Kalash Shandur Polo Festival Tour Overview
Experience in Kalash Shandur Polo Festival Tour a traditional polo (closest to its original form ) tournament between the teams of Chitral and Gilgit in first to second weeks of July each year, at world’s highest Polo ground. The festival also includes folk music, folk dance, traditional sports and a camping village is be set up on the Pass. An equestrian sport with its origin embedded in Central Asia dating back to 6th century BC. It became a Persian national game in the 6th century AD. From Persia, the game spread to Arabia, then to Tibet, China and Japan. In China, in the year 910, death of a favorite relative in a game prompted Emperor Apao-Chi to order beheading of all players!
Polo was introduced in South Asia, by the Muslim conquerors in the 13th century. English word ‘Polo” is in fact a Balti word meaning, “ball”. In ancient times, there was no limit to the number of players and no time limit. Whichever team scored nine goals first, became the winner. In the past in Gilgit Baltistan and Chitral, local Rajas, Mirs and Mehtars were the patrons of the game. At times, more than 50% of the annual budget of their principalities was spent on supporting the game.
Today, there are six players to each side, but this is by no means a rule in local polo games. The game lasts for one hour with a ten-minute break.
Kalash Shandur Polo Festival Tour Highlights
- Watch the game of king and king of the games at shandur, 3734 m, world highest polo playground
- Visit places that other tours miss, and get to know the locals
- Music, dance, colorful market stalls and fairground events
- Travel to the cross-cultural villages
- Exclusive visit to a traditional Kalash homes, museum and artisanonry – meet with artists and learn how to drape and wear a traditional dres
- Darosh Fort with its gorgeous Garden
- Drive past Lowari top or Lowari Tunnel to Chitral or take a spectacular flight
Kalash Shandur Polo Festival Tour Itinerary
ARRIVAL in ISLAMABAD
One of our staff will meet you at the airport and escort you to the hotel. Today either you can relax or (depending upon your arrival time) you can enjoy an exploratory walk in he old part of Rawalpindi; wander past the vegetable and spice markets, beautifully carved old houses and trucks, cows pestering the vegetable vendors, catch traditional craftsmen at work in silver and gold bazaars .You will then continue on the main street linking the Twin cities – Murree Road – before arriving at the gleaming new capital, Islamabad. You pass shining new buildings and thousands of park areas – a full 50 percent of the 350 square mile site is set aside for parks. You will then stop at the Shakar Parian to catch a bird’s eye view of Islamabad. Our next stop will be Shah Faisal Mosque which is the landmark of Islamabad.
TAKHT BHAI – malakand pass - Dir
We leave today after breakfast for Swat, a picturesque northern Pakistan valley towards north east. It has a rich historical past, too. The “Udayana” (Golden) of the ancient Hindu epics; the land of enthralling beauty, where Alexander of Macedonia fought and won some of his major battles before crossing over the plans of Pakistan. This is the “valley of hanging chains” described by the famous Chinese pilgrim chronices, Huain Tsang and Fa-Hian in the fifth and sixth centuries. Swat was also the historical land where the Muslim conquerors, Mahmud Ghaznavi, Babar and Akbar fought their battles preparatory to conquest of South Asia. En route we visit the Bala Hisar mound at a distance of 28 kilometers dating back to 2500 years old and the capital of Gandhara from sixth century B.C to second century A.D. According to Herodotus , the Greek historian writing in about 460 B.C Darius sent the explorer Scylax of Caryanda to sail down from here and find the sea. Gandhara remained with Achaemenid Empire for next 200 years until its overthrow by Alexander the Great in the fourth century B.C.
Our next stop will be at Takht e Bahi Buddhist monastery of first century A.D. It has 38 votive stupas and the largest statues must have been 33 feet high donated by rich pilgrims, supposed to enshrine the ashes of Lord Buddha and surrounded by the chapels. Then we will see the cells of Monks in the Monastery Court. These cells are believed to be originally plastered and painted in different colours.
The next part of our journey is to Chakdara passing through the Malakand Pass. Photo stop at the top of this pass will allow admire superb panoramic views over the valley. There is also a Fort built by the British. There are also a few Churchill Piquets all along the Pass. These security check posts were used by the British army to watch the movements of local Pathan tribes who fought against them. Despite the heavy fights that lasted years, the British army never succeeded in defeating local tribes who posed them fierce resistance. In fact, British controlled the whole subcontinent except this zone which is now known as Khyber Pakhtoonkhaw. Next is Chakdara Fort, which was built by Emperor Akbar in 16th century and now in use of Army.
Drive: 6-7 hrs
Lowari pass/Lowari Tunnel - Chitral
From Dir it takes six to seven hours drive via Loweri Pass to reach Chitral Valley. This drive to Chitral via the pass is spectacular and you will enjoy each moments of our drive long drive. The Lowari Pass at a height of 3,100 meters with zigzag descend with breathtaking views of Chitral Valley are as fascinating g as any other alpine valley.
Today after arrival in Chitral we visit Chitral Fort, standing on the bank of Kunar River beside a 1000 years old Shahi mosque rounded by many chinaar trees. From here we proceed towards polo ground and after that to Chitral Bazaar.
Drive: 4-5 hrs
Today we leave to the most exciting part of our tour is visit to Kalash Valley, the home of the Kafir-Kalash or “Wearers of the Black Robes”, a primitive pagan tribe. Their ancestry is enveloped in mystery and is the subject of controversy. A legend says that five soldiers of the legions of Alexander of Macedonia settled in Chitral and are the progenitors of the Kafir-Kalash.
The Kalash women wear black gowns of coarse cloth in summer and hand-spun wool dyed in black in winter. Their picturesque headgear is made of woolen black material decked out with cowry shells, buttons and crowned with a large colored feather.You can also visit a typical Kalash house to observe their life style and Kalasha Museum in Bumboret.
Drive: 6-7 hrs
mastuj- Shandur pass(3700m) Shandur polo Festival
Today morning from Kalash valley we will drive to Chitral and continue drive on Chitral Mustuj road passing through the scenic Booni villages, stopping enroute for rest and visiting local village house to upper Chitral Mastuj village. after a brief stop there we will drive via Langar, Barsat,Laspur village for the thrilling Shandur Polo tournament at Shandur polo ground, highest polo ground in the world to watch free style polo game.
Drive: 09-10 hrs
Shandur polo Match - free day
Today will see the polo match and at watch cultural shows at night offered by diverse cultural groups.
Shandur polo Match - phander - khalti lake
Today will see the thrilling final polo match. Afternoon drive to Phander and onward to Khalti lake.
gilgit -Babusar pass - Naran
Drive onward to Gilgit. Visit Kargah Nala, Old Gilgit town and drive for Naran on the Karakoram Highway and Naran Chilas Road through captivating and enthralling landscape of zigzag road winding terraced filed, fruit laden orchard and above Babusar pass at a height of 4145 m. The Valley extends for 155 km rising from an elevation of 2,134 meters to its highest point, the Babusar Pass, at 4,145 meters. Before Karakoram Highway was opened in 1978, the only road access to Gilgit was through Kaghan Valley.Kaghan valley is a very beautiful & attractive valley. That’s why it is called virtual paradise, unbelievably in pristine state and still unspoiled by the human. You’ll find the Himalayan peaks hidden with clouds or snow, somewhere you’ll find the beautiful fairy tale lakes, which will attract you toward them, and you might decide not to leave this at any cost.Take a rest at the pass enjoying the scenic beauty around before descending down to Lulusar lake.
Lulu Sar Lake which is wreathed in blue and gold wild flowers, and is the main source of river Kunhar. Near Gittidas is the 11,000 feet high Lulusar Lake out of which river Kunhar issues anew with redoubled strength to flow down the valley first as placid blue stream and then a roaring torrent until it joins the Jhelum. Lulusar has very enchanting beauty and its view remains in the mind of tourist for a long time. The is surrounded by snowcapped hills whose purple and white forms are reflected in the green-blue waters of the silent lake, making it one of the most beautiful spots in the valley. Take a rest at Lulusar lakes and drive down to Naran stopping at Gittidas, Batakundi for scenic photo ops. These are numerous scenic places, sheer, snow capped mountains ascending from deep valleys, lush alpine meadows are carpeted by colorful wildflowers and dazzling fruits. Terraced villages dot this monumental terrain, supported by traditional farming methods and lifestyles that have changed little over the centuries.
Drive: 10-12 hrs
sailful maluk lake- balakot - islamabad
Naran to Lake Saiful Muluk dusty jeep track is approximately 9 km in length with hiking tracks difficulty level ranging from easy to medium. It can be traveled by jeep in one Hour. Net elevation gain is around 700m (2300 feet).
It is almost impossible to describe the beauty of this lake, which is like mirror at the altitude of 3200 meters. The Queen of the Mountains is standing in the east and looking her image in the mirror of Lake Saiful Maluk. You can spend few days here to monitor the guards of lake, which are towering peaks and spread all around the lake.
late morning drive down to naran and drive through kaghan valley to Balakot. Aftter a brief stop at Balakot, drive onward to mansehra stopping at scenic points for photo ops and also in Manserha to visit Ashoka Rock Eddicts.
Mansehra Rock Edicts are fourteen edicts of the Mauryan emperor Ashoka, inscribed on rocks in Mansehra. The edicts are cut into three boulders and date back to 3rd century BC and they are written in the ancient Indic script of Gandhara culture, Kharosthi. The edicts mention aspects of Ashoka’s dharma. This site is World Heritage Sites tentative list.
After Manserha rock edicts visit, we will pass through the alpine scenery of Galyat and Murree towards Islamabad.
Evening back to Islamabad, proceed to airport for onward flight.
Drive: 8-10 hrs
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From early childhood a place somewhere beyond the horizon was where I wanted to be and in the passing years since, I have made it my goal to satisfy that yearning! growing up in Baltistan gave me a great love for that part of the world, from K2 to Nanga Parbat to makin the first venture on Gondogoro la and much in between.
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