Polo! The name itself invokes vision of superiority and nobility, of elegance and rare athletic excellence. Polo is a game that demonstrates adventure, power, graceful teamwork, beauty, elegance, class and tradition. Polo is one of the world's most ancient sports and is considered not less than a religion in Rajasthan.
The equestrian team sport is usually played outside on a field which is 300 yards long and 160 yards wide. During the game, four players atop horses attempt to pass and hit the ball with a long stick down-field to score a goal. The long sticks are called mallets and the ball is either wooden or plastic. Polo is a fast action exciting game as players gallop over the horses to stay in line with the ball.
The history of Polo begins from Persia where the game has been played for not less than 2,000 years. It gradually spreads across Asia, where it became an amusement game for the rulers and subjects. Numerous warriors, who played the game, believed that it keeps them and their horse fit and qualified for a fight.
In India, the game was introduced with the colonization of the British. Initially it was played in cities like Manipur, Gilgit, Chitral and Ladakh. In 1887, Polo made its royal entry into Rajasthan being played extensively by the royal families. Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II and Maharaja Sawai Bhawani Singh encouraged Polo as a sport making it their official game.
The royal sport of Rajasthan faced a blow due to World War 1. However, it was rejuvenated with the establishment of Rajputana Polo Club. The club was renamed as Rajasthan Polo Club after the reorganization of Rajputana and changing the name of the state as Rajasthan in 1949. Since then, Polo is an integral part of the royal heritage of Rajasthan. Presently, the club is functional with the devotion and assistance of Maharaj Sawai Bhavani Singh Ji of Jaipur.
The princely sport of Rajasthan is usually played on horses which are well bred and trained. Some of the horses are even part of the 61st Cavalry of India. However, Horse Polo is not the only game in Rajasthan; it is also played on Camel, Elephant and even Bicycles.
Camel Polo is another thrilling adventure where the majestic Ship of the Desert moves lithely with the players striking the ball with delicacy. The State of Rajasthan has taken an initiative to introduce Camel Polo in the sand dunes with the desert being the playground.
Elephant Polo is a rare sport played only on the special occasions. Elephants in Rajasthan have always been the symbol of kings and royal dynasties. A pack of 3-4 elephants are dressed in colorful costumes for the game. It is a treat to the eyes to watch the giant yet gentle creatures moving across the ground with their riders atop playing the princely sport.Bicycle Polo is another sport in the feather of royal families. This game is widely played in the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan.