Polo originated in Central Asia sometime around 600 B.C. Initially, the sport was used to train soldiers for combat. In Persia, in addition to being played by members of the military, polo became a popular sport among the nobility. The modern version of the game began in in the northeastern Indian state of Manipur. Today, polo is enjoyed by 77 world countries and is included as an Olympic competition.
Polo in Rajasthan
The people of the region rode horses for centuries. The sport of polo became popular here during the Mughal period. Official polo teams were established in 1892 and were responsible for introducing the sport to Europeans. The sport was considered the Game of Kings and the Jaipur Royal family produced many generations of polo players. Although originally played by the military and royals, the sport was soon enjoyed by the general public. Polo is traditionally played on horseback. However, innovative players eventually desired to make the game more interesting by varying mobility on the playing field.
Polo is played by riding elephants in Nepal and Rajasthan. As elephants have been an important part of the Indian culture for centuries, it seemed only natural to incorporate the royal beasts into the national sport. Annual competitions take place during Holi, from February through March in Chaugan. However, elephant polo played in Jaipur year round.
The unusual sport regularly attracts spectators from around the world. The rules are the same as traditional polo. As the animals are large and lumbering, the game is slower and played for leisure and relaxation. Elephant polo is also interesting to watch.
Camels have long been used as beasts of burden and for transportation in the Middle East. So, adapting the sport to riding camels is not a long stretch. However, as the animals tend to be independent in mind and spirit, the game becomes somewhat chaotic. Nevertheless, the camel polo is fun for players and spectators alike.
The sport is considered one of the most difficult on the planet and is played while treading water. The game is fast-paced and requires extreme strength and endurance. Each team consists of seven players having the objective of outscoring their opponents.
Today, the sport is played using any number of transportation modes. Many enjoying playing the game while riding bicycles, golf carts, motorcycles or Segways. Stand-up paddleboarding enthusiasts have also adapted the game for play on the water’s surface.