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After 60 years polo returns to Gurez Valley

  • Uploaded by Uploaded by Deeba Khalid Written by Shafat Malik
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Gurez Festival
After more than six decades, the traditional field sport, polo, made a comeback in the picturesque Gurez valley, located along the Line of Control in North Kashmir's Bandipora district.
Recently awarded gold for being best offbeat destination, Gurez valley hosted the polo match after such a long gap which enthralled the locals.
The match was held to mark the culmination of Gurez Festival aimed to project the tourism potential of the border area.
Locals appreciated the initiative of the Tourism Department and District Administration for organising and reviving the age-old tradition of polo in Gurez. 
Deputy Director Tourism for publicity, Deeba Khalid told Rising Kashmir that since the polo had been played in Gurez long ago, the department this year decided to revive it and subsequently a tournament was conducted here. 
She said polo is an age-old game of central Asia that travelled to Ladakh, Gilgit and Gurez areas through Silk Route and there is need to revive the game in Gurez valley by organising more such tourneys.
 “We will be approaching educational institutions of the valley to popularise the sport in the valley since that’s where the talent can be groomed,” Deeba said. 
Deeba said the Tourism Department is keen to take every possible step which will bring back the memory of days of yore in Gurez valley. 
Habibullah, an elderly local, told Rising Kashmir that it is a sport that is close to their hearts and they would want to see polo hogging the limelight like it once did.
He said that there are multiple reasons that spelled the inevitable decline of polo’s popularity in Gurez valley, “but the respect and love for the sport hasn’t faded.” 
Notably, the Tourism Department on Saturday organised the culmination ceremony of Gurez Festival where the major attraction of the day-long event was the polo match which was played between two teams of local youth.