Shandur Polo Festival (Urdu: شندور چوگان میلہ) is a sports festival held annually from 7 to 9 July in the Shandur Top in Pakistan. The polo tournament is played between the teams of Gilgit District and Chitral District, under freestyle rules.

Organized and financed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Government, the tournament is held at Shandur Top which is the world highest polo ground at an altitude of 3,700 meters (the pass itself is at 3,800 meters). The festival also includes folk music, dancing and a camping village is set up. The polo tournament is featured in the first episode of Himalaya with Michael Palin.

Polo is an equestrian sport first played in Central Asia in 6th century BC. Its objective was to train the cavalry and simulate a real-life battle.

The world’s highest polo ground is in the small village of Shindoor in Pakistan. Located at an altitude of 12,000 feet above sea level, the ground sits in the shadow of the towering Hindukash mountain range. The unique location of the polo ground makes it a popular destination for adventure seekers and polo enthusiasts.


In 1935, UK Administrator for Northern Areas Evelyn Hey Cobb asked Balti Raja of Skardu, Ali Sher Khan Anchan, and Nambardar of Chitral, Niat Qabool Hayat Kakakhel, to construct a polo ground in Shandur, which was duly completed with the help of the local population. 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 Ghizer River. Due to this service, the Directorate of Fisheries was established and hundreds of people were employed. Now, the mass of those fishes in Hundarap Lake reaches 24 kg and in Baha Lake Khukush Nallah, their mass reaches 40 kg.[1][2][3][4][5][6] Therefore, Mas Junali became a source of connection between the people of Chitral District in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and neighbouring Gilgit-Baltistan.

^ The Pakistan Journal of Forestry. Pakistan Forest Institute. 1 January 1973. ^ Israr-ud-Din (2008). Proceedings of the Third International Hindu Kush Cultural Conference. Oxford University Press, 2008 - Reference - 540 pages. ISBN 978-0-19-579889-0. ^ Dawn. "GILGIT: Scouts accused of expanding encroachments". ^ pakistan tour and travel. "shandur festival". ^ express, tribune. "Rumble on the roof of the world". ^ Ground Effect - an excerpt from T. Mulliner's book Long Ride for a Pie Archived 2012-02-20 at the Wayback Machine ISBN 1-86966-135-4
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