Ludo is a classic board game played for centuries by people of all ages. The game we call Ludo was patented by Alfred Collier in England in 1896. However, its origin traces back to a dice game called Chaupar, played by Indian maharajas. In fact, people played different variants of Ludo in India for centuries at family gatherings and festivals.
Ludo is now famous worldwide due to its simplicity and unpredictable twists and turns (i.e., winners can easily become losers and vice versa).
This article traces the timeline of Ludo’s invention and highlights unknown and fascinating facts about the history of Ludo in India. So, let’s get started.
Ludo India History
The Mahabharata, the great Indian epic, is the earliest source of information on the Ludo invention. A dice game, Chaupar, was played between the families of two famous kings, King Duryodhan and Yudhishthir, to resolve a conflict.
During this game, the righteous Pandavas lost the game and their entire fortune to the devious Kauravas. Since then, many people have accused this intelligent game of causing pain and suffering.
Ludo, from mythology to history, popped up everywhere and was extremely popular in ancient and medieval India. Historians claim that some references to the use of cubical dice have been found in Harappan sites such as Harappa, Mohenjodaro, and Lothal, dating back to the second millennium B.C. In the early literary sources, such as the ‘Rig-Veda’ and ‘Atharva Veda,’ there are references to the use of dice.
References to Ludo game
- According to historical records, Ludo was invented in India in the 6th century C.E. from a game called Pachisi. It went by several names, including Chaupar, Chausar, Parcheesi, and others.
- The earliest visual reference to the game was carved in one of the most adorned caves of Ellora, built between the 6th and 8th centuries C.E.
- In the first description of the Ludo game, historian Abul Fazl claims that Chaupar or Pachisi, a version of the game, was central to the court and palaces of Mughal Emperor Akbar in Agra and Fatehpur Sikri in the 16th century.
The name “Ludo” origin
With the advent of colonial powers, the game of Chaupar or Pachisi began to appear and spread in all parts of the world. In 1896, a simplified version of Pachisi was published in England under the name Ludo (Latin for “I play”), a game that has been popular in that country ever since.
An Englishman named Alfred Collier modified Pachisi and filed a patent in 1896 in England, affirming that he invented a board game called the Royal Ludo. After a few months, Collier’s patent was approved, and he was granted full commercial rights to the game, preventing others from replicating it. Since then, ‘Collier’s Ludo boards and its ‘rules leaflet’ have been sold worldwide, bearing the patent number 14636.
Collier’s invention included cubical dice with a cup, and tokens, both of which are still in use today. The Royal Navy later adopted Ludo and transformed it into the board game Uckers.
Ludo game variations
Let’s look at the numerous variations of the game since the invention of Ludo.
- The Indian Pachisi
- The British Uckers
- The German Brändi Dog
- The Chinese Aeroplane Chess
- The Spanish Parchís
- The Swiss Eile mit Weile
- The Colombian Parques
- The Vietnamese Cờ cá ngựa
There are several more interesting facts about the Ludo game.
How was Ludo played in ancient times?
According to ancient sources, the game of Chaupar or Chausar (the predecessor to Ludo) was played with quaternary lots in the form of long dice, which were three in number. The board was made of wool or cloth in the shape of a cross and had sixteen wood pieces. This game was typically played by four players divided into two teams. It became the primary source of entertainment for the royal court in the 17th century.
However, Pachisi (also known as Twenty-Five) was played without long (stick) dice; instead, people used cowry shells to play the game. As a result, Pachisi is frequently referred to as the “poor man’s Chaupar.”
Ancient dice in Ludo
Cubical dice were evidently common in the Indus Valley (Harappan) sites around 2300 B.C., with oblong dice slightly more common. However, these were generally rectangular, occasionally triangular, and numbered in various ways. For example, all sides could be marked differently, or two sides could be marked similarly.
During the 16th century, Mughal emperor Akbar played Chaupar on grand courts made of inlaid marble. The court is divided into red and white squares, the board, and an enormous four-foot-high dais, representing the central point. Akbar would sit at the center with the red and white squares around him, and 16 beautiful women from the harem would move around according to his commands. It is said that Akbar loved the game so much that he used people instead of shells or cowry to play it.
Who invented Ludo?
Ludo is one of the oldest board games known to man, with the history of Ludo dating back to ancient India. The game has undergone many changes over the centuries, with different cultures and regions putting their spin on the classic game.
In recent years, the game has become even more popular thanks to digital versions that allow us to play Ludo online. Today, many different versions of Ludo are available as mobile apps or on online platforms like Zupee’s Ludo Supreme, Ludo Ninja, and Ludo Turbo, each with its own unique set of rules and regulations.
Regardless of the three Zupee Ludo versions you play, the game’s goal remains the same – to be race tokens to reach the finish line, according to the dice roll. With its simple rules and easy-to-understand online gameplay, it’s no wonder Ludo continues to be one of the most popular board games in the world.
Indian Ludo – FAQs
Ludo is a strategy-based board game played between two to four players on a square board, in which the players compete to get all of their pieces around the board and into the centre. The first player to do so wins the game. To learn more about the Ludo game rules, check out this article.
Ludo is thought to be a derivative of an ancient Indian game called Pachisi. Pachisi is mentioned in ancient texts dating back to the 6th century, and the game of ludo may have evolved from this ancient game.
Ludo has been around for centuries and is thought to have originated in India over 2000 years ago. The game has undergone many changes, but the basic rules and gameplay remain the same.
Ludo became increasingly popular in India thanks to its simple rules, easy-to-learn gameplay, does not require a lot of equipment or space, and can be played by people of all ages. The popularity of ludo has also been boosted with mobile gaming, as we can easily play ludo on smartphones anytime and anywhere.