The Story Of Polo: How it blossomed as ‘The Sport of Kings’ in the World via India

Written by Rajashree Roy, The North-Eastern Chronicle 

Visual Credits: Aslam Siddique

The sport of Polo is one of the oldest sport to exist whose origin can be traced back to the year 600 BC. We recognize that its origins are the inspirational courting between humans and horses and this unique bond of athletic competencies between the horse and its rider have helped polo evolve into ‘The Sport of Kings’.

Origin of Polo

Modern Polo as recreation originated in Manipur, the sport was known as ‘sagol kangjei‘, or ‘pulu’. The origins of the sport in Manipur are traced to the early precursors of Sagol Kangjei. This became certainly one of 3 forms of hockey in Manipur, the other ones being area hockey (known as Khong kangjei) and wrestling hockey (known as mukna kangjei). And reputedly in 33 AD deity-king, Nongda Pakhangba organized earth’s first polo match.

But whether or not the sport got here from the tribal nomads of present-day Iran or the Indians, the British had been hooked. They made the sport their very own and fashioned the primary European polo club in 1859 at Silchar. The first polo membership was established within the city of Silchar in Assam, India, in 1833. Soon after that first milestone, the Calcutta Polo Club changed into shaped within the early 1860s by way of officers of the British navy.

Early tournaments of Polo

The very first Polo tournaments were witnessed in Persia (Iran) among the tribal nomads. The warlike tribesmen played the game with as many as 100 players. It became a miniature practice for a war that was much more crude and brutal than the present-day model of the game in today’s scenario.


The sport accompanied the nomads’ migration to Persia a while between 600 B.C. and 100 A.D. And, in Persia, polo evolved into a country-wide sport, played especially by the Aristocracy and the military. The game since then started to spread towards Constantinople, Tibet, China, Japan, and India.

Polo soon became a recreational activity for the kings and maharajas of the society, undertaken to display chivalry and prowess. It has additionally stimulated aesthetic artistic endeavours amongst sundry artists considering time immemorial.

Mughal Invasion

During the 13th century, Muslim conquerors from Persia started out making forays into the Indian subcontinent and also brought the game with them. When the Mughal emperor, Babur, also from Persia, initiated the installation of the Mughal Empire in India during the 15th century, the sport became pretty famous. Other Indian kings were fascinated by the game and commenced adopting it as a royal sport.

Soon Polo or Chaugan Bazi became a conventional and one of the famous out-of-door sport in the Indian royal families and remained so well till the 18th century, it also turned into the National game of India till the end of the sixteenth century. In this era, polo soon emerged to be patronised by the kings and nobles and was enjoyed within the provinces of the Empire and the courts of the Rajput Kings.

The Era of British Raj

By the mid-18th century, the strength of the Mughals came to an end and the British East India Company took over. In the 1850s, a set of squaddies from the Company joined some British tea planters, on their travels to Silchar in present-day Assam in North-Eastern India. While on their excursion, they chanced upon a curious sight.


British Lieutenant Joe Sherer, while passing through the tea estates, suddenly noticed the exiled princes from the neighbouring state of Manipur (today an Indian state) as he learnt later, mounted upon horses and charging at each other wielding mallets, and the centre of enchantment was a “ball”. The lieutenant immediately exclaimed, “Were those guys seeking to play hockey on horseback? We ought to analyze the game!”

Future of Polo

Allegedly, if we see from India, polo spread as rapidly as its fans ought to journey, performing in Malta in 1868, England in 1869, Ireland in 1870, Argentina in 1872, and Australia in 1874. The present-day game of Polo is performed in a minimum of seventy-seven international locations which includes India, Argentina, the USA, and the UK.

In today’s times, the World Polo Championships is being held every 3 years via the Federation of International Polo in Argentina. This South American nation hosts the sector’s maximum vital Polo tournaments.

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