The achkan originated in India as early as 2nd century B.C as court dress for nobles and royals and was worn as everyday wear until late 20th century by general population and also by the princely states of South Asia. It can be distinguished from the Sherwani through various aspects, particularly the front opening. Achkan traditionally has side-opening tied with strings, while sherwani has straight frontal opening. Achkan was traditionally worn with sash known as patka, kamarband or dora wrapped around the waist to keep the entire costume in place. While sherwani was traditionally worn as decorative outer-coat for special occasions during medieval times. Achkan is always worn with either dhoti or churidar. Achkan is made from various fabrics for both formal and informal occasions, it features traditional embroidery like gota and badla. Today, achkan is commonly worn by the grooms during South Asias wedding ceremonies or other formal festive occasions.
There are various regional variations of achkan worn through out South Asia, and are known by regional names such as Daura in Nepal and Northeast India, Angi in Southern India and Chola or Cholu in Indian Himalayas.