Stunning photo series explores the 3000-year-old Indian tradition of Kushti in India’s oldest Akhada

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19-year-old Athul Prasad, Photo Intern at Condé Nast Traveller India shared a series of photographs on his Facebook page, Timescape Photography.

Chinchechi Talim, Shukrawar Peth, Pune is India’s oldest existing akhada practicing the 3000 year old Indian tradition of mud wrestling known as Kushti.
Exploring Kushti at India's oldest Akhada (2)

After their early training routine which starts at 5 AM, the wrestlers proceed for their common breakfast prepared by themselves. They have boiled eggs, lassi, sheera halwa, badam thandai, milk and fruits in the morning.

Exploring Kushti at India's oldest Akhada (3)

Exploring Kushti at India's oldest Akhada (4)

A kushti wrestler goes through a rigorous regime of exercise and diet to build their body. The process is expensive as well with a cost of 75,000 to a lakh per month for a pehlawan preparing for international competitions.

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He slaps the mitti or mud on his body to keep himself cool during the kushti. The mitti is mixed with milk, oil, haldi, lemon, curd, ghee etc for its health and antiseptic properties. Water is put on the mud for three to four days to moisten the mud and make it heavy so that it doesn’t fly during the kushti match.

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As far as the mud is concerned, it is treated by the pehlawan like god. They believe that practicing on a mud akhada as opposed to a mattress develops a wrestler’s kushti skills better. Sadly, the Wrestling Federation of the country has banned mitti fights for better preparation for international fights that are fought on mattresses.

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All images are sourced from Timescape Photography which belongs to Athul Prasad. To see the entire series with details, click here.

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