Play Polo in India Aboard Elephants

Last updated on October 1st, 2017 at 03:50 pm

In Jaipur, you too can play a chukker of unforgettable polo.
Elephants have long been part of Indian culture, representing strength and power. Often used in weddings and religious ceremonies, they have come to be associated with gaiety and celebration, and their undeniable intelligence can be attested to by anyone who has witnessed their curious and gentle nature. It is therefore fitting that after many years of enjoying the game of polo, India would invite these marvelous animals to join the fun.

The idea began as a whimsical conversation between two British officers who happened to be polo players, and for many years, the game of elephant polo was played by only the highest levels of society in India, Nepal, and Thailand. Now a much more open sport, elephant polo was introduced to tourists by Vikram Rathore in 1998 and is available to anyone adventurous enough to try. Polo Sport, a tourism and lifestyle company that arranges events and helps foreign travelers in northern India, organizes elephant polo in six locations in Jaipur, offering riders a rare chance to witness and participate in games throughout the year.

Sixteen elephants are trained for polo and are not shy of the mallets, balls, and other elephants. Bollywood stars, American celebrities, heads of state, kings, and corporate leaders have all participated, and in 2006, Cartier organized a tournament in Jaipur which included many A-list guests from Europe and America.

Though elephants lack the agility and speed of horses, their docile nature and majestic presence ensures that every match is unforgettable and great fun. The basic rules of elephant polo (which guests are welcome to break) are simple. As in traditional polo, play is divided into seven-minute chukkers, though in this game there are four instead of the typical six. Between chukkers, players switch in order to allow as many guests as possible an opportunity to play. There may be no more than two elephants of the same team on any half of the field at once, and players are only permitted three taps of the ball.

Polo Sport also offers other mounted activities around the world, including polo on horseback and on camels, and other equestrian activities like the ancient sport of tent-pegging, where galloping riders spear targets.

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