Fairs & Festivals Ride
Designed specifically for In The Saddle, this unique itinerary combines a seven day ride in Rajasthan, with visits to Delhi, Jaipur, the bird sanctuary at Bharatpur, one of the largest cattle and horse fairs at Bateshwar and the Taj Mahal at Agra. It is possible to leave the itinerary in Jaipur on Day 12.
Please note that the itineraries are planned many months in advance and
it is sometimes necessary to make changes to the routes and to the
accommodation, but always with your best interests in mind.
Day 1 – Monday 13 October 2014
Arrive in New Delhi and transfer to hotel. Rooms will be available from midday. Spend the rest of the day at leisure. Overnight in Vasant Continental or similar hotel.
Day 2 – Tuesday 14 October 2014
Full day tour of Delhi. Overnight in Delhi.
The old city of Delhi, built by Shah Jehan in the 17th century, stands today as the epitome of Indo-Islamic architecture. In New Delhi, designed and constructed by Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker, you can see influences from both east and west. The main 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.
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 most perfect towers of the Persian World. An orientation drive through New Delhi includes the Embassy area, Government Buildings and Birla temple. Drive past Jantar- Mantar Astronomical observatory and through Connaught Place, New Delhi's main shopping centre.
Day 3 – Wednesday 15 October 2014
After an early breakfast, drive to Dundlod (about six to seven hours). Arrive Dundlod and transfer to Dundlod Fort for a two night stay.
Dundlod, in the heart of the Shekhawati region, 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 carefully restored but continues to be the family home. 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.
Day 4 – Thursday 16 October 2014
Try out the horses riding in and around Dundlod this morning. In the afternoon you have the opportunity to explore Dundlod by foot. Overnight in Dundlod.
Day 5 – Friday 17 October 2014
Ride to Mandawa (about 22 kms) passing through several villages and farmlands. The terrain is soft and sandy and very good for riding. Arrive Mandawa and transfer to Mandawa Castle or the Desert Resort for one night.
Mandawa, a remote feudal principality in the centre of the Shekhawati region, was a trading outpost for the ancient caravan routes that stopped here from China and the Middle East. The Rajput ruler of Mandawa, Thakur Nawal Singh, built a fort in 1755 to protect this outpost. The township that grew around the fort soon attracted a large community of traders, who settled here. When the caravan traffic ceased in the late 18th Century the traders moved to other parts of the country but returned to Mandawa to build 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 planquin- roofed balconies blend with modern comforts. Family portraits, antique cannons and arms add to the charm of this family run hotel where tradition still runs strong.
Day 6 – Saturday 18 October 2014
Ride to Churi Ajitgarh. Today’s ride is mainly along soft and sandy tracks passing through a couple of villages, farmlands and farmers dwellings. The terrain is fairly flat with some sand dunes which you may get to ride over. There will be opportunities for some good long canters. Overnight at Vivaana.
Day 7 – Sunday 19 October 2014
Ride to Nawalgargh (about 25 kms) and transfer to Hotel Grand Haveli. Later you may visit more of the frescoed havelis for which this area is famous. Some people have seen enough in Dundlod but there are some restored frescoes a short walk from the Grand Haveli and if you wish to see these please ask Bonnie or Sunayana to arrange.
Dundlod, Mandawa and Nawalgarh are a part of the Shekhawati region, Rajasthan's open air Art Gallery. No other region in India or perhaps, even in the world, has such a high concentration of frescoes as Shekhawati. The town of Nawalgarh with its colourful bazaar is particularly rich in paintings depicting the whole range of social and religious life.
Day 8 – Monday 20 October 2014
Ride to Bhaironji (about 35 kms), passing through several villages, farmlands, and temples. The landscape changes dramatically on this day as we get closer to the great Aravali hills and then into a deep valley.
Overnight at a tented camp.
This area has a history going back several thousand years and has strong religious links. Pilgrims from all over Rajasthan and India come here to visit the various temples in this area.
Day 9 – Tuesday 21 October 2014
Ride to Kochor (about 30 Kms). The pre lunch ride takes us across a dry river bed running parallel to the Aravali hills and where there are good opportunities to canter. The area is very scenic with a varied terrain. Arrive Kochor. Overnight in tented camp near the salt flats.
Day 10 – Wednesday 22 October 2014
Ride to Bai (about 25 kms). Today is the last riding day and we ride through villages and across various terrain including hills, dry river beds and open farmlands. There is a possibility of seeing the Nilgai Antelope in this area. Camp is set up near a small village by the name of Bai. Overnight at a tented camp.
Day 11 – Thursday 23 October 2014
After an early breakfast, drive to Jaipur (about two hours). Arrive Jaipur and transfer to Hotel Alsisar Haveli for two nights. In the afternoon sightseeing of Jaipur.
Those staying on after Jaipur, should let the guide know this afternoon what you would like to do tomorrow afternoon which will depend on what you have seen and would like to see.
This is the time of Diwali, one of the most popular religious festivals of the Hindus. The whole city will be in a festive mood. People dressed in their most colourful outfits and the bazaars bustling with activity. In the evening the whole city will be lit up with lamps and candles.
The rose-pink capital of Rajasthan is surrounded on all sides by rugged hills, crowned with forts. 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 enhanced by the setting sun. Jaipur is aptly called the " Pink City of India". It takes its name from the Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh, who founded the city in 1728.
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 and muslin prints. The old city palace now houses a museum with fascinating collections of manuscripts, paintings and an armoury. The Jantar Mantar observatory built in the 17th century by Jai Singh with it's 90 ft high sundial is also well worth a visit.
Day 12 – Friday 24 October 2014
An opportunity to visit the Amber Fort including an elephant ride to the fort (please note that the elephant ride is subject to availability as there are sometimes very long queues). Built in the 17th century on a lake shore, the palace is regarded as one of the finest examples of Rajput architecture.
In the afternoon those returning home will drive to Delhi (about 5 hours) and transfer to a hotel for dinner before leaving for the international airport in time to checkin for their flight departing late evening on 4 November or very early on the morning of 5 November.
Afternoon at leisure in Jaipur. Depending on the group size we will arrange for two guides to be available so that the group may split and some can go shopping and others to have more sightseeing as they wish. Overnight Alsisar Haveli, Jaipur.
Day 13 – Saturday 25 October 2014
After breakfast, drive to Bharatpur (about four hours) and transfer to hotel Laxmi Niwas Palace or similar.
After lunch, a visit to the famous Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary. November is a particularly good time to visit as the sanctuary's population is swollen by the arrival of migratory birds many of which have come from Siberia or Central Asia.
NB: Rainfall and water levels may influence the number of birds in the area and bird sightings cannot be guaranteed but it is still a really beautiful place to visit.
Day 14 – Sunday 26 October 2014
After an early breakfast drive to Agra (about one and half hours) visiting Fatehpur Sikri "The City of Victory" on the way. The audience halls, palaces and mosques are very well preserved as are the tombs of Shiekh Salim Chisti, Panchmahal and the Buland Darwaza and for many people this is one of their favourite monuments in India.
FATEHPUR SIKRI (A UNESCO World Heritage Site) "The City of Victory" was built during the second half of the 16th century by the Mughal Emperor Akbar (1556–1605). It was the capital of the Empire and seat of the grand Mughal court, but only for 14 years. Despite bearing exceptional testimony to the Mughal civilization at the end of the 16th century, it had to be abandoned due to the twin reasons of lack of water and unrest in north-west India, leading the Emperor to shift the capital to Lahore. Akbar decided to construct it in 1571, on the same site where the birth of his son, the future Emperor Jahangir, was predicted by the wise saint Shaikh Salim Chisti (1480–1572). The work, supervised by the great Mughal himself, was completed in 1573. The complex of monuments and temples, all uniformly in Mughal architectural style, includes one of the largest mosques in India, the Jama Masjid, the Buland Darwaza, the Panch Mahal, and the Tomb of Salim Chishti. The city has numerous other palaces, public buildings and mosques, as well as living areas for the court, the army, servants of the king and for an entire population whose history has not been recorded.
Arrive Agra in time for lunch.
This afternoon you will visit the Taj Mahal on the banks of the Yamuna river in Agra. The Taj Mahal, built by Emperor Shah Jehan in memory of his consort Mumtaz Mahal, is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and the white marble of the Taj at any time of the day is a breath-taking sight.
THE TAJ MAHAL (A UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE) is one of the seven wonders of the world. It was 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, 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.
Overnight Agra Jaypee Palace or similar.
Day 15 – Monday 27 October 2014
Early morning drive to Bateshwar (about an hour and a half) to visit one of the world's largest cattle and horse fairs.
Bateshwar is a small town near Agra on the banks of the Yamuna river and is famous for its fair which is held every year during the months of October and November. The fair is thought to be the third largest in the world – the first being in Russia and the second in Sonepur, also in India.
You will take a picnic lunch to have at the Fair and return to Agra mid afternoon.
The numerous gullies of the river Yamuna at Bateshwar are the fair grounds, each valley or gully holding a particular variety of cattle and other animals including horses, buffaloes, camels, pigs and donkeys.
At Bateshwar there are several temples on a long and elevated platform the most important of which is dedicated to Lord Battaknath. Here the waters of the Yamuna flow down the steps of the platform giving it special religious significance. There is plenty of time to spend visiting the cattle fair and temples and mingling with the people who are attracted to this event from all over the country.
Drive back to Agra. Overnight in Agra
Day 16 – Tuesday 28 October 2014
After breakfast visit the Fort at Agra and Sikandra.
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).
SIKANDRA: the tomb of Akbar the Great, built in red sandstone inlaid with marble is a striking sight.
In the afternoon, drive to Delhi (4 hours).
Transfer to the hotel for dinner. After dinner transfer to the International Airport in time for your departing flight.
Your flight should depart late on the evening of 28 October or very early in the morning of 29 October.