Under a bright blue canvas on a sunny day, I stumbled upon this broad ground. Crowds were already gathered purposefully on the fringe. Stopped to ask someone what is going on. A polo game was about to start in 5 minutes. And then I recalled that earlier on a passer-by at the market asking me where was the polo ground. I didn’t know at that time.
At the blow of a whistle, the ball was given a hard knock. Within two seconds of the game, the ball came rolling past my ankle, followed by charging horses that looked frightfully close to mowing down the couple seated right in front of me. The thundering hooves reverberated across what felt like a mini battle ground.
Post-trip I read that polo originated in Persia (Iran). The polo game was originally part of the training of the cavalry. Apparently at times warlike tribesmen used to play it almost 100 to a side! Polo was introduced to Ladakh, where it is hugely popular today, from neighbouring Baltistan around the 15th century.
It was the Ladakhi army playing against another team, the name of which I didn’t quite catch. The game was held as part of the Ladakh festival, against the stunning backdrop of the mountains.