Two non-descript cylindrical poles are the only things left of the famed polo ground in Bidar used by the Barid Shahi kings of the medieval period.
The first reference to the polo ground is found in the book, Bidar-Its History and Monuments, by Ghulam Yazdani. “Of military sports, Chugan or horse shinty was a great favourite of Muslim kings in India,’’ notes the book written in 1915. The four pillars, two in each of the playing area, are fixed firmly to the ground. They are huge — the circumference at the base is 16 feet 2 inches. Each pillar has a girth of 8 feet and rises 7 feet above the ground. The distance between the two sets of poles is 591 yards. The measurements of the polo ground and the posts are similar to those used in modern days.
“The locals called them Ran khamb or war stones. But this may have been used figuratively to mark the sporting spirit,’’ Mr. Yazdani says in the book.
“There is some reference to a sport similar to horse polo before the advent of Muslim kings in India. There is a mention of this too in Yazdani’s book,’’ says Professor B.R. Konda, a historian. Baridi kings were interested in breeding horses and trained their soldiers and officers in various sports, he said.
“The other opinion expressed by Yazdani is that such pillars are put up to mark the end of a graveyard of royals. He says it is possible that these posts could have had a religious purpose. Therefore, more research is needed to understand them fully,’’ says historian Abdul Samad Bharati.
“Our first priority should be to save these stones. They are under threat from development in this fast growing town. One set of stones is in an open plot on Udgir road. Interestingly, this remains protected as the land is under litigation,” says Mohammad Yousuf Raheem Bidri, a member of the Yaraan-E-Adab literary trust.