The origin of ancient Polo is debatable with several countries, including Persia and China, laying claim to this aristocratic game of prowess and skilled horsemanship.
Known by several local names in different countries – Chaughan (Persian), Da-Kyu(Japanese), Khis-Kouhou(Russian), Djerid(Turkish), and Sagol Kangjei (Indian), the origin of Polo modern name is perhaps most closely akin to its Tibetan variation, Pulu, which means ball.
In India, Polo or the game of kings was popularized under the rule of Babar, founder of the Mughal dynasty in the 15th century among the royalty. With the rise of the Mughal dynasty, Polo gained its regal status and was firmly established as the national sport of India, and sadly with the eventual decline of the dynasty in the 18th century, the sport too lost its place in the hearts of many. Fortunately, in the remote regions of Gilgit, Ladakh and Manipur, the sport survived and it was in Manipur, many decades later that the sport was rediscovered once more and gained popularity among the Westerners.
The origination of ancient Polo may be controversial; yet its spread to the west is undoubtedly credited to India around 1860 when a British officer, together with seven British Tea Planters based in Silchar, set up the first club of the modern game, the Silchar Polo Club. From then on, the popularity of the sport caught on among the British subjects in India and eventually the sport was introduced to Europe.
Once imported to Europe, Polo soon became a fashionable sport, especially among the nobilities and in the army.