The Pushkar Fair Ride

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The Pushkar Fair Ride

You can add a tiger safari before the fair, and/or a visit to the Taj after; or you can choose ‘ride only’.

We can be very flexible with arrangements before and after the ride. Please call to discuss.

Welcome to the Pushkar Fair ride! In the autumn each year the lakeside town of Pushkar changes character: gone is the peaceful, sleepy market town and welcome to thousands of colourful Rajasthanis who come to trade horses, camels and everything else that walks on four legs. But this is more than just a massive livestock market: the lake in the centre of town was created when the god Brahma cast down a lotus flower, making Pushkar an important Hindu pilgrimage site. The races that take place around the margins of the fair are spectacles of derring-do and horsemanship, and the dust, sounds, colourful clothes and brouhaha of the assembled masses combine to make a unique event on an epic scale.

The date of Pushkar Fair is determined by the lunar calendar, as is another important Hindi festival, Diwali, the “Festival of Light”. This riding holiday begins with Diwali Festival before riding to Pushkar Fair and finally visiting the Taj Mahal.

[Note: the date changes annually in accordance with the Hindu lunar calendar]

Diwali Festival, Rajasthan, India

Diwali Festival, Rajasthan, India

Pushkar Fair, Diwali Festival and the Taj Mahal, 2019.

Oct 26: We will meet you upon arrival in Delhi and drive you to your hotel. In the afternoon there will be a sightseeing tour of New Delhi.

DELHI: The old city, built by Shah Jehan in the 17th century, is a lovely example of Indo-Islamic architecture. New Delhi, designed and constructed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, is a mixture of east meets west: Moghul and Western styles. It has a circular Parliament House and an imposing Central Secretariat of two blocks which stand at the approaches to Rashtrapati Bhawan, the residence of the President of India. Delhi is today the political, economic and cultural capital of the World’s largest democracy.

NEW DELHI: Visit Humayun’s Tomb which is a predecessor of the Taj Mahal. Drive past Safdarjung’s Tomb and the 72 m high Qutab Minar. Nearby, amidst the ruins of the Quwut – ul – Islam Mosque stands the Iron pillar which has survived the vagaries of the weather and not rusted for 1,500 years. Drive on to the embassy area, the government buildings and the Birla temple. Drive past Jantar- Mantar astronomical observatory and through Connaught Place, New Delhi’s main shopping centre.

Overnight in Delhi hotel.

Window seat, boutique hotel, Delhi, India

Oasis of peace: the charming gardens in the centre of Delhi

Oct 27: After an early breakfast, drive to Fort Dundlod (about 6 ½ hours) where you stay for two nights.

Overnight in Dundlod Fort.

Fort Dundlod: in the heart of the Shekhawati region was built in 1750. This majestic fort, surrounded by a moat (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 huge banquet hall and each bedroom is different and has its own charm. The Fort is located on the edge of a small village of the same name. Today is one of the most important Hindu festivals of India called the Diwali and you will witness this grand festival.

Dundlod Fort, Rajasthan, India

The grand hall at Dundlod Fort, Rajasthan

DIWALI: or the ‘Festival of Lights’ is celebrated every year in honour of Lord Rama’s return to his capital Ayodhya after an exile of fourteen years. Diwali is thousands of years old, but still remembered to this day. To commemorate the return of Ram, Sita and Lakshman to Ayodhya people celebrate by bursting fire-crackers and lighting their houses with earthen oil-lamps called “diyas”. The festival is lively, bright and noisy!

During Diwali prayers are offered to Lord Ganesha, the elephant headed God, and to Goddess Laxmi – the Goddess of wealth. It is believed that the Goddess of wealth would grace your home/business on this day. It is also worth taking a walk in the adjacent market areas; the shops are beautifully decorated and crowded with people in national dress and local costumes. At night the whole town is lit up by oil lamps and candles while fireworks reverberate in the narrow lanes and passageways. The whole place is alive with the sound of joy and happiness.

Overnight at Fort Dundlod.

Oct 28: This morning you meet the horses: the stables are a 2 minute drive away from the fort. There are about 40 horses here, plus 3 resident stallions.

There is also a Farriers School next to the stables which is a unique facility in the whole of India. Try out the horses riding in and around the stable block.

Farrier School, Dundlod, Rajasthan

Dundlod Farrier School. Winged horseshoes, which I think all Marwaris have!

In the afternoon return to the stables for a demonstration of “Tent Pegging” which was developed in India and is becoming a popular equestrian sport in the West.

Overnight at Fort Dundlod.

Oct 29: Ride to Mandawa (about 22 Km)
The land here is sandy and free draining. The network of trails is bewildering as they zig-zag between fields and around homesteads. The combination is ideal for riding: gentle for the hooves and lots to see over the hedges. Ride through several hamlets and small villages to reach the small town of Mandawa, which is dominated by a huge castle, which is going to be your home for the night.

Overnight at Mandawa Castle.

Mandawa was 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 arms 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 timekeepers at every hour!

Ablak marwari, Rajasthan, India

Fran and the ablak. Marwaris are especially prized in ‘black and white’ known as ‘Ablak’.

Oct 30: Ride to Nawalgargh (about 25 Km)
Today’s ride is mostly on soft sandy terrain passing through small villages and arable fields.
Arrive at the village of Nawalgarh and transfer to the Grand Haveli or similar. Later, visit the frescoed havelis.

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 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.

Overnight Roop Niwas Kothi

Oct 31: Ride to Bhairon Ji Temple (about 38 Km.)
Ride through several villages and farmer’s dwellings; the landscape changes dramatically today as you approach the great Aravali range of hills. After lunch, continue through farm lands, then follow a dry river bed running parallel to the Aravali hills.

Camp overnight in tents near a small temple.

Riding marwari horses in Rajsthan, India

Riding in Rajasthan. Riding Marwari horses in Idia.

A typical day on safari
To give you an idea of what to expect here is a typical day on the trail…

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, 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 fly by and in no time at all 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’ll see the bright colours of the tented camp and a lively canter gets us there in no time.

The camp is no ordinary camp: it’s huge! The individual canvas-walled rooms are large enough to stand up in; they are carpeted and each contains 2 cot-beds; linen, blankets, quilts and pillows are provided. There are between 5 and 7 “rooms” erected around a central fire-pit, where we take sundowners and chat about the day’s action. There’s a communal mess tent for dining and a separate bathroom with hot showers: shower water is heated over a log fire. This creates a totally private camp in the bush. Beyond the camp is a separate kitchen, which you’re welcome to visit. The horses are individually tethered and looked after by the team of grooms.

Luxury camping; riding holiday through Rajasthan

Tented camp; riding through Rajasthan

Nov 1: Ride to Kochor (about 25 Km)
The ride takes you across flat land and sand dunes, passing through quaint villages and farmland. After lunch you get to see a big salt water lake with the hills in the background.

Overnight in tented camp near Kochor village.

Nov 2: Ride to Danta (about 20 Km)
Today’s ride is a short one – you ride along a huge lakeshore and across a spectacular landscape of sand dunes, hills and farmlands – cross several villages and see a couple of old forts till you reach Danta Fort. The village of Danta is protected by two hilltop fortresses; one of the fortresses is now a hotel, the Danta Kila (kila means fort) where the night is spent.

Overnight Danta Kila

Nov 3: Pushkar Fair
This morning we say our goodbyes to horses and grooms and drive into Pushkar (about 4 hours). Arrive Pushkar and transfer to our hotel. After lunch, visit the Pushkar Fair – which at this time will be at its peak as far as animal numbers are concerned.

Pushkar
Excitement, gaiety and a keen sense of competition fills the air. Columns of people with camels, horses, bullock-carts, cars and jeeps head for Pushkar soon after Diwali. The origin of Pushkar is lost in myth: it’s believed that Brahma, the creator, was in search of a place to perform a Vedic yagna (sacrifice). As he pondered, a lotus fell from his hands and water gushed from the spot. Today, the Hindu faithful bathe in the holy waters of Lake Pushkar on Kartik Poornima (full moon in November). And on its banks, a mammoth 200,000 people and some 50,000 cattle become a part of the annual Pushkar Fair.

A city of Pilgrimage from time immemorial with over 500 temples and 52 bathing ghats (steps leading into a river or lake) enclose the lake. Each ghat has its own miraculous qualities and powers of healing. Pushkar begets a legacy of timeless architectural heritage and radiates an ambience of peace and spirituality that casts a lure to draw you back.

The fair offers a matchless opportunity to trade in cattle and leather goods. Womenfolk shop for bangles, clothes, utensils and sundry household items. The most dramatic events of the festivities are the cattle auction and the camel race. Sports involving the camel – the friend of the desert folk of Rajasthan – are legion. Equally diverting are the gaily dressed rural folk.

Overnight Pushkar Bagh

Marwari horses, Rajasthan, India

Magical marwari horses

Nov 4: Full day in Pushkar – visiting the fair and the town. Overnight Pushkar Bagh

Nov 5: Return to Jaipur
After breakfast drive to Jaipur (about 3 hours). Arrive and transfer to the Narain Niwas Palace or similar boutique hotel. In the afternoon there’s a guided tour of Jaipur.

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 armoury; 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

Nov 6: Explore outside Jaipur
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.

The afternoon is free for leisure to rest or hit the shops for some retail therapy.

N.B. It is possible to fly to Delhi this evening and catch the London flight if your time is pressing. Please call us for a reduced price.

Overnight Narain Niwas Palace

Nov 7: To the Taj Mahal
After an early breakfast drive to Agra (about 4 hrs). Midway along the road lies the deserted city of Fatehpur Sikri (A UNESCO World Heritage Site) which you explore. Arrive Agra and transfer to Hotel Jaypee Palace.

In the afternoon visit Agra Fort which is on the riverbank with commanding views back to the Taj Mahal.

Agra Fort: Agra Fort is one of the most important and robustly built strongholds of the Mughal period. It’s embellished with a number of richly decorated buildings that showcase the Mughal style of art and architecture. It was constructed by the third Mughal emperor, Akbar, on the remains of an ancient site known as Badalgarh between 1565 and 1573. He ordered the renovation to be done in red sandstone and some 4,000 builders worked on it; it was completed in just 8 years.

This powerful fortress is surrounded by a 2.5 Km long and 21.4 m high castellated wall. Double ramparts have been provided with broad massive circular bastions at regular intervals. There are four gates on its four sides; one of the gates was called “Khizri-gate” (the water gate) which opens to the river front, where ghats (quays) were provided. The fort has survived through the onslaught of time, nature and men. Spreading over an area of about 94 acres, it comprises many fairy-tale palaces, such as the Jehangir Palace and the Khas Mahal, built by Shah Jehan (builder of Taj Mahal ) audience halls, such as the Diwan-i-Khas; and two very beautiful mosques.

Overnight Agra

Nov 8: Visit the Taj and return to Delhi
In the morning visit the Taj Mahal.

THE TAJ MAHAL: one of the wonders of the world and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan in memory of his beloved consort Mumtaz Mahal. It’s a beautiful mausoleum in pure white marble and an architectural marvel. Built between 1631- ‘48 the monument sums up many of the formal themes that play through Islamic architecture. Its refined elegance is a conspicuous contrast both to the Hindu architecture of pre-Islamic India, with its thick walls, corbelled arches, and heavy lintels, and to the Indo-Islamic styles, in which Hindu elements are combined with an eclectic assortment of motifs from Persian and Turkish sources.

In the afternoon drive to Delhi (4 hrs) and transfer to the international airport in time for flight home or onward travel.

Taj Mahal, Agra, India

Taj Mahal, Agra, 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

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 Dundlod, Pushkar and the Taj

Entry permit to Pushkar

Transport back to Jaipur

City tour and accommodation in Jaipur

Return transfer to airport.

Not included

International flight

Bottled water and soft drinks at Pushkar.

Travel insurance

Running repairs

Running repairs