Shandur Pass (top) is a level ground of several square kilometers at a height of 3700 m.
Shandur Pass Connects Chitral with which place?
This mountain pass connects Chitral to the Ghizer Valley of Gilgit Baltistan on the other side.
Size of Shandur Top
It is about 25 kilometers square of flat surface in between high mountains.
History of Shandur Pass Top
Shandur is where, during olden times, the royals of Afghanistan and Gilgit Baltistan used to converge in the Summer Season to play polo and build rapport between the two kingdoms.
Weather at Shandur Top
The weather and temperature at Shandur top are pleasant in summer. The temperature hovers around 15 degrees Celsius in Summer. The Sunrays are deep, so bring your sun caps, sunglasses, and UV protection cream with you.
Food at Shandur Top
Also, there is nothing much to eat after Mastuj, so stock food and snacks before you leave Chitral towards Laspar and Shandur Pass. The map towards Shandur Pass and pics, photos are posted below:-
Our journey to beautiful Shandur Pass (top);
Last September, we went to Chitral ( our story is in this link), through Lowari Tunnel. Lowari tunnel is an engineering marvel and connects North-West Pakistan with the rest of the country.
Even Alexander the Great could not cross the Lowari Pass, coming southwards; this shows how strategic this tunnel is. Chitral is itself a beautiful city; very historic. There are many hotels to stay there.
Chitral to Shandur Pass to Gilgit Route Map
It is like traversing a mountain range, West to East
Chitral To Mastuj
Mastuj town comes before Shandur Pass.
From Chitral, we decided to go to Shandur Pass. We left for Shandur Pass early in the morning with the plan to stay a night at Mastuj.
Distance between Chitral to Mastuj is almost 120 km but it took us 6 to 7 hours to reach there.
Golan Gol Hydroproject Chitral
On our way, we stopped at the Golan Gol hydropower project to see a beautiful waterfall.
Buni village comes along the way to Mastuj. In this village, the road becomes a dirt track. At some locations, it is just wide enough for one vehicle only.
This is part of the national highway linking Chitral to Gilgit and it is in not good condition but the sceneries was breathtaking.
The road from Chitral to Mastuj has to be covered on a 4×4 vehicle. Suzuki Mehran can also cover this distance because of its lightweight but some culverts on the way will cause problems. I’ve heard they are trying to build a carpeted road now.
Mastuj to Boghil Pass Wakhan Corridor
We plan to go towards Broghil on some other tour (probably on jeep/horseback).
I was expecting Mastuj to be a little more established as it is one of the main towns of the Chitral district but had only a few mud houses and dirt lanes.
It had a PTDC motel, with 12 fully furnished rooms and a restaurant (according to their website). I cannot comment on it, as I didn’t stay there.
Charges were Rs 11000 per night.
We stayed with the Chitral scouts, which was quite good. There was electricity only from 7 pm to 7 am, through a micro-hydro plant.
Things to do in Mastuj
While we were in Mastuj we went fishing but couldn’t catch anything. But it was fun and the adjoining mountains are towering and beautiful.
The whole place was very serene.
Mastuj River flows along the town and is later joined with the Lotkoh River and eventually becomes the Chitral River. While passing through Afghanistan it is called the Kunar River.
Mastuj to Shandur Pass (Top)
The next day we again started for Shandur pass early in the morning. The total distance is from Mastuj to Shandur is about 40 to 45 km. but it took us four hours to reach there. And it was worth it.
Although the road was rocky and all uphill but I believe it was a much better road than the road we traveled the day before.
It needed strong nerves to maneuver. Only 4×4 vehicles can go through this track as close to Shandur the track becomes rocky and ascending.
The serenity of hidden valleys
Laspar Valley of Chitral
Two interesting things that we saw while on our way to Shandur were Yaks (locally called Zho) and the beautiful and untouched valley of Laspar.
The vehicle has to be fit to travel such a distance in a dirt/rock track. Take your food along with you as there is not much available on the route, till Gilgit Baltistan.
Reached Shandur Pass (Top)
After Laspar Shandur pass (12000 Feet) opens up in front of us. It is a flat plain of about 20 km with towering mountains on either side.
There is a beautiful lake on one side and the world’s highest polo ground in the center of the plate.
It is one of the major mountain passes of Chitral-Gilgit-Baltistan. It is located in the Ghizer District of Gilgit-Baltistan.
The flattop of Shandur comes as a surprise after driving uphill for several hours. This pass can be crossed between late April to early November. Everything at Shandur is beautiful.
The blue-colored lake, the Rocky Mountains, and the polo ground themselves. This ground is called Mas Junali (in the Khowar Language, mas means moon, and Junali means polo ground). I was told the area around Shandur Lake is a national park.
Shandur Polo Ground
It was built in 1935. In fact, the word ‘polo’ originates from a Balti word that sounds the same. Shandur Polo ground is located dead in the middle of the huge mountain plateau.
Dates of Shandur Polo festival?
Every year traditional polo tournament is played between the teams of Chitral and Gilgit from the 7th to the 9th of July, called the Shandur Polo Festival.
We went in September so there was no match to see.
I gathered information about polo ground from the internet, which says that this polo ground was established in 1914 and the name written on the polo ground was MAHORANOARH POLO GROUND, named after an Afghan queen who came to watch a match.
The caretakers of polo ground were Chitral scouts who were very hospitable and gave us tea, biscuits, and pakoras. You have to be there to understand what I am saying.
Shandur National Park
Shandur National Park is the area around the drive between Shandur Pass and Phandar town of Ghizer Valley
We reached Shandur at around 10 am. We stayed there for one hour. Instead of retracing our steps, we decided to move in the opposite direction that is towards Gilgit Baltistan.
The road again was non-metaled but in much better condition.
After a short drive downhill, we came across a large lush green meadow, crystal blue water was running thou it, and yaks were grazing on it. It was an unbelievable sight.
The dirt track is for 4×4 vehicles only. The road becomes metaled after the start of Gilgit Baltistan (GB). Our return journey was long but it is another story for that you can go to this link.
But let me mention the beautiful Valley of Phander and Ghizer, which are must-visit places. Gah Kuch is a lovely tourist spot one hour short of Gilgit. We reached Gilgit at 5 pm.
Round Trip Islamabad to Shandur
It is possible to conduct a round trip from Islamabad to Chitral to Shandur Pass to Gilgit and back to Islamabad in 5 days.
The road ascending to and descending from Shandur Pass is gorgeous all around. The road further ahead to Phandar, Ghizer, and Gahkuch is even prettier.
If you want to book your visit to these places, do inbox me.