PESHAWAR - The three-day Shandur polo festival will kick off in Shandur from July 7.

“The festival will be organised from July 7 to 9, as for a couple of years the annual three-day event could not be held on the old dates due to Ramazan,” Secretary Sports, Tourism, Archaeology, Museums, Culture and Youth Affairs Muhammad Tariq told a meeting on Wednesday. The meeting discussed the process to put in place the arrangements and float advertisements to attract tourists from across the world to the spectacular event.

Additional Secretary Babar Khan, Col Saqib of Frontier Corps, Tourism Corporation Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (TCKP) MD Mushtaq Ahmad Khan, GM Sajjad Hameed, Deputy Commissioner Chitral Irhsad Sudhar, District Police Officer Mansoor Aman, Deputy Secretary Sports Jamshed Khan, President Chitral Polo Association Sikandarul Mulk, Director Culture Ajmal Khan, PIA official Fayyaz Ahmad and officials from other departments also attended the meeting.

Secretary sports said that polo had become a popular game internationally. Every year thousands of visitors and tourists from across the world come to Chitral to watch the grand gala, he added.

He said two polo teams from Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan would participate in the game of kings. Besides other arrangements, he said, the department would also arrange transport service from Chitral to Shandur to facilitate the visitors. “The local cultures including music, and Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan’s performing arts would be displayed besides setting up stalls and a tent village for providing boarding and lodging facilities for both foreign and domestic tourists,” he added.

The official said that PIA would arrange special flights from July 5 to 12 to Chitral. He said there were a number of other programmes to showcase work of local artisans and cultural nights during the three-day festival. He said the district government of Chitral, police, army and other stakeholders had assured full cooperation to organise the festival in a befitting manner.

The secretary issued directives for establishing a tent village, tourism information centre, renovation of polo ground, water and power supply, power generators, telephone, transport, publishing of brochures and advertisements for publicity of festival at national and international level, arrangement for media coverage, security and provision of other facilities.

Cultural and music evenings and fireworks are other features to be arranged at night time while paragliding, traditional dances of Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan will be organised in the day.

The Shandur annual festival brings a great sense of contentment among the people of these districts. The festival is often embellished with cultural orientations of both the teams that include their cultural dances, paragliding and folk music. Chitral attracts thousands of domestic and international tourists annually, especially during the Shandur and Kalash festivals. This year, the number of foreign and domestic tourists is expected to be more than the previous years.