Polo: Sport of the Maharajas


India is generally considered to be the birthplace of modern polo, although some version of the sport was probably played in Persia as early as the sixth century B.C. (Just to confuse everybody, the name “polo” is thought to derive from pulu, the Tibetan word for a ball.) In the 15th century, the game was revived by Babar, the founder of the Mughal dynasty, and polo became the pastime of choice for subsequent Mughal emperors. The sport was introduced to the West by the British, who found it being played in the princely state of Manipur in northeastern India in the early 19th century. The world’s first polo club was established in nearby Assam in 1834.

Today, the capital of Indian polo is Jaipur. This is chiefly the result of the lavish patronage of the late Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II in the 1950s and ’60s. Now, some of the world’s leading players still come to Jaipur during the winter season to play on the grounds of the Rajasthan Polo Club, next to the Rambagh Palace. The hotel’s legendary Polo Bar is adorned with trophies and memorabilia, and at the end of a match, it is a fine place for spectators to sip a cocktail or to sample the huge collection of rare Scotch whiskies.

The Polo Bar at the Rambagh Palace
The Polo Bar at the Rambagh Palace - Jaideep Oberoi
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