Throughout the various ages of India's history there has been a growth of interest in Physical Culture. As far back as the 1100s there were detailed descriptions of diet, training & lifestyle for the more famous proponents. Weightlifting was achieved using stone and sacks of sand. Press-ups and squats were common exercises. By the 1500s Bodybuilding had become a national passion.

One of the most popular forms of weight that was used through the centuries was the Nal, made of rough stone with a hole through the centre and very often with a handle.

It is often considered that the British Rule in India started a period of decline in Physical Culture and general health amongst the Indian population.

In 1905 there was a revival of interest, mainly in strand pulling. This was due to a great extent to Sandow's highly successful visit to India in 1904.

Muscle Control was introduced to India in the 1920s by Chit Tun, a Burmese man who settled in Calcutta.

Despite the influence of Sandow and others 'Western' style bodybuilding did not take off in a big way until the 1930s. The most important instructor at that time being Prof. K.V. Iyer who founded the Hercules Gymnasium in Bangalore. He also started India's first postal course in Bodybuilding.

B.C. Ghosh credits Chit Tun with inspiring him to take up Muscle Control and he and his partner K.C. Sen Gupta opened a Gymnasium in Calcutta in the 1930s. Ghosh & Sengupta were credited with the early training of both Monotosh Roy and Monohar Aich, both World Class bodybuilders in the 50s.

The Encyclopedia of Indian Physical Culture

Extracts from the book depicting and describing the Nal (Stone Dumb-Bell), the Sumtola (Indian Barbell), Stone Ball Lifting, Stone Wheels, the Ekka & Karela (Heavy Clubs) and the Gada (Mace) plus exercises! A fascinating insight into traditional Indian Bodybuilding methods.

Contributed by Vinaya Kumar

Thanks to Martin Kisis this book (all 734 pages of it - less a few that are missing) is now available to download as a PDF file. It is an archive copy so the picture quality is not perfect - but the text is fine. Download here

Barbell Exercises
by Chit Tun

Burmese by birth but living in Calcutta, Chit Tun was a noted Indian Muscle Controller in the early part of the last century.

Contributed by
Vinaya Kumar

Muscle Control & Barbell Exercise
by Ghosh & Sen Gupta

a rare, well illustrated book published in Calcutta in 1930

Contributed by
Vinaya Kumar

Download as

Professor K.V. Iyer

Books from the 1930s and
a picture Gallery

Contributed by
Vinaya Kumar

Muscle Building in Six Months
Swama Shivanand Teerth

Extremely rare publication issued circa 1940 in Bombay

The reproduction is very poor quality, in particular the photographs

Contributed by
Ron Tyrrell

by Ramesh Balsekar

Published in 1940

Part physique 'art' photos
and part exercises with a distinct Yoga bias

Contributed by
Gil Waldron

Prof. J. Chandrashekhar

Demonstrating the Isolation of the Abdominal Tendons - considered to be one of the hardest Muscle Controls
to master.
Photos Feb 1954

Contributed by Tony Holland

Monohar Aich
Mr. Universe 1952

Magazine articles, plenty of photos in a gallery and a fascinating account by Vinaya Kumar, with personal photos, of a meeting with Monohar in 2001

Monotosh Roy

1917 - 2005



Website & Contents Copyright © 2000 - 2011 Roger Fillary & Gil Waldron