Jan 25, 2011

Festival On The Roof Of The World

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Shandur Polo Festival

By Tanveer Khadim

Every year between July 7 and 9, a polo tournament is held at Shandur Pass in northern Pakistan, between Chitral and Gilgit --- two towns located on either side of the Shandur Pass. It is legacy of  British officer, Colonel Evelyn Hey Cobb, who in 1936 organized the first such tournament between the two arch rivals. each year visitors from around the world come to witness this truly unique event.

As in past years, this again a huge crowd of locals and foreign tourists will experience the excitement, thrill and passion at the world's highest polo ground 12,200 feet above sea level.  With dancing, shouting and roaring crowds, the sound of traditional drums and horn bands or bagpipes, Shandur Pass comes to alive during this tournament.

If you aren't into polo there are other fascinating attractions to keep you captivated. These include folk music, and dances, cultural shows, handicraft exhibitions, trout fishing at nearby lakes and streams, rafting and paragliding.

Besides these, you can enjoy regional folk games like the tug of war on horseback competition, locally known as buz kashi, tent pegging, racing with a bucket full of water on horses without saddles and donkey polo (played in a similar way to regular polo except that the players ride donkeys).

 If shopping is your thing, then you can head over to the shops set-up nearby by local traders which offer a wide array of antiques, handicraft and souvenirs. While there, don't forget to try out the local food which is to tantalize your taste buds.

If you are concerned about where to stay, you need not worry as other than the government rest houses and Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) motels there are private hotels for tourists which offer all the basic facilities.

So if you haven't been able to take summer vacations that you wanted to, why not head north and experience the delight of the Shandur Polo Festival.

Source: Dawn Newspaper (Pakistan)