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    Shandur Polo – a Game of Kings attracts adventure sports enthusiasts in droves on second day amid great fun & excitement

    Shandur Polo – a Game of Kings attracts adventure sports enthusiasts in droves on second day amid great fun & excitement

    SHANDUR, Upper Chitral (APP): Known as Game of Kings, the free-style polo is a unique historic sports of Pakistan being played in the world highest polo ground at Shandur pass in July every year, attracting tourists, adventure sports enthusiasts and locals in droves amid great fun and excitement.

    Located in the lap of mighty Hindukash mountains range in Upper Chitral district, Shandur polo ground where a three days polo event is currently underway on some 12,000 feet above sea level, draws domestic and foreign tourists, adventure sports lovers and local population in large number, applauding all the experienced and young players during thrilling matches between Chitral and Gilgit Baltistan with cheering hands and motivating shouting.

    The spectators and tourists overwhelmed by the cultural folk music, shandur lake, paragliding, rocks climbing, mountaineering and delectable foods during at camp village established at Shandur Pass.

    “I have heard a lot about Shandur polo festival and today my dream to watch my favourite free style polo matches in the world highest polo ground came true,” said Ali Khan, a resident of Peshawar while talking to APP.

    “The horse riding skills and sportsmen spirit demonstrated by the players of Sirlaspoor Upper and Lower have impressed me the most,” he said. 

    Shandur polio had been played between teams of Chitral and Gilgit Baltistan since 1930. In 1935, UK administrator for northern areas, Evelyn Cobb had ordered construction of a polo ground at Shandur after impressed by the free style polo of the players of Gilgit Baltistan and Chitral.

    After passing through many years, it was later formally organized under the Govt patronage since 1982. The polo event was won 13 times by Gilgit-Baltistan and 16 times by Chitral. Shahzada Sikandar Ul Mulk (Captain of Chitral Polo team) has a unique distinction for winning it 13 times for his team followed by Raji Rehmat of Gilgit by seven times for his team as captain.

    Before Shandur polo, preliminary matches were played at GB and Chtral in which best players and horses were selected for the mega event.

    Normally, each team consists of six players with two to four players were kept reserved for replacement for a misfit player in a field to compete for the title in our hour thrilling matches on drum beats by the locals.

    Besides freestyle polo, tourists enjoy free paragliding, rocks mountaineering, musics, cultural dances and sports events in the beautiful valley of Shandur surrounded by the snow-clad mountains, lush green forests amid birds chanting velleys, hide and seek between sun and clouds, cool breeze, waterfall amid funs and laughter.

    This year, polo event was inaugurated by Commissioner Malakand Division, Shahidullah Khan on July 7, 2023. Director General KP Tourism and Culture Authority, Bakhtiar Khan, Brigadier Imran Khan, senior civil and military officials were also present.

    Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Govt’s Culture and Tourism Authority (KPCTA) in collaboration of Pakistan Army, District Administrations of Chitral Upper and Lower, Police and others relevant departments have organized.

    Commissioner Malakand said the efforts of government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and relevant departments have greatly helped in successful holding of Shandur polo festival this year. 

    He said preparations for the event was started six months ago, adding Federal Govt has been requested for construction of the Mastuj Road for better road connectivity to Shandur.

    He said free style polo was our traditional game that plays an important role in promotion of adventure and sports tourism. 

    He said the mountain range of Malakand division is most suited for adventure and mountains sports and the provincial government, tourism department and tourism and culture authority are working together to make thus region a hub of tourism.

    Meanwhile, the spectators also applauded the paragliders, who exhibited a spectacular show of para trooping and performed various daring tricks in the sky, making the event memorable.

    Children from Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral performed on national songs, whereas traditional dances exhibited by the boys of Kalash valley.

    They enjoyed the concert at night that included traditional music of Gilgit Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa besides the popular Shandur song of Zek Afridi.

    The tourists were highly impressed by the excellent arrangements made for successful holding of the historic event.

    Impressed by paragliding, another tourist of Nowshera Khayam Omar said that tourists took keen interest in adventure sports including mountaineering, hiking, rocks climbing and traditional food.

    Enjoying the pleasant but relatively cool nights at Shandur, he said cultural and musical shows with traditional ‘tabla and rabab’ enthralled domestic and foreign tourists last night.

    He said such events would help promote sustainable tourism and adventure sports in northern areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa besides promote the country’s soft image.

    He suggested for using digital technology to showcase Shandur polo event properly to earn valuable foreign exchange for the country.

    Saad Khan, spokesman Cultural  and Tourism Authority KP told APP that Shandur polo festival was successfully underway attended by a significant number of tourists in large number on the second day for whom elaborate arrangments were made by the government.

    He said such event will help ensure conservation of existing polo sports and promotion of new tourism sites besides bolstering rural economy.

    Stalls have been established to highlight and promote the artworks of Chitral and Gilgit local artists and skilled people, he said.

    Director General, KP Culture and Tourism Authority, Bakhtiar Khan said that tourism police were deployed of assistance and guidance of tourists at Malakand and Hazara divisions including Shandur.

    He said elaborate arrangements regarding food, accommodation and security were made for facilitation of tourists at Shandur.

    Saad Khan, spokesman of the KP Culture  and Tourism Authority told APP that in order to promote adventure sports,  a 14 kilometers long cable car service between Upper Dir and Chitral Lower were planned that on completion would turn KP a hub of tourism.

    He said around 358,330 tourists including 156 foreigners throng in Northern Areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa during holidays of Eidul Adha.

    He said more than 37,369 tourists went to Upper Dir while around 22,384 tourists enjoyed their Eid holidays in the scenic areas of Mallam Jabba in Swat district.

    He said most number of the tourists was recorded in Galliyat areas where over 201,000 people thronged. 

    Around 102 tourists visited Upper Chitral while 5,816 people went to Lower Chitral and 82, 659 to Naraan and Kaghan.


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