Mysore Grapplers

Originally published in the New Indian Express, Bangalore - August 2008

Grappling with history in Mysore akhadas

Wodeyars and wrestling are synonymous with the city of Mysore. Hence we wemt looking for the famous centers of Nada Kusti in Mysore and we found them at six in the morning as Ashoka Road is rubbing sleep off its eyes. The chaiwala handing out tea and newspaper from his little 'hole-in-the-wall' shop to first shift autowallas, the scrap dealer weighing junk on rusty weighing scales, the milkman having set up his makeshift retail point where the narrow inside gullies meet; uneven gullies lined with antiquated houses and curious onlookers. We are there to meet Pehalwan Chhota Rafiq at his hundred-year-old kushti akhara, called a guaradi in Mysore.


We are led to an ordinary looking building -- low on maintenance, with broken tinted glass, stained white walls and chipped off paint, announcing over the entrance door 'Mohammad Khan Divan Khan Taleem' in Urdu. It doesn't seem a century old, that is until we are ushered in by our host. A low voltage tube light barely manages to light up the inside till the sun takes over -- the thin layer of dark red mud, the rusted traditional 'stone n steel' weights alongside dumbbells and other modern equipment, and walls smeared with red mud and sweat. A young brigade of wrestlers have lined up ritualistically for their morning bouts of Nada Kusti, their lean bodies covered with a minimal saffron loincloth. The practice began.

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Grappling with history in Mysore akhadas

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Grappling with history in Mysore akhadas

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Grappling with history in Mysore akhadas


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Grappling with history in Mysore akhadas


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11 comments:

chaipatti said...

Really nice. I like the grit on his his face (2).

Javits said...

Nice set of photographs. Before I read your post I thought this had to do with Kalarippayattu and Verumkai.

Sebastian said...

Your first photo is the best one. The others are not bad either but I wonder why you cut off arms and legs just by a bit in all the numbered photos ..

Ken Conger Photography said...

Interesting blog with great photos!

El said...

aaand you're back! high time too, freaky but I've been thinking about mysore a LOT lately.

El said...

aaand you're back! high time too, freaky but I've been thinking about mysore a LOT lately.

harish said...

nice photos....wich camera do you use?
and the write up accompanying the pics was great...

will be back again... :-)

ms cute pants said...

You've been awarded!!!

Shashikiran Mullur said...

Incredible pictures!
Happy to blogroll you; if you have no objections.

nick said...

Why they didn't formal suit when their boxing?

India Unlimited said...

Beautiful pictures, so righly labelled as a photo essay.
Meanwhile, I know this is going to sound a lil off-topic-bordering-on-creepy, but I wonder why, but most Indians have a darker skin at the perineal area and also the axillary region...hmmmm,Food for thought.