Mallakhamba: The forgotten sport of India

Recognized as a national sport, and the official state sport for Madhya Pradesh, Mallakhambh or Mallakhambha has been around for hundreds of years. The origin of Mallakhambh may be derived from the twelfth century where it’s been mentioned in a number of Chalukya’s texts by the name Manas-Olhas. Later, it was revived within the nineteenth century by Balambhatta Dada Deodhar, the sports and fitness teacher to Peshwa Bajirao II. The name Mallakhambh or Mallakhambha comes from the term Malla and Khamba which implies “warrior” and “pole” respectively. The term literally suggests “wrestling pole” which was a section of the warrior’s exercise.

At a glance, Mallakhamb might not seem to be a tough exercise. However, it needs the entertainer to show, twist, stretch, and balance his entire body on the tip of the pole. It needs loads of strength, suppleness, grace, great muscle coordination, and a way of timing, that makes this sports special.

Legends of Mallakhambh
A 19th-century story concerning Mallakhambh tells us regarding two wrestlers, Ali and Gulab from Nizam of Hyderabad, who challenged all the wrestlers within the darbar of Shrimanta Peshwa Bajirao II. Guru Balambhattdada Deododhar, then an 18-year-old boy, accepted the challenge and asked time for preparation.

He spent his time rehearsing yoga and wrestling tricks. Once when he was meditating, he saw a vision of Lord Hanuman acting some tricks of wrestling on a wood pole. He practiced those tricks strictly and defeated the two Nizami wrestlers. Since then, the art of Mallakhamb has become widespread among the youth.

How Mallakhambh works
The Mallakhamb pole is firmly fastened on the playground. Oil is applied to that to avoid friction and prevent injuries to the performing artist. The player climbs up the pole and performs different asanas, which has numerous twists, stretches, turns, and hooks. Besides this, the player additionally displays varied gymnastic performances on the pole.

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