The Nagaur Fair is one of Rajasthan's foremost cattle and camel fairs, based just outside the town of the same name. This riding holiday gives you the opportunity to visit and ride around the Nagaur Fair, giving you an immersive and unique view into the festivities.
During this holiday you will stay in a combination of luxury hotels and desert camps. Many of the hotels are converted mansion houses and palaces and the high service levels make for a truly indulgent trip. By seeing rural India on horse back you will have a privileged view of this fast-evolving country and the chance to meet and talk with the people who live there. The desert riding along with visiting the Naguar horse and camel fair, Jodphur and Delhi makes this itinerary good for an all round visit to India.
The rides cover a variety of terrain and passes through many small local villages. This offers you a unique chance to experience rural India and its cultures/people.
Please Note: The opinions expressed in these reviews are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Unicorn Trails Ltd. These reviews are "directly from the horses mouth" and unedited. Unicorn Trails may make additional comments for clarification clearly identified in red.
Review received from HP of Wohlen b. Bern on 13/02/2014
Arrive in Delhi where you will be picked up at the airport and taken to the Hotel Vasant Continental (or similar). Rooms will be available after 12:00 noon. If arriving late night of the day before, or early morning on this day, additional accommodations can be arranged. Overnight in Hotel Vasant Continental or similar.
The day is free to visit Delhi and rest. A half day guided tour of New Delhi will be arranged in the morning. In the evening, board the overnight sleeper train for Bikaner.
Arrive in Bikaner in the morning, staying in the lovely Laxmi Niwas Palace (or similar): Laxmi Niwas Palace lies on the outskirts of the city. This imposing red sandstone palace was built by Maharaja Ganga Singh, in commemoration of his father Maharaja Lal Singh in the early 20th Century. This oriental fantasy designed by Sir Swinton Jacob is among the purest forms of a Rajput palace, full of European luxury. Sightseeing of Bikaner and a visit to the Camel Breeding Farm.
Bikaner: This city lies on the northern point on the triangle of the desert cities. Bikaner is another Royal Walled City dating back to 1486 AD. It was established by a Rathore prince, Bika and came to be called Bikaner after him. Bika was the eldest son of the founder of Jodhpur state - Rao Jodha. Bikaner was well protected from its enemies by the harsh desert which surrounded this rich city. It was, however, a major trade centre as it stood on the ancient caravan route which linked Central Asia and North India with the Gujarat seaports. Other outside influences were minimal and this city was able to keep its medieval flavour alive - in fact, this is true of the city even today. The main shopping area lies around Kote Gate which has interesting bazaars where it is possible to see rustic men and women in their traditional clothes rub shoulders with their modern counterparts as they go about their daily chores. While other cities of Rajasthan are rich in lakes and pleasure pavilions, Bikaner seems quite bare in that respect given it’s severe climatic architectural heritage lies in it’s forts, palaces and temples.
The Junagarh Fort is one of the best preserved Indian Heritage Forts today. The oldest structures are the 14th century Jain temples built by two brothers and named after them - the Bhandeshwar temple and the Sandeshwar temple. While the former is rich in mirror work and frescoes, the latter has stylised enamel and gold leaf wall paintings. Overnight in Laxmi Niwas Palace.
After breakfast, drive to Gajner – approximately 40 minutes from Bikaner and transfer to the Gajner Palace Hotel (or similar), an incomparable “Jewel in the Thar Desert” built on the emabankment of a lake by His Late Highness Maharaja Ganga Singhj of Bikaner. During winter even now, this palace with its beautiful lake and surrounding wooded areas become home to many species of migratory birds, most renowned among them being – the Imperial Sand Grouse. Endangered antelopes like Black Bucks, Nilgais, Chinkaras and other animals like the Wild Boar roam freely in this area which is now a preserved sanctuary.
The Gajner Palace is beautifully architectured and is built of Red Sandstone, on which the craftmanship of the intricate carvings can be appreciated. The true romance of the desert can be experienced in the comfort of the Gajner Palace. After lunch, meet and try out the horses by riding in and around Gajner. Overnight in Gajner Palace.
In the morning ride out about 35 kms, towards a village named Jai Singh in the Thar Desert near the border with Pakistan. Trees and grass are sparse and in some places the winds and shifting sands have created spectacular sand dunes which tower above the plain. Despite the austerity of the land a surprising number of people have learnt to survive here. Enroute you will pass several small villages. Overnight in camp.
Ride about 35 kms to Dohra Farm. The ride on this day takes you across several farms and huge sand dunes where you are likely to see several Chinkara Gazelles. Arrive Dohra and cam near a large sand dune. Overnight in camp.
Ride about 30 kms to Tantwas village and make another camp in the desert. While riding through this area you see several Chinkara gazelles and if lucky, you might also come across the Desert Fox. Overnight in camp.
Ride about 35 kms to Khari village through several villages, farmlands and sand dunes. On this day there are good chances of seeing the elusive Desert Fox. Overnight in camp.
Ride out for about 30 kms to Naguar. This ride takes you across several farmlands and villages. On this day you also get the opportunity to climb up one of the largest sand dunes of the area. There is also a small temple on top of this sand dune and you get a lovely view of the entire area. Arrive Naguar – where the Fair will be full of camels, horses and other animals. The camp on this day would be set up away from the town and close to the fair. Overnight in camp.
Spend the day in Naguar visiting the fair on horseback and on foot. The Nagaur Camel and Cattle Fair is held every year in the month of January/February and is one of the largest Camel, Horse and Cattle fairs of Rajasthan.
This fair is basically an animal fair and people come from all over Rajasthan and adjoining states to buy and sell work animals. Thousands and thousands of Camels and bullocks and several good horses can be seen here along with the colourfully dressed people of Rajasthan and other places. The Nagaur bulls are renowned for their size, strength and beauty attracting buyers and sellers from all over the country. A typical day at the fair starts with buyers and sellers engaged in earnest bargains. Bargaining, barter deals, colourful costumes, exquisite jewelry, hand embroidered coverings and ornaments/decorations for the animals are basic features of the fair. People throng in great numbers to be part of this annual gaiety and enthusiasm. Once the price of a horse, bullock or probably a camel has been settled, the day draws to a close with fun and festivity.
The fair has much more to offer to its visitors. Wayside entertainment and cultural programmes are arranged which create a melodious rapture that echoes in the surroundings. Not only so, one can even go on a shopping spree, picking exotic handicrafts which are in itself rare works of art. Few tourists visit this fair, as it is little known abroad and is mainly for the local people. Overnight in camp.
After breakfast bid goodbye to your horses and the camp staff and drive to Jodhpur (about a 2 hour drive drive). Arrive Jodhpur and transfer to Bal Samand Palace or similar: Five kilometres north to the city of Jodhpur lies the Balsamand Lake. This outstanding location is the site for the Bal Samand Palace, a fine specimen of Rajput arhitecture in red sandstone surrounded by wide expanses of lush green gardens. Built on the banks of Bal Samand Lake, a 13th century artificial lake, the palace has been an exquisite setting for royal leisure and recreation.
After lunch, sightseeing of Mehrangarh Fort and parts of the old city of Jodhpur:
Jodhpur : This former capital of Marwar state was found by Rao Jodha Singh. A flourishing trading centre in 16th century, today the city has grown to become the second largest city of Rajasthan and is still one of the leading centres for wood, cattle, camels, salt and agriculture in Rajasthan. However, the past is never far behind and the city boasts of some very fine reminders of this glorious past -- Palaces, Forts, Temples and other elegant monuments of architectural and historical value.
Mehrangarh Fort : From its towering height of 400 ft, atop a steep hill , Mehrangarh Fort is Jodhpur's most remarkable monument, enclosing within its mighty ramparts a complex of ethereal palaces notable for their exquisite lattice work. Work began on this massive citadel, in 1479 by Rao Jodha, founder of Jodhpur. Certain halls in the palaces have been made into a museum with a display of the royal collection of arms, palanquins, howdahs, cradles, miniature paintings, and personal heirlooms. From here, the view of the city is breathtaking; in the words of James Tod:" The sons of Jodha could command from the windows of the palace a range of vision almost comprehending the limits of their away.
Overnight in Jodhpur.
Spend the morning in Jodhpur
In the afternoon transfer to Jodhpur airport in time for flight for Delhi. Arrive Delhi and transfer to International Airport in time for flight for home (late night on Day 12 or early morning of Day 13)
Singles supplements are halved if you are willing to share but 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.
Intermediate riders onwards - riders who are competant and confident at all paces in the open.
The weight limit for this ride is 15 st/209 lb/95 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
The weight limit for this ride is 15 st/209 lb/95 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
Many of the Palace hotels are renowned for their unique setting and wonderful grandeur. Rooms have private bathrooms. When a camp is set up, large, walk in twin bedded tents are used with camp beds and bed linen and a table and chairs or stools provided. Camps have a shared shower and washing facilities and meals are prepared for you.
DUNDLOD : The Dundlod Fort in the heart of the Shekhawati was built in 1750. This majestic fort surrounded by a moat, 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 with its own charm. The Fort is located on the edge of a small village of the same name.
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
As with all countries where the bacteria present in water and around food are not those to which we are accustomed you are advised to exercise a degree of care. Bottled water is widely available, but check that bottle seals are intact and water levels reach the top. Fruit and raw vegetables which can be peeled are fine. Avoid ice cubes, diluted fruit juices and any unpasturised/unboiled milk.
- Anti-malaria precautions are advised as necessary. If you have recently visited a place known for yellow fever you will need a vaccination certificate. It may also be advisable to carry a course of broad spectrum antibiotic i.e. Amoxcyllin, a rehydrating solution i.e. dirolyte and for emergency situations a product such as immodium. Your G.P. will advise on necessary vaccinations such as hepatitis, tetanus, typhoid, polio and malaria.
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.
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.
This ride has a 12 day / 11 night programme with 6 days riding available on set dates.
2019: 3 February
2020: 22 January
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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
Sightseeing in Jaipur: 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.
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.
At some of the hotels during the ride there will be some entertainment in the form of folk dances/music etc.
Riders are likely to come across the Nilgai Antelope (the biggest antelope of India), hare and maybe jackal. As far as birds are concerned - they should get to see several....Parakeets, Bee eaters, Babblers, Green Pigeons, Indian Roller, Black Drongo, Egrets, some raptors, Warblers, Maynas, Chats, Indian Robin, Blue Rock Pigeon and Red Wattled Lapwing.
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.
BEGGARS; You will not visit India without coming into contact with many distressing facets of this unfortunate community. Without appearing harsh it is strongly advised by the Indian Authorities and charity workers in the country not to give to these people. Should you wish to do something extra to help these communities that a donation to an established charity will go much further and give you a relatively hassle free visit.
TAXIS/RICKSHAWS; In major cities these should be metered and have a tariff rate. If in doubt agree a fare before departing and check that the meter is used. Do not be persuaded to go where the drivers get commission
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.