Saturday, November 24, 2001

A rare museum
Gurvinder Kaur

KINGLY patronage to sports may belong to an era long forgotten but this legacy can still be savoured at the National Institute of Sports (NIS) Museum at Patiala which has the distinction of being the only sports museum in the country.

The hass used by the legendary Gama Pehalwaan
The hass used by the legendary Gama Pehalwaan

Contributions from the royal family of Patiala along with rare photographs and personal artefacts belonging to elite sportspersons, including hockey wizard Dhyan Chand, Flying Sikh Milkha Singh, that are kept in the museum make it a Mecca of sorts for the average sports lover.

Of special interest are the Adidas spikes worn by Milkha Singh in the 1960 Rome Olympics quarter-mile event which he lost by a fraction of a second, Major Dhyan Chand`s gold medal which he won at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, the hass — a doughnut shaped exercising apparatus weighing a solid 95 kgs — belonging to the legendry Gama Pehalwan who used it for squats, shoes which PTUsha wore during her 1986 Seoul Asiad win and an autographed silver bat presented to Maharaja Bhupinder Singh, the erstwhile ruler of Patiala in 1925 by members of the Elphinstone College ,Bombay and the BB&CIRailway cricket teams in appreciation of His Highness’s hospitality and patronage to cricket.


Among the numerous bats, trophies and other commemorative items donated to the museum by the royal family of Patiala, three items deserve special mention. The first is a trophy in pure silver with a statute of Maharaja Bhupinder Singh in his sports attire, carrying his cricket bat, atop a pedestal with an inscription. The trophy was presented to the Maharaja by two cricket teams in 1934 in appreciation of the ruler`s sportsmanship and in commemoration of the completion of 25 years of annual visits of the teams.

The silver bat and trophy presented to Maharaja Patiala by the MCC
The silver bat and trophy presented to Maharaja Patiala by the MCC

The second is a water jug with a metal top depicting a cricket game in progress which has been etched on its body made of transparent glass. The third ia a framed photograph of the first MCC cricket team with the captain, the Maharaja, in the centre flanked by individual photographs of the players. An interesting anecdote recounts the connection between cricket and the origin of the famous Patiala Peg. On the arrival of a visiting team which was considered to be stonger than the Maharaja`s team, the local team devised a stategy to defeat their opponents. During a dinner hosted by the Royal team, the visitors were served extra-large measures of liquor . The hosts convinced their guests that the large measure was indeed the norm in the region and was called the Patiala Peg. The visiting team lost the following day as a result of drowsiness from the Patiala Peg.

Occupying a place of pride in the museum is the bat autographed by the Indian cricket team captained by Kapil Dev which won the Prudential World Cup in 1983. Apart from these there are rare black and white photographs of the 1908 Olympics. Also on display is a photograph of one of the finest Polo players in the world — General Chanda Singh — on his horse, Miss Haig, in England in1909. A photograph of The Tigers Polo team, which won the King`s Coronation Cup held at Ranelagh in 1923, is also a part of the museum`s rare collection.

Apart from various medals, trophies and other souvenirs related to various national and international competitions, the museum also displays the replicas of various national sports awards such as the Arjuna Award, the Dronacharya Award and the Padam Shri Award. With the museum housing the most precious sports artefacts of the nation, it remains a must see for every sports fan. — Photos by Subhash Patialvi