If one has not witnessed Ashes Series in cricket, Wimbledon tournament in Tennis, Brazil vs Argentina football match in FIFA world cup and Chitral vs Gilgit match in Shandur polo festival so far then he is deprived of great joy in life. These rivalries have unique identification in the world of sports; if one is a supporter of any side then it will take one minute up and next minute down.
I feel lucky as I have got a chance to travel to Ghizer District to watch live matches between Chitral and Gilgit in Shandur Polo Festival.
Polo is a Central Asian Origin game; it was first played in Persia (Iran). This is also called Game of kings as it was mandatory for the king’s guard to learn. Meanwhile, The initiation of Polo in Shandur is credited to The Balti Raja of Skardu; Ali Sher Khan Anchan who built Shandur polo ground as well. Shandur is situated at an altitude of 12,500 feet (38000 meters) above sea level is famous for having the highest polo ground in the world. It is also called Roof of the World.
Finally, we are here in Shandur, after traveling for almost 2 days from Hyderabad. The teams of Ghizer and mustang could not qualify for the final whereas arch-rivals Gilgit and Chitral are practicing for the final of this year’s tournament.
Spectators of both sides are in huge numbers, roaring and supporting their sides. This game is in their blood, so win or defeat matters a lot in their lives. Many are shouting Chitral, Chitral, Chitral, meanwhile, from another side of the ground we are hearing “ Is Dafa Gilgit, Is Dafa Gilgit ( this time for Gilgit).
Foreign tourists and adventurists arrive here in great numbers every year, they enjoy chants of locals, capturing moments through lenses of their cameras.
Hot favorite, Chitral has defeated Gilgit consecutively for the 5th time. Chitralies are roaring but a pin drop silence can be observed in followers off Gilgit. Although one has to lose and vice versa, if you are a follower of this game of emotions then hold your nerves! It is very tough to accept defeat for a while.
Shandur Festival offers one to enjoy this unique game, an amazing local culture, traditional dances and mouth-watering cuisines. if you possess a passion to explore and experience the beauty of this Festival then mark your calendars for this an amazing world of Shandur.