Shandur Pass, also known as the Roof of the World, is a high mountain pass located in the north of Pakistan. This pass connects the Chitral district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province with the Ghizer district of Gilgit-Baltistan. At an elevation of 3,700 meters (12,139 feet) above sea level, it is the highest polo ground in the world and is famous for the annual Shandur Polo Festival. This article will explore the history, geography, culture, and tourism potential of the Shandur Pass.
Shandur Pass has been used as a trade route between the Chitral and Gilgit regions for centuries. The name “Shandur” is derived from the Persian word “Shahdor,” which means “the highest point.” In the past, this pass was a vital link between the Silk Road and the Indian subcontinent. It was also a strategic location for military campaigns by various rulers, including Alexander the Great and the British.
It is located at the western edge of the Hindu Kush mountain range, which runs through Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is situated between two high peaks, the Shandur Top and the Karakoram Range. The pass is approximately 168 km (104 miles) from Chitral and 200 km (124 miles) from Gilgit. The weather is extremely harsh, with temperatures dropping to -20°C (-4°F) during winter.
The people of Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan are known for their unique culture and traditions. The inhabitants of these areas are predominantly Ismaili Muslims and speak the Khowar and Shina languages. The Shandur Polo Festival, which is held every year in the first week of July, is a cultural extravaganza that attracts tourists from all over the world. During the festival, traditional dances, music, and polo matches are held between teams from Chitral and Gilgit.
Tourism Potential of Shandur Pass
Shandur Pass is one of the most beautiful and scenic places in Pakistan. Its stunning landscape, high altitude, and unique culture make it an attractive destination for adventure enthusiasts and nature lovers. The pass offers several trekking and hiking trails that lead to some of the most picturesque locations in the region. The nearby Shandur Lake is a popular spot for fishing and camping. Tourists can also explore the nearby valleys of Mastuj, Phander, and Yasin, which offer breathtaking views of the Karakoram Range.
Trekking and Hiking Trails
Shandur Pass offers several trekking and hiking trails that are suitable for both novice and experienced trekkers. The most popular trek is the Chitral-Gilgit trek, which takes about seven days to complete. This trek offers stunning views of the Shandur Top and the surrounding valleys. Another popular trek is the Shandur Pass to Phandar Lake trek, which takes three days to complete. This trek passes through the beautiful Shandur Lake and offers breathtaking views of the Phandar Valley.
Fishing and Camping
Shandur Lake is one of the most beautiful lakes in Pakistan and is located near the Shandur Pass. The lake is surrounded by mountains and offers stunning views of the Karakoram Range. It is also a popular spot for fishing, and tourists can catch brown and rainbow trout in the lake. The nearby meadows offer excellent camping opportunities, and tourists can enjoy a night under the stars in the peaceful and serene surroundings.
The local cuisine in the Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan regions is unique and diverse. The people of these areas are known for their love of meat and dairy products. Some of the most popular dishes in the region include lamb kebabs, roasted trout, and chappal kebab (a type of grilled meat). Dairy products such as yogurt, cheese, and butter are also widely consumed. Tourists can sample the local cuisine at the many roadside stalls and restaurants in the area.
There are several accommodation options available for tourists visiting the Shandur Pass. The local guest houses offer basic facilities and are a great way to experience the local culture and hospitality. There are also several camping sites near the Shandur Lake that offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains. For those who prefer more luxurious accommodations, there are several hotels and resorts in Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan.
Getting to Shandur Pass
The nearest airport to Shandur Pass is in Chitral, which is connected to Islamabad by regular flights. From Chitral, tourists can hire a taxi or jeep to reach. The journey takes approximately five hours and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
In conclusion, It is a unique and beautiful destination that offers something for everyone. Its stunning landscape, rich culture, and unique cuisine make it an attractive destination for tourists from all over the world. Whether you are a nature lover, adventure enthusiast, or a culture buff, the Shandur Pass is a destination that should not be missed.
What is the best time to visit Shandur Pass?
The best time to visit Shandur Pass is from May to September when the weather is pleasant, and the pass is accessible.
Is it safe to travel to Shandur Pass?
Yes, it is safe to travel to Shandur Pass. The local people are hospitable and welcoming, and the area is patrolled by the police and military.
What is the altitude of Shandur Pass?
The altitude of Shandur Pass is 3,700 meters (12,139 feet) above sea level.
Can I rent a jeep to travel to Shandur Pass?
Yes, there are several jeep rental services available in Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan that offer transportation to Shandur Pass.
What is the Shandur Polo Festival?
The Shandur Polo Festival is an annual event that takes place in the first week of July. It is a cultural extravaganza that includes traditional dances, music, and polo matches between teams from Chitral and Gilgit.