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Shandur Polo Festival

Shandur polo festival

The “King of the Games” is Polo. While Ghizer residents of Gilgit-Baltistan refer to Shandur Valley as their “cold sanctuary,” the people of Chitral refer to it as their “fairy house.” This competitive game started in Gilgit, where the British later rediscovered and popularised it.

On the highest Polo field in the world, polo excitement will be at its peak. One of the world’s oldest and wildest polo events is the Shandur festival. Since 1936, this historic occasion has been held at the Shandur polo field. Genghis Khan, the Mongol emperor, used this game to prepare his soldiers.

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The pass features a lovely polo field where teams from the area compete in a distinctive wild-free style of polo. The Shandur Lake is next to the polo field. The festival in the mountain ranges is a beautiful cultural experience. 

Shandur Polo Festival Chitral
Shandur Polo Festival Chitral

Shandur Polo Festival


Every year in the first week of July, the polo tournament brings the tribes of Gilgit and Chitral together for a three-day event 7th, 8th, and 9th of July. At the Shandur Polo Festival, spectators from around the world congregate to see these competitive teams compete for supremacy. The municipal government made all required preparations for the function. A colorful opening ceremony that featured spectacular performances by paratroopers and skydivers that earned rounds of applause from the audience marked the start of this year’s Shandur Polo Festival.

Rules and Concepts for Competition:

In Shandur polo, there are six players per squad. The game is divided into two parts of half an hour with a 10-minute break. The residents entertain the audiences with traditional and cultural displays in between acts.

One polo pony is allowed per player, and if a player or pony is forced to leave the field due to injury, the opposing team also loses one player. It is not allowed to put a brand-new polo pony into the contest because doing so would give it a clear edge.

The best horses and players from the qualifying matches are picked by the local judges to compete in the final games at the Shandur Polo Festival. The team that scores more goals will win the game. There is no umpire in the game.

Shandur polo festival

The field is roughly 200 by 56 meters (a typical polo field is about 270 by 150 meters), 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 somewhat slowing down the speed, which, when everything is taken into account, likely adds a little bit to safety. The horses’ legs frequently lack bandages, players hardly ever wear helmets, and mallets frequently lack grips or straps.

Where To Stay For The Shandur Polo Festival:

During the Shandur Polo Festival, Shandur Pass transforms into a camp in the village with resorts for both domestic and international visitors. It’s a chance to experience three days in a lovely environment 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.

The Shandur Polo Festival Location: 

The Shandur Polo Ground is located in Shandur Pass, which separates Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province from Gilgit Baltistan. At 3,700 m, Shandur Polo Ground is regarded as the highest polo field in the world. There are 170 kilometers distance from Chitral and Gilgit. Pakistan International offers daily F27 Fokker flights from Islamabad to Gilgit & Chitral. Entry to Gilgit via the Karakorum Highway from Islamabad.

Activities other than the Shandur Polo Festival: 

Shandur polo festival

  • The festival offers a wide range of events, and throughout the competition, supporters add to the excitement.
  • Since the celebration takes place in Chitral District, the region where the Kalash Valley is located, you may also find the tribal Kalash people joyfully partying, singing, and performing near Shandur Pass during the occasion.
  • Youngsters from the Kalash Valley showed off traditional dances while kids from Gilgit-Baltistan performed national anthems.
  • Additionally, you can do climbing and trekking in this area within the lovely surroundings, with Crystal clear lakes, snow-capped mountains, alpine flowers, and wide fields of green grass are further attractions.
  • Fishing for trout and boating are two activities available in the nearby Shandur Lake. You can also enjoy paragliding, shooting, and horse riding.

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