The Elephant Polo Tournament

This is a game that has been brought down from the Maharajahs of India. It is said that this game was a pastime of the Maharajahs Harem during the 20th century. Initially the game was played with bigger balls those in the size of a soccer ball but today they are played with standard polo balls.

In Sri Lanka, the tournament is hosted by the Ceylon Elephant Polo Association (CEPA), an organization founded by Geoffrey Dobbs, the man who brought elephant polo to Sri Lanka.

It is surely a sight to see international teams in Sri Lanka's southern seaside town of Galle, partaking in the annual Elephant Polo Tournament.

The large animals are specially trained for the game and the environment is made secure for them to play without any unwanted hindrance. The purpose of the game is to hit the ball with a long stick by the player seated on top of an elephant into the goal. Three elephants and three players are used per team and each game consists of two seven minute "chukkas" of playing time. Each elephant is accompanied by a mahout, who sits on the elephant's neck and guides it with the use of his legs, while the player sits on a rough-hewn saddle on the creature's back. To ensure fair play, the elephants, mahouts and ends are changed at half time.

All in all, Elephant Polo is surely a sight worth every penny to watch these magnificent animals being tamed by man into playing a simple game.



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