Shandor Yearly Polo Festival


Visit Guide to Shandor Yearly Polo Festival

The Shandur Polo ground is in the district Chitral and is situated. It is bordered on the west by Yarkoon valley of Chitral and on the northerners by the valley of Gilgit district. It is the dividing point between the caracara and the handout mountains ranges. The polo ground is about 168 Km from the Chitral and accessible by jeep.

Getting There

The Shandur Pass, the destination of the festival, is midway between Gilgit and Chitral on a jeep road. To say the least, this road is adventurous and you will have a good time navigating around. You can get to Gilgit or Chitral by air from Islamabad or Peshawar. If you are from any other city, you will have to reach Islamabad first before taking the second flight. During the festival time, there are two daily flights, subjective to the weather.

On the other hand, those who want to travel by road should reach Islamabad or Peshawar from their respective cities. Both Peshawar and Islamabad’s route join together in the lower Swat Valley near Chakdara. You can take your car or better, hire a specialized driver to take you. From there, you go via Dir over 3200 meters high Lowari Pass on to Chitral. It will take 11 hours to reach without any interruption, however, we advise you to take a break at Dir before beginning the second leg of the journey.

What to Expect

The beautiful polo ground of Shandur turns into a city of tents each year between 7 and 9 July due to Shandur Polo Festival. A match of polo is held between teams of Gilgit and Chitral. A great number of tourists and spectators from different areas of the country especially Hunza, Skardu, and Chitral come to attend this event. Shandur Polo Ground is located at an altitude of 12,200 feet (3,700 meters) and it is very hard to play here due to the reduced amount of oxygen. It requires a lot of stamina and players must be physically very strong. The match is always marvelous because cream players from Chitral and Gilgit participate in it.

Shandur Polo Festival is continuously being held each year since 1936, and it is now a very famous event for tourists throughout the world. Now activities like paragliding, folk music, and dances are also held along with polo, making it even more enjoyable for tourists. PTDC and other tourism companies establish a tent village for the tourists during the event. But most of the tourists bring their own camping gear. Remember to bring warm clothes because it is very cold here especially after the evening.


The initiation of polo in Shandur is credited to The balti raja of Skardu; Ali Sher Khan Anchan who built the polo ground of Shandur as well. but 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 asked 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 the 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 Ghizer River. Due to this service, the Directorate of Fisheries was established and hundreds of people were employed. Now the weight of those fishes in Hundarap Lake reach 24 kg and in Baha Lake Khukush Nallah, their weight reached 40 kg.

Facilities Available

  • It is safe for families.
  • Accommodation in town and hilly areas are clean and affordable.
  • You can enjoy the hills, greenery, and peace from your hotel and resorts.
  • The road to the main towns is paved and accessible throughout the summers.
  • Jeep route takes you to the beautiful meadows and valleys. (if you don’t want to hike)
  • Tourism Department helps the Tourist/ Visitors through providing broachers in both Urdu and English languages. The local Police and the local Guides can speak multi languages (i.e local languages, Urdu, English and some of them can speak Chinese also).
  • Popular tourist locations have most of the facilities available including eateries, shops, dhabas, washrooms, guesthouses, and car/jeep rentals.
  • For hikers and trekkers, all the equipment and tents can be hired in the towns along with porters, local guides and horses, or mule.
  • Filling stations are available near to Shandur Polo which includes Petrol and Diesel.
  • Taxis are available in daily rent basis.
  • Shops are available in Shandur Polo