Background In India, fall-related injury morbidity and mortality is an emerging public health problem in older people. Despite awareness of a growing burden, there is a scarcity of literature on effective and acceptable interventions. This study was undertaken to explore the perceptions of older people regarding the risk of falls and understanding of fall prevention programmes. Methods We conducted six focus group discussions (FGDs), comprising single gender for three socio-demographic groups in a north Indian city, Chandigarh, in 2011. FGDs were conducted in local language (Punjabi), recorded, transcribed and translated in English. Two researchers independently conducted thematic analysis. Results Focus group participants were aware of the devastating consequences of fall-related injuries. The predominant reasons for explaining an increased risk of falling was age, uneven surfaces, physical weakness and mental health. There were several other competing health priorities in this population. Preventive measures ranging from individual to government level initiatives were suggested. The experience, knowledge, perceptions and health priorities were diverse among the three socio-demographic groups. However, the feasibility, acceptability and effectiveness for improving balance and strength using yoga in this population needs to be evaluated. Conclusions Careful consideration of health priorities is required for development of falls prevention, particularly among the urban poor. Further, initiatives that foster community engagement, such as participatory action may increase acceptability of initiatives to prevent fall-related injury among older people in India.