Shandur Polo Festival 2018 will be held at the world’s highest Polo Ground at Chitral on 7 of next month.Shandur Polo Festival management has invited visitors and tourists from across the Globe to experience a traditional polo tournament between the teams of Chitral and Gilgit Baltistan.The present game with a team of six players on a side lasts one hour with a ten minute break.

Gilgit, Chitral and Skardu have always played the game of Polo closest to its original form.Polo is an equestrian sport with its origin embedded in Central Asia dating back to 6th century BC.At first it was a training game for cavalry units for the King’s guards or other elite troops.To the war like tribesmen who played polo with as many as 100 players to a side, it was a miniature battle.

It became a Persian national game in the 6th century AD. From Persia, the game spread to Arabia, then to Tibet, China and Japan.Polo was introduced in South Asia, by the Muslim conquerors in the 13th century.English word ‘Polo” is a Balti word meaning, ‘ball’.

The first time a polo tournament took place at the Shandur Pass, was in 1936.A British Political Agent, Major Cobb, who was fond of playing polo under a full moon, had the polo ground near Shandur, named ‘Moony Polo Ground’.The most exciting polo tournament of the entire Northern Pakistan, is played on top of Shandur Pass, around 3,700 meters above sea level.

It is a place unique and exotic in itself, surrounded by some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in the world.The event marks the annual rivalry between the polo teams of Gilgit and Chitral.

By R.P