Shubinak traces its beginnings to a place where the world ends and Paradise begins:
The Chitral region of the Hindu Kush mountain range in Pakistan is one of the most isolated areas of the western end of the Himalayas (elevation: 1128m, population: 318, 689), and is surrounded by high mountain passes, deep green valleys , and ageless mountain glaciers which play a significant role in shaping these valleys. Chitral is located at the base of the towering Tirich Mir, the highest peak of the Hindu Kush; it is the fifth largest peak in the world. This mystical area is the familiar abode of giants and fairies since times immemorial. Its majestic hills still preserve the huge caves inhabited by the ancient giants called KASH and GABBAR. 

The historical evolution of Chitral is a direct result of its foreign influences which include the Iranians, Arabs, Chinese, and Hindus. The Tartars Genghis Khan and Tamerlane also have major influences, as well as the armies of Alexander of Macedonia (Alexander the Great). Lawrence of Arabia also settled for a time near Chitral. The main language is “Khowar”, and the people are called “Khow”. Ninety percent of the people speak this language, and the other 10% speak Phalra, Gujari, Dameli, Gawar-Bati, Nuristani, Kalasha, Yidgha, Wakhi, Kirghiz, and Farsi.
The Chitral valley is one of the main arteries of the Silk Road (Baroghil Pass to China). The Lowari Pass (3,118m) is the southern and the Shandur Pass (3,734m – at the point where the road passes through) is the northern gateway to Chitral by road. The road journey from Peshawar takes 12 hours. Pakistan International Airline Fokker flights take 45 minutes from Peshawar and are dependent upon the weather.
A major attraction of Chitral is the Kalash Valley. Home of the Kafir Kalash, or “weavers of the black robes”, a primitive pagan tribe which practices a culture and belief and a way of life which dates beyond history. They are believed to be descendents of the armies of Alexander the Great who called the Hindu Kush “parapamisus” meaning mountains over which eagles can fly. The history and origins of the Kalash are shrouded in mystery; Alexander’s armies said that they were the descendents of Dionysus since they were already there and practicing beliefs similar to the Greeks when his armies arrived. Others believe that Chitrali’s are the descendents of the Europeans and even vice versa.
Still others believe that they came from Afghanistan since there were Kalash valleys there as well and before Afghanistan the theory is that they came from Siam, the area known as Thailand today, but the Kalash in Afghanistan were forcibly converted to Islam, which leaves just 3000 Kalashi’s still living in Pakistan. The women of Kalash wear a black woolen home spun dress, called a “Cheo”, with numerous beaded necklaces and an exceptional headpiece covered in cowry shells, bells, beads, and trinkets. Unique to the Kalash people are their cone-shaped baskets woven from goat hair around a structure composed of mulberry and wild almond branches. The Kalash are a very simple and innocent people who love to sing and dance.
The history of Chitral is ancient, and the handicraft of “Shu”, otherwise known as “Patti” is a continuation of Central Asian customs passed on from generation to generation. Surprisingly, the process of development of the tools involved in it has continued with very little change. The production of “Shu” can be dated as far back as 1500 B.C. while the rich tradition of “Shu” is deep-rooted in the remarkable culture, mythology and folklore of Chitrali society.
“Shu” is created in a natural environment by both the men and women of Chitral, each of who play an equally important role in the production of this handicraft. The economic cycle in Chitral is wholly different from other parts of Pakistan because of its location in the Hindu Kush. Spinning, weaving, embroidery, and hand-knitting are done in the comfort of one’s home during the cold weather. The production of handicrafts is often the only source of income for Chitrali households. Items are made with the materials available for their production as well as the existing means for producing them. The skilled hand has always enjoyed a high status in Chitrali society. An old Chitrali saying “Khowistan a aurat abaad” means “The land of the Khow is prosperous due to the efforts of the women” shows the admiration for women in Chitral. Knowledge and production of natural, hand-made items in Pakistan is not only an economic necessity, but a tradition which establishes society and the patterns of its existence.


Events & Festivals in Chitral

Shandur Polo Festival

Shandur Top (el. 12,200 feet (3,700 m)) located in Chitral District,  Pakistan. Shandur is often called the ‘Roof of the World’. The top is flat, a plateau and can be crossed between late April and early November. The grade is very gradual, and the area is crossed by plentiful small streams during summer. The boundary line between Ghizer District (GB) and Chitral District is also situated in Shandur Top in Punji-Lasht as per the international boundary law division by watershed initially demarcated by Lt. Col AG Durand( also known as Durand boundary line).

In 1935 UK Administrator for Gilgit-Baltistan E. H. Cobb ordered Niat Qabool Hayat Kakakhel nambardar of Ghizer to make a huge polo ground in Shandur. The polo ground was named “Mas Junali”, because in the Khowar language ‘mas’ is the word for ‘moon’ and ‘junali’ is the word for ‘pologround’, and Cobb was fond of playing polo in the moonlight.Cobb was impressed by Kakakhail’s resourcefulness and efficiency and wished to reward him for his service, but Kakakhail refused to accept any reward for his work. Instead, for the common benefit, Kakakhail asked Cobb to bring trout to stock the local streams. Cobb ordered live trout from England and dropped them into the River Ghizer. Due to this little service, Directorate of Fisheries had been established and hundreds of people got employed. Now the weight of those fishes in Hundarap Lake cross 24 kg and in Baha Lake Khukush Nallah, their weight crossed 40 kg.

So Mas Junali became a source of relation between the people of Chitral District and Ghizer District. The Shandur Polo Festival opens a door step to the people of the world to enjoy their selves. Many of the people from entire world come here to watch polo match.

Shandur invites visitors to experience a traditional polo tournament, which since 1936 has been held annually in the first week of July/Aug between the local teams of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral. The tournament is held on Shandur Top, the highest polo ground in the world at 3,700 meters (the pass itself is at 3,800 meters). The festival also includes Folk music, dancing and a camping village is set up.

Various teams of Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan have always played the game of polo closest to its original form. During the early 20th century, the British in neighboring India were the patrons of the game.Free-styled mountain polo is arguably polo in its purest form. This version of the game played at Shandur-Top has attained legendary status and is of great interest to international and domestic adventure tourists alike. There are no umpires and there are no holds barred. The rules are: There are no rules!

Historically, polo being the king of games was played between small kingdoms, villages and rival groups. From 1936 onwards polo tournaments were held annually at Shandur at the patronage of the British. The three-day Shandur Polo Festival has developed steadily in recent years into the massive celebration of mountain polo that it is today.