Did you know Delhi is a vibrant centre to Kushti or the traditional Indian freestyle wrestling? Ever wondered where the wrestling world champions like Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt have received their training? Of course, it is our very own Delhi! A combination of the ancient South Asian wrestling style called malla yuddha and Persian Pehalwani, Kushti or freestyle wrestling is a traditional sport. There are over 200 Akharas (institutions for training freestyle wrestlers) in Delhi as almost every village in the city patronises this sport. Here, we present a review of the top five Akharas of Delhi, some of which are the most important ones in the whole country.
Guru Hanuman Akhara
Established in 1925 with funding provided by the famous industrialist K.K. Birla, this is the oldest in the country. Besides producing amazing performers, it was also the training ground of the Padma Bhushan awardee Mahabali Satpal, who now heads the country’s most modernised wrestling stadium (Chhatrasal) and the coach of Sushil Kumar.
Where: Malkaganj, Subzi Mandi, Shakti Nagar
Nearest Metro: Vishwavidyalaya Station
Named after the Indian warrior Maharaja Chhatrasal, this stadium provides one of the best training facilities for wrestling in the whole country. With a whopping capacity of 16,000 individuals this stadium also offers facilities for football, athletics, basketball, kabbadi, and handball. Some of the stalwarts of Kushti like Sushil Kumar, Yogeshwar Dutt, and Amit Kumar have received training here.
Where: Phase 03, Model Town (North Delhi)
Nearest Metro: Model Town Station
Guru Chandgi Ram’s Akhara
This one is our favourite. Constructed in 1975, it was led by the legendary Indian wrestler Guru Chandgi Ram, who won the gold medal in the 1970 Asian Games. This is the first akhara in the whole country to provide training to women wrestlers. Amid resistance from all directions, Guru Ram started this trend by training his own daughters first. Having trained Asian games champions like Neha Rathi and Sonika Kaliraman, this akhara has sure come a long way.
Where: Sham Nath Marg, Ludlow Castle, Civil Lines.
Nearest Metro: Civil Lines
Captain Chand Roop’s Akhara
Set up in 1979 by Captain Chand Roop, this is one of the oldest akharas in the country. It has a well maintained wrestling mud pit where up to six pairs of wrestlers can practice simultaneously. Keeping up with times, this traditional institution also hosts a webpage. Check out images of wrestlers here http://www.captchandroopakhara.com/index.html
Where: Plot no. 888/89/90, New Subzi Mandi, Azadpur.
Nearest Metro: Azadpur Station.
Guru Shyamlal Akhara
Though a relatively smaller institution, situated in one of the oldest parts of the city, this one is quite old. Some of the wrestlers trained here have given outstanding performances in the Super Fight League – Asia’s leading mixed martial arts organisation.
Where: Village Aya Nagar
Nearest Metro: Arjan Garh Station