Polo together with other games such as white water rafting, mountaineering, trekking is one of the foremost games in Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir. Polo has come a long way from the Central Asia to the west and east parts of the northern India. It had been the most admired games among the huge ranges of Karakoram which is commonly played in isolated areas of Chitral, Hunza, Gilgit, Balistan and Nagar. It is the conventional game of Ladakh. Polo is popularly played on all Tuesdays & Saturdays of the summer in the hemlets where the polo ground is there. This international game is played in 21st March each year. It is generally played among two parties which comprises members from all of the hemlets of Ladakh who jointly represents their area. As the most famous game of the terrain this game is enjoyed with a lot of passion and participation of people truly brings colors of gladness in the terrain.
Indian Polo Association was set up in 1892 to administer and publicize the Polo. Some of the well-known teams at the initial time were Hyderabad, Alwar, Patiala, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Kashmir, Kishengarh, Central India Horse etc. Unluckily because of the effects of post World War II and along with the automation of the cavalry, the sport saw a severe fall. The trouble of enlivening the game to its initial glory became the responsibility of the Indian polo Association. As on 1st step, to increase the interest of the people in Polo, in the year 1950, Indian Polo association organized exhibition matches with the foreign teams at Jaipur, Bombay and Delhi and afterwards invited the Polo team of the Pakistani army to India.
Polo in Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir has been advanced as an important part of the Tourism of Ladakh. Many Associations like the Indian Polo Association and the Leh Polo Club have fostered the expansion of this game in the terrain which holds the delight and keenness of the local Ladakhi populace. Since 1970s, Polo has received lots of support from the district administration also. In the hilly terrains of this cold desert this game starts and ends with the blowing of music which fascinates the ranges of Karakoram.
Therefore, Polo has been the most vibrant and passionate game of Jammu & Kashmir which resembles the traditions of the region. Moreover maximum participation of the populace in the ranges of Himalayas makes this game far more popular that expected.
Cautions for Polo
A Polo player should use an equestrian helmet with a chin trap before playing Polo as there is always the risk of falling down from the horse.
Best Time for Polo
The best time for playing Polo in Jammu & Kashmir is in the summer season especially during the month of March.
Major Sites for Polo
In the beautiful city of Gulmarg the weather for playing Polo is just in the right conditions. Earlier the game of Polo in Gulmarg was famous among the tourist specially the European tourist which comprises British civil and army officers forgoing the high temperature of the plain regions. However, at Srinagar, the setting up of the Polo Ground by Maharaja Hari Singh became the death knell for this exciting sport at Gulmarg. But still the game is being played in Gulmarg.
One of the popular sites of Srinagar is the Srinagar Polo Ground. The people of Srinagar and also the tourist play the game of Polo with much excitement and enthusiasm. Maharaja Hari Singh set up this Polo ground at Srinagar. These days playing Polo has become a major tourist activity in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir.
Polo in Ladakh plays a vital role in increasing the tourism in the region. The game of Polo is also related to the tradition of Ladakhi people. Polo has received a lot of support from the District Administration of Ladakh. The game of Polo is played among the Ladakhi people with a lot of passion in the amazing city of Ladakh.
Polo Playing Conditions
During the rainy season it is better to avoid playing Polo as the weather conditions are not suitable. In rainy season the ground is muddy and the weather is sticky. The best time to play Polo in Jammu & Kashmir is during the summer season as the temperature of the valley at that time is moderate and just right for playing the game of Polo.
Before playing Polo one should use a helmet usually having a distinct color and with a chin trap. The other equipments which are required for playing the game of Polo are: riding boots just under knees, a colored shirt, white trousers, 1 or 2 gloves, kneepads, wristbands, spurs, and a whip and face mask.