Indian Horse Riding Challenge

At a GlanceItineraryDetail

Riding With Kings – India

Ride across the Thar Desert of Rajasthan aboard Marwari horses.

This riding holiday in India takes place in the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan, north India which is a semi-desert region  famous for the painted “havelis” or merchant’s mansions. Shekhawati is nicknamed the “openair art gallery of India” because it has such a herritage of architecture: many of the buildings date from C18th to early C19th and Shekhawati contains so many havelis that travelling in this area is like a treasure hunt. The highly decorated walls and the ceilings of these houses are in contrast to the surrounding land.

The Horses

The Marwari horse is descended from war horses that served the ruling Rajput families of feudal India. Their status is unparalleled because they were declared divine and superior to all men, including those of Royal blood. Accordingly, only the Rajput families and the Kshatriyas – warrior caste – were permitted to ride them.

Marwari horseThe Marwari horse, with lyre-shaped ears.

The Marwari horse stands between 14 hh and 17 hh depending to a great extent on its geographical origin; stock from more fertile areas grows larger than their desert counterparts. Furthermore, foals now achieve larger proportions due to improved nutrition and better parasite control and the modern average is 15 hh to 16 hh.

The Marwari comes in all colours including the boldly coloured ‘ablacks’ (Piebalds or Skewbalds) particularly favoured in India. The Marwari’s natural tendency to perform would make him particularly suitable for dressage. He is a tough, brave and a beautiful horse who has proven his ability to adapt and thrive in most environments.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 London to Jaipur

Fly overnight London to Jaipur

Day 2 Jaipur to Nawalgarh village

Arrive in Jaipur early inthe morning and drive into Jaipur. Breakfast at the absolutely charming Dera Mandawa, the first of several sympathetically restored hevalis that we will experience. Set off for the country in private minibus bound for Nawalgarh: total driving time 4 1/2 hrs.

A royal welcome greets our arrival at the Roop Niwas Kothi, lying just outside the small town. The Roop Niwas is a fascinating blend of European and Rajput style of architecture with spacious lawns, swimming pool and a billiard room for the evenings. Founded in 1737 by Thakur Nawal Singh, a warrior statesman, whose name is enshrined in local folklore. The town exudes an old world charm and the colourful bazaar has the largest number of painted Havelies in Shekhawati.

Overnight Roop Niwas Kothi

   Marwari horses saddledAbove: ready to set off. Marwari horses saddled and set!

Day 3 Nawalgarh

After breakfast we visit the stables where we meet the team for the safari. Devendra Singh (the owner of the stable) will introduce each member to his horse and offer advice on how to ride a Marwari. You can then ride around the school near the castle to get accustomed to your horse. Ride out into the grounds and we’ll pause for lunch in the castle grounds.

 

Horse Ridding holiday Thar DesertAbove: desert watering stop, Thar Desert.

After lunch we take a ride outside the palace grounds with Devendra Ji on hand to offer advice and guidance. We try out all the gears during this ride, so get ready for action! If riders are not comfortable with the horse that has been selected for them, you are welcome to try another.

Overnight Roop Niwas Kothi

local devlivery Thar Desert  Rajasthan

Above: local delivery cart, Thar Desert, Rajasthan

Day 4 Nawalgarh

Today we take a morning ride, with picnic breakfast, to explore the surrounding countryside, returning in time for lunch. Afternoon is free time at the palace or you can enjoy sightseeing in Nalwagarh visiting havelis to see frescos and painted houses.

Overnight Roop Niwas Kothi

Horse Ridding holiday Thar Desert lunch stop

Above: picnic lunch stop, Thar Desert, Rajasthan.

Day 5 Nawalgarh to Churiajitgarh and Nabipura

Today we set out on safari. We ride through semi-desert areas with small farms where the countryside is dotted with Khejri trees. En route we will stop for a picnic lunch and a long rest before riding on through semi desert farmland to reach a small copse and waterhole. Many herds of Nilgai, the indigenous antelope, and “blue bulls” (the mature males) may be seen around camp.

A typical day on safari

To give you an idea of what to expect here is a typical day in the saddle…

Wake up early and have a wash in one of the camp’s warm-water shower tents before sitting down to some Indian-style scrambled eggs and Chai (chai = milky, spicy, sweet tea – which is much nicer than it sounds!).

The grooms will tack up your horse and we set off before the sun gets too hot. The morning ride usually lasts between 3 and 4 hours, often with a watering stop en route for both horses and riders. It doesn’t take long for the horses to warm up and before you know it, we are cantering along the sandy tracks with the sun on our backs. The hours and miles will fly by and in no time it’s time for lunch.

Life in the countryside stops when the mercury rises, so we take a long slow lunch in the shade and rest for several hours. Take a nap, play a card game, or simply enjoy some time to relax and read.

In the late afternoon as the sun descends we mount our Marwari horses once again and set off for about a two hour ride. Before long we will see the bright colours of our tented camp and a lively canter gets us there in no time.

Each night is spent in a tented camp but this is no ordinary camp and you will be provided with blankets, quilts, pillows, a mattress and a camp bed. Grooms riding with the team will feed and water the horses.

Overnight in camp.

Loved Marwari horses

Above: The Marwari horses are loved and cared for  – even down to a personal clip!

Day 6 Nabipura to Dabri to Fatehpur Beed

Set out in the morning riding through semi-desert towards Fatehpur Beed, which is best described as equivalent to our SSSI’s (Site of Special Scientific Interest). 300 years ago the Nawab (feudal lord) of Fatehpur mounted his Marwari and declared that all the land he could ride around between sunrise and sunset would be protected for posterity. Today Fatehpur Beed is an amazing 70 km² where indigenous plants thrive. Today’s picnic lunch is near a typical Shekhawati water tank “Johda”. While camping in Beed you should see desert fox, jackal, nilgai and others. This protected area demonstrates that if human activity is restricted a scrub-forest can be created in a desert. We settle down for supper in camp near a ruined havelis that overlooks the entire Beed.

Overnight in camp.

Luxury camping on the trail of Riding With KingsAbove: camp life. Luxury camping on the trail of Riding With Kings.

Day 7 Fatehpur Beed to Ramgarh

Today we ride north further into the Shekhawati heartland; the landscape becoming more arid. The sand dunes are dotted with greenery where plants have found water and again we have the opportunity to enjoy some long canters and maybe even a gallop!

Ramgarh is a small town with many painted havelis, and an interesting traditional market place.

Overnight camp in a quiet meadow.

tack-room Thar desert RajasthanAbove: the make-shift tack-room, Thar desert, Rajasthan.

Day 8 Ramgarh to Mehansar castle

Riding through high sand dunes and desert villages, we reach the beautiful small village of Mehansar. Mehansar Castle is a charming, family-run hotel with basic comforts but excellent home-cooked food.

The afternoon is free to rest from the rigors of the desert and the long rides.

Overnight in Mehansar castle.

horsemen in RajasthanAbove: “Riding with Kings” is guided by a couple of the best horsemen in Rajasthan.

Day 9 Mehansar to Lalsinghpura return to Mehansar

Today we trek a circular trail with a picnic breakfast and lunch during the ride. We have one last gallop and return for some late afternoon site seeing in Mehansar visiting the Gopinath temple and the famous Sone Chandi Ki Haveli.

Overnight Mehansar Castle.

VentureCo’s  horse riding holiday desert camp, RajasthanAbove: VentureCo’s desert camp, Rajasthan. Totally mobile and carried in jeeps and camel carts.

Day 10 Mehansar return to Jaipur

After breakfast we make the return journey by private coach to Jaipur (approx 4 hours). Packed lunch provided.

Farewll dinner on the rooftop terrace of a private house in Jaipur.

Overnight Dera Mandawa haveli, Jaipur.

Day 11 Explore Jaipur

Today is set aside to explore the Pink City;there is no fixed itinerary because there is so much to see and such variety. The previous evening we will discuss some of the options and gauge the feeling. Famous sites such as the Palace of the Winds, Amber Palace and Jantar Mantar Observatory are always popular, but hidden gems such as Anokhl (taxtiles) and the Kripal Singh Shekawa pottery are also well worth a visit.

Overnight Dera Mandawa haveli, Jaipur.

Day 12 Jaipur to London

Fly from Jaipur to London (daytime flight).

What’s included in the price?

• Return flight from London to Jaipur
• Airport transfers in India
• Transfers from the stable in Rajasthan
• Accommodation on twin-shared basis
• 3 meals per day
• Soft drinks with meals during the camping section
• Water included with all picnic meals
• Horse riding as detailed in the itinerary
• Services of local staff, outriders and grooms

Not included:

• India visa (allow approx £105)
• Additional snacks during rides
• Water and soft drinks when not on safari
• Alcoholic drinks
• Transport to/from airport in UK
• Travel Insurance
• Vaccinations and travel health products
• Tips

 

To discucss  your horse riding holiday in India please contact the VentureCo team, we’ll be only too happy to help plan your tailor made trip to India.

stud stallion
Above: the stud stallion.

British Horse Society India Trip 2013

BHS India 2013

BHS India 2013

Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal (available as a trip extension)

Pick of the crop; Marwari colt

Pick of the crop; Marwari colt

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