Chitral wins annual Shandur Polo Festival
Chitral defeated Gilgit-Baltistan on the last day of the annual Shandur Polo Festival to clinch the coveted trophy.
The three-day famous Shandur Mela commenced on Friday at the world-highest, 3,800 meters, polo ground in Khyber-Pakhtunkwa’s Chitral district.
The closely-fought match was won by the home side with a scorline of 10-9.
The event saw over 1,000 tourists from Pakistan as well as other countries. A large number of locals also attended the prestigious event.
Shandur Festival had been celebrated regularly over the past few decades; however, it didn’t take place during the last two years due to Covid-19 restrictions.
According to hindukushheights.com, “Chitral and Gilgit have always played the game of polo closest to its original form”. Each team has six players with two halves of 25 minutes each along with a 10-minute interval. Only one polo pony is permitted per player, and if a player or pony leaves the field injured, the opposing team also reduces its strength by one player. A fresh polo pony may not be introduced into the game, as that will prove to be a distinct advantage.
The field measures about 200 meters by 56 meters, as compared to a normal polo field of 270m by 150m, with 60 cm high stone walls running the length of the field on both sides instead of boards.
In order to decide the final teams to play at the Shandur Polo Festival, preliminary matches are played both in Chitral and Gilgit. The best horses and players are chosen for the final games by the local juries after the preliminary matches.