Shandur Pass – The Breathtaking Views from Shandur Top
You must’ve been to many high-altitude places and mountain passes before, but hold your breath because you’re about to read something you haven’t tried before—an enthralling experience of visiting an old and historic crossing between Ghizer and Chitral. Shandur Pass is one of the most spectacular sights in Gilgit Baltistan. It lies between the Chitral District in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Ghizer district of the Gilgit-Baltistan region, at about 3738 m above sea level. The pass is often called the Roof of the World. And that’s because of its high elevation and breathtaking scenery.
The pass is a great spot for trekking, as it offers stunning views of the Karakoram Range on one side and the Hindu Kush range on the other. You will come across many attractive mountains, vast green plains, lakes, and rivers that make your journey more exciting.
Shandur Pass, Pakistan, has the highest polo ground in the world, which helps this spot attract many tourists and polo lovers. The flat plateau and the lush green meadows make it a perfect place for playing polo; it’s a natural Polo ground.
The story of the Shandur polo festival started in 1936 to onwards. Initially, the polo tournaments were held under the patronage of the British and became an actual annual celebration with time.
From the 7th to the 9th of July, this festival gradually became a massive celebration for locals, guests, and fans.
The weather is usually dry and cold from mid-September to early June, with temperatures ranging from -10°C to 28°C. The temperature rises during the summer, but the weather remains pleasant due to its high altitude. However, even in the peak of summer, there are windy and cool days.
The pass has its importance in Pakistan’s tourism. It is one of the high mountains passes in Asia and forms a vital link between two significant regions from both sides of the mountain range.
Let’s unveil more exciting facts and explore the activities there.
Shandur top has an exciting history, and you’d be glad to read it. The initial name of the pass was Mas Junali, a word of the Khowar language that means “polo ground on the moon.” In the early thirties, the political agent mayor of the Uk named Evelyn Hey Cobb passed an order to the Nambardar of Ghizer to develop a polo ground in Shandur. Nambardar implemented the orders, and a vast polo ground at Shandur got set.
The polo ground already became a significant spot as it was the basis for friendship between Chitral and Ghizer/Gupis-Yasin districts. When Sher Ali Anchan occupied the region of Chitral, he used to play polo on this ground.
Many other political figures and princes of history played polo and enjoyed their time here, making this place historically significant. Hence polo is considered the king of games. The Pass is the doorstep for tourists to enjoy the games on the world’s roof.
The polo at Shandur polo ground is played between small kingdoms, valleys, and rival groups of the Chitral and Ghizer districts.
Shandur Pass Weather
The weather is best in June and July. The weather is relatively mild during these months, and temperatures remain around 15 to 20 °C (68 to 74 °F). However, this can drop at night due to its high altitude.
The winter season on Shandur Pass brings snowfall and cold winds. Hence it is not suitable for trekking and other activities. The temperatures can range from 1 °C (33°F) to -6°C (21°F).
So the area becomes pleasant green meadows in summer and a snow carpet in winter.
Shandur Pass Geography
The Shandur Pass connects Chitral in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan and the Ghizer district of the Gilgit-Baltistan region. It is situated at 3,734 meters (12,242 feet) above sea level.
Mountains surround it, making it cold or bone dry. You will see mesmerizing valleys, beautiful glaciers, and many mountains pass like Karakoram Pass on the way.
An overnight stay at the Phandar valley is recommended if traveling to the Pass. You can easily travel through a 4*4 on this route. So gear up for the adventure!
Why is Shandur Pass Called Roof of the World?
The locals call it the ‘Roof of the World’ because It is one of the highest passes in the world, connecting two beautiful regions. The pass offers a breathtaking view and an unforgettable experience.
It’s also called the roof of the world because the Hindukush, Pamir mountains, and Karakorum range meet at this point. You can only cross this flat plateau between April and November.
This place is home to a polo ground, the highest in the world, and Shandur hosts a traditional polo tournament every year.
When Is The Best Time to Visit Shandur Pass?
The ideal time to explore the beautiful Shandur Pass is from late May to early September, as the weather is pleasant during this period and makes for a perfect outdoor adventure trip.
During this season, travelers can witness breathtaking scenic views and explore the beauty of nature with its mountains, grazing yaks, green plains, and Shandur Lake.
The festival of the highest polo tournament in the world is also celebrated during this time as it provides a perfect backdrop for travelers to explore and enjoy the culture, traditions, and lifestyle of Kalash Valley.
Shandur Pass Attractions
This is a place full of attractions that travelers can enjoy. Therefore, one can make the most of their visit as there’s plenty of fun and entertainment.
The most popular attractions in the region include:
1. Breathtaking Scenery
It offers stunning views of the mountain ranges, lush green meadows, and snow-capped peaks, making it an excellent destination for photography lovers.
The scenery of this place is even more majestic during the spring season and the Shandur polo festival, as the games are being played with a stunning backdrop. Also, remember to take pictures of the mesmerizing Shandur lake.
2. Attractive Mountains
The majestic mountains surrounding the region are one of the area’s main attractions. Although it is also home to some of the most significant peaks in Pakistan, towering mountains are on either side. That makes it an excellent destination for trekking and mountaineering enthusiasts who want to take on challenging mountain trails.
3. Beautiful Vast Green Plains
Shandur Pass is known for its vast green meadows, which spread for miles on either side of the pass. These perfectly contrast the surrounding mountains and make them a fantastic sight. The greenery is stunning during spring when everything is filled with shades of green, yellow, and other colors.
4. Shandur Lake
One of the main attractions is the beautiful lake nearby. Shandur lake is one of the most beautiful pools in Pakistan, and the upper side is leveled; that’s why people call this place the Roof of the World. The temperature at the lake is constantly 14 degrees, and it hardly goes up or down, which makes the overall climate quite shady.
The clouds that hover above the lake add to its beauty, and the greenery around the lake attracts more and more tourists.
5. Shandur Polo Festival
Shandur polo festival is one of the major attractions of this pass. Every year, tourists from around the globe gather to witness and play in the polo tournament hosted here every July.
The highest polo ground in the world is in Shandur, which brings more and more traffic to Shandur polo fest because tourists want to witness the game with a view!
This festival brings together local and international players who come to show their skills on the magnificent Shandur Top. Apart from polo games, other activities like traditional music, dance, horse riding, and yak racing also occur.
Is there any Hotel Near Shandur Pass?
The Shandur polo festival lasts 2-3 days, so polo lovers need a place to stay nearby. Also, the tourists who’ve come to enjoy a view need to relax after their tiring day. For that purpose, many hotels nearby exist, unlike many other attractions in Pakistan.
There are a few hotels where visitors can stay for the night while exploring.
1. Shandur Paradise Hotel
This hotel offers comfortable accommodations with breathtaking views of the mountains. There’s a restaurant, a lounge, and a terrace for guests to relax. You can surely enjoy the view with evening snacks after a day of exploring the area.
2. Shandur Hotel and Restaurant
This hotel is close to the Shandur Pass and offers basic amenities such as air conditioning and free Wi-Fi. Other facilities include a restaurant and laundry service. So you can have a sumptuous meal here before you set out for the pass.
3. Shandur Guest House
The hotel is a bit far as it’s on the way to Phandar valley, but its facilities are worth the distance. It has private rooms and dorms, a dining area, and a kitchen facility. The view here is breathtaking, as you can see the snow-capped mountains.
How Much is the Height of Shandur Pass?
The height of Shandur Pass is 3,700 meters (12,139 feet) above sea level. It is located in the Ghizer district of the Gilgit Baltistan province of Pakistan and is considered one of the most picture-perfect areas of Pakistan.
The road is unpaved and is difficult to traverse in wet weather. However, you can easily travel through a 4*4 on this route in good weather conditions.
Distance of Shandur Pass from Gilgit Baltistan
The distance from the district capital of Gilgit is roughly 230 km, and it takes around 8-10 hours to reach, depending on the road conditions. The road leading up to Shandur Pass is narrow and windy and is surrounded by lush green meadows and snow-capped mountains on both sides.
Location of Karakoram Pass
The location of Karakorum pass is on the boundary line between the Indian Union Territory of Ladakh and the Xinjiang Autonomous region of China. This pass is in the Karakorum mountain range and is the tallest path on the ancient Caravan path in the middle of Leh in Ladakh and Yarkand in the Tarim valley.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Shandur Pass open?
It remains snow-covered in winter and isn’t accessible during extreme winter, i.e., December or January. However, it’s accessible between late April and early November.
So the best time to visit is from June to August.
Why is Shandur Pass famous?
Shandur Pass is known for its beautiful landscape, unique geographical features, and the historic Shandur Polo Festival held every year in July. The festival draws people from around the globe and is a great way to experience local culture.
What connects Shandur Pass?
Shandur Pass is connected to Chitral and Gilgit by road through the scenic lowland regions of Chitral and Ghizer valley. The pass also connects Gupis, Gilgit, and Chitral valleys. This place has the world’s highest polo ground, where a majestic polo tournament is held between locals of Chitral and Gilgit every year.
Shandur Pass, Pakistan, is a beautiful natural wonder in the Hindukush that offers breathtaking mountain landscape views. It is located at an altitude of 3,700 meters. It is famous for its stunning scenery, beautiful mountains, vast green plains, Shandur Lake, and the annual Shandur Polo Festival, which draws people worldwide.
So pack your bags and explore the outstanding beauty of the Roof of the World!