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Himalaya

Day 16: The Shandur Pass

The Shandur Pass, Pakistan 
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No lie-in when the bandís around. Early morning music heralds start of the Polo Festival at the Shandur Pass.
Michael Palin - HimalayaA beautiful morning. The clear skies that made the night so cold are china blue and an unblinking sun shines down, mocking my night's misery.

There are three big polo games over the next three days. The two villages nearest the pass, Laspur on the Chitral side and Ghiza on the Gilgit side, play each other today. Tomorrow is the turn of the Chitral and Gilgit 'B' teams, and the final day is the big match between the 'A' sides.

The Laspur team is camped, modestly, a mile or so back towards the pass. With only an hour to go before the game, supporters are still arriving, many of them walking up the long steep road from the village. Before they leave for the ground each player seeks the blessing of the elders of the village. Meanwhile, their supporters sit around listening to music. Various men (there are no women to be seen) are moved to dance. One of them moves particularly gracefully. My guide whispers in my ear.

'He is Taliban.'

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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 16: The Shandur Pass
  • Country/sea: Pakistan
  • Place: The Shandur Pass
  • Book page no: 37

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RELATED LINKS

  • Sightseeing
  • Day 5 
  • Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day 18 
  • Full Circle
  • Day 16 
  • Pole to Pole

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