Shandur Top, the roof of the world is one of the entrance to the splendid valley of Chitral in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. Shandur Top is world renowned pass which is located about 3740 meters above sea level exactly in the midway between Chitral and Gilgit and commonly known as “ The Roof of the World”. Covered with high snowy mountains in winter and lush green meadows in summer Shandur Top is particularly known for its traditional Shandur Polo Festival which is held annually in the month of July.
Shandur Top is the meeting point of Hindukash , Pamir and Karakoram ranges. It can be reached via air or by transport. Subject to good weather conditions daily flights are available from Peshawar and Islamabad to go to Chitral and then this fantastic spot can be reached by jeeps. From Chitral and Gilgit the land route is adoptable by 4×4 jeeps but both the ways are full of marvelous sceneries of nature. The famous Shandur Lake is a big lake and is the habitat for waterfowl species. This lake and other beautiful streams situated in this piece of heaven are also the home of the delightful Trout fish. The native language of Shandur Top is Khowar.
In 1936, a traditional polo tournament was initiated in Shandur Top. Polo “ The royal sport” which is also considered as the king of all sports and remained as the favorite game of the royal elites. Since then every year in July, Polo is played in its original form on Shandur Top and a grand polo tournament takes place yearly which is world famous as Shandur Polo Festival. This colorful event full of regional folk music and dances , camping and other entertainments makes the chilled environment of Shandur lifetime memorable. The top teams of Gilgit and Chitral participate in this polo contest. Every team consists of six players with three or four reserve players and it seems a warlike encounter between the sides. All contestants play without helmets and also demonstrate their tartar blood. The players also roar at each other and it is important to mention that this freestyle polo is played without specific rules. The polo stick also works as a dagger, which can be used to whip or hook the opponent horse. The team which scores nine goals, wins the game. The tournament lasts for three days and the final is played on 9th of July.
This fabulous festival is organized by the Gilgit-BaltistanTourism Department at Shandur Top , the roof of the world and thousands of local and foreign visitors attend this tournament. After the ending of festival the tourists start other activities like visiting the beautiful valleys of Chitral Mastuj, Boni, Kalash and on Gilgit-Baltistan side Phunder, Gupis, Yasin & Ishkoman valleys and similarly Gakuch Gilgit, Hunza and Skardu which are the centers of centuries old cultures and customs.