most popular sports in India

15 Most Popular Indian Sports Played in India

Sports are immensely popular in India. As a result, the love of sports continues to become dominant in Indian culture.

Also, sports is one of the things that draws Indians together, whether it’s screaming to support their favorite players or shouting at the TV during the Cricket Match.

Thus, sports are an important part of a community. Sports give outlets for us to unwind from the stresses of everyday life while also bringing us together as a community.

Are you curious to know about the most popular Indian sports? Here, we have listed our 15 most popular Indian Sports Played in India.

15 Most Popular Indian Sports Played in India

15. Kite Flying

An ancient tradition and sport, Kite Flying is one of the most popular sports in India. Thousands of people in India play this sport.

In fact, India celebrates kite festivals called Uttarayana and Makara Sankranti.

Colorful Kites with different color threads can be seen in the sky. It is recognized as an expression of patriotism, freedom, joy, and the start of a fresh new season.

Also, this sport requires a permit according to the Indian Aircraft Act, 1934.

14. Gilli Danda 

Gilli Danda is one of the most famous Indian sports. It is an ancient sport of the Indian subcontinent.

The two pieces of sticks are used in this sport. One is called Danda, which is a long wooden stick. Likewise, an oval piece of small wood is called Gilli.

According to historical accounts, ordinary people played the game on the streets, sometimes joined by royal family members.

13. Kalaripayattu

Kalaripayattu is a prominent Indian martial art that began in Kerala. Also, it is one of the oldest combat systems in the world.

The Indian martial art has two distinct styles: Northern Style, which includes exercises, and Southern Style, which includes various techniques.

kalariyapattu most popular sports played in india
Indians performing Kalariyapattu

One of the key regulating bodies of Kalaripayattu in India is the Indian Kalaripayattu Federation (IKF), based in Thiruvananthapuram.

12. Basketball

Many sports are popular in India. But, we cannot ignore basketball as it has made a tremendous impact on India’s sporting landscape.

Males and females play basketball in India in many universities, colleges, and high schools.

However, the lack of participation of Indian basketball players in the world scene is odd.

In Division A, the Indian Women’s Basketball Team qualified for the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup.

It is the first time that an Indian basketball team has achieved such a feat on a global scale.

Furthermore, Satnam Singh Bhamara became the first Indian player to be drafted by an NBA franchise when the Dallas Mavericks selected him in 2015.

Additionally, he was not only the first Indian to play in the NBA. But he was also the first player to be drafted while still in high school.

You may be interested in The 30 Richest NBA Players in the World.

11. Table Tennis

Table tennis is one of the popular indoor Indian sports, particularly in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu.

Moreover, this sport has particularly attracted the country’s younger generation.

In addition, the British introduced this game in India in the early half of the twentieth century.

As a result, the Table Tennis Federation of India is currently the country’s official table tennis sports governing body.

Sharath Kamal of India is 43rd rank currently in the world. In addition, the Indian team earned two bronze medals in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta.

Moreover, the Indian paddlers have won three gold medals in Asian Championships and six gold medals in the commonwealth games for India.

In World Championships, Indian paddlers have secured only one bronze medal.

10. Boxing

The Boxing sport is gaining massive popularity in India in certain states, particularly in Haryana.

Likewise, the Indian Boxing Federation oversees the sport of boxing in India.

India gained prominence in Boxing after Vijender Singh earned a bronze medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Since then, boxing has been a source of numerous medals, with the emergence of a core group of skilled boxers bearing India’s banner.

Besides, MC Mary Kom, a women’s boxer, won a bronze medal in the 2012 London Olympics against all odds.

Consequently, many Indian boxers have conquered many international competitions. 

You might be interested to know about the Top 16 Most Popular Sports in the World.

9. Motorsport

The love for Formula One, the world’s largest motorsports spectacle, has been India’s primary source of motorsport development.

When the Jordan Formula One team signed driver Narain Karthikeyan in 2005, he became the first Indian to compete. So naturally, it piqued the curiosity of the Indian audience.

Also, the first-ever Formula One Indian Grand Prix was held in 2011, which took off Formula one in India.

Apart from Formula One, India also has a Moto GP squad in the form of Mahindra Racing.

In addition, Gaurav Gill, a rally driver, is another representative of the country in motorsports.

Moreover, Gill became the first Indian to win the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship in 2013.

8. Chess

Chess has been India’s most popular sport in recent decades. All thanks to chess Grandmaster and former World Champion Viswanathan Anand.

Anand’s success on the international chess scene has inspired a new generation of young Indians to take up the game. India’s chess governing organization is the All India Chess Federation.

In addition, players like Harikrishna Pentala and Vidit Santosh Gujrathi rose to the top of the FIDE rankings in 2020.

As of 2021, India has 69 Grandmasters (GM) and 124 International Masters (IM).

Also, there are 42 Women International Masters (WIM), 20 Women Grandmasters (WGM), and 33,028 rated players in India as of January 2021.

7. Wrestling

Wrestling is one of the popular Indian sorts, and young Indians are major fans of the sport. 

Pehlwani, also known as Kusti in India, is a sort of wrestling that originated in the Indian subcontinent. 

Sushil Kumar is a two-time Olympic medalist in Wrestling and one of India’s most successful Olympians.

Likewise, there are many more grapplers who have won medals at many international tournaments.

Furthermore, wrestling has grown even more popular with big office smashes like Sultan and Dangal.

The Wrestling Federation of India is the governing body of one of the oldest sports of India, Wrestling.

6. Tennis

Tennis has considerable followers in India, although it has gained popularity in urban areas only. The AITA governs Tennis in India.

In addition, India has a long history of producing top-notch doubles players like Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi.

In 2014, Mahesh Bhupathi founded the International Premier Tennis League to enhance tennis viewership in India.

This league was successful as its viewership was liked by tennis stars such as Roger Federer and Pete Sampras.

Thus, Indian tennis players have garnered some excellent placements in international competitions in recent years.

5. Badminton

The governing body of badminton in India is the Badminton Association of India.

An Indian grappler, Saina Nehwal, won a bronze medal in the London Olympics in 2012, cementing her place in history.

badminton saina nehwal most popular sports played in india
Saina Nehwal playing Badminton

Furthermore, in 1980 and 2001, Prakash Padukone and Pullela Gopichand won the All England Open, respectively.

The Badminton Association of India (BAI) oversaw this sports’ Premier League in 2013 to raise Indian stars on the world scene.

4. Kabaddi

In India, Kabaddi is a popular contact sport. 

With the unexpected rise of the Pro-Kabaddi League, conducted yearly in various cities across India, kabaddi has returned to the mainstream.

Moreover, the PKL became India’s second most popular league in 2014, trailing only the Indian Premier League (IPL).

At the moment, India and Iran are the world’s two best kabaddi playing countries. India has acquired all of the Kabaddi World Cups until 2017.

In fact, Pro Kabaddi League is the second most matched sport after IPL in India.

3. Field Hockey

Hockey India is the governing body of one of the oldest ancient games played in India, Field Hockey.

With the establishment of The Hockey India League (HIL) in 2013, hockey’s popularity increased among the general public.

The Federation of International Hockey (FIH) recognized the competition and gave it a 30-day window to allow elite players from all over the world to compete.

India has conquered eight gold, two bronze, and one silver medal. In 1975, they also won the World Cup in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

2. Football

Football is the second most-watched sport in India.

It is a popular sport in Kerala, Goa, West Bengal, and north-eastern India.

Many professional players such as Bhaichung Bhutia and Sunil Chhetri promote Indian football internationally.

As of August 20221, the Indian football team was ranked 105th. The All India Football Federation (AIFF) governs football in India.

India currently has its own football league, the Indian Soccer League, following European clubs’ footsteps (ISL).

The competition drew approximately 160 million viewers during its debut season in 2014.

You might be interested in The Best 13 Popular Football Players of this Year.

1. Cricket

Not only popular, but cricket is an important part of the Indian culture.

The elite sporting channels broadcasting cricket matches have contributed to the popularity of this sport.

Also, India’s cricket performance significantly impacts the sport’s continued popularity.

cricket most popular sports played in india
Indian Cricket team entering the ground

India has won every ICC tournament, including the ODI World Cup twice (1983, 2011), the T20 World Cup once in 2007, and the ICC Champions Trophy once in 2013.

With Virat Kohli leading a new generation of cricketers like Jasprit Bumrah, the Indian cricket team has a bright future ahead of them. 

In addition, the Indian cricket team had elite players in the past, such as Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar, Rohit Sharma, etc.

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