5 Indian Outdoor Games we played as kids

A young boy enjoying his day out.

Since I lived in the same neighbourhood for a major part of my life, I had the same-ish set of friends I used to play ‘Hide and Seek’, ‘Lagori’, ‘Hopscotch’ and other games with. It’s not a common sight to see kids playing outdoors these days though. Most of them are glued to a computer or a mobile screen playing an online game. I’ve had to literally push my daughter out on some days to play outdoor games.

Of late, my husband has been teaching my 5-year-old and her friends in the neighbourhood a few of the Indian games we used to play as kids. And I can tell they’re having a fun time playing these traditional games! Give this blog a read if you’re looking to teach your kids a new and fun game too!

(Also, don’t forget to read the 3 Indian Indoor Games to reminisce from the good old days which is one of the 2 parts of this series for Indian games.)

1. Lagori

‘Lagori’ is one of my favourite games that need only a ball (we used a tennis ball) and 7 flat pieces of stone. All the players are divided into two teams. Each player from both teams gets a chance to throw the ball at the stack of stones.

A pile of stones stacked one on top of the other.

The team that manages to get the tower of stones to tumble down also has to stack it up quickly and avoid getting hit by the ball thrown by the opposing team. If the team manages to stack up the stones, they win and if any of their players are hit, they lose.

2. Goli

‘Goli Gundu’, or ‘Kanchey’ as it is known in the North, can be used to play many games. In one of the games, the players draw a circle and place the marbles towards the centre of the circle. Each player uses the marble he or she has to knock the marbles out the circle. The one who ends with the maximum number of marbles wins!

A boy playing with marbles.

I used to play this game with my cousins. Now when I think back about those days, I realise those were some of the best days of my life!

3. Gili Danda

Gilli Danda’, also known as ‘Chinni Dandu’ in Kannada and ‘Danguli’ in Bengali, seems like an antecedent to cricket and baseball. So the ‘Gilli’ is a short stick that tapers at the ends and the ‘Danda’ is the longer one that is used to hit the ‘Gilli’.  The players are split into two teams – one that “bats” and the other that tries to catch the short stick.

Game tools for a traditional Indian outdoor game.

Basically, you need to use the long stick to flick the shorter one into the air. Each player gets three chances. If the opposing team catches the ‘Gilli’ in the air, they win. If not, the “batsmen” are scored based on the distance the ‘Gilli’ travels.

4. Kho kho

We used to play ‘Kho kho’ as a sport in school and had full-fledged school teams too! This game is also played in two teams. The defending team sits in a row facing opposite directions alternately. Three members of the opposing team enter the field and the defending team has to catch them. Only one member of the defending team can catch the others at a time. In case he needs help, he can tap the back of one of the sitting players saying, ‘Kho!’ and he or she can take his or her place to chase the opposing team members.

Young kids playing kho kho.

5. Hopscotch

All of us know and have played hopscotch. It’s a simple game but loved by many! For the game, you will have to draw 8 boxes using a piece of chalk. Each player will have to throw a pebble on one number at a time and hop along the numbers to bring the pebble back. Simple, right? 

A young boy playing hopscotch.

I hope you’re now motivated to teach your kids one or all of these games soon! Let me know what games you played as a kid, in the comments section below.


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