A Desi Indian Langot Pehalwan in a Mathura Akhara

Akhara or Akhada is a place where langot clad young desi boys and men, learn and practice the traditional lndian wrestling art-form called Kushti. It is usually a place which not only provides a place to fight, but also a place to stay and eat. It's sort of a boarding-school as well where boys become men and learn many of life's essential lessons. A wrestler who learns and fights at an Akhara is called a Pehalwan.

Desi Indian men male langot underwear bulge river bathing dickslip bulging wet ghat picture pehalwan kushti
The two langot pehalwans in the middle of the fight

Watch the video of the time we spent below:




An Akhara always also has a Hanuman temple and all pehalwans usually live a life of celibacy while they are at the Akhara. It's a tough call and some also leave it for this reason alone. The chief reason for this is to focus completely on the art of Kushti and not get distracted by the womenfolk. It is for this reason that the bonding between pehalwans is quite strong and they thrive well in this circle of brotherhood. However, I did meet a few young men who are married and go to Akhara to just be healthy and play a sport.

The Akhara style of wrestling is always fought on mud, and every morning the fighting ground is made ready by ploughing before the fighting starts. The sport is typically played in a traditional garment called Langot . A langot is basically a piece loincloth which is something like an underwear for men. Langot is the staple cloth for all wrestling matches in an akhara, though in my opinion its quite a challenge to wear one!

When I was in Mathura recently to celebrate Holi, we decided to also visit an Akhara right across Yamuna river. It was going to be a completely new experience for me and so I readily agreed.

Metal Railway Bridge over mathura Yamuna India
The beautiful journey to our Akhara - walk on a Railway bridge :)
Boats in river Yamuna in Mathura morning
And River Yamuna below...
We were welcomed by a young pehalwan Shobhit, who was the only one around at that time. Unfortunately, it was just the day after Holi and most boys were away at their homes. Not to disappoint us, he readily agreed when we told him that we had come from far to see a fight and take pictures. He called his friend and the stage was set for a great morning!

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Shobhit was the man of the moment and defeated a much larger opponent, but then kushti isa lot more about technique than size. Intrigued by this young man, I also interviewed him for .my #TellMeYourDream2015 project. Here is an excerpt from an interview with him.

Tell me your dream Shobhit?

I dream of joining the army next, or else I woyld continue with wrestling itself. If I don't do these things I will have to stay in my village and work in the fields and it's something I don't like at all. It is for this reason that I am also keeping my weight under control."

About Shobhit

Shobhit pehalwan comes from a family of wrestlers from a village near Meerut. He studied till tenth grade and then started wrestling more seriously. For the last four years he has been at Shivalay Pehalwanji ka Akhara near Mathura.

He is only twenty one but has many victories to his credit already. He was also second in Indian national championships in his weight category. Next on his plan is a Rs 8 lakh championship. He is also a local hero having won many fights so far, even with wrestlers heavier than him and continues to inspire others to join in the akhara.

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The name of Akhara we visited is Shivalay Pehalwanji ka Akhara.

The following photo-story will give some idea of the life of a Pehalwan. It was just a day after Holi so our pehalwans were also colored a little :)

desi lund lauda nanga male man langot underwear
Shobhit wearing the langot after a cold shower
Desi Indian men male langot underwear bulge river bathing lund lauda bulging wet ghat picture pehalwan kushti
Shobhit was most friendly and posed happily!
langot pehalwan man male bulge desi
The wrestler adjusting his langot
langot pehalwan man male bulge desi
Shobhit putting mud on his body
Desi Indian men male langot underwear bulge river bathing lund lauda picture pehalwan kushti
A bulging muscular pehalwan putting on oil all over the body!
Desi Indian men male langot underwear bulge river bathing dickslip bulging wet ghat picture pehalwan kushti
The next step is to plough the wrestling ground
Desi Indian men male langot underwear bulge river bathing dickslip bulging wet ghat picture pehalwan kushti
Once ploughing is done, the players make a small prayer to Lord Hanuman
Desi Indian men male langot underwear bulge river bathing dickslip bulging wet ghat picture pehalwan kushti
In the beginning the fight looks quite simple and friendly - friends hugging in a langot :)
Desi Indian men male langot underwear bulge lund lauda pehalwan kushti
Things can also get very aggressive...

langot pehalwan man male bulge desi
And more aggressive!
langot pehalwan man male bulge desi
There is a lot of throwing around!
langot pehalwan man male bulge desi
And anyone can easily get hurt!
Desi Indian men male langot underwear bulge lund lauda bulging picture pehalwan kushti
Finally a winner is selected! Shobit was our winner that morning :)

An Akhara is a place to fight as well as a place to learn. Kids join in at a much younger age and learn the lessons of life there from the Guruji. For those who can't afford the education and living, their stay is also funded by the owners of the Akhara. For many this is their first school, which is also a free school.

While we were around, two young boys also came along and wanted us to see their fight. It was also great to see the pehalwans of tomorrow in the making :)

Indian boys playing kushti akhara pehalwan
Of course, kids practice and put in as much efforts as adults!

Comments

  1. Hari OM
    This was a lovely explanation and display, Sid... very different from my own 'gurukula' experience! YAM xx

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  2. This post is a sheer visual delight! :-)

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  3. Crazy images! Loved each one, specially the second last one captioned 'Not me'. :)

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  4. Very beautiful photo documentation of this sport! My home town, Kolhapur is also very famous for kushti. But sadly I have never seen a single game in my life.

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  5. Wonderful series of images from Akhada

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  6. Replies
    1. Dear Joshi: amazing story! I am going there now. Do you have their his number?

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  7. Thanks Shilpa :) I have also heard a lot about the Amharas of Kolhapur...I might visit them one day!

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  8. Nice to read about this game it seems this game continue frm ancient time...sid whr should i go to see it live...iam in delhi i can visit mathura
    ..can u pls tell me the exact address..

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  9. Thanks for the excellent post, can you also post the address phone/if any for all the akharas you have visited.

    I am interested in learning traditional wrestling and also specific styles such as bhimseni, Hanumanti and jamvanti.

    Any idea if akharas teach it to people who are 30+

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