source of entertainment they are purely connected to the deeply rooted traditions and values that have been passed on to generations. These games have once served not just as entertainment, but also fostered a sense of community and friendly competition.

While modern life may be changing the landscape of traditional games, their spirit and connections to generation are still alive. Reminding us of the simple joys of community, competition, and the enduring power of a good game.


What are some of the traditional games of Karnataka?

Traditional games of Karnataka have various games that are away from the modern tech and game advancements, below are some of the traditional Karnataka games:
Adu Huli Aata
Saalu Mane Ata
Arm wrestling 
Chowka bara

Which is the oldest game in Karnataka?

The oldest game in the Karnataka state is the Chowka Bhara game.

Which is the most famous game in Karnataka?

Cricket is the most popular sport in Karnataka, which possibly has attracted various national to international matches.

Can anyone play traditional games in Karnataka?

Yes, anyone can play traditional games as they are simple and easy to learn. They do not require maximum inputs and can work with minimum bare equipment.

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