SHANDUR POLO FESTIVAL
Shandur Polo Festival or in Urdu we call it شندور میلہ. It is one of the big tourist attractions and/or festivals in Pakistan. Every year during the 7th ~ 9th July Shandur Polo Festival is organized on Shandur Pass, which is located in between the Chitral District, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and the Ghizer District, Gilgit Baltistan, Pakistan, In fact, Shandur Polo Festival is organized Shandur Top also known as Roof of the World, whose location is Upper Chitral, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. Shandur Polo Match, in a freestyle manner, is played between the Chitral District Team and Gilgit-Baltistan Districts Team. The credit of inaugurating this Shandur Polo Match goes to ALI SHER KHAN ANCHAN, the BALTI Raja of SKARDU; who took initiative to build the SHANDUR Polo Ground paving the regular organization of traditional Shandur Polo Match turned Festival since 1936. The Tourism Corporation of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is the host nowadays to organize this festivity every year on Shandur Top, being the highest polo ground globally recorded at 3,700 meters. Shandur Polo Festival offers tourists and visitors sights of local dancing, folk music, together with the facility of camping village. The heart of this polo match attraction is unique in terms of freestyle mountain polo has gained legendary value to tourists around the world and local visitors from Pakistan.
Interestingly, there are no umpires meaning no rules to follow here at Shandur Polo Match. Initially, polo matches of preliminary nature are played in Chitral and Gilgit as well, in order to decide the final teams eligible to play at the Shandur Polo Festival. The juries chose the best horses and players to participate in the final games to be played at Shandur Top. On the 7th of July, the Shandur Polo Festival starts during which A, B, C, and D teams of Chitral and Gilgit need to battle it out to reach the final of this tournament. Each of the participating teams of this tournament is equipped with six members with 2-4 members kept as reserve players in case of injury etc. The polo match duration is of one hour consisting of two halves with 10 minutes break full of cultural and traditional performances that are there to entertain the international and local tourists. The winning team is declared on the basis of goals scored. The final of the tournament and/or Shandur Polo Match is held on the 9th of July. The Shandur Top Polo Field measures about 200 meters | 656.2 feet by 56 meters | 183.7 feet as compared to standard Polo Field Sizes of 270 meters | 885.8 feet by 150 meters | 492.1 feet.
There are 0.6 meters | 1.9 feet high stone walls running the length of the Shandur Top Polo Field on both sides. At Shandur Top Polo Match the players do not care to wear helmets grips or straps, while the horses’ legs are without bandages, and there are no grips or straps on mallets as well.
It is worth noting that passion for polo is at the highest level by the game lovers and global tourists as well keeping in view the Shandur Top Polo Field being the world recognized highest polo ground. It is an open invitation to everybody, fun-loving, game enthusiasts to experience a traditional and unique polo tournament between the teams of CHITRAL and GILGIT, Pakistan from 7 to 9 July. Mind you the visitors are going to be entertained also by folk music, folk dance, together with by camping village. Also do not forget to buy local souvenirs including the famous GILGITI Cap to remind you of the memorable days spent at Shandur Top.