WHERE IT ALL STARTED
HISTORY OF POLO
There is no denial of the fact that Argentina is the world leader of modern polo. Similarly, when it comes to the invention of the game, India's claim to be the Jerusalem of the game of kings is quite irrefutable. This is where the history of polo begins.
ORIGIN OF THE WORD POLO
As per Britannica Encyclopedia while elaborating on history of polo the word 'polo' is derived from Tibetan word Pulu, which means Ball. Game of ball & stick on a horse back was played in Persia during the time of King Derius (486-522BC). From Tibet it spread to North and to East. They called it "Chaughan" in Persia. Along with Britannica Encyclopedia mention of words like Choughan and Pulu is also found in work of travelers like Marco Polo and Anthony Shirley.
POLO IN THE MUGAL ERA
In India, first mention of the word Polo involves Emperor Kutub Uddin Aibak's death while playing the game. Emperor Akbar, an accomplished player himself, is credited as the one "who gave first set of rules " to the sport. During those times Polo was a logical way of celebrating success. Any thing on foot would have been too common and hunting would have been too isolated. Polo on the other hand was enjoyed by players and spectators alike and was also considered best form of training when it comes to battle on horse back. Thus it didn't come as surprise when on 3rd March 1566 Akbar celebrated suppression of Khan Azam's revolt by playing a polo match. Alex Rutherford, in his series "Raiders from the North" mentions Mughals playing polo to dissolve time, as they lay siege and wait for the enemy's patience to run thin. The fact that Polo was an integral part of life in the era also gets reinforced by numerous paintings based on the game.
MANIPUR - THE BIRTH PLACE OF POLO
Journey of this game from India to the rest of the world started in a hilly state of India called Manipur. Here polo is Known as Sagol Kangjei and it is believed that it started in the time of King Kangba , who ruled Manipur before Christ. In Manipur British tea planters got bitten by the polo bug during a game in Silchar in the year 1859. These tea planters had enough ponies , were used to club culture and were living in isolation that comes as baggage of being a tea planter. These were the ideal conditions for a new sport like polo to get recognized and restructured for global fans.
Calcutta (now known as Kolkata), being British headquarters then, soon saw a polo match being played by manipur polo players in 1860. With in no time most of the British businessmen, who were also a part of Calcutta Light Horse (An irregular cavalry raise by Robert Clive) along with other Army Officers stationed in an around Calcutta started playing this game regularly. Polo ground inside Royal Calcutta Turf Club (RCTC) which became functional during this time, boasts of being the oldest functional polo ground in the world. It still hosts polo season every year in the month of December.
Having reached Calcutta, it was only a matter of time for Polo to claim its admirers in England. It was a match between 10 Hussar & 9 Lancer in the year 1871 which became the first ever polo match that took place in England. Rest, as they say, is history.
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