India’s poshest polo tournament –The Leela Maharaja Sawai Man Singh Polo Cup 2023 took place in Jaipur on October 22 nd. The second season of the country’s most highly awaited polo event of the year was hosted by The Leela Palace Jaipur, at the Rajasthan Polo Club, attracting the best players with their first-class equines. The stunning backdrop of the venue in the pink city made for the perfect, elegant setting for hosting the high-powered gathering of couture clad A-listers sipping champagne.
Polo was born in ancient Persia, initially as a skill game for cavalry, with the “chaugan” inviting skilled horseback riders to hit a small ball with a wooden stick. The game soon arrived in India and was popularised during the British rule.
The pivot of polo in India was established in 1892 as the Indian Polo Association (IPA), with competing teams hailing from Alwar, Bhopal, Bikaner, Jaipur, Hyderabad, and other locations across the country. The best among them were the Central India Horse, Prince Albert Victor Own Cavalry, and the 10th Royal Hussars. Ironically, the first polo club in the world was born in Calcutta in 1833 and only later in England with the Hurlingham Polo Association, in 1875.
In 1933, the Jaipur polo team set a record by winning all the open tournaments in the United Kingdom and the Indian Championship successively, from 1930 to 1938. Since then, polo matches have become the epitome of equestrian tournaments in India, especially in the pink city. The Leela Palaces & Resorts has elevated the bar with the conception of The Leela Maharaja Sawai Man Singh Polo Cup laced with immaculate, signature hospitality. The tournament makes for moments of reliving royal heritage, as a unique statement of luxury, that mirrors suave lifestyle.
Often called the “Sport of Kings”, polo matches were celebrated with panache by India’s royal families. Taking the tradition forward in inimitable Leela style, this year the tournament brought in the best, again. “A truly luxurious, well-planned event at the breathtakingly beautiful property,” says fashion designer Pria Kataaria Puri. “The Leela took their vintage hospitality to another level, with a meticulously planned itinerary and personalised butler service.”
Guests were greeted and garlanded by caparisoned elephants, saluting to the beats of the nagadas and drums on the first day, followed by a lavish lunch at the Sukh Mahal restaurant. In the evening, a colorful, cultural setting with a traditional village scenario was created at the Dharohar lawns at Kanishk Bagh on the premises of The Leela Palace Jaipur. Complete with an astrologer with a parrot pulling out the cards, a lac bangle maker, dancers swirling to the live folk music, a puppet show and a lipsmacking spread of Rajasthani savouries including kachouris, masala tea and mirch pakoras. It was a picturesque backdrop, with the mirror sheathed domes on the property forming a proud silhouette against the rugged hills.
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