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History of polo in India

Polo is Perhaps the most ancient of games, When history was a legend, we find polo flourishing. Twelve hundered years ago the persians were playing it, and the Chinese maintain that their ancestors played it thousands of years ago.
Polo can be called an indigenous game of this country, as it has been played in India for centuries, and has produced some of the finest players in the world, whose names have become a household word to all sport-lovers.
Originally Polo was played in Gilgit, Chitral and Manipur in India. The game flourished during the Moghul period, and was a popular sport with the Emperors,who called it "Chougan" . Emperor Akbar, who made it popular in Agra, which was then the capital, was the first of the Moghuls, to introduce certain rules and regulations for this game.

There is evidence on record to show that with the advent of the British Army in India, Polo in its present form was introduced by the officers of a British Cavalry Regiment stationed in the country in the seventies of the last century. Polo was then played on small ponies, as a result of which the game was not of high speed. After world War - I, international rules were framed, which all countries accepted and now it is played under those rules, everywhere.

Miniature Painting of Rajput Princesses playing "Chougan"(Polo), during the medievial period.
Polo thrived under the Patronage of the Mughal Emperors and Rajput Kings.

The Indian Polo Association was formed in the year 1892, a time when there were many clubs, patronized and endorsed by the princes of modern India. Among the most prominent teams were those of Jaipur, Alwar, Bhopal, Bikaner, Hyderabad, Patiala, Jodhpur, Kishangarh and Kashmir were some of the prominent ones.Some of the well - known army teams were those of the Indian and British cavalry Regiments,e.g. : The 15th Lancers, The Central India Horse, and the P.A.V.O. Cavalry. The Inniskilling Dragon Guards, The 17/21st Lancers, The 10th Royal Hussars. In the early years of the last century the greatest contribution towards raising the standard of the game came from Rajputs & Sikhs. Superb horsemen, the members of these teams were also noted for excellence of their stick-work and horse control .

One of the Early Royal teams with the Cup

In 1933, the famous Jaipur Team established a unique and an unbeaten record till date, by winning all the open tournaments in the United Kingdom and the Indian Championship successively from the year 1930 to 1938.

The Invincibles!!!

With the interruption caused by the Second World War, and the mechanization of the Cavalry regiments, the game suffered a severe set back in the 1940's. So,in the Indian context, the whole burden of reviving Polo and maintaining the grounds fell on the Indian Polo Association. It was considered that the best way to popularize the game and to revive it , was to invite a foreign team, which would play exhibition matches at different places across the country. In 1950, the Argentine Polo team was invited to come and take part in our tournaments in Jaipur, Delhi and Bombay, and we also staged exhibition matches- Argentine versus India. In 1955, the Pakistan Army Polo team was invited in the same series of events. Both these visits were of great significance to Polo in our country and the game was once again put on the map. As a result Jaipur, Delhi, Calcutta and Bombay started holding tournaments. In this Calcutta took the lead, Polo being a popular game with the sports-loving people of Bengal.

Capt. Azmat Khan, Brig. M.M.A. Baig, Maj. Gen. Nawabzada Sher Ali, Gen. Mohammad Yusuf Khan, Dr. Rajendra Prasad H.E.President of India, His Highness Maharaja of Jaipur, Kr. Hari Singh, Capt. Kishan Singh and Capt. T.N.Katkar

In the year 1957, India sent an official polo team to take part in the World Championships in France comprising of Major Kishan Singh, Kr. Bijay Singh, Rao Raja Hanut Singh and H.H. Maharaja of Jaipur. India won, beating all other combinations which included many great players from England, Argentina, Spain, Mexico and France. In 1956, after a lapse of 17 years, owing to the II World War, the Indian Polo Championship was revived and has since been played regularly at Calcutta/Delhi.

Polo is a game of ATTITUDE!!


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