Saddle Up: The Top Riding Destinations

India: Land of Kings

Traveling in the style of a bygone era, riding tours reveal the magic of India far more vividly than any form of motorized travel does. A riding tour also bypasses over-populated cities where the crush of civilization often overwhelms first-time visitors here. But an Indian riding adventure is not only for the rich and famous: You can experience an exceptional "luxury" trip on horseback for a few hundred dollars more than the price of a week's stay on a deluxe guest ranch in the United States.

Once composed of separate kingdoms, India's northwestern state of Rajasthan is an ideal destination for a tour on horseback. Carriage paths open terrain to connect historical forts and temples just a day's ride apart, and riders can spend evenings in the former palaces of Rajasthan's warrior kings (Rajputs). but Rajasthan is not the ideal place for a self-guided riding tour; you won't find it easy to locate or reserve many of the best places to stay, many of which have only recently opened to tourism from the West. You will also need a reliable local contact to secure mounts and transport to the hinterlands. To experience the best of Rajasthan, therefore, we recommend booking a packaged tour from a reliable company such as Equitor (800.545.0019. www.ridingtours.com) or Hidden Trails (888.987.2457. www.hiddentrails.com).

The 19-day Rajasthani riding tour, offered by both Equitor and Hidden Trails, begins in semidesert Marwar region. Traveling far from the urban world, riders visit remote villages, the lakeside resort of the Maharaja of Jodhpur, the Kumbalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary, and several ancient temples, palaces, and fortresses. Virtually every detail of the trip is conducted in grand style: Guests stay in luxurious castles and fortresses and are entertained by local musicians, dancers, and magicians. Lovers of fine horses delight in strong, intelligent mounts, many of which are impeccably groomed polo ponies from the maharajas' stables. Superb cuisine is prepared by a caterer who travels with the group.

A 22-day itinerary explores more of the Rajasthan region. From Delhi, riders cross the Thar Desert (near Pakistan) to visit the Nagaur Camal Farm. Rarely attended by tourists, this event features 25,000 lavishly decorated camels in Central Asia's largest gathering of camel traders. The ride continues to Jaisalmer, a picturesque walled town, and Jodhpur, a famed riding center that lent its name to the breeches. The price for Rajasthani riding tours range from $2,400 to $4,500, depending on the season and duration.


Paul McMenamin is the author, editor, and photo director of the original Ultimate Adventure Sourcebook.

Published: 10 Aug 2001 | Last Updated: 14 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

Best Hotels in Rajasthan

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Devi Garh by Lebua
$192
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Raas

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