Shandur Polo Festival: The World’s Highest Polo Ground

Nestled amidst the pristine beauty of Gilgit-Baltistan lies a unique and awe-inspiring event that captivates the hearts of both locals and travelers alike. The Shandur Polo Festival, held annually at the world’s highest polo ground, is a celebration of tradition, sportsmanship, and cultural exchange. As the event approaches, let us delve into the magic that makes this festival a true marvel.
Why Shandur Polo Festival is Celebrated?
The Shandur Polo Festival holds a historical significance that dates back centuries. It is believed to have originated during the time of the Mauryan Empire when King Ashoka sought to resolve a territorial dispute between Gilgit and Chitral through a game of polo. Today, the festival symbolizes peace and harmony between the two regions, fostering a sense of unity and brotherhood.
The Festivities
The Shandur Polo Festival is a week-long extravaganza that typically takes place in the second week of July, attracting thousands of visitors from around the globe. The festival features thrilling polo matches between local teams, representing Gilgit and Chitral. The participants showcase remarkable horsemanship, using their skills to manoeuvre the ball with agility and finesse. The intensity of the matches is only heightened by the breathtaking altitude of the playing field, which stands at a staggering 3,700 meters above sea level.
Cultural Extravaganza
Beyond the exhilarating polo matches, the festival offers a myriad of cultural activities that showcase the rich heritage of the region. Traditional dance performances, folk music, and arts and crafts exhibitions add a touch of vibrancy to the event. Visitors have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the local culture, learning about ancient traditions and the way of life in the highlands.
Hospitality and Warmth
One of the most endearing aspects of the Shandur Polo Festival is the warmth and hospitality of the locals. Despite the challenges posed by the high-altitude terrain, the people of Gilgit-Baltistan welcome visitors with open arms. Traditional dishes, including mouthwatering chapshurro, pulao, and local dairy products, are served generously to guests, adding to the overall experience of the festival.

Adventure and Scenic Beauty
Apart from the polo matches and cultural festivities, the surroundings of Shandur offer an adventure seeker’s paradise. The picturesque Shandur Lake, encircled by snow-capped peaks, is a sight to behold. The region is ideal for hiking, trekking, and camping, providing an opportunity to immerse oneself in the natural beauty of the Karakoram and Hindu Kush ranges.
Preserving Traditions
The Shandur Polo Festival plays a vital role in preserving the traditional sport of polo in its purest form. The festival encourages the younger generation to embrace their cultural roots and engage in physical activities that are deeply ingrained in the heritage of the region. By celebrating the sport at this high-altitude ground, the festival not only captivates spectators but also inspires future polo players and enthusiasts.
The Shandur Polo Festival is an event that leaves an indelible mark on the hearts of those who attend. From the captivating polo matches to the cultural revelry and breathtaking landscapes, it offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience. As the world unites to celebrate tradition, sportsmanship, and cultural exchange, the Shandur Polo Festival continues to be a testament to the beauty of diversity and the grandeur of human endeavour.
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Written By Madiha Mubarak

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