Known as the ‘Roof of the World’, Shandur-Top is situated between Afghanistan and Gilgit- Baltistan, where the Karakorum ranges and glaciers of Gilgit-Baltistan meet. Shandur is the highest polo ground in the world and the place is best known for the challenging yet interesting game of Polo. This game in the region of Gilgit, Chitral and Skardu has an old history. In the past, local Rajas, Mirs and Mehtars used to sponsor the game and at times,they almost spent 50% more of their annual budget on supporting Shandur polo festival!
Shandur Polo Festival: The Tournament
Polo is a game with its own conventional rules which takes only pure determination and strong spirit to win. This traditional game of Chitral is called “Istoorghar”(as called in Khowar) and is commonly played to the music of a big drum. The tournament is held at Shandur pass every year and visitors are invited to experience a traditional polo tournament between the teams of Chitral and Gilgit in the month of July. The festival includes folk music, dance, camping in a nearby village and numerous other activities to enjoy such as fishing, horse riding, mountaineering and hiking. The tournament was originated at Shandur Pass, in 1936 when Major Cobb (a British Political Agent) who was fond of playing polo under a full moon, named his polo ground near Shandur, ‘Moony Polo Ground’.
Shandur Polo Festival: The Celebration
The most spectacular and fascinating polo tournament of the entire Northern Pakistan, is played on top of Shandur Pass, around 3,700 meters above sea level. It is a place eccentric and exotic in itself, surrounded by some of the most striking mountain views in the world. The event marks the annual rivalry between the polo teams of Gilgit and Chitral. Although the beauty of the place attracts locals and foreigners alike, the tournament also adds to the activities which they can enjoy, such as trout fishing at the nearby streams and lakes and a cultural festival of folk dances and music of the Northern Pakistan. The final match between the Gilgit and Chitral teams is the highlight of the festival which is celebrated in the most colourful and exuberant manner. Viewers and fans travel from of both sides to support their team and enjoy the thrilling game. The event, as such, offers a very compelling insight into the lifestyle of the people of this region. Their culture and native customs are a delight to behold for the visitors.
Every year, 10.000 people move with their tents to the breathtaking Shandur Pass, 4300 meters high, to attend the Shandur polo festival where the best teams from Gilgit and Chitral come to compete against each other. With more than 1,200 well-reputed hotels in Pakistan on board and fully managed tour services, plan your trip with Tripkar this year for an epic experience of the Shandur Polo Festival.