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 10.
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 17-Oct-16)
Arrive in Delhi and transfer to your hotel.
Spend the afternoon sightseeing 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.
OLD DELHI : Visit Jama Mosque and Raj Ghat, where the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi was cremated.
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 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.
Overnight at the Hotel Vasant Continental.
DAY 2 (Tuesday 18-Oct-16)
After an early breakfast, drive to Dundlod (about six to seven hours).
Arrive Dundlod and transfer to Dundlod Fort for a two night stay. This is not a regular hotel – but more like a home and the starting point of the rides in Shekhawati.
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.
Overnight at Dundlod Fort for two nights.
DAY 3 (Wednesday 19-Oct-16)
This morning visit the stables, which has some of the best Marwari horses in the country, and try out the horses riding in and around Dundlod.
In the afternoon ride to Churi Ajitgarh (about 10kms). The ride to Churi takes you across villages, farmlands and some quaint farmers’ dwellings. The terrain is soft and sandy and ideal for riding.
Arrive in Churi and transfer to your hotel which at one time used to be a Haveli (a big mansion) with beautiful frescoes for which the entire Shekhawati is famous.
Shekhawati is a region of which Churi Ajitgarh. Dundlod, Mandawa, Mehansar and Alsisar are parts. This region is Rajasthan's open air Art Gallery. No other region in India or perhaps, even in the world, has such a large concentration of high quality frescoes as the region of Shekhawati. In the beginning this semi-arid region had only its blank monochromatic palette to offer. No school of painting thrived till history and circumstances took up this colourless page and made it blossom with art for almost two centuries - from 1750 to 1930. Today this region is commonly called the Open Air Art Gallery of Rajasthan.
Overnight at Vivaana Hotel at Churi Ajitgarh.
DAY 4 (Thursday 20-Oct-16)
Ride to Mehansar (about 36kms) passing through a very beautiful landscape comprising of sand dunes, farm lands and villages. There are good chances of seeing some wildlife in the form of the Nilgai antelope (which is the biggest antelope in India) and the graceful Chinkara gazelle. Arrive Mehansar and ride into the Narayan Niwas Castle.
Please Note that the Narayan Niwas Castle is a private home and facilities are quite basic. Hot water is supplied in buckets. Please do not expect any luxuries here.
Overnight at Narain Niwas Castle in Mehansar.
DAY 5 (Friday 21-Oct-16)
Ride to Alsisar (about 36kms). The ride today is again very interesting. It is full of lovely sand dunes beside small hamlets and farmlands. Today also there are good chances of seeing the Nilgai and the Chinkara gazelle and if lucky, the Blackbuck Antelope.
Arrive in Alsisar which is quite a large village. Ride into the Alsisar Mahal, which has been converted into a hotel very recently and has been tastefully renovated in order to provide all the comforts you need. This is a nice hotel to relax after a long ride, with a swimming pool and facilities for massages.
Overnight at Alsisar Mahal, Alsisar
DAY 6 (Saturday 22-Oct-16)
After breakfast, ride to Ladria (about 30kms). The ride today takes you across small villages, open sandy land dotted with khejri (a tree in the desert) and farmers’ dwellings. At times you may also have to ride over some sand dunes.
There are very good chances of seeing some wildlife in the form of the Chinkara gazelle and the Nilgai antelope.
Overnight in a tended Camp
DAY 7 (Sunday 23-Oct-16)
Ride to Bikasi (about 35kms). As you travel further west, you enter into an area which is almost desert like. Had it not been for the irrigation facilities available to many of the farmers, this area would have been a desert. The ride takes you across open land and at times winding paths between agricultural fields. You pass through some small villages and farmers’ dwellings. Again there are chances of seeing some antelopes and gazelles.
Arrive Bikasi and transfer to Bikasi Garh – a private home recently renovated and open for guests. After a long ride in the desert, this lovely little place with very comfortable rooms is very welcome. The rooms are very nice and comfortable and all the rooms have ensuite toilet/showers.
Overnight at Bakasi Garh for two nights.
DAY 8 (Monday 24-Oct-16)
Today you explore Bikasi (about 5 hours riding).
This area is a desert country and offers endless trails to follow. There are sand dunes all around and the landscape is amazing. If you want to relax in the morning or afternoon, you have the choice to skip the riding and relax or just walk around the small village.
Overnight at Bikasi Garh
DAY 9 (Tuesday 25-Oct-16)
After an early breakfast, say farewell to the horses and drive to Jaipur (about four and a half hours). Arrive Jaipur and transfer to Hotel Alsisar Haveli or similar.
In the afternoon sightseeing of 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.
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 ( now a UNESCO World Heritage Site ); 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.
Lunch and dinner to own account in Jaipur. Overnight at Hotel Alsisar Haveli in Jaipur.
DAY 10 (Wednesday 26-Oct-16)
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.
Some people may leave the group and return to Delhi this afternoon.
Afternoon at leisure in Jaipur. You may wish to go shopping, or to have more sightseeing or you may wish to just relax at your hotel.
Lunch and dinner to own account in Jaipur. Overnight at Hotel Alsisar Haveli in Jaipur.
DAY 11 (Thursday 27-Oct-16)
After breakfast, drive to Bharatpur (about three to four hours) and transfer to hotel Laxmi Niwas Palace.
After lunch, a visit to the famous Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary. October 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.
The Keoladeo Ghana National Park in BHARATPUR is one of the best bird sanctuaries in India and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The journey starts for the sanctuary and as the mists roll away exposing the apparently endless expanse of silvery water covered in places by red-waterfern, the awakening world seems to be full of birds of all sizes, species and colours. Darters, Cormorants, Pintail, Bar-headed Geese, Egrets, Eagles, Jacqanas and scores of other birds are everywhere while the spectacular Sarus Cranes greet the sun with their wild whooping calls. We shall scan the waters anxiously for Siberian Crane and with any luck these elegant and sadly rare birds will have arrived to spend the winter here, although this cannot be guaranteed. There are many walks to follow around the "Bounds" and the habitat varies from shallow lakes of the reserve to flooded forest and dry savannah. Days at Bharatpur cannot fail to be a memorable experience.
Dinner and overnight at Laxmi Vilas Palace in Bharatpur
DAY 12 (Friday 28-Oct-16)
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 in Agra and check in at Hotel Jaypee Palace.
This afternoon you will visit 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.
Lunch and dinner to own account. Overnight in Agra at Jaypee Palace.
DAY 13 (Saturday 29-Oct-16)
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.
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.
This afternoon you will visit the Taj Mahal on the banks of the Yamuna river in Agra.
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 in Agra at Jaypee Palace.
DAY 14 (Sunday 30-Oct-16)
After an early breakfast, drive to Delhi (about 4 hours) and transfer to your hotel.
Take a drive in the city to see the Diwali celebrations.
Overnight at Hotel Vasant Continental
DAY 15 (Monday 31-Oct-16)
Transfer to International airport in time for flight for home.