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History Of Mallakhamb

Mallakhamb (Mal-Khamb in Marathi) is an Indian system of exercise for wrestlers. It is of recent origin and there is no major reference to it in ancient literature. Mallakhamb was invented by one Balambhat-dada Deodhar, a resident of Konkan, Goa.

Balambhat-dada Deodhar was born in a poor Brahmin family in 1780. He came to Pune with his parents, who migrated in search of sustenance. Since his childhood he was deeply interested in doing physical exercises and became a good wrestler in his late teens.

According to a story, Balambhat Deodhar used to practice meditation and once when he was meditating before the Saptasringi temple at Vani near Nasik, he had darshan of Hanuman. Hanuman was pleased with his devotion and taught him the mallakhamb exercises for which the iron pillar in the courtyard of the Devi temple was used. He was ecstatic by the gift from his favorite Bhagavan.

He then started practicing the mallakhamb for which he observed that a wooden pillar would be more convenient. After prolonged practice, he invented some new exercises and started training young people and showing them how it can go a long way in making the body flexible.

His favorite disciple was one Kondabhat Nana Godhoel, who in turn trained Damodar Guru Moghs, and both of them became experts in mallakhamb. It is said that Damodhar Guru Moghs became a champion because he would practice mallakhamb 1600 times a day and wrestle with forty wrestlers every day.

Mallakhamb is a wooden pillar about 6 to 8 feet in height, with a tapering top. It is round in section with a very smooth surface to which castor oil is applied frequently so that the body of the wrestler can slide on it without any difficulty. The pillar is either thick or thin, about 15 to 20 cm in diameter at the base; it is made either of teak or sheesham wood. There are nearly 25 varieties of pillar and 16 different exercises.