Shandur is situated at an altitude of 12,500 feet (38000 meters) above sea level is famous for having the highest polo ground of world. It is sometimes called Roof of the World. It is located in District Ghizer, Gilgit–Baltistan, Pakistan. The version of polo game played in Shandur Polo Ground is considered to be the purist of all. It is also called free style polo.
Polo is the most favorite game in Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan. Gilgit, Skardu, Hunza, Shigar, Laspor, Mastoj, Chitral and all other valleys around must have at least one polo ground, where local people can be seen playing polo.
Shandur Polo Ground is naturally designed to be a polo ground. Small hills are on all four sides of rectangular ground, where spectators can sit and enjoy the match. The surrounding landscape and Shandur Lake makes it even more beautiful.
The beautiful polo ground of Shandur turns into a city of tents each year between 7 and 9 July due to Shandur Polo Festival. A match of polo is held between teams of Gilgit and Chitral. A great number of tourists and spectators from different areas of country especially from Hunza, Skardu and Chitral come to attend this event. Shandur Polo Ground is located at an altitude of 12,200 feet (3,700 meters) and it is very hard to play here due to reduced amount of oxygen. It requires a lot of stamina and players must be physically very strong. The match is always marvelous because cream players from Chitral and Gilgit participate in it.
Polo is the game of kings and king of games.
Shandur is the highest polo ground in the world. Here it is still played in its original form, a game as tough rough and hard, on man and horse as the surrounding mountains themselves. A game without rules or empire, a game with only a few agreed convention of play. Polo in Khowar called “Istoorghar” has been the traditional game of Chitral, as our motto is “we play polo the game of king and king of the games”. The game is commonly played to the music band comprising a big drum.
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.
Historically, polo being the king of games was played between small kingdoms, villages and rival groups of Gilgit and Chitral. From 1936 onwards polo tournaments were held annually on this ground. The three day Shandur Polo Festival has developed steadily in recent years into the massive celebration of mountain polo that it is today. It is attended every year by prominent celebrities, public figures and opinion makers.
How to reach there?
Shandur can be reached from Gilgit and Chitral. It is about 197 kilometers (122 miles) from Gilgit and 147 kilometers (91 miles) from Chitral. When coming from Gilgit to Shandur one can see the charming valleys of Gahkuch, Gupis, Phandar and many beautiful lakes. When coming from Chitral one can see the beauty of Mastuj and Surlasp valleys.