Retardation of Polo game badly effected the tourism in Chitral
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
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
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.