Shandur Polo Festival

Shandur Top (el. 12,200 feet (3,700 m)) located in District Ghizer (Gilgit-Baltistan), Pakistan. Shandur-Top in Shandur is often called the ‘Roof of the World’. The top is flat, a plateau and can be crossed between late April and early November. The grade is very gradual, and the area is crossed by small streams of trout. Grazing in summer is plentiful.

Every year there is a polo match played on Shandur Top between the home teams of Gilgit-Baltistan and guest teams from Chitral.

Shandur Pass is one of the major mountain passes of Gilgit-Baltistan

The people who live on both sides of Shandur Top speak the Khowar language.

History

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 warlike 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 favourite relative in a game prompted Emperor Apaochi to order beheading of all players.

Historically, polo being the king of games was played between small kingdoms, villages and rival groups of Gilgit Agency. From 1936 onwards polo tournaments were held annually at Shandur by the British Rulers. The three day Shandur Polo Festival has developed steadily in recent years into the massive celebration of mountain polo that it is today.

Books

  • The Gilgit Game by John Keay (1985) ISBN
  • The Kafirs of the Hindukush (1896) Sir George Scott Robertson.
  • To the Frontier (1984) Geoffrey Moorehouse, pp. 267–270. Hodder and Stoughton Ltd., Reat Britain. Reprint: Sceptre edition 1988.
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