8 Tips for Better Photography at Kila Raipur Rural Olympics

Kila Raipur Rural Olympics rose to fame after Aamir Khan’s movie Dangal was shot here. Kila Raipur is located near Ludhiana and is the home to the famous rural Olympics where sports get as bizarre as one can imagine them to be.

The concept of Rural Olympics is very interesting and is still a lesser known event in India. Photographers from Delhi, Chandigarh and other nearby places visit Kila Raipur to click these sports activities and portraits of Sikh Gatka warriors displaying their skills.

Clicking good photos at Kila Raipur Rural Olympics is a tricky task as a lot of factors can play spoilsport during the event. This small photography guide for Kila Raipur Rural Olympics is a collection of insights from my visits in 2017 and 2018.

Reach early or a little late


Being one of the offbeat places in Punjab, Kila Raipur will win your heart with its natural setting. But this festival has a certain time when you are guaranteed to get a good shot. The problem is that when the festival starts around 10 AM, the venue gets extra crowded with both visitors and other photographers. So either you reach early, enter the ground and fix a spot for yourself or reach around 12 PM when the crowd will be relatively lesser.

Stand where other photographers are standing


It is a wise idea to stand where other photographers are standing or sitting. This will help you to get shots of events happening at Kila Raipur Rural Olympics in a much clearer way and you will avoid clicking pictures of the other photographers on the other side.

Be ready to run… A lot

Yes, Kila Raipur’s venue is a large stadium where photographers are allowed to enter if they promise to behave and not disturb the participants. The ground is huge and often two or three activities are happening at the same time. So you should make sure that you have your running shoes on so that you can be (almost) everywhere at the same time without missing much.

Keep safe distance from the action


Certain events at Kila Raipur can get as aggressive and dangerous as possible. The Gatka performances, Horse races and even kabaddi and hockey can seriously injure an unsuspecting witness if they get in the way. Make sure that you are away from the point of action and have made a safe distance for yourself. Certain things can always get out of control so you need to stay vigilant.

Focus on the activities rather than sports

tug-o-war kila raipur

Sports like hockey and kabaddi don’t give you much to click unless you have one of those superzoom lenses and want to make portraits. For me, clicking them is just a waste of time. You should make sure that you are done with them as soon as possible so that you can focus on other activities happening on the ground. Gatka Warriors come and go, dancers will be around and it is a fine time to click photos of the locals of the pind.

Dancers happily pose for you


The traditional Bhangra performers at Kila Raipur Sports festival are a favourite for those who like to make portraits. Their colourful attire and happy faces prove really awesome for photographers. More than this, they happily pose for you if they are free.

You’ll have to adjust shutter speed more than often

I believe that Kila Raipur Festival can be shot using auto mode because it happens in a large open ground, those who prefer manual will have to constantly adjust shutter speed. The sun keeps coming out and hiding making it difficult to click photos in an organized way. So you should be really quick with the settings especially after 2 PM.

Visit only for two days

Kila Raipur Sports Festival dates and duration are always kept between Friday and Sunday. It is easy to make the best out of first two days or last two days of the festival. I would recommend avoiding the opening day of Kila Raipur Sports festival as there are inaugurations and guests coming and leaving. But then Sunday is the most crowded so you need to decide what suits you the best.

What to pack for Kila Raipur Sports Festival


If you are going to attend Kila Raipur Sports festival then you should be properly prepared. Among the must pack list, you should not miss –

  • Running shoes
  • Pullover or sweatshirt
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Neutral Density filters

Basic information about Kila Raipur Rural Oympics

Kila Raipur travelogue

Kila Raipur rural Olympics is organized near Ludhiana. This is a small village located 2 hours from the city. One can catch a local bus that will drop you nearby.

How to reach venue of Kila Raipur Rural Olympics

Kila Raipur sport events

The nearest city to Kila Raipur is Dehlon. You will need to go to the bus stand and see the conductors shouting Dehlon or Dhello. The bus will drop you at Dehlon from where you’ll have to catch another bus or auto rikshaw for Kila Raipur. The autos drop on the highway from where you will need to walk towards the festival ground for good 15 minutes.

Where to stay during Kila Raipur rural Olympics

Ludhiana is the nearest city from Kila Raipur so if you are looking for nice, comfortable stays then the city is perfect for you. Otherwise, you can also find some basic guesthouse in Dehlon which will keep you closer to the event area.

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This Post Has 20 Comments

  1. Isabelle Frater

    It sounds like a cool event! I’m used to taking pictures at belly dancing events, as I was a dancer myself. I think the biggest mistake some photographers do is focus too much on one body part. You often get pictures of the stomachs of belly dancers, ignoring the rest of the body. Not to mention cameramen!
    On another note, such events are so great! Reminds me of the Highland Olympics that is also on my bucket list. It’s sad that we don’t have anything like that in my country. Tourism is so ignored here, when it’s an up-and-coming industry.

  2. Taryn

    Wow! I have never heard of this event, but I love Indian garb and how everything is done in style and with the most elegance. I’ll bet this would be a real treat to witness, as the concept seems so unique.

  3. thetripwishlist

    Wow! I have never heard of this event, but I love Indian garb and how everything is done in style and with the most elegance. I’ll bet this would be a real treat to witness, as the concept seems so unique!

  4. Laurence

    Nice! I must say that you really captured the moment and actions. That’s one tricky thing to take a picture or moving object. Great tips!

  5. Amy Chung

    What a wonderful experience this is! So many things to see which I have never been exposed to before. Is that a donkey/cart race? Love the Gatka performance with their precision in their traditional wear. Gosh and those metal ball things the warrior is swinging around simultaneously! So scary! I really must try and see this Olympic event for myself one day.

  6. Arunima Dey

    Fantastic tips complimented by great pictures. I am actually not a photographer but I really enjoyed learning about the rural olympics from your post. Gatka martial art looks intense.

  7. This is amazing – I’ve never heard of this event! It looks like from a great Indian movie. Very impressive and if I ever go to India, I hope to be able to attend these super-cool Olympics. Thanx for the inspiration.

  8. Alex Trembath

    I hadn’t heard of this event before reading this. It looks like so much fun! As an aspiring travel photographer myself, it was very interesting to read your tips, as they will apply in a lot of other situations too. Very helpful – thank you!

    1. ansh997x

      Yes. It is a lot fun if you go as a spectator and do not want to click anything.

  9. Anisha

    I love photography and I have enjoyed your post. Also, the pictures have come out so well. Keep it up. I have never heard of this event. So, glad I read about it.

  10. Claire

    Your pictures are truly stunning, the effort and passion of the people playing sports is extremely well translated in these!

  11. Paul Healy

    Some great tips here and it looks like a really cool event. I like the one about standing where other photographers are standing. I always look at what other people are shooting / where they’re shooting from to see if they have some good ideas.

  12. What a neat event to participate in or just be a spectator. Some really interesting and different events. Fantastic tips on getting those perfect action photos too!

    1. ansh997x

      It is indeed a photographers delight.

  13. Esther Namugerwa

    These are great photography tips to pick from someone who took amazing photos. I like the one of “stand where other photographers are”, chances are high that if almost all photographers are in one spot, it must be the best spot to take photos from. And aside from these tips, the sports festival seems really fun and competitive.