Saturday, December 19, 2009

Moony Polo Ground at Shandur


Horse is a mighty animal that God ever created. Its loyalty and faithfulness attracted it to men, who became its best friends, and masters. The horses not only helped in transportation but also took men to war. But beside that, horses also played alongside men when its master played. So the game of Polo was born. Played all over the world, the royalties in the Indo-Pak subcontinent also played a game known as Chogan, similar to the game of polo as played today. One of the kings, Qutab ud Din Aibak died while playing polo in Lahore and is now buried in Anarkali - one of the oldest bazaars of Lahore.

While polo is played in all major cantonments of Pakistan, as polo is one of its most popular sports in the army, the game at Shandur, 3,700 meters above sea level, near Chitral has a charm of its own. Polo was first played here as far back in 1936, when one Major Cobb, the British Political Agent of then Northern Areas started playing polo at night when it was a full moon, since he thought that moon looked so near the earth that a match in a moonlit night would change the very meaning of the game. Because of this the Shandur polo ground came to be referred to as the "Moony Polo Ground".

The Pakistani-bred Punjabi and Afghan Badakshani ponies, both the result of breeding from Himalayan mountain ponies and English thoroughbreds, are ridden in a wild style, with a lot of skill and at full speed. 

Due to its distant location and special climatic conditions, only teams from Chitral and Gilgit participate in the annual Shandur Polo Festival, held in July each year when the snow has melted and the weather is just right for the game to go on. The match is the centrepiece attraction of the Annual Shandur Festival, and a large number of local and foreigners participate in the festivities besides enjoying a hearty polo match.

Watching Polo at Shandur in the full moon may not possible now, but it’s a once in lifetime dream for any polo player to reach to the venue and watch it being played on perhaps the highest polo ground of the world.

3 comments:

Admin said...

You have a neat blog and wealth of information here.

Shiirazi said...

I was in Chitral (Mirkhani) for two years you know. This is one of those rare memories.

hushed said...

I have been planning to go watch SHandur Polo for the past 3-4 years now, somethign or the other keeps me.
Plannign very strongly for 2010
maybe we can go together Jala cha? huh?