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    September 29, 2016



Retardation of Polo game badly effected the tourism in Chitral

By Zahiruddin

CHITRAL: The retardation of the game of polo in Chitral is likely to cast adverse effect on the tourism sector as the tourists coming to Chitral evinced great interest in the game and their number can decrease exponentially if the game dies out.

Those associated with tourism industry in Chitral said that almost all the tourists coming to Chitral yearn to watch polo match and demands its inclusion in the roster of tour to the area and showed resentment when told that there was no schedule of polo matches during their visit.

Abdur Razaq, managing director of Terich Mir Tours, told Chitral Times  that a number of foreign groups intending to visit Chitral diverted to Gilgit-Baltistan where polo is still a popular game with large number of polo grounds in every village.

He said that polo has been most popular game in Chitral till 1970s and the former rulers of the area lavishly patronized it and there was hardly any village which was without any polo ground.

“They helped the people in different valleys and localities to raise horses to use them in the war times while during the days of peace, the horses were used for playing polo and the princes were imparted special trainings and some of the princes of 18th century are still known as accomplished players of polo”, he said.

“The folk literature of Chitral is replete with the description of polo and horse riding while the hero as well as the villain in every folk story were accomplished polo players and riders”, he said.

The game of polo received a set-back in 1980s when the people found it an unaffordable economic burden to raise horses while official patronage was extended to them to meet the costly expenses.

Most of the polo grounds in different villages were encroached upon by the people in 1980s completely or partially by the people due to the indifference of the government and this gave a deadly blow to the game.

Arshad Ali, a tour operator said that at present polo is played only in Chitral town while the eco-tourists expected polo show in every village where they go and they felt dejected when they are told its unavailability there.

He said that since the commencement of Shandur Polo Festival in 1985 as annual event on regular basis has greatly helped promote tourism both in Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan as the tour operators advertise it to attract tourists.

Zafar Ali Shah, a consummate polo player of 1990s, said that the game was salvaged by Chitral Scouts as it extended all possible backing to it by raising horses and maintaining a number of polo teams by employing a good number of players in the force.

He said that the polo teams of Chitral Scouts contained some of the famous players the area has ever produced and it was due to the fervent support of the force which saved the game from reverse gear four decades ago when it was in high jeopardy.

Mr. Shah said that Chitral police and Chitral Levy have lately came to patronize the game by raising horses and employing players in its polo teams which must be appreciated.



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