Everyone remembers playing a game of Ludo or Snakes & Ladders be it on a hot summer day or a cool winter evening. These board games that form such a beloved part of our childhood actually take their origins much far behind in history. One such game is Chowka Bhara.
In former princely states like Tripura, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharastra, Tamil Nadu , Kerala and Punjab, Chowka Bhara was a favorite past time. The game uses easily available articles like sea shells, broken bangles and tamarind seeds, broken bangle bits and coins. The players seek to move them across a 5 by 5 square drawn on the board to reach an inner space called “home”. It is played in a squares format on the floor.
Fig: A Chowka Board
Fig:A custom made board
The four player game Each player have four pawns (coins, bangle bits etc) starting at different positions at the four crossed squares at the outermost ring. The rules of game
Chowka Bhara Board-(http://bp1.blogger.com/5D2Wzovowzc/SB2_kwbnjXI/AAAAAAAAAAU/LXU2kY3WVQo/s400/chaukabara-5×5.jpg )
How the game works:
- The board is always kept in the center during the game.
- Each player has a different starting point and initially keeps all his coins there (marked by X on his side).
- Each player takes turn to throw all four cowrie shells on the floor and moves one of his coins according to the number as indicated by the shells.
- Movement of coins is in anti-clockwise direction in outer squares and then in clockwise direction in inner squares as shown by the arrow in the diagram.
- If a player’s coin lands on a square occupied by opponent’s coin. The opponent’s coin is cut and the player gets an extra turn to play.
- The cut coin returns to its starting home square and has to go round all over again.
- The crossed squares (home squares) though, are safe places and no coins present here can be cut.
- When a coin reaches the square left of its home square, it further moves up into the inner squares in clockwise direction. Each coin finishes its race when it manages to get into the innermost crossed square.
- The first player to get all his coins into the innermost square wins the game.
- Whenever a chowka or a bhara (four or eight) is got during a throw of cowrie shells, the player gets a bonus turn to throw the cowries.
- When a player cuts opponent’s coin, he gets an extra turn to play.
- During an extra turn, either the same coin or some other coin can be played.
This ‘Game of Chance’ finds relevance in mythology Mahabharata. Evidently,in two or four player format this game involves an element of chance by the roll of special dice and an element of strategy .
The Chowka Bhara board game is still played to improve the counting skills of the children . As important aspect of personality development, it was used to teach kids war tactics and strategies as well as eye-to-hand coordination in earlier time.
Want to try this game now? Check out the ‘ Store’ section to buy Chowka Bhara at Nazariya.