Riding Week in Rajasthan
Riding holiday Rajasthan
This riding holiday in India takes place in the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan in NW India which is a semi-desert region famous for the painted “havelis” or merchant’s mansions. Shekhawati is nicknamed the “Open-air art gallery of India” because it has such a heritage 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 Marwari horse is the direct descendant of the warrior 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.
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.
Riding holiday Rajasthan: the itinerary
Day 1: Jaipur to Nawalgarh village
Arrive in Jaipur where we’ll meet you and drive you through Jaipur into the countryside to reach the small town of Nawalgarh; total driving time 4 ½ hrs. A royal welcome greets our arrival at the stable, lying just outside the small town. The Roop (manor house) is a fascinating blend of European and Rajput style of architecture with spacious lawns, swimming pool and a billiard room for the evenings. The town exudes an old world charm and the colourful bazaar has the largest number of painted Havelis in Shekhawati.
Overnight at the Roop Niwas manor house.
Day 2: Nawalgarh
After breakfast we visit the stables where we meet the team for the riding safari. The owner of the stable will introduce each rider to his horse and offer advice on how to ride a Marwari. You can then ride around the school next to the stable-block to get accustomed to your horse. Ride out into the countryside; we’ll pause for a picnic lunch and return to the manor.
If riders are not comfortable with the horse that has been selected, you are welcome to try another.
Overnight Roop Niwas manor house.
Day 3: 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 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.
Day 4: Nabipura to Dabri to Fatehpur Beed
Set out in the morning crossing semi-desert land 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 regenerate as a habitat for wildlife. We settle down for supper in camp near a ruined haveli that overlooks the entire Beed.
Overnight in camp.
Day 5: Fatehpur Beed to Thimoli Crossing and return to Roop Niwas
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 and shortly after we reach Thimoli Crossing where we rendez vous with the trucks to take us back to Roop Niwas.
Overnight Roop Niwas.
Day 6: Depart
After breakfast we make the return journey by private coach to Jaipur (approx 4 hours) where the riding holiday ends.
What’s included in the price?
• Airport transfers to/from Jaipur
• Transfers to/from the stable in Rajasthan
• Accommodation on twin-shared basis (3 nights Haveli; 2 nights glamping)
• 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
Return flight from London to Jaipur
India visa (allow approx £105)