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Journey of polo in Jaipur (Rajasthan)

Jaipur is the home of Indian Polo. The late H.H. Maharaja Sawai Man Singh - II of Jaipur's patronage of India Polo was so great in the 1950 & 60's that Indian Polo and its players were famous all over the world. Added to this the glamour of the Jaipur Royal family which has made Jaipur synonymous with Polo and all that it stands for, the world over.

Polo ! The very name conjures vision of aristocracy and excellence, of style and rare athletic prowess. Polo is a game that signifies power, adventure, beauty, elegance, graceful team work, class and above all - Tradition. Among the world's most ancient sports, Polo is not less than a religion in India. For a game,that is as "Exclusive as Elusive" ,Jaipur is a natural home of polo, in India.

A Rare Self Autographed Picture of the Early Polo Greats

Since the days of Emperor Akbar it has been the Indian Maharajas that have given this game its Royal Tradition.The history of Polo in Indian is full of proud achievements. Rajasthan is famous for its immortal legends of patriotism, sacrifice and glorious traditions of valour.Since 1887, this fascinating game has been greatly influenced by the traditions of Rajasthan. It is a matter of pride, that most of the high handicap players produced in India have been from Rajasthan.

From 1887 to 1901, the Jodhpur Team which comprised of His Highness Sir Pratap Singh, Thakur Dhonkal Singh, Capt. S. Beatson and Thakur Hari Singh, dominated the Polo scene in India.After a short spell, the Alwar team regained supremacy and in 1902 won the "King Edward's Darbar Tournament" in Delhi. This famous team included His Highness of Alwar, Motilal, Capt. Ricketts and Rao Raja Amar Singh.Somehow, after this success, the team never played together again.
Tradition, you see!
The Kishangarh Team took the lead from the year 1905 for about three years.An unfortunate mishap deprived them of greater glory in the tournaments held on the occasion of King George's Darbar in Delhi in 1911. Motilal, the famous player from Alwar, playing for this team was knocked over in the final match by a foul at a critical stage of the game when the Kishangarh Team was leading by three goals, giving a ,not so deserving, one goal victory to the Inskilling Dragon Guards.At that time the Kishangarh Team comprised of His Highness of Kishangarh, Maharaj Ratan Singh, Motilal and Thakur Banay Singh.
With the outbreak of the First World War, Polo in Rajasthan, received a temporary setback. In 1919, Rajathan lost the Polo Crown for three consecutive years to the Patiala Team which consisted of Major Jaswant Singh, Colonel Joginder Singh, Captain Thakur Singh and General Chanda Singh.

Indian Polo Championship, 1957

Kr. Bijey Singh, H.H. Maharaja of Jaipur, The Maharani of Jaipur, Rao Raja Hanut Singh,Kr. Hari Singh.
Prince of Wales visited India,to attend a tournament held in early 1922.The Jodhpur Team With Rao Raja Hanut Singh, Thakur Prithi Singh, Thakur Dalpat Singh and Thakur Ram Singh scored over the famous Patiala Team by seven goals to six after being down at 1- 4 uptill half time. This was a real achievement for these young players and they kept up the lead in the game till the year 1926.
For about three years from 1927, the Bhopal Team took the lead with H.H. the Nawab of Bhopal, Thakur Prithi Singh, Capt. D. Hay and Rao Raja Hanut Singh in the saddle. In 1930, the famous Jaipur Team once again rose to glory and gained supremacy to hold the Crown for nine consecutive years, and would have proabably done so for many years more but for the Second World War. The Jaipur Polo Team has been on top in National Championships longer than any other team in the history of World Polo. In the year 1933, the Jaipur Team toured the United Kingdom and returned with flying colours and an invincible record having won the Open Championship and other cups at Hurlingham, Ranelagh and Roehampton. Once again it was proved that this team which comprised of the world renowned players - His Highness the Maharaja of Jaipur, Maharaj Prithi Singh, Rao Raja Abhey Singh and Rao Raja Hanut Singh, was the most convincing team of all times. Its monumental performance in Calcutta during the semi-finals of the Indian Polo Championship Tournament of 1936 consummated polo performance and will go down in history in letters of Gold. The Team came out for the last 'Chukkar' 5 goals down but went on to win the match by 1 goal having hit 6 goals in 7 and a 1/2 minutes against a 31 goal team.

Capt.,P.K. Mehra,H.H. Maharaja of Jaipur, Her Highness Maharani of Jaipur, Lt. Col. Th. Govind Singh, Lt. V.P. Singh

In 1957, Capt. Kishan Singh , Capt. Bijay Singh, Rao Raja Hanut Singh and Maharaja of Jaipur forming the Indian Polo Team won fresh laurels for Jaipur by winning the world championship.
No account of Polo in Jaipur,Rajasthan, would be complete without a reference to the Rajputana Polo Club, which was formed in the year 1901, with the support of the various Rajputana States. On the formation of the State of "Rajasthan" in 1949, this Club was redesignated "Rajasthan Polo Club" and its headquarters shifted from Mt. Abu to Jaipur. The club continues to flourish with the munificence of the State under the Presidentship of the present His Highness Maharaja Sawai Bhawani Singh Ji of Jaipur.

His Highness Maharaja Sawai Bhawani Singh Ji of Jaipur continued the endorsement of the game and headed a number of polo teams which won a lot of tournaments in India and other foriegn countries.His Highness Maharaja Sawai Bhawani Singh Ji of Jaipur has immortalised the Royal family's relation with Polo by introducing the World cup,called "The Jaipur World Cup Trophy".His Highness Maharaja Sawai Bhawani Singh Ji of Jaipur,was also instrumental in the formation of Federation of International Polo(FIP) in 1982.He also happens to be a life time honorary FIP ambassador for INDIA and is a lifetime Vice-President of Indian Polo association.

Commitment of the generations of Royal family to the game.

Late His Highness Maharaja Sawai Man Singh Ji of Jaipur with his son His Highness Maharaja Sawai Bhawani Singh Ji of Jaipur.

Interestingly, Maharaj Narendra Singh ,the son-in-law of His Highness Maharaja Sawai Bhawani Singh Ji of Jaipur,sat on the horse back for the first time on the occassion of his wedding with Princess Diya Kumari of Jaipur in 1997.In order to be able to continue the family tradition ,he learnt riding at the age of 31(Year 2003) and held the polo stick for the first time at age 32(Year 2004) and thereafter there was no looking back ,he has become a name to reckon with in the polo world in a very short span of time.He is a 0 handicap player as on date.He has lead the Royal Jaipur polo team to Germany, Italy and played extensively around the world. He is presently the FIP ambassador from India.

 

 

This tradition has been upheld to this day, through continued patronage of the game by the people of Jaipur, who have a special place in their hearts, for Polo. It is not un-common to have a crowd of 20 thousand people watching the finals of a high goal tournament in Jaipur.

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