Shandur Polo Festival Tourism is becoming popular more and more with the passage of time. Passion for Polo is the highest on the world’s highest polo ground. Shandur invites visitors to experience a unique and traditional Polo tournament between the teams of Chitral and Gilgit. The festival also includes folk music, dancing and a camping village is set up. Shandur Polo Festival tourism is only recommended for sportive and adventure lover tourists.
Shandur Polo Festival Tourism is a sports festival held annually from 7 to 9 July at the Shandur Pass. Unlike other sports there is no umpire or referee, rather under free style rules. The tournament is
organized and financed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Government. The tournament is held at Shandur Top which is the world’s highest polo ground at an altitude of 3,700 meters (the pass itself is at 3,800 meters). There is a quite big camping village set up there. However there is no luxury but a simple camping with simple food that is enough for adventure and mountain lover travelers.
Shandur Polo Festival History
Polo is an old game of mountains and is claimed first played in Himalaya. Its objective was to train the cavalry and simulate a real-life battle (as term used in Army “license to kill”. Therefore, Shandur Polo Festival Tourism provides this opportunity to the global tourists to witness the old way of life in the regions of Himalaya, Karakoram, Hindukush and central Asia.
In 1935, Raja of Balti (Ali Sher Khan) from Sakrdu and Nambardar of Chitral (Niat Qabool Hayat Kakakhel) with support of then British administration, the polo ground was built at Shandur Pass. Local population was equal partner in this project. This polo ground was later on named as “Mas Junali”. The word “Mass Junali” is derived from Khowar Language (local Chitrali language). The word “Mas” means moon and “Junali” means polo ground. It is said that Trout Fish (from London) was then dropped in Ghizer River, Hundurap Lake, Baha Lake Khukush Nallah as reward from British administration. However local Rajas refused to get any cash money as reward from Shandur Polo Tourism Festival.
Tournament Format and Rules
It is commonly believed that the horses play polo on such altitude are fit enough to cope oxygen issues. The riders and horses are well versed with each other. This Free-Styled mountain polo is arguably polo in its purest form. This verssion of Polo game played at Shandur Top is now obsession for locals of Chitral and Gilgit and of course the international adventure sports lovers. The game is non stop and “one can ride head-on into the opponent. So there is no boundary and fouls exept a goal. There are no umpires and referees are no holds barred. Shandur Polo game on this roof of the world is just like license to kill: “You can ride head-on into the opponent, if you dare.” So if you are keen in adventure sports then Shandur Polo Festival Tourism is best choice.
There are 4 teams that quaify for this battle of Chitral and Gilgit on the polo field. Each team has six players with 2 to 4 reserve players in case of injury etc. The match usually lasts one hour. It is divided into two halves, with a ten-minute interval each. During rest times, the locals entertain the audiences with traditional and cultural music and dances. The game is decided in favour of the team scoring more goals. The final is held on 9 July.
*Shandur Polo Festival Tourism is something unique on earth and tourists are more than welcome