A unique opportunity to escape the hubbub of Christmas in the UK and join the Chistmas horse ride India, and ride from fort to fort through Rajasthan. The Marwari horses are fit and forward going, the semi-arid terrain encourages all paces to be used and the accommodation is distinctive.
There are 5o or so horses in the stable so matching horse to rider is virtually guaranteed. A trial ride on the first day ensures that horse and rider are matched.
Arrive in New Delhi and overnight in hotel Vasant Continental or similar. (B&B)
Drive to Dundlod in the morning (about 6 hours) through rural Rajasthan. Lunch and overnight at Dundlod Fort.
Dundlod: The Dundlod Fort in the heart of the Shekhawati was built in 1750. This majestic fort surrounded by a moat (now dry), is a mix of Mogul and Rajputana architecture. The majestic Diwan Khana (the Audience Hall) is furnished with Louis XIV furniture. This old building has been beautifully maintained and now has all modern comforts. It has a banquet hall and each bedroom has its own charm. The fort stands on the edge of a small village of the same name.
Overnight: Dundlod Fort.
Drive down to the stables (3 mins away) and meet the horses. Take a trial ride around the stable block and adjoining land. When everyone is settle ride out into the agricultural land that surrounds Dundlod visiting several villages and riding by a number of small temples along the way. The terrain around this semi-desert area is soft and sandy and ideal for riding; plenty of opportunities for some good canters. Return to the fort for lunch and the afternoon is free to stroll around the adjoining village which is friendly and so far off the beaten track that you are sure of a warm welcome.
Overnight: Dundlod Fort.
Ride to Churi Ajitgarh (about 20 Km) passing through villages, farmland dotted with Khejri trees and tiny hamlets. This part of Mandawa is dotted with quaint farmers’ dwellings and the occasional sand dune. Arrive Churi village and the Vivaana Culture Hotel which was built as an haveli (merchant’s house) and is now a lovely hotel.
Overnight: Vivaana Churi Ajitgarh
Mandawa is a remote feudal principality in the centre of the Shekhawati region. It was a trading outpost for the ancient caravan routes that stopped here en route from China to the Middle East. The Rajput ruler of Mandawa, Thakur Nawal Singh, built the fort in 1755 to protect the trade route. The township that grew around soon attracted a large community of traders who settled here building permanent homes called ‘havelis’. When the caravan traffic ceased in the late 18th Century, the traders created business empires in other parts of the country, but returned to Mandawa to maintain their palatial mansions in their hometown.
Like many historic homes, Castle Mandawa is a curious mixture of the old and the new. Medieval turreted towers and palanquin-roofed balconies blend with modern comforts in old- world rooms. Family portraits, antique cannons and swords add to the charm of this family-run hotel where tradition still runs strong. Even time is measured by a different clock …. a huge brass gong struck by the timekeeper at every hour!
Dec 25 Ride to Mandawa
A Christmas to remember! This is primarily a Hindu area, but with a significant Muslim population, so Christmas is a non-event! The ride to Mandawa (about 25 Km) is over arable and grazing land that is definitely on the dry and dusty side. Expect to see herds of camels and goats grazing as well as sheep and water buffalo. Crops will have been harvested by Christmas and the fields left to rest until the Monsoon rains return in about 3 months’ time. This means we are at liberty to ride just about anywhere we like without damaging crops. Arrive Castle Mandawa in the afternoon which is an imposing castle and luxorious hotel. Evening Christmas celebration.
Overnight: Castel Mandawa
Dundlod, Mandawa, Churi Ajitgarh and Nawalgarh are villages that are part of the Shekhawati region, Rajasthan’s “Open air Art Gallery”. No other region in India, or perhaps the world, has such a large concentration of high quality frescoes as Shekhawati. The merchant’s hay day was from 1750 to 1930. The town of Nawalgarh was founded in 1737 A.D. and exudes an old world charm with its colourful bazaar. It has the largest number of painted havelis in the Shekhawati region. The havelis are covered with frescoes depicting the whole gamut of social and religious life: history painted with humor.
Evening: Christmas Dinner and celebrations.
Ride to Thimoli (about 28 Km) passing through several villages and farmers’ dwellings. The land remains sandy which is easy on the horses’ feet. Good chances of seing some wildlife such as the Nilgai entelope and graceful Chinkara gazelle.
Overnight: in luxury camp.
Ride to Mehansar (about 25 Km) across a varied terrain consisting of flat land, arable areas and pastureland as well as the occasional sand dune. The quaint villages and farmsteads are little changed from hundreds of years ago (apart from the satellite dishes of course!). Ride into the massive Narayan Niwas Castle, which is still a private home, so lacks the glitz of the Mandawa Castle. Some of the facilities are basic, but the property has retained its original charm and features.
Overnight: Mehansar Castle.
Ride to Gangiasar (about 25 Km). Ride across a spectacular landscape of sand dunes, hills and farmlands; cross several villages and see a couple of old forts; this land is devoid of development and the pace today is brisk!
Overnight: in luxury camp.
Ride to Alsisar (22 Km). The morning trail leads through one of the most spectacular areas of Rajasthan, passing through beautiful villages, fertile farmland, and into lightly wooded hill country; and don’t forget the occasional huge sand dune, just to remind you where you are! As you get close to the town you can see the towering fort which dominates the view. The fort, which is now a hote, has also featured in several Bollywood films and has been fantastically renoved. It’s a lovely place to stay, with a fantastic outdoor pool in the garden.
Overnight: Alsisar Mahal.
Ride to Ghanghu (about 25 Km). Today we zig-zag from village to village and through tiny hamlets. Once again, there are excellent wildlife opportunities, testimant to how remote this country is.
Overnight: in luxury camp.
Ride to Churu (25 Km). Like the previous day, the trail goes through beautiful countryside with ample opportunity for some long canters. The terrain is soft and sandy. Arrive in Churu village and check in to the Malji ka Kamra, a beautifully converted haveli which is now a boutique hotel. A perfect place for New Year celebrations.
Evening: join in with the local New Year celebrations.
Jan 1st 2020: New Year’s Day.
Say farewell to horses and grooms and drive back to Jaipur (4 hrs). Arrive Jaipur and transfer to Hotel Narain Niwas Palace, another example of a boutique hotel that was originally built as a private townhouse. Charming grounds and refreshing swimming pool complete with green parrots swooping overhead.
Jaipur: The rose-pink capital of Rajasthan, is surrounded on all sides by rugged hills crowned with forts. The city was built early in the eighteenth century and the Maharaja’s palace, still occupied, stands in the centre amidst lovely gardens. Houses with latticed windows line the streets, their rose-pink colour lending enchantment to the scene and the homes become almost magical at sunset. Jaipur is aptly called the “Pink City of India”. It takes its name from the famous Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh, who founded the city in 1728. A keen astronomer, he built an observatory which still exists and is just as accurate as when it was first built. This observatory, Jantar Mantar, is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Jaipur is noted for its craftsmen skilled in the art of cutting precious stones, emeralds, garnets and rubies. It is equally well known for brass inlay and lacquer work.
Jaipur sightseeing: some of the highlights are the City Palace which houses a museum containing rare manuscripts, painting and an armory; the Jantar Mantar observatory which contains a sundial 33m high; the museum amidst the Ram Niwas Palace Gardens founded in 1876 has a large collection of antiques; the Palace of Winds, a landmark of Jaipur, is made of pink sandstone and is actually no more than a façade.
Overnight Narain Niwas Palace
In the morning drive the edge of town and ascend to the hilltop Amber Fort; those who wish can access the fort on elephant-back.
Amber Fort: is half fort and half palace with a commanding view overlooking the lake and the city of Jaipur. Built in the 17th century, the palace is a distinguished example of Rajput architecture and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Jai Mandir (hall of victory) is so delicately ornamented with fine inlay work that it glows. The adjoining fort of Jaigarh, crowning the summit of a peak, is also an example of amazing beauty and grandeur.
In the afternoon fly to Delhi and transfer to Hotel Vasant Continental or similar.
Transfer to international airport in time for flight; or onward travel. Or you could visit the tigers!
Non-riders: are welcome to join the Christmas Ride: they would travel in the 4X4’s with an English speaking guide. The vehicle crosses the riding trail from time to time and every lunchtime. Evening accommodation / camps will be with the riders.
Single supplement available upon request.
Christmas Horse Ride India
Included in the price
Meet and greet at the airport.
Transfer to the stable by road
Trial rides to match horse and rider.
Full board throughout the ride (Indian or continental menu)
Glamping accommodation in luxury camp (cots, bed linen, en suite facilities)
Guide, grooms and all equine requirements.
Saddlebags x 2 each
Back-up 4 x 4.
Bottled drinking water and soft drinks while riding.
Guide and entrance tickets at Nawalgarh, Palace of Winds and Amber Fort, Jaipur.
Transport to Jaipur
City tour and accommodation in Jaipur
Return transfer to airport.