Kushti is the traditional Indian mud wrestling sport. Usually, it is practiced in a place called ‘Akhada.’ It is also known as Pehlwani, and the person referred to as Pehlwan. Kusthi Akhada is known as ‘Garadi Mane’ in Bengaluru, Karnataka. Akhada is a place for practicing Indian wrestling; in other words, the school of wrestling where a strict regimen of diet, training, and personal life is followed. The person who trains Pehlwan is called ‘Ustad.’ Indian Pehlwan lives under some rigid set of rules made by his trainer. Kushti has been a popular sport since ancient times in India. Wrestling in Ancient India was most famously known as ‘Malla- Yuddha.’ According to Indian epics, Mahabharata and Ramayana have great wrestlers such as Bhima, Duryodhana, Karna, and Hanuman, respectively. Gardi mane is a place where local wrestlers practice their sport and exercise. Every day, Pehlwans have to dig up red soil on the floor of the workout area and level it again. It is a kind of warm-up routine for them. Garadi mane’s exercises are more functional and build immense stamina, which is useful in gripping the opponent during wrestling.
India had and still has great wrestlers. In 1962, India won 12 medals in the fourth Asian Games in freestyle wrestling. Indian wrestling titles are the ‘Rostam of India,’ ‘Rustam-E-Hind,’ ‘Bharat-Kesari,’ and ‘Hind Kesari.’ Over the centuries, this Indian form of wrestling is continued in India. During ancient times wrestling was the way to keep oneself physically fit. Gardi mane is not just a place to a ton a body, but here Pehlwans from all religions trained, practice together on one wrestling pit. Ustad trains them for building strength and improving wrestling skills. In the modern era, wrestling has different names and styles of playing in different parts of the world. A special kind of red soil is replaced with mats and some new techniques. But the traditional and old style of Kusthi is popular in rural India. India has hosted the world wrestling championships. India has won titles in Commonwealth Games held in Jamaica. Nowadays, very few Akhada’s or Gardi mane are remaining in India, where some dedicated people are still working to keep alive Indian wrestling. Like that, one of the city’s oldest Kushti Akhada in the Shivajinagar called ‘Ahmed Hussain Todewala Garadi Mane.’
Amosan Pehlwan started this Garadi Mane in the year 1910 in Bengaluru. The 110-year-old Akhada is a place where many generations of wrestlers from the same family have been training. Giving training free of cost is a tradition followed here by all Ustads. There is less or no support from the government, and the local Akhadas have to manage on their own. Ansar Pehlwan has wrestled for over 40 years, and he wants to keep the spirit of these physical workouts alive, and hopes that it will become mainstream once again. Many interested wrestlers are being trained here right from the school going students to the senior citizens who do Kushti.