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Shandur Polo Festival

A sports festival

by kepalaepisod
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An annual sports festival known as the Shandur Polo Festival takes place in Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan region in the Shandur Polo Ground from July 7 to July 9. Teams from Chitral District and Gilgit-Baltistan District compete in the polo competition under freestyle rules. The national anthem  recitation is beginning from students from several schools as the polo teams walked past the opening ceremony. On this occasion, local performers also performed songs and dances from the Khattak, Chitral, and Kalash cultures. Many vacationers came from across the nation to the region to take part in the celebration.  Senior both civil and military leaders, members of the local government, and many people attend the celebration. Polo matches, fireworks, and campfires are all part of the three-day event for the attendees.  Due to constraints brought on by Covid-19, the event was unable to take place for a few years, but it is now  this year thanks to the cooperation and approval of the governments of K-P and G-B.
                                                            A sports festival
 The competition  held at Shandur Top, the highest polo field in the world at a height of 3,700 metres (the pass itself is at 3,800 meters). Folk music, dancing, and a tented village all included in the festival. Himalaya with Michael Palin’s first episode includes a scene from the polo competition. The horse sport of polo  first practised in Central Asia in the sixth century BC. Its purposes included cavalry training and battle simulation.
A polo field  built at Shandur in 1935 as a result of requests made  UK Administrator for Northern Areas Evelyn Hey Cobb to the Balti Raja of Skardu, Ali Sher Khan Anchan, and Nambardar of Chitral, Niat Qabool Hayat Kakakhel. Later, this polo field  gave the name “Mas Junali.” The Khowar language is where the term “Mass Junali” originates. Mas means the moon, and Junali indicates the polo field. Cobb wanted to thank Kakakhail for his service because of his resourcefulness and efficiency.  But Kakakhail refused to accept any kind of payment.
Perhaps the purest form of polo is free-style mountain polo. The game that was staged at Shandur Peak has become legendary, and both local and foreign adventure travellers  quite interested in it. There are no referees present, and nothing is off limits. According to Amin, Willets, and Tetley in The Roof of the World, “by contrast, an American Wild West rodeo may pass for choir rehearsal.”   You can ride head-on into the rival, if you dare, as one player famously said. In Pakistan, poloThe best horses and players from the preliminary matches are picked by the local judges to compete in the final games at the Shandur Polo Festival. These matches  staged in Chitral and Gilgit.
The field is roughly 200 by 56 metres (a typical polo ground is about 270 by 150 metres), but there are no boards along each side; instead, there are 60 cm high stone walls. The field can become somewhat packed since each side consists of six players. This has the benefit of slightly halting the pace. When everything is taken into account, probably adds a little bit to safety. The horses’ legs are frequently unbandaged, players seldom ever wear helmets, and mallets frequently lack grips or straps.
The Shandur Pass which lies halfway between Gilgit and Chitral. It is reachable via a road that requires a jeep to travel. It is important to note that driving on this route is a task in and of itself and is not advised for the timid. You can choose between a flight or an almost 12-hour journey from Peshawar or Islamabad to go to Gilgit or Chitral. If you decide to fly, please adapt your schedule by two days in case there are weather-related delays. It  advised to make a stopover in the middle of your long road trip. If you are travelling  car to make it more bearable.
A athletic occasion with strong ties to the community is the Shandur Polo Festival. Thus, in addition to having the chance to see a polo match  played at the highest polo ground in the world. Which is amazing in and of itself. you will entertain by shows of folk music and dance. The festival takes place in Chitral District. Which is home to the Kalash Valley. During the celebration, you see the tribal Kalash people joyfully dancing, singing, and rejoicing near Shandur Pass.
You may also go climbing and hiking in the area’s stunning surroundings. Which include snow-capped mountains, flower-filled farms, and lush meadows. Fishing for trout and rafting are two activities available in the nearby Shandur Lake. You can also enjoy paragliding, archery, and horseback riding.
During the Shandur Polo Festival, Shandur Pass transforms into a tented village with lodging options for both domestic and international visitors. It is indeed a chance to enjoy three days in lovely surroundings while participating in a variety of cultural events. Nearby eateries and shops have set up stalls where customers may buy food, regional crafts, and souvenirs.
In the neighbouring cities of Chitral, Gilgit, Besham, Bamburet, and others, Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) also operates a large number of motels if you want to stay longer in the area. You may also get in touch with a variety of tour companies if you just want to take part in the celebrations without having to worry about making travel arrangements yourself.
After the celebration, you’ll leave the Shandur Pass and make your way down to Gilgit along the Phandur River. The capital and administrative centre of Pakistan’s Gilgit Baltistan is Gilgit. Spend the night in Gilgit, then travel the next day over the Karakoram Highway beneath Nanga Parbat and through Babusar Pass to reach Naran. A lot of domestic tourists visit Naran. Stay the night in Naran, then the next day take the Naran Road to Mansehra and re-join the Karakoram Highway to get to Islamabad for the night. The following day, we drive you to the airport so you may catch your journey home.
VISIT Points of interest
Visit Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, and participate in the Shandur polo festival there. Take a breathtaking mountain view fly to Chitral. Discover Gilgit Baltistan, Kalash Valley, Shandur Pass, and Chitral. At the top of the globe, watch the final polo match between the rival teams Chitral and Gilgit. The Hindukush and Kalash mountains can  see as you travel along the Karakoram Highway under the shadow of the Nanga Parbat summit.
We are convinced that travelling to the historic Chitral and Kalash valleys, learning about their pre-Christian pagan culture, taking in the Shandur festival, and taking the Karakoram Highway would provide you with an unforgettable travel experience. Nothing will excite you more than visiting the stunning landscapes that stretch from Shandur at the top of the globe to lush green Islamabad, taking in the distinctive architecture, and putting your taste buds to the test with its spicy cuisine.The contrast between the south and north is vast, from the design to the culture and cuisine, making it difficult to fully appreciate Pakistan’s diversity in a brief visit. Extend your time in Pakistan and travel farther south to see ancient Lahore, the cities of Multan and Bahawalpur, which are home to Sufi shrines, or include Hunza Valley, Khunjerab Pass, Skardu, and Swat on your itinerary.
The celebration serves as a reminder of the long-standing customs in which the native population actively participates. The inaugural polo match will take place this year between Ghizer, Gilgit-Baltistan, and Laspur Chitral, according to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Tourism and Cultural Affairs Authority.

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