Shandur Polo Festival: Gilgit defeat Chitral after five years

Published: July 10, 2011
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Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Mehdi Shah presents a runners-up trophy to Chitral polo team’s captain. The Gilgit team defeated the Chitral team, their traditional rivals, at the Shandur Polo Festival on Saturday. PHOTO: THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE

Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Mehdi Shah presents a runners-up trophy to Chitral polo team’s captain. The Gilgit team defeated the Chitral team, their traditional rivals, at the Shandur Polo Festival on Saturday. PHOTO: THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE

GILGIT: 

More than 10, 000 spectators witnessed Gilgit’s spectacular victory against Chitral at the historic Shandur Polo on Saturday.

The Gilgit team defeated their traditional rivals in a thrilling match at the highest polo ground in the world, recovering the trophy from the formidable Chitral team after several years.

The Gilgit team’s captain Ghulam Abbas lifted the trophy which his team had won last time in 2005 in spite of the team’s initially shaky performance in the first half, when they lagged behind 4-3. The second half saw the team scoring four more goals, resulting in a 7-4 lead.

The Gilgit team had boycotted the event last year in protest of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s territorial claim over Shandur. After successful negotiations, however, the team decided to participate this year.

Known as the “Game of Kings”, polo is played at a height of approximately 12,000 feet above sea level at Shandur since 1930 when Colonel Evelyn Hey Cobb, the British Reisdent at that time, introduced polo to the area. The game is still played in accordance with rules introduced centuries ago.

Three other teams from Gilgit beat Chitral teams during the tournament, dominating the tournament that Chitral had won for five consecutive years.

Besides, polo, the three-day festival also included other events like paragliding, tug-of-war and musical chairs.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2011.

Correction: July 11, 2011

Due to an editing error, an earlier version of the photo caption incorrectly stated that the Gilgit polo team’s captain was receiving the trophy and the event took place on Sunday.

This has been changed to: “Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Mehdi Shah presents a runners-up trophy to Chitral polo team’s captain. The Gilgit team defeated the Chitral team, their traditional rivals, at the Shandur Polo Festival on Saturday.”

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Reader Comments (5)

  • sajid
    Jul 10, 2011 - 8:12AM

    since 1930 when Colonel Evelyn Hey Cobb, the British Reisdent at that time, introduced polo to the area.
    This line is dubious because it is not clear what the word “area” refers to, “Shandur” or “Gilgit/Chitral”. It should have been clearly stated that although Colonel Cobb came up with the idea of holding matches at Shandur pasture, the game itself was played elsewhere in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral even before the Britons arrived.

    Musical Chairs doesn’t belong to the category of sports such as Polo, Tug of War, and Paragliding. It should be dumped in upcoming Shandur festivals.

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  • N Balti
    Jul 10, 2011 - 11:00AM

    Col Evelyn Hey Cobb set the precedent of organising annual polo tournaments at Shandur top in 1936, although it is fact that polo was played in the Chitral & Gilgit regions since time immemorial.

    Agree, musical chairs has no place in an evevent of this nature that showcases free style and rugged mountain polo!

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  • MysticSoul
    Jul 10, 2011 - 7:04PM

    Read the caption to the picture……It is Shahzada Sikandul Mulk, captain of Chitral team holding runner up trophy not gilgit captain…how come such an error goes un-noticed Recommend

  • Fawad Ali Shah
    Jul 10, 2011 - 8:15PM

    This is picture is WRONG. This is actually Chitral polo team’s captain Shahzada Sikandar-ul-mulk

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  • dr sabk
    Jul 11, 2011 - 2:31AM

    salam………..exactly…the pic belongs to the chitral team captain.Recommend

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