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Indian polo | Jaipur Polo Season 2018


Contributor To Rajputana And Modern India: General Amar Singh Kanota



21st September 2018 | Jaipur


The General Amar Singh Kanota Cup was established to honour the memory of the late Major General Amar Singh Kanota


General Amar Singh Kanota Cup has been established to honor the memory of the late Major General Amar Singh Kanota. His military, sporting and literary contributions to Rajputana and modern India were profound and long-lasting.


Amar Singh was a great supporter of Jaipur, Jodhpur and the idea of Rajputana. He was also a devoted family man, enthusiastic polo player and shikari, as well as an avid consumer and producer of the written word.

Let us take a moment to review Amar Singh’s contributions in military service and to defense organization; his contributions in sport, particularly to the modern game of polo in India; and his contributions in the world of literary memoir.

Amar Singh lived from 1878 to 1942 and was the third Thakur of Kanota.

His military career began under the mentorship of the celebrated Jodhpur regent, Sir Pratap Singh. In the Jodhpur Lancers, as rissaldar and commissioned officer, he perfected his polo game and served in the Allied Expeditionary force sent to China in 1900 to quell the Boxer Rebellion.


Soon after, he entered with the first batch of the newly formed Imperial Cadet Corps where he quickly advanced to staff officer supporting the command headquarters at Mhow Cantonment.

With the outbreak of World War I, Amar Singh was promoted to captain in the Indian Land Forces, and was dispatched to Europe and the Middle East. In Flanders and in Mesopotamia – modern day Iraq – Singh saw action and was awarded a medal of gallantry for his service.

With the outbreak of World War I, Amar Singh was promoted to captain in the Indian Land Forces, and was dispatched to Europe and the Middle East. In Flanders and in Mesopotamia – modern day Iraq – Singh saw action and was awarded a medal of gallantry for his service.

During the Third Afghan War from 1919 – 1921 Singh served in the Northwest Frontier including Waziristan. As a Major and Senior Squadron commander he was probably one of the first Indian officers ever to lead a mixed Indian and British regiment in active combat.
Upon his retirement form the Indian Army in 1921 he took control of the Jaipur state forces and raised the famous Jaipur Lancers, the infrastructure and facilities of which are now the 61st Cavalry headquarters. Maharajah Sawai Man Singh II elevated his friend and trusted adviser Amar Singh eventually to the rank of Major General and Commander of Jaipur State Forces.

Turning now to Amar Singh’s sporting contributions, let us consider his equestrian exploits. An old couplet of Rajputana claims that, “A Rajput who reads will never ride a horse”. In contradiction to that couplet, Amar Singh was both at ease in the saddle and agile with a pen.

Beginning in his early days under the tutelage of Sir Pratap Singh in Jodhpur, Amar Singh was recognized as a fine horseman and skilled hand with a polo mallet. His early years in Jodhpur coincided with the with the refinements and popularization of modern Polo that followed in the wake of the Jodhpur Lancer’s celebrity under the guidance of Sir Pratap Singh and the British equestrian and polo maven Stewart Baetson.

The Kanota family tradition of training horses for shikar, pig sticking and polo was renown in Jodhpur and Jaipur circles. Amar Singh’s diary recounts how he was often called upon to provide guidance in the training of polo ponies for players across north India. His love for the sport is evident from vivid descriptions he gives of the matches played and the sentiments involved.

In the fall of 1899 the Jodhpur Army Team enters several tournaments, giving Amar Singh his first tournament experience. “We play Polo, we talk Polo and we even dream Polo…Here in Jodhpur, and especially with Sarkar, or when we all companions and polo players chance to meet we have next to [nothing] to talk but only polo! Polo!” On the 31st of Oct, 1902, Friday he wrote, “In the evening we went to polo. I played six chukkers of which the four fast ones with the cadet corps team…Major Watson was quite pleased with my playing and I wanted nothing more.” 24th of Nov,1899, “At 2 p.m. commenced the first match between ourselves and the 7th Royal Fusiliers. We beat them by three goals and three subsidiaries to one goal and two subsidiaries.” “…As regards my not taking interest in any other games than Polo… I do not care for them…”



Amar Singh Kanota’s diary is believed by some to be the longest known and consistently kept diary in the English language. Contrary to the Rajput couplet mentioned above – was a man of letters and great producer and consumer of the written word. His personal record consists of 89 volumes each containing approximately 800 handwritten folio pages. The diaries are now carefully preserved and on exhibit at the General Amar Singh Memorial Museum and Library in nearby Kanota village.

The Amar Singh diary is an unusually rich historical and ethnographic record. It provides a detailed account from the period 1900 to 1942 of court life, military history, family life and of course – most importantly, a great chapter in Rajputana polo.




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