Polo Sports in Rajasthan India
The sport of polo had its beginnings in India, in the state of Manipur. Rajasthans princely kingdoms adopted the sport and made it their own, with their natural proclivity for riding. Kingdoms kept special stables for polo ponies, and their teams included among the very best in the world. Very often, the players were the rulers and members of their families, though their armies also encouraged the sport. In the zenanas, even the women of the royal family were encouraged to play polo, and proved themselves adept at it. In fact, if the sport has a presence in the country today, it is because the former royal families have continued to provide encouragement for it, and the Indian Army has been able to contribute its mite to it. In recent years, corporate sponsorship too has been able to make a contribution to the sport.
The Jaipurs were a formidable polo playing family, and the last
maharaja of the state literally died with his spurs on, on a polo
field. With the glamour of the game, they drew international publicity
for India, and the sport has remained one of the most prominent in the
elite social circuit. Along with Jaipur, there are also formidable
polo teams in Jodhpur and Udaipur, while the 61st Cavalry, also based
in Jaipur, has kept it alive in the army.
It is not possible to simply arrive and start playing polo, since the sport needs especially bred horses in large numbers. These are largely maintained by the players themselves, or with the help of their sponsors. You will therefore have to seek out an invitation to play, something you are best advised to do in advance. However, it is possible to send in a special request while planning your trip to Rajasthan, especially if you are a group with polo-playing members. This is important because, in season, when the game is played (September-March), the polo teams are often out (in Delhi, Calcutta or Mumbai) on the circuit, or may even be playing overseas. Of course, there is also the chance of having visiting teams in Rajasthan coinciding with the time of your visit. Even if you do not get the chance to play, there is every chance of being able to watch the sport as an observer which is almost as good as playing. There is something extremely satisfying about watching men on their horses as they pursue the ball with their sticks with skill and adroitness.
At various tourist festivals in the state, camel polo has been introduced as a friendly, competitive sport. Perhaps the only place in the world where it is played, the game provides a great deal of amusement and mirth, but is not yet a serious pursuit. If you would like to have a game especially organised, request your tour operator to have it arranged.
For those who like the fast pace of horse polo, bicycle polo provides an option that is at least as exciting. During the sixties and seventies, a lot of impetus was provided to the sport, particularly in Bikaner, though in recent years it has become somewhat dissipated. However, for those who may like to participate in a friendly match, or to observe one, special arrangements can be made on request. In more recent years, the sport has developed a following in the Shekhawati region.
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