In Western India, visitors can step back to a time of princes and palaces. Intricate Moghul architecture and towering fortresses, sparse desert landscapes, trumpeting elephants, the flash of vibrant saris and colourful turbans, the tinkling of distant temple bells - these are a few of the timeless sights that greet visitors to the Indian state of Rajasthan. And the horses! Rajasthan is also home to one of the rarest of all equines – the Marwari Horse.
This unique Indian breed, whose distinctive inward-turning swivelling ears form a heart shape, numbers only about 900 animals in its native land and less than 30 Marwari horses exist outside of India. Aficionados compare the Marwari’s ear shape to that of a lyre musical instrument.
The Marwari are part of the old world of horse mythology and folklore. A hot-blooded desert horse with a thick, arched neck, long-lashed eyes and flaring nostrils, the horse was bred for battle by the Rathores, a clan of fierce warriors belonging to India’s Rajput, or princely, caste of rulers. One of the oldest breeds in existence, the Marwari bring a legacy of unforgettable appeal and tradition to horsemanship. In feudal Indian times, these mounts were reserved for the Rajasthani nobility, and were the war horse of choice for the princes and kings of this colourful era. In historical documents there are accounts of these horses lunging at elephants during battle. Their loyalty and fearlessness were legendary.
Due to cross breeding and the during the dismantling of the Raj, these majestic horses were sold off as farm work animals. Their numbers greatly reduced, so much so that the rare breed almost became extinct. But realizing this national treasure, rural Rajasthani farmers with help of the Indian government and the descendants of the former Royal families, created strict breeding guidelines, stud registers, as well as protective measures, and the breed is making its way back from the brink of extinction.
The advent of international tourism to India greatly aided in the re-emergence of this historical horse. Over the last 15 years, the Marwari has attracted equine enthusiasts from all over the world who come to Rajasthan for the opportunity to ride one of these mythical horses on a horse safari through the rolling semi-desert plains of its homeland. Visitors enjoy overnight stays in family run palaces, try traditional Rajasthani cuisine and music, camp out under the desert skies, and visit melas ( traditional outdoor livestock markets) where traders and breeders sell Marwari horses as well as camels and other standard livestock that are vital to the rural dwelling Rajasthani people.
Famous for their beautiful features and ambling gaits, these are equines that trot with great style and lightness. The Marwari is a gaited horse. These horses are born with a “rehwal” gait, a quick, four-beat lateral gait, which is smoother and more comfortable than a trot, used in the desert to cover long distances with greater comfort. It makes the Marwari ideal for a horse trekking experience.
At Cavago, we know that riding a Marwari is a must for all equine enthusiasts.
The starting point for our Marwari horseback safaris is Princess Trails situated just outside the romantic city of Udaipur, which is located in the heart of the Aravalli Mountains. Before independence, Udaipur was the capital of the Rajput kingdom of Mewar; this unique white marble city has retained much of its flair and grandeur till today. There is no other city in India quite so romantic and enchanting as Udaipur. It's special location at the shore of several lakes gives Udaipur the nickname "Venice of the East."
Udaipur and its surrounds are famous for rich nature and wildlife. Nowhere else in Rajasthan can you experience riding through three different types of landscapes - hill country with virgin forest, and fertile plains mixed with dry savannah and desert.
Guests can enjoy full or half day trail rides, or sign up for a week-long horse safari. The most popular ride takes in the world famous Pushkar Camel Fair, where guests camp within and experience one of the most colourful livestock markets anywhere in the world. If you get carried away, you might actually end up buying one of the famous Marwari horses that are sold at this fair!
For the non-rider. carriage rides, camel safaris, ayurvedic treatments, cooking classes, an abundance of historical sightseeing, and even marriages staged in the traditional Rajput style are on offer.
So join us for a historical ride back in time, and mount a Marwari for a royal ride unlike no other.
Since this blog was published, one more fabulous opportunity to ride Marwari Horses Rajasthan has joined Cavago: Jodha Stud. Go check them out they have fabulous offers!