Research Paper By Dr. Rajkumar Sharma


Mallakhamb is known as “The mother sport of ancient India.” Mallakhamb is the most scientific ancient art of making the body swift, supple, agile and healthy. Mallkhamb is no exception for this Indian Traditional culture. At present, 5th generation of Mallkhamb the is carrying forward and resulting in even growing popularity not only in India but also throughout the world. The  literatures of Mallkhamb were published in Encyclopedia of Indian Culture, souvenir of different competitions, Vyayam magines,  some Journals  and  books earlier in India., the Vyayamdnyankosh, a incomplete book on mallakhamb  was written & published in Vadodara city in 20th century.    This sport requires the agility, suppleness of body, quickness of reflexes, coordination of different muscles, strength, flexibility for the performers to execute turn, twist, stretch, balance exercises on the pole of Mallakhamb during training and competition.

Mallakhamb needs concentration, speed and flexibility. It is the only game which is played against gravity. It is a good exercise to our body especially for backbone. Our whole body gets a message while performing on Mallakhamb.

Mallakhamb is a pure Indian game. It is a sport that combines various exercises that improve speed, flexibility, strength, concentration, coordination and agility. Along with neuromuscular development, areas of personal character, discipline and self-motivation will be strongly enhanced. Becoming top player isn’t for everyone. It improves the concentration, helps enhancing immunity power, increases the competitive spirit, and to fight the stress levels in an organized and better ways.

Mallakhamb is combination of Yoga, Gymnastics, and Martial Arts. The Exercises of  poles of  mallakhamb and rope  are played against the Gravity during upward and downward movement.  This Sport provides the maximum exercises in minimum period of time for maximum muscles of mallakhamb players. Sport makes the player agile. Mallakhamb is a anaerobic type of activity. Strength endurance play a vital role in the game of mallakhamb. Mallakhamb strengthened the sport muscles of human body. Mallakhamb imparts proper tone and form to every muscle and perfect control over each part of the body. It  stimulates the mind and builds the body.The controlled and rhythmic breathing and smooth balanced movements in mallakhamb  help in the development of  the mental and physical faculties of our body. Mallakhamb training improve the  speed of movement, vital capacity and peak expiratory flow rate, enhance concentration based performance and voluntary control of breathing of players.



The origin of mallakhamb can be traced to the 12th century, where it is mentioned in Manas-Olhas – a classic by Chalukya in 1135 A.D. In 17th century Shri. Balambhatta Dada Deodhar introduced this game to others. There are many types of mallakhamb as Pole, Rope, Hanging, Niradhar (without support), on cane, on floating platform, Mallakhamb with weapons etc. But at competitive level only pole, rope and hanging mallakhamb are being performed by mallakhamb players. The boys are performing on pole, rope and hanging mallakhamb and girls on rope mallakhamb. For seven centuries, the art lay dormant, till it was revived by Balambhatta Dada Deodhar, the sports and fitness instructor to Peshwa Bajirao II,  who reigned during the first half of the 19th century Deodhar was  wrestler from the Peshwa court in Pune. He  developed mallakhamb as a training aid for wrestlers over the years, He was involved in gymnastics.

There are references to Indian wrestling in Vedic texts that date back to 1700 B.C, in the Rig Veda  (Avari 2007), and also in the classic Indian epics, the   Ramayana  and the Mahabharata.Wrestling in India is a synthesis of two distinct forms. The indigenous Indian form, malla- yuddha , is described in the Mahabharata which was written between 500-300BC, and then later references to wrestlers exercising on wooden poles occur in the Manasollasa (1135AD),which is a detailed instruction manual on the scholarship and military training of young Chalukyan  princes written by the Western  Chalukya  king Somesvara III  (Ghoshal 1962,Alter 1994). It was from  malla-yuddha, or the indigenous wrestling form, that mallakhamb historically traces its origins in the 12th century The next reference to mallakhamb  does not appear until the early 18th century. This lack of any historical documentation about  mallakhamb  for a period of more than six centuries is remarkable

By the early 18th century, the  Peshwas , who were Brahmin prime ministers appointed by the Marathi king, had seized control of the  Maratha Empire. These coned mallakhamb revival happened during the reign of the last Peshwa ruler, Bajirao Peshwa II, who was later defeated and annexed by the Britishin1819 (Ferguson2004).In the inter weaving of legend and history that is a distinctive part of Indian culture, a legend describes Hanuman appearing before the great warrior

Uday Deshpande, a mallakhamb expert said, “Malla as in wrestler, khamb as in pole, evolved as a game,  where the pole became the opponent for the wrestler. Mallakhamb’s own name entwines Sanskirt and Hindi to literally means “pole wrestling.” The climbing, joyfulness, and irreverence of mallakhamb are said to be informed by the spirit of Hanuman, the Hindu monkey god, and its strange apparatus reflect his anatomy: the pole is his phallus and the rope is his tail. Hanuman is said to have appeared to the famed physical trainer of the Marathi kingdom’s royal Prime Minister, Balambhatta Dada Deodhar, in the late 18th century, after he was challenged to a wrestling match by sinister outsiders. The trainer watches Hanuman climb a tree and acquires the monkey-god’s skills, learning to mimic Hanuman’s strength and agility.

. Mr. Takejamal was the first performer to demonstrate the art of Mallkhamb to the foreigner Sir. Elphniston. He was the  british resident of Pune . He was also the  trainer of mallkhamb to kings of Vadodara. and  Sir Jummadada of Indian Military. Saptashringi Wani,  Nashik & Kothure  were the birth place of mallkhamb. Sir Balambhatt Dada Deodhar was the founder of mallkhamb from Kothure. Afghan wrestler challenged Bajirao to fight with him, This challenged  was accepted by Balambhatta Dada Deodhar. He  practiced wrestling tricks on mallakhamb and defeated Afghan wrestler.  In the 19th century, Ali and Gulab wrestlers from the Nizam of Hyderabad came to the Darbar of Shrimant Bajirao Peshwa and threw open challenge to the State wrestlers for a bout. 18 year young  Guru Balambhattdada Deodhar accepted their challenge. He  started practice practicing yoga and tricks of wrestling. During the  deep meditation, he saw a vision of Lord Hanuman demonstrating a few tricks on a wooden pole. He rigorously practiced the tricks from his vision on the wooden pole and defeated his opponents easily.

During the First National Gymnastics Championships was  held at the Pahadganj Stadium, Delhi, in the year 1958. Gymnastic Federation of India proposed to recognize and include  game of mallakhamb  in subsequent National Gymnastics Championships. In 1962, Gymnastics Federation of India organized the official  First National Championships of mallakhamb at Gwalior (M.P.) as apart of National Gymnastic Championships. However, in the year 1968-69, The game of mallakhamb was included and introduced in the All India Inter-university Gymnastic Championship. The National Championships of mallakhamb were organized until 1976.  After  dissociation of mallakhamb from GFI,   recognized National Championships of mallakhamb were not organized from 1977 to 1980.

Mr. Rajesh and Rakesh Shrivastava, Dr. Bamshankar Joshi and some other lovers of Mallakhamb at Ujjain (M.P.) instituted  an All India Level Association  on 21/11/1980, which was later called Mallakhamb Federation  of India. First All India Invitational National Mallakhamb Championships were held at Ujjain from 27- 29  January, 1981. During this Mallkhamb championships, they instituted the “Mallakhamb Federation of India on January29, 1981. Since then, different state associations of mallakhamb  affiliated to MFI are organizing the national mallakhamb  championships in different age groups of  Boys, Girls, Men and women.



After that, mallakhamb gained wide publicity and extensive popularity among the youth. of India. This sport is slowly accepted in the USA, Germany, and Japan as well. In the US, every year players perform demonstrations and conduct summer camps to promote this great sport. Nicoleta (Greece) and Fred (America) have performed in several circus and acrobatic shows around the world, but it was the ancient sport of mallakhamb that brought them to India. Fred Norman (gymnast)  also suggested  that the mallakhamb should be propelled  into Olympics movement.

International Mallakhamb Championships are being conducted for last 5 years in different countries viz. Argentina, Brazil, Portugal, Spain and Italy and recently, the International Mallakhamb Federation has also been formed.  In 1936, a troupe of 35 acrobats from a small town in Central India traveled to the Berlin Olympic Games to demonstrate the ancient sport of mallakhamb.

Asian Mallakhamb Federation was constituted on 1 January 2011 and it’s head quarter situated in Pune, Maharashtra, India.The federation was  incorporated by Govt. of India under [Pursuant to sub-section (2) of section 7 of the Companies Act, 2013 and rule 8 of the Companies (Incorporation) Rules, 2014] in 3/11/2014 and it’s head quarter situated in Pune, Maharashtra, India.

Mallakhamb Confederation of World, Asian Mallakhamb Federation, and South Asian Mallakhamb Federation,  were founded by Dr. Jaydeepsinh Jadhav as president, Uday Deshpande as secretary general, Vinayak Rajmachikar as technical committee chairman, Dr. Ashish Mehta as treasurer and Geetanjali Shitole as member.

Deshpande has almost single-handedly been responsible for getting mallakhamb  international exposure in recent years, through demonstrations and training camps in over a dozen countries around the world since 1997. Despite this, it was only recently that the Indian government started to change its attitude towards mallakhamb and recognised it as a legitimate national sport. Mallakhamb is now a growing sport in India. It will be included as a showcase sport in the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi and new associations are springing up all over India.


Training on  mallakhamb helps to develop  speed, reflexes, concentration and    coordination in the players of  Wrestling, Judo, Gymnastics, Athletics, Horse Riding  and Tennis etc. Most of the wrestlers use the  shoulder vault on mallakhamb as  a  shadow practice in  the game. Training on  mallakhamb will strengthen a gymnasts shoulder girdle for Roman Ring and also helps to develop the  flexibility, grace, swiftness and rhythm of  a successful gymnast. Mallakhamb increases the endurance, strength and stamina of the athlete needed for athletic events. Training on  mallakhamb will strengthen the muscle of the shoulder girdle as well as  forearm  and. increases the flexibility of the wrist joint of Tennis and badminton players. To save a goal in Cricket, Hockey and Football games, side dive catch on the mallakhamb will halp the players of these games.  The basic grip  on mallakhamb helps a horse rider very much, as the grip is similar in both the cases. The horse mount on the mallakhamb is exactly similar to the literal horse mount. But with the phenomenal and ever increasing popularity of mallakhamb in the past few years,  there is a surprising lack of research in this specific area.

Bal, Kaur, and  Singh (2012) indicated the significant effect of   6-week rope mallakhamb training on speed of movement, vital capacity and peak expiratory flow rate. The results of this study showed that rope mallakhamb training lasting 6 weeks significantly Our findings are supported by (Tellles. et al. 1993) reported that after only 10 days of practicing asanas significantly improved static motor performance (eye-hand coordination). Thus, such mallakhamb training may be recommended to improve speed of movement, vital capacity and peak expiratory flow rate may contribute to enhance concentration based performance and voluntary control of breathing. Jayasinghe (2004) indicated  that the yogic exercise s on mallakhamb improves muscle strength and endurance, flexibility and cardiopulmonary endurance .

Mallakhamb is the name given to a little known style of physical culture practiced in India. Mallakhamb developed in the state of Maharashtra in India and the first reference to it is in the Manasollasa (1135 AD), a detailed instruction manual on the scholar ship and military training of young Chalukyan princes written by the Chalukyan King Somes vara III. Mallakhamb was originally practiced to develop the strength, agility and flexibility of wrestlers and has now developed into a national sport with championships held annually at district, state and national levels throughout India. Mallakhamb involves an unusual mix of wrestling strength training and yoga postures practiced on apparatus including a wooden pole and a cotton rope (Jon burtt, Skadada, and  Quebec)


Mallakhamb proves to be of immense value of diseases or disorders like insomnia, anemia, chronic pains in the body, abdominal problems, kidney troubles, E.N.T. problems, headache, migraine, chronic bronchitis, chest pain, respiratory or lung troubles, rheumatism and other types of irregularities of hygienic disturbances, Mallakhamb proves to be of immense value (

Mallakhamb is a systematic and  scientific mode of physical exercise. The controlled and rhythmic breathing and smooth balanced movements help to develop the mental and physical faculties of our body. The arm-holds and the upper handgrips help to develop powerful wrists, strong forearms and muscular biceps and triceps. The clinging grips of the fingers, palms and toes render the nerves and muscles strong and powerful. The acrobatic nature of the feats improves the sense of judgment and the hectic swings, jumps or somersaults promote toughness and fearlessness.  By the hanging and swinging actions, neuromuscular co-ordination is enhanced. The light jerks and jumps gradually tone the lungs and improve the efficiency of the respiratory organs. The forward and backward bends during the display help to accomplish the healthy functioning of the kidney, spleen, liver pancreas and urinary systems. The balancing activities like lifting and resting the body at various angles tone the ligaments of the spine, vertebral column, knees, elbows, ankles, neck and shoulders. (


The Mallakhamb pole is firmly fixed into the playground. Castor oil is applied to it, in order to reduce friction and prevent abrasive injuries to the body of the player. The player mounts over the tower, performing numerous poses and postures, which cover various awkward twists, turns, hooks, grips, catches and hanging positions. Besides these, a number of asana postures and aerobatic feats are also performed.

Mallakhamb player perform 90-second routines packed with intricate skill combinations as a panel of three judges assesses each competitor’s speed, grace, and difficulty on one of the sport’s three apparatuses: pole mallakhamb, hanging mallakhamb, or rope mallakhamb. Mallakhamb Federation of India organizes the national competitions each year.


  1. Pole Mallakhamb : A vertical wooden pole is fixed in the ground. The wood used is usually teakwood or sheeshum, preferred because of its twin characteristics of toughness and smoothness. The pole stands 225 cm above ground level. It has a circumference of 55 cm at its lower end, 45 cm in the middle, and 30 cm at the upper end. The height of the neck is 20 cm, and its circumference is 15 cm, and radius of the upper knobe is 13 cm.

The pole mallakhamb form involves grappling movements executed on a smooth oiled teak pole which is fixed to the ground. The pole is tapered from roughly the size of a wrestler’s thigh at the bottom to the size of a forearm at the top, with a narrower high neck above that. At the very top of the neck is a rounded knob the size of a clenched first and the shape of the apparatus is in fact very phallic. The pole itself is very heavy and weighted with a heavy metal base with outriggers for stability. It is stable enough to support group pyramid formations. The oiling of the wood gives the pole a smooth surface which reduces changing on the body and allows the body to follow smoothly around the apparatus

  1. Hanging Mallakhamb : A smaller version of the fixed mallakhamb, it is suspended with the aid of hooks and chains. The swinging and revolving motion of this type of mallakhamb renders the exercises quite difficult and exacting.The hanging  mallakhamb is generally only practiced as an advanced variation as it is very difficult due to the effect of the pole continually swinging away from the bodyweight of the practitioner. This form, as a variation of the pole form, is again only practiced by men. As a sport, the choreography of Indian mallakhamb routines has to conform to competition rules. Competition sequences follow a Western gymnastic model of set skills and time limits. This requires the athlete to complete as many separate postures or skills as possible in a two minute period .
  1. Rope Mallakhamb: A cotton rope which is 2.5 cm thick, replaces the wooden pole. The performers are expected to strike various yogic poses, without knotting the rope in any way.Rope  mallakhamb  is the form practiced by females but which is also practiced by some men and boys. The mallakhamb rope is symbolically viewed as the god Hanuman ’s tail. The rope sequences feature the extreme use of flexibility, daring falls and catches. A unique toe grip is employed which issued for climbing and holding the rope. This is because the sole of the foot is forbidden to touch the rope at any time as this would be considered disrespectful to Hanuman .At the end of the apparatus or “tail” the inner core of the rope is exposed and plaited to actually resemble a monkey’s tail and this is a symbolic visual reference to Hanuman.




  1. Revolving Bottle Mallakhamb: This is a recent innovation, and consists of 32 glass bottles placed on a wooden platform, with the mallakhamb balanced on top. Presently,  it is used  for demonstration purpose.
  2. Grease Mallakhamb:  On the occasion of Janmastmi-A Hindu festival,   it is used  for the entertainment purpose in some states of India. A lubricant, called Grease is applied on the Iron Pole and prepare for climbing a person on it. A pot made up of soil filled with some fruits, rupees, coins etc is hanged at the top of Iron pole.  Person can climb in any fashion at the top of the pole and win prize from the organizer.


A, B, C class elements   are performed on Pole Mallakhamb ( Boys &Men), Hanging Mallakhamb ( Boys & Men) and Rope Mallakhamb ( Boys and Men, Girls and Women).  These three class elements are chosen from the five groups of  exercise i.e. mounts, hold parts,  acrobatic elements, catches and dismounts by all mallakhamb players.


  1. Competition N0.IA: Compulsory Set of exercises decided by M.F.I,
  2. Competition N0.IB: Optional Set  of exercises decided by competitive players,
  3. Competition II- Individual All round Championship,
  4. Competition II- Apparatus Championship.
  5. Pyramid Competition-Optional for All tea


S,No. Year Month Place  State Organized National Championships
1 1981 January Ujjain  M.P. 1st national Championships
2 1982 February Ujjain M.P. 2nd national Championships
3 1983   Not held
4 1984 January Mumbai Maharastra 3rd  national Championships
5 1985 January Baroda Gujrat 4th  national Championships
6 1985 December Jhansi U. P. 5th  national Championships
1986 Not held
7 1987 December Dharwad Karnatka 6th  national Championships
8 1988 Not held
9 1989 January Dawargiri Karnatka 7th  national Championships
10 1990 December Pune Maharastra 8th national Championships
11 1991 December Jhansi U. P. 9th  national Championships
12 1992   Not held
13 1993 February Kanyakumari Tamilnadu 10th  national Championships
14 1994 March Mumbai Maharastra 11th  national Championships
15 1995 January Ujjain M.P. 12th national Championships
16 1996 March Mumbai Maharastra 13th  national Championships
17 1997 March Mumbai Maharastra 14th  national Championships
18 1998   Not held 15th not organized
19 1999 March Mumbai Maharastra 16th  national Championships
20 2000 February Sangli Maharastra 17th  national Championships
21 2001 December Jhansi U. P. 18th SubJunior, Junior, Senior
22 2002 23-25 March Bhusawal Maharastra 19th SubJunior, Junior, Senior
23 2003 12-14 Jan. Satara Maharastra 20th national SubJunior, Junior, Senior
24 2003 21-23 December Bharatpur Rajasthan 21st national SubJunior, Junior, Senior
25 2004
26 2005 11-13 Feb. Dadar- Mumbat Maharastra 22nd National SubJunior, Junior, Senior
27 2006 16-18 Jan. Amritsar Punjab 23rd National SubJunior, Junior, Senior
28 2007 02-04 Feb. Chennai Madras 24sth National SubJunior, Junior, Senior
2007 26-28 Nov. Ponda, Goa U.T. 25th Mini, SubJunior, Junior, Senior
28 2008 27-28 Dec. Bhimavaram A.P. 22nd Mini and SubJunior Boys and 21th mini  ,subjunior Gtrls
2009 18-20 Jan Sangli Maharastra 26th Senior  & 25th Junior boys and 22nd Senior & junior  Girls
30 2009 26-27 Dec. Khachroud(Ujjain) M.P. Junior23rd  Girls and 26th Boys
2009 5-6 Nov. Gwalior M.P. Senior 27th  Boys and 23rd girls
2009 26-27 Dec, Khachroud-Ujjain M.P. 26th boys junior, 23rd girls
31 2010 26-28 Feb. Hyderabad A.P. 23rd Mini and Subjunior Boys and 22nd Girls
2010 26-28 Dec. Miraj -Sangli Maharastra 24th Mini and SubJunior Boys and 23rd mini subjunior Gils
2011 28-30 jan. Haveri Karnatka 27th Jr. Boys, 24th Jr Girls, 28th Sr. Boys, 24th Sr. Girls


S,No. Year Month Place  State Participated Teams
32 2012 24-26 Nov.  Mardol,  (Goa) U.T. Senior & Junior Boys and Girls
33 2013 16-17 March Uppalam pondicherry 26th mini and Subjunior Boys, 25th Mini Subjunior Girls
2014 28-30 March Ujjain M.P. Senior & Junior Boys and Girls
34 2015 31Jan-2Feb. Khachroud(Ujjain) M.P.  (Senior: Men and Women), Junior (Boys and Girls
35 2015 21-23March Bhopal M.P. . (Sub-Junior, Mini Boys and Girls)

Mallakhamb was included in by SGFI in National School Games wide letter No. SGFT/011/07/Dated22/06/2007 in 2008-09 Sport calendar of SGFI. Grant  started by Cenral Govt in 2007-2008 of Rs. 4 lakh during GOa Championship. 2008-2009 Championship divided into two parts 1. Mini Subjunior n Bhimavaram,  2. Junior and Senior  in Sangli After that no grant proposal was sent to Central Govt. First School national games of Mallakhamb was held at Warna nagar Kolhapur (Maharastra 7-8 December 2008 under 17 and under 19 age group. 33 states affiliated to the MFI. Of the sea affiliated states, 14 put forward teams to compete in the 2008  Mallakhamb National Championships ,and 18 entered teams for the 2009 championships which were held in Goa.

The author is a Grade1 Gymnastic Coach, Sports Authority of India
( Courtesy Research Gate )


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