Passion for Polo will be the highest on the world’s highest Polo ground. Shandur invites visitors to experience a traditional polo tournament between the teams of Chitral and during the 2nd week of July. The tournament is held on Shandur Pass, the highest polo ground in the world at 3,700 meters. The festival will also include folk music and dancing and a camping village is set up.Polo is an equestrian sport with its origin embedded in Central Asia dating back to 6th century BC. At first it was a training game for cavalry units for the King’s guards or other elite troops. To the war like tribesmen who played polo with as many as 100 players to a side, it was a miniature battle. It became a Persian national game in the 6th century AD. From Persia, the game spread to Arabia, then to Tibet, China and Japan. In China, in the year 910, death of a favorite relative in a game prompted Emperor Apao-Chi to order beheading of all players!
Polo was introduced in South Asia, by the Muslim conquerors in the 13th century. English word ‘Polo” is a Balti word meaning, ‘ball’. Now a days, there are six players to a side, but this is by no means a rule in local polo games. There was no limit to the number of players and no time limit. Whichever team scored nine goals first, was the winner. The present game with a team of six players in a side, lasts one hour with a ten minute break.
Gilgit, Chitral and Skardu have always played the game of polo closest to its original form. In the past, local Rajas, Mirs and Mehtars were the patrons of the game. At times, more than 50% of the annual budget of their principalities would be spent on supporting thegame.
It is advisable to be there one day in advance to enjoy all the offerings of the festival. Activities at Shandur includes dance and music performances by different groups, trout fishing, mountaineering, trekking, hiking and of course, horse riding. Crystal clear lakes, snow covered mountains, alpine flowers and vast stretches of green grass, are added attractions.