Unlike some of Bollywood’s biggest heroes, great bodies can be built without the help of steroids and without enrolling into expensive gyms. Delhi has many akharas — wrestling-training camps where men shape up their bodies in the old fashioned way — hard work and healthy food.
At Sanjay akhara at Majnu ka Tila, dumbbell meets the dand-baithak and rugby meets Rohtak. Most boys here are from Haryana, but presently they are full-time residents of the akhara, which was set up by international wrestler Sanjay Kumar in 1992. In the morning, they warm up by playing, not football, but rugby, called ‘ten-touch’ in the local lingo. They run around the ground, seemingly unconscious of the beauty of their rippling muscles and steely chests (Sorry girls, you are not allowed).
Nestled within a grove of trees, the daily life in the akhara start at 4 am. The drill: a 7 km run, playing, practising kushti (wrestling), drinking doodh badaam (milk boiled with grated almonds), cooking, eating, sleeping away the afternoon… and then more kushti. More food, no steroids. The akhara consumes 150 litres of milk daily and 60 kilos of badaam each month. The boys’ rooms smell of ghee.
All this milk and cream is converted into kinetic energy that burst out daily into dhaak dhaon and hathi chinghar moves on the dangal (mud pit). The lumps of earth there are soft and cool. The boys (dressed in nothing but a langot) rub it on each other’s well-oiled bodies for a less-slippery grip. To win, the rival must be made to fall flat on his back. The move is called patki. Twist him, pick him, fling him, ram into him or lay on him till he’s exhausted.
Where: Near the Gurudwara at Majnu ka Tila;
Closest metro station: Kashmere Gate