The initiation of Polo in Shandur is credited to The balti raja of Skardu; Ali Sher Khan Anchan who built the polo graound of Shandur as well, while some think that The initiation of Polo in Shandur is credited to the british occupiers who made possible the building of the polo ground. It is said that in 1935, UK Administrator for Northern Areas Evelyn Hey Cobb ordered Niat Qabool Hayat Kakakhel to make a well-constructed polo ground in Shandur. He constructed a polo ground with the help of the people. This polo ground was later on named as “Mas Junali”. The word “Mass Junali” is derived from Khowar language. The word “Mas” means moon and “Junali” means polo ground. Cobb was impressed by Kakakhail’s resourcefulness and efficiency and wished to reward him for his service, but Kakakhail refused to accept any reward for his work. Instead, for the common benefit, Kakakhail asked Cobb to bring trout to stock the local streams. Cobb ordered live trout from England and dropped them into the River Ghizer. Due to this little service, Directorate of Fisheries had been established and hundreds of people got employed. Now the weight of those fishes in Hundarap Lake cross 24 kg and in Baha Lake Khukush Nallah, their weight crossed 40 kg.
Shandoor Lake By Rakaposhi
So Mas Junali became a source of relation between the people of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Now Shandur Polo Festival opens a door step to the people of the world to enjoy their selves. Many of the people from entire world come here to watch polo match played between Chitral and Ghizer.
Polo at the Peak
The first time a polo tournament took place at the Shandur Top 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. The Polo tournament has some added attractions for the visitors; trout fishing at the nearby streams and lakes and a festival of folk dances and music of the Northern Pakistan.
The highlight of the festival is the final match between the Gilgit and Chitral teams. The final provides a most colorful spectacle. Supporters of both sides travel long distances from the remote parts of Chitral and Gilgit, to watch the thrilling game. The event, as such, offers a fascinating insight into the lifestyle of the people of this region. Their culture and indigenous customs are a delight to behold for the visitors.
Shandur Polo Festival area has. Crystal clear lakes, snow-covered mountains, alpine flowers and vast stretches of green grass, are added attractions.
When one goes toward Shandur, a tourist tent village with restaurant facilities is sprung up during the tournament. Merchants from Peshawar, Chitral and Gilgit set up souvenir and folk craft shops. The tournament offers visitors and opportunity to mix with the locals.