Indian Army
Princely India

61st Cavalry


61st CavalryOnce upon a time, the armed might of kings and emperors was assessed in terms of the number of horsed cavalry that they could bring into the field. The Mughal nobility was ranked in terms of the numbers of horses each noble commanded. Thus the title of "Dus Hazari","Tis Hazari", etc.(commander of 10000, 30000 horses respectively.) All Indian military powers gave pride of place to their cavalry. However, it was under the British that the Indian cavalry entered the popular psyche. The very name of the Bengal Lancers of the guides of cavalry conjures, up images of evening campfires under a starry sky on some remote and exotic frontier.

However, by the time the Second World War broke out, the last of the horse cavalry in the Indian Army was mechanized. When the British finally departed the shores of India in 1947, the only horses left in the military stables were with the units of some of the Imperial Service (state Forces) troops in the armies of the Indian Princely States. Finally, on integration of the state forces into the Indian Army in 1951 the states horsed cavalry units were reorganized and reconstituted into the Gwalior Lancers, Jodhpur/Kachhawa horse, Mysore Lancers, and B sqn, 2nd Patiala Lancers.During May 1953 Army headquarters further decided to disband all these separate horsed cavalry units and to raise one " New Horsed Cavalry Regiment" instead, at Gwalior, with the effect from 1st august 1953. Subsequently the date of raising was changed to 1Lt Col Bhawani SIngh of the 61st Cavalryst October 1953. Lt. Col. Phulel Singh of the Jammu and Kashmir State Forces was appointed the first Commandant of the "New Horsed cavalry Regiment" and he assumed command on 19th November 1953.

The rather uninspired designation of the Regiment was subsequently changed from "New Horsed cavalry" to "61 Cavalry" in January 1954.. As a result, 61 Cavalry today has the unique distinction of being the only unmechanised mounted cavalry regiment in the world. The regiment recruits Rajputs, maharajas and kaimkhanis in equal numbers. It was retained in the present form on Pt Nehru`s instructions.In view of the regiment `s unique association with the horse, it is perhaps not all that surprising that it has a proud polo playing tradition. The regiment has produced some of the country's most outstanding and inspired polo players. A measure of the outstanding equestrian and polo skills displayed by the regiment can be gauged by the fact that since its raising its personnel have won the Arjuna award –the country's highest award for outstanding sportsmen- four times for polo and five times for equestrian events.

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