This riding holiday contains all the highlights of Rajasthan, encompassing: Delhi, Ranthambore Tiger Reserve, Jaipur and the Amber Fort, Agra and the Taj Mahal not to mention riding at the Pushkar Fair, one of India's most famous camel and livestock fairs. Along the way you visit and stay in the finest Forts and Palaces of Rajasthan, recreating the time of the Raj. The camping is in true luxurious Raj style, with walk-in furnished tents.
The ride covers a variety of terrain and passes through many small local villages, giving you the opportunity to see rural India on horseback. There are opportunities to observe wildlife and partake in various spiritual ceremonies, and most of the rides are guided by the well known Kanwar Raghuvendra Singh Dundlod (Bonnie).
The Pushkar Fair is a huge cattle, camel and horse fair, an event not to be missed. Being there on horseback gives you an insight not possible any other way. The unique Marwari horses are warmblooded and responsive. The riding is fast-paced and exciting, and viewing Rajasthan on horseback is possibly the best way to experience this mythical part of India. The fair date is usually in the first half of November around the full moon, based on the full moon day (the 15th) of Kartik (October–November) in the Hindu calendar. The full moon day is the main day and it was this day, according to legend, that the Hindu god Brahma sprung up the Pushkar Lake, thus you will see numerous people swimming in its sacred waters.
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Arrive Delhi and transfer to Hotel Vasant Continental.
Full day Sightseeing of Delhi :
Delhi: The old city, built by Shah Jehan in the 17th century, stands today as an epitome of the whole history of Indo- Islamic architecture. New Delhi, designed and constructed by the Sir Edwin Lutyens and Sir Herbert Baker is a mixture of east and west. The public buildings in red sandstone are in the Moghul style. It has a circular Parliament House and an imposing Central Secretariat in two blocks which stand at the approaches to Rashtrapati Bhawan, the residence of the President of India.
SIGHTSEEING OF OLD DELHI: Visit Jama Mosque and Raj Ghat, where the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi was cremated.
SIGHTSEEING OF NEW DELHI: Visit Humayun's Tomb aptly called predecessor of the Taj Mahal. Drive past Safdarjung's Tomb, the Qutab Minar, 72 meters high and one of the perfect towers of the Persian World. Nearby, amidst the ruins of the Quwut - ul - Islam Mosque stands the Iron pillar which has stood the vagaries of the weather and not rusted over 1500 years. An orientation drive through New Delhi includes the Embassy area, Government Buildings. Drive past Jantar- Mantar Astronomical observatory and through Connaught Place, New Delhi's main shopping centre.
A.M: (08:00hrs) Train to Sawaimadhopur (train station for Ranthambore)
Arrive Sawaimadhopur at 13:30 and transfer to Tiger Den Resort or similar.
P.M.: Game viewing in Ranthambore National Park.
Nestling between the Aravali and the Vindhya ranges in southeast Rajasthan, the Ranthambore National Park has been one of India's conservation success stories and is a well known tiger reserve under the "Project Tiger" scheme. The Park's history goes back to the days of the Maharajas when Ranthambore used to be their hunting grounds. It consists of about 400 square kms. of rocky plains, flat hill tops, gentle slopes and precipitous cliffs covered by dry deciduous forests. Artificial lakes, the shield of the Aravali hills and an 11th century Fort have helped to make this park very impressive and interesting.
Besides the tiger, the Ranthambore National Park is a home to an expansive variety of other wildlife like the Sambhar and the Cheetal deer, leopard, sloth bear, Chinkara gazelle, wild boar, Indian porcupine, jackal, hyena, marsh crocodile, the elusive caracal and about 300 species of birds.
Overnight Tiger Den Resort, Ranthambore
A.M.: Game viewing.
After breakfast, drive to Pushkar (about 06 hrs. drive).
Arrive Pushkar and check in the exclusive deluxe tented camp which is set up specially for you.
P.M. : If time permits, visit the town of Pushkar
Pushkar : On the edge of a small and beautiful lake in eastern Rajasthan, lies the small town of PUSHKAR – a town of 500 temples and 52 bathing ghats. Pushkar prides itself as the only place in the world having a temple dedicated to Lord Brahma, the Hindu God of creation. Pushkar is, therefore, believed to be the centre of the creation of the world.
The origin of Pushkar is lost in a myth. It is 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 faithful bathe in the holy waters of the Pushkar lake on Kartik Poornima (full moon in end of October/ November). And on its banks, a mammoth 200000 people and some 50000 camels, cattle and horses become a part of the annual Pushkar fair.
Overnight in tented camp or hotel.
In Pushkar. Try out your horses and get used to them before setting out on the safari. All around the camp there are vast areas where the horses could be tried and ridden. Once you have got used to the horses you could ride close to or in the Camel Fair grounds watching the activities of the people. Overnight in tented camp or hotel.
Drive out of Pushkar for about six kms and then ride to Amarpura (about 21 Kms). The ride on this day out of Pushkar takes you through a valley dotted with several villages, farmland, sand dunes and a few temples. The ride is very interesting with opportunities of some good canters. Arrive Amarpura and camp away from the village. Overnight in tented camp.
Ride to Roopangarh ( about 25 Kms). The ride to Roopangarh is partly through a valley and a scenic riding country and partly across open scrub. You will see ancient villages and some ruined forts on the hilltops. Today you might also get to see the Nilgai antelope, which is the largest antelope of India. After lunch you will also be able to see the magnificent fort of Roopangarh from a distance. Arrive Roopangarh and stay at the Roopangarh Fort
ROOPANGARH FORT :The fort was built In 1653 AD by Maharajah Roop Singh, the fifth ruler of Kishangarh. Located 125 kms from Jaipur, it became the capital of Kishangarh for the next hundred years. It has invincible ramparts and several underground passages and ateliers of the artists. The fort is situated on a mound and was originally made up of nine turreted fortifications. The serpentine entrance which guarded against a frontal attack leads to a splendid medieval Durbar hall beyond which can be seen some of the finest examples of the famed Kishangarh miniature paintings. The miniatures of Kishangarh have acquired worldwide acclaim. Besides paintings, the rulers also encouraged and patronised music and poetry.
The delicate mausoleum of the 12th century 'Saint Sultan Pir', overlooks the main terrace. The distinctive ambience of an individually appointed deluxe room. The combined atmosphere of this magnificent '17th Century War Fort' and the Palace within is intoxicating. Added to this are splendid views from the massive terrace on the higher level of the Fort.
The 'Queen's Suite' still recalls, faint echoes of the softer footfall, the whisper of silk, of romance and intrigue of the Zenana. Decorated with arms found during the restoration work, this room reflects a heroic past. The double height 'Durbar Hall', now the dining room - has latticed windows above for the Queens to view the proceedings below.
Overnight Roopangarh Fort.
Ride to Bakhtawar (about 28 kms). Today's ride to Bakhtawar is a spectacular ride. The first half is along a beautiful range of Aravali hills, villages and farmlands and then across the salt flats of the Sambhar lake which is the biggest salt water lake in India. When you reach the salt flats, you could canter for long distances (but only enough so that you do not tire out the horses). If there is water in the lake there are good chances that you will get to see the flamingoes and several other birds. You are also likely to get good sightings of the Nilgai antelope. Overnight in tented camp.
Ride to Kuchaman (about 28 kms.). The ride to Kuchaman, which is a fairly large town, first takes you close to some hills and then across salt flats of another salt lake which is usually dry. From a distance you can see forts and temples on the hills. The Kuchaman Fort looks very imposing and grand. Overnight in tented camp.
Ride to Bharija (about 30 kms). The ride to Bharija is an interesting ride through several winding paths skirting around various farms of the villagers. The view is particularly wonderful if the crops are standing in the fields. The contrast of the greenery, the sandy soil, the Khejri trees and the hills is very interesting. Today’s ride is through one of the most spectacular areas of Rajasthan.
Overnight in tented camp.
Ride to Danta (about 20 Kms). Today’s ride to Danta is a short one and you ride across a very scenic area comprising of beautiful villages, farmlands and hills. As you get close to Danta, you can see the twin forts of Danta from a distance. Danta Kila (kila means fort), built in 1702, is a delightful mix of Mogul and Rajput architecture and is now a heritage hotel.
Overnight Danta Fort or similar.
After a leisurely breakfast, bid goodbye to your horses and camp staff and drive
to Jaipur (approximately two and a half hours drive). Arrive Jaipur and check at Hotel Alsisar Haveli or similar..
P.M. : Sightseeing of Jaipur :
JAIPUR : The rose-pink capital of Rajasthan, is surrounded on all sides by rugged hills, crowned with forts. Enclosed by embattled walls, the city was built early in the eighteenth century. The Maharaja's palace stands in the centre of the city amidst lovely gardens. Houses with latticed windows line the streets, their rose-pink colour lending enchantment to the scene and almost magical at sunset. Jaipur is aptly called the " Pink City of India". It takes its name from the famous Maharana Sawai Jai Singh, who founded the city in 1728. A keen astronomer, he built an observatory, which still exists and is equipped with quaint masonry instruments of remarkable size.
Jaipur is noted for its craftsmen skilled in the art of cutting precious stones and famed for its garnets and rubies. It is equally well known for brass inlay work, lacquer work and the printings of muslin.
CITY SIGHTSEEING : The City Palace which now houses a museum containing rare manuscripts, painting and an armoury; the Jantar Mantar observatory- built in the 17th century by Jai Singh- with a sundial 90ft.high; the Museum amidst the Ram Niwas Palace Gardens founded in 1876 with a large collection of antiques; the palace of Winds, a landmark of Jaipur made of pink sandstone and of unique design.
Overnight Alsisar Haveli or similar, Jaipur
A.M. : Sightseeing of Amber Fort including elephant ride to the fort:
AMBER FORT : 12 kms from Jaipur lies the city of Amber with an ancient imposing fort cum Palace overlooking the lake at the entrance to a rocky mountain grove. Built in the 17th century, the palace is a distinguished specimen of of Rajput architecture. The Jai Mandir (hall of victory) is so delicately ornamented with fine inlay work that it glows. The fort of Jaigarh, crowning the summit of a peak is of amazing beauty and grandeur.
P.M. : Sightseeing and /or at leisure.
After an early breakfast, drive to Agra ( about 05 hrs.) via Fatehpur Sikri :
FATEHPUR SIKRI : The deserted city of Emperor Akbar literally means "The City of Victory".The audience halls, palaces, and the mosques are still in a state of perfection as are the tomb of Shiekh Salim Chisti, Panchmahal and the Buland Darwaza.
Arrive Agra and check in the hotel Howard Park Plaza. If time permits, sightseeing of Agra Fort.
AGRA FORT: The Agra Fort ( a UNESCO World Heritage site ) is one of the most important and robustly built stronghold of the Mughals, embellished with number of richly decorated buildings encompassing the imposing 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 to renovate the fort with red sandstone and some 4000 builders daily worked on it and it was completed in 8 years (1565-1573).
This powerful fortress of red sandstone, semi-circular on plan, is surrounded by a 2.5 kms. long and 21.4 m high fortification wall. Double ramparts have been provided here 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 of land, it comprises many fairy-tale palaces, such as the Jehangir Palace and the Khas Mahal, built by Shah Jehan ( the builder of Taj Mahal ), audience halls, such as the Diwan-i-Khas and two very beautiful mosques.
Overnight Jaypee Palace or similar, Agra.
A.M. : Sightseeing of the Taj Mahal.
THE TAJ MAHAL : One of the wonders of the world, built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan in memory of his beloved consort Mumtaz Mahal, this beautiful musoleum is pure white marble and an architectural marvel. Built in 1631-48 in Agra, seat of the Mughal Empire, the monument sums up many of the formal themes that have played through Islamic architecture. Its refined elegance is a conspicuous contrast both to the Hindu architecture of pre-Islamic India, with its thick walls, corbeled 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.
P.M. : After lunch, drive to Delhi ( about 4 to 5 hrs ) and transfer to hotel for dinner. After dinner, transfer to International Airport in time for flight leaving for abroad before or after midnight.
Single supplement policy
The single supplement is compulsory if booking alone but halved if you are willing to share and we cannot find you a sharer.
We're avid readers here at Unicorn Trails and have selected several books connected to this ride. If you're interested in reading more about the area before you travel, or want to get into the cultural background, here are some suggestions that may inspire you. Click on the links for more information.
India (Lonely Planet Country Guides) - Sarina Singh
City of Djinns - William Dalrymple
The Great Railway Bazaar: By Train Through Asia - Paul Theroux
An Indian Summer - James Cameron
Into India - John Keay
No Full Stops in India - Mark Tully
Rajasthan; India's Enchanted Land- Raghubir Singh
Rajasthan; Land of Kings - S. Matheson & R. Beny
The Royal Palaces of India – G. Michell & A. Martinelli
Arts and Crafts of Rajasthan - A. Nath & F. Wacziarg
Plain Tales from the Raj - Charles Allen
Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.
The horses are mostly Marwari horses with a few Kathiawari and Sindhi horses, all of which are indigenous to India and range from 14hh to 16hh. They are lean but very fit horses which makes them most suitable for desert safaris. Your hosts breed these horses and they are kept in absolutely immaculate condition. Marwari horses are warm blooded and thin skinned not unlike Arabians. They are alll very well schooled, responsive, forward going and have no vices.
The tack is all made in India from fine leather of Kanpur. The saddles are known as SAWAR (rider) saddles as they are designed for Cavalry - they are not dissimilar to polo or army saddles, see our pictures for more details. They are comfortable for horses and safe for the riders. The saddle covers and martingales are made up of the Dundlod family colours.
The exotic beauty and vigour of the Marwari horse is their lasting heritage. Marwari was bred to lift the heart in battle and please the eye. He is easily recognised by his proud carriage, upright graceful neck and distinctive aquiline head with deep expressive eyes, the crowning glory of which are the unique inward curling or scimitar shaped ears set high on the poll and without exception unique to the noble Indian horse. The intelligence and natural regal bearing of the Marwari is blended with tremendous equipoise, graceful animated gaits and stamina. He displays an alert stillness when in repose and incredible elan vital in action. Hardiness and longevity have enabled the breed to survive wars, famine and droughts. The Marwari agreeably adapts to different life styles and environmental conditions and performs in various sports and formal riding disciplines. Loyal, tireless and competitive, the Marwari has evolved from one of the world ancient breeds to present a new archetype of beauty, brilliance and personality.
Riders of an intermediate level onwards. There are some steadier horses for nervous riders but beginners or novices cannot be accommodated. There are grooms available who will ride the horses while the rider rests in the jeep if you are feeling tired at any stage. This is a full service trip and no participation by riders is needed in the horse care.
The weight limit for this ride is 209 lb/95 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
The accomodation is in some of the historic Forts and Palaces of the impressive Rajasthan region. At the Pushkar Fair the accomodation is in a large tented camp site, fully furnished and possibly even mroe luxurious than the Africa Safari tents.
The food is varied and fresh. Indian meals are available but a choice of western dishes are always available. The level of spicing is variable but generally milder and vegetarian dishes are also always on offer.
Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.
Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip. If Visa’s are required the requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country. Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate on request.
General information, correct as of 3rd February 2014:
You must obtain a visa before travelling to India. If you arrive without a visa, you will be refused entry. Visas can be obtained online via the Indian government agency, VFS Global - http://in.vfsglobal.co.uk/ On this website you will find a step by step guide outlining the forms you need to fill in. You will also be required to send your passport and 2 approved photographs so factor in enough time for this to be done and for your passport and visas to be returned to you. There are a number of companies who will charge a fee to check your information for you before it is submitted, so you could take advantage of these if you are not confident that you have filled out the forms correctly. There are also Visa collection centres in London and Leicester, however these do not guarantee a same-day visa and can entail hours of queuing.
Always keep a copy of your passport and your Indian visa separate from your passport, in case of loss. Passports must be valid for at least 6 months. For further information on entry requirements, visitors are advised to check with the Indian representation in the UK at India House, Aldwych, London, WC2B 4NA. Telephone: (020) 7836 8484.
The British High Commission in India can be found at Shantipath, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi - 110021. Telephone: +(91-11) 26872161. Email: postmaster.nedel@ fco.gov.uk.
The Foreign and Commonwealth office also provides travel advice on their website at www.fco.gov.uk
The temperature although warm during the day (max 30C) will drop in the evenings to approx 13C. It is therefore essential to have a warm fleece to hand especially when camping.
Anti-malaria precautions are advised as necessary to some areas at certain times of year. If you have recently visited a place known for yellow fever you will need a vaccination certificate. Your G.P. will advise on necessary vaccinations and precautions.
For up to date information on health matters please contact the Medical Advisors For Travellers Abroad. Their website can be found at www.masta.org or visit the departmwetn of health's web site on www.dh.gov.uk
Voltage is the same as in the UK and most appliances such as battery chargers for videos, hair dryers etc. can be plugged in with appropriate adapters. These are available for purchase at most airports and travel shops
Riding clothes: half chaps are recommended, riding gloves, riding boots, walking shoes, fleece, warm jacket, sweatshirt, long sleeved shirts, windcheater/raincoat, plenty of socks, light flip flops/sandals, sunblock, sunglasses with string, insect repellent, torch, camera on a shoulder strap with a pouch which can be secured to your belt, plenty of film and batteries, binoculars, water bottle.
There is no laundry service after arrival in Danta until Jaipur so ample supply of socks and underwear will be necessary. It is recommended that a riding hat is worn, if not you will be grateful for a light scarf to keep dust and grime out of your hair. This will also be useful if visiting any Sikh shrines when the head must be covered. Out of respect to local custom women should avoid bare shoulders, legs and low neck lines.
Many hotels have no heating so make sure that you have warm socks, trousers etc
PERSONAL TOILETRIES: For peace of mind it is recommended that should you require any sanitary ware you take this with you. A toilet roll with inner cardboard tube removed will take up little space and may be an invaluable item.
This is a 15 day/14 night programme with 7 days riding available on a set date each year to coincide with the fair.
2019: 31 October - 14 November
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Lonely Planet Guide/ NEOS Guide to Rajasthan/Delhi & Agra. ‘The City of Djinns’-William Dalrymple, ‘The Great Railway Bazaar’-Paul Theroux, ‘An Indian Summer’-James Cameron, ‘Into India’-John Keay, ‘No Full Stops In India’ –Mark Tully, ‘Rajasthan;India’s Enchanted Land’-Raghubir Singh, ‘Rajasthan, Land of Kings’-Matheson S.& Beny R., ‘The Royal Palaces of India’ –Michell G. & Martinelli A., ‘Arts and Crafts in Rajasthan’-Nath A. & Wacziarg F.,‘Plain Tales From The Raj’-Charles Allen, The
Bagahvaad Gita and of course many others have been written about this huge, diverse land and its 847 million inhabitants. For the equestrian traveller who would like to see what is possible on horseback visit www.thelongridersguild.com also a fantastic place to acquire your equestrian travel books is www.horsetravelbooks.com
An astonishing 50,000 camels converge on the tiny desert town of Pushkar, in India's state of Rajasthan, for the annual Pushkar Fair. It's a fascinating and peculiar sight, and a great opportunity to witness an old traditional style Indian festival.
The original intention behind the Pushkar Camel Fair was to attract local camel and cattle traders to do business during the holy Kartik Purnima festival, held in Pushkar around the full moon in the Hindu lunar month of Kartika. The fair has now also become a major tourist attraction.
India forms a natural sub-continent with the Himalayas to the north. The Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, which are sections of the Indian Ocean, lie to the west and east respectively.
The official language of India is Hindi written in the Devanagari script and spoken by some 30% of the population as a first language. Since 1965 English has been recognised as an 'associated language'. In addition there are 18 main and regional languages recognised for adoption as official state languages. There are another 24 languages, 720 dialects and 23 tribal languages.
India will sideswipe you with its size, clamour and diversity - especially if you enjoy delving into convoluted cosmologies and thrive on sensual overload. Nothing in the country is ever quite predictable; the only thing to expect is the unexpected, which comes in many forms and will always want to sit next to you.
The time difference for India is GMT/UTC +5.5hrs and the dialling code is +91. India has adopted metric weights and measures.