Photos and text: Qazi Danish Nazir
I’m from Kashmir and we don’t have akharas there. So I was curious about akharas and planned to visit one with no intention of documenting anything. I went to the Guru Hanuman Akhara in Delhi and stayed there for a week. While interacting with the wrestlers around, one thing that struck me was their approach towards life and their love and respect for the akhara’s soil.
Despite the stiff completion it faces from the modern gyms, the akhara still manages to find many patrons. The Guru Hanuman Akhara is the oldest surviving wrestling school in India. It was established in 1925 and is the breeding ground for top Indian wrestlers. Located in Delhi’s Shakti Nagar, near Roshanarabagh, it has long been considered the epicentre of Indian wrestling. The akhara is said to have produced some acclaimed Indian wrestlers—including the likes if Dara Singh, Guru Satpal, Subhash Verma, Virendra Singh, Sushil Kumar, Yogendra Kumar, Anuj Choudhary, Rajiv Tomer, Anil Mann, Sujit Mann, Naveen and Rakesh Goonja.
The akhara is named after Guru Hanuman, a legendary wrestling coach of India. And at present it trains about 200 wrestlers under the guidance of Maha Singh Rao.