With the Himalayas to the north, plains and plateaus in the center, and beaches to the south, India has a diverse landscape that is perfect for horseback riding. When you travel to this country, you’ll find everything from incredible wildlife and quaint villages to grand palaces and stunning temples.
India has a history of riding horses that dates back centuries. On your vacation, you’ll be able to see how this history continues to impact the horse-riding culture in India.
Indian Horseback Riding Culture and History
From the Rajputs of Rajasthan to the Mughals of Delhi, horses have played an important role in India's history and traditions.
While Rajput later became a term for a hereditary status, it started as a term for men from diverse ethnic and geographical backgrounds who fought on horseback. It is thought that Marwari horses descended from the warhorses of the Marwar and Mewar Rajput warriors.
In fact, the Rajputs may be the reason this breed of horse is famous. In battle, the warriors adorned their horses with fake elephant trunks, causing their enemy’s elephants to mistake their horses for baby elephants. Because the elephants didn’t want to hurt the “baby elephants”, they wouldn’t attack and the Rajputs had the benefit of attacking first.
Like with the Rajputs, cavalry was also the chief support in the Mughal army, so much so that horse trading became crucial for the Mughals. They procured horses from all over neighboring countries and the Central Asian regions and thus established Mughal supremacy in cavalry warfare.
Today, horseback riding continues to be a popular activity in India. The country offers a range of horse riding safaris that allow riders to explore the country’s rich history, culture, and natural beauty.
On your equestrian adventure, you’ll have the opportunity to see the Marwari horse, a unique breed that is native to the desert state of Rajasthan. The Marwari is known for its curved ears that can rotate 180 degrees, which are believed to help protect the horse’s ears from sandstorms and desert winds, and they allow the horses to hear predators more easily. Marwari horses are also known for their high-stepping gait, which is a result of the breed’s unique conformation.
Marwari horses are used for a range of purposes, including horse safaris, polo matches, and equestrian sports. The Marwari are hardy and easy keepers, meaning they can live on little food. They continue to be an important part of the Indian horseback riding culture.
Horse Riding Holidays in India: What You’ll See and Do
India offers a range of horse riding holidays that allow riders to explore the country’s diverse landscapes, including deserts, mountains, forests, rivers, and hills. Here are some of the popular horse riding destinations in India that may be on your itinerary:
Rajasthan is a state known for its vast deserts, opulent palaces, and ancient ruins, some of which can be explored on horseback. Horse riding holidays in Rajasthan offer riders the opportunity to ride through the desert landscapes, visit local villages, and explore the region’s rich cultural heritage.
Rajasthan is home to the Thar Desert, an arid area covering 77,000 square miles (200,000 square kilometers). It’s the 20th largest desert in the world. The Aravalli Range also runs through Rajasthan. This mountain range is considered by some to be the oldest geological feature on earth with its origins dating back to the Proterozoic era.
The most popular time to ride in this region is between October and March, but you can book riding experiences for any time of year.
The Golden Triangle
Overlapping with Rajasthan is the Golden Triangle, a tourist circuit that connects the cities of New Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur, which form a triangle with their locations on a map. Many horse riding excursions are in these cities or the area between them.
One corner of the Golden Triangle is Jaipur, which is also the capital of Rajasthan. Jaipur is known as the Pink City because many of the buildings have a pink color scheme. Here you can see the city’s bustling markets and go sightseeing at some iconic landmarks such as the Amer Fort (also called the Amber Fort) and the Hawa Mahal.
While Jaipur is the Pink City, Jodhpur is known as the Blue City. Jodhpur is in the Thar Desert, and it is home to many palaces, forts, and temples. The main attraction on your tour will be the Mehrangarh Fort, an imposing structure that covers an area of 1,200 acres. It was built hundreds of years ago. Within the fort, several palaces stand intricately carved with sprawling courtyards.
The lake city of Udaipur is another popular destination and a great place to visit on your horse riding tour. Here you can ride along trails near Fateh Sagar Lake or Lake Pichola, two of the seven lakes surrounding the city.
On the edge of Lake Pichola is the City Palace, a complex that began to be constructed in 1553 and continued for almost 400 years. You can see this beautiful hilltop palace overlooking the lake on your trip.
Not too far from Udaipur—close enough to ride from the city of lakes—is the Kumbhalgarh Fort, also known as the Great Wall of India. This Mewar fortress is on the western Aravalli Hills. Along with five other forts in Rajasthan, this fort was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013. It is among the largest fort complexes in the world with fifteen-foot-thick perimeter walls that go on for 22 mi (36 km).
A couple of days’ ride away from the Kumbhalgarh Fort is the Ranakpur Jain Temple or Chaturmukha Dharana Vihara. This historic site is located in a village called Sadri in Rajasthan. In the 15th century after a divine vision, Darna Shah, a local Jain businessperson, started construction on the temple to honor Adinath, the first Tirthankar or savior and spiritual teacher of the present half cycle in Jain cosmology. This temple is one of the biggest and most important in Jainism.
No matter where you ride, you’re sure to find fun and adventure in India. Horse Tours Club offers worldwide horse riding tours, ensuring quality and safety for its customers. Book your Indian horseback riding tour through Horse Tours Club today!