Polo Festival Underway From July 7
July 7, 2011 1 Comment
The trophy was last won by Chitral last year after the Gilgit team boycotted the event in protest of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s claim over Shandur, just 100 kilometres from Gilgit.
Yet this year Gilgit is back and both provinces seem keen to show unity. Both Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Mehdi Shah and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti are to be the chief guests at the finals.
At least four teams each from Gilgit and Chitral will play against each other in the three-day tournament beginning July 7.
Thousands of polo enthusiasts visit the region every year, where the game has been played since it was introduced in the region by the British. As a result, Shandur has become a seasonal tourist hotspot.
Polo, ‘The Game of Kings’ is played here under the ancient rules which governed the game when it was first invented, the duration of which is normally an hour separated by a 10-minute break.
The polo tournament in Shandur was initiated by Colonel Evelyn Hey Cobb, a British political agent in the 1930s, who was a keen polo player himself.
It was agreed that the games should be held between the best teams from Chitral and Gilgit, and played following the centuries-old rules of Ali Sher Khan, who claimed to be a direct descendant of Genghis Khan.
The festival, now an integral part of the culture of Chitral and Gilgit, is not just about polo, however. Other events include a tug-of-war, paragliding and musical chairs.