Ride Overview - Hola Mohalla Horseback Ride
Immerse into the Indian culture with this horseback riding vacation in Punjab! The ride is a journey into the “land of the Brave” – Punjab, which is filled with stories of heroics and valor. Trails, rich in the imprints left through centuries by Greek, Mughal and British empires, will lead you along lush green fields tilled by Indian farmers. You will experience the charm and old-world glamor of historic palaces which have been converted into heritage resorts but are still owned by Indian royalty and nobility. The oldest dates back to the 15th century. The ride culminates at Anandpur sahib, the grand stage for the Hola Mohalla, the martial and equestrian traditions of the Sikhs. Today, Sikhs travel from all over India and the world to join in the three-day festival. There are many colorful processions of Sikhs, especially the Nihangs, dressed in their traditional blue attire.Here you will have the opportunity to interact with some skilled swordsmen, archers and the best riders of the region.The skillful displays of their martial arts, swordsmanship, archery and horse riding are impeccable. The temples are full of people listening to orations and music.You will also experience the ever-colorful festival of Holi – which is quite amazing. The ride also entails the most famous train journey in the world to Shimla. Shimla showcases the colonial British architecture in India, as it was their summer capital.This is truly an unprecedented experience! RIDING IN INDIA
“I was impressed by the quality of the horses, their tack and their care. We were also well-matched to our mounts. The tent camp was more luxurious than I had expected. I have never experienced such luxury! Even hot water bottles! As to the food, we didn’t have a bad meal anywhere, just an abundance of tasty Indian fare.” Charlotte (Holland)
Ride Itinerary - Hola Mohalla Horseback Ride
Day 1: Sunday
You will meet the guide’s representative at the Delhi Airport and transferred to Hotel Vasant Continental. Rooms will be available from midday. You will meet your fellow riders and guide and then join a guided tour of Delhi. Dinner and overnight in Delhi.
Day 2: Monday
You will be transferred to Delhi train station for a train departing at 7:40AM. The train has comfortable spacious seating. Arrive Chandigarh at 11:05. You will be met on arrival and transferred by vehicle to Ramgarh (c.22 kms ) and to the Hotel Ramgarh Fort. www.thefortramgarh.com The fort was built 350 years ago and is famous for its huge wooden door, apparently the world’s tallest door. After lunch at the Fort, you will be driven away from the hustle and bustle of town to meet your horse. You will then mount up to ride in the Ghaggar River bed. Your trail will lead you over banks and through small villages. You finish riding near to the town of Pinjore and, if time, you will make a visit (on foot) to the beautiful Pinjore gardens, one of the oldest gardens in northern India which is laid out on seven terraces. It is a pretty place, particularly at dusk. Finally, you will arrive at your tented camp which is within sight of a Sikh temple, called a “gurudawara.” Overnight in the tented camp.
Day 3: Tuesday
After a delicious breakfast in camp, your group will ride across the river bed with occasional detours through small villages. There is much to see as you ride. Today, as on each day, the grooms and support vehicle will meet you about midday. The horses are untacked and rested and you have a delicious lunch and a chance to rest. After lunch, your trail will pass by the nomadic people with their herds of water buffalo who have set up semi-permanent homes right in the middle of the river. In just a few months, they will move on and their homes will be washed away as the river floods (when the snow melts in the mountains and the monsoon rains arrive). Later you will arrive at the town of Siswan and to your accommodation at the lovely Siswan Jungle Lodge. Tonight you are in for a treat with a delicious meal, possibly served in the gardens if the weather is good. Overnight at Siswan Jungle Lodge. www.siswanjunglelodge.com
Day 4: Wednesday
You are likely to have attracted quite a crowd of onlookers since the horses are corralled almost in the middle of town just across the road from the Siswan Jungle Lodge. Today your ride continues to follow the river bed, sometimes following the many jeep tracks which cross back and forth. You can only imagine the communication problems when the river is in flood. Many people live along the river bank in very basic living conditions, but times are moving fast and many people in modest houses have their own tractor. After lunch in a shady spot near the village, you will ride past marijuana fields. The smell of marijuana plants pervades. It is remarkable to see it growing in widespread abundance everywhere, as far as the eye can see. It is used in tea, lassis and also its own crushed smoothies. This may well account for the Nihangs benevolent disposition as they consume large amounts of the plant in a variety of ways. Next you will ride past water buffalo forage and bathe in the shallows, egrets, grey herons and a variety of raptors which feed off the abundant fish and meadow rodents. There are beautiful high cliffs on the left of the river which have been eroded and etched by rain and waterfall into impressive battlements. Your horse will carry you across the river several times until you arrive at the town of Nalagarh. You will then be driven to the Nalagarh Fort (a heritage hotel). http://nalagarh.in/. Nalagarh Fort is a gateway to Himachal Pradesh and was built in 1421 during the reign of Raja Bikram Chand. Located in the foothills of the Himalayas it offers panoramic views of the Shivalik hills. It is the most handsome of the many forts in the area and within easy access to the others (Palasi in the plains and Ramgarh , Chamba and Malaon in the hills). The rooms are spacious and comfortable, reflecting its heritage status. There is also a pool, a large communal dining room, and lovely gardens and quiet corners that meander around the hilltop as the fort was added to over the years. The rooftop offers some spectacular views over the surrounding hills with the twinkling domes of the Gurudwaras (Sikh temples) in the distance. Weather permitting you might have dinner on the rooftop.
Day 5: Thursday
Today, you will have the opportunity to enjoy a couple of opportunities for fast canters along the tracks until you reach the ruins of Palasi Fort. You will climb up to the Fort for your lunch stop. There is grass for the horses, broken battlements to explore and shady corners to eat and rest in after lunch. After lunch there may well be an opportunity to explore the village, visit a hindu temple and perhaps be invited into one of the village homes. Everyone is very welcoming. After lunch, your group will set off riding again towards Bharatgarh. Eventually, you ride along the side of the canal and will start to see heavily laden motorbikes and lots of tractors pulling trailers full of people. All are flying an orange flag. These are Sikhs either coming from the temple or going to Hola Mohalla. Your destination tonight is Bharatgarh Fort. www.bharatgarhfort.com. Bharatgarh was built in 1783 and was the most important stronghold of the Singhpuria missile as its location over the banks of the Satluj river gave it a key strategic position. The area of the fort is about 7 acres and it has 100 acres of forest land. Bharatgarh Fort remains with and is occupied by the descendant family and operates as a private family-run hotel with its own unique charm. The fort is small and compact, well maintained and with wonderful views from the roof-top. The rooms are comfortable and pretty. One very much gets the feeling one is staying in a rather unusual bed and breakfast.
Day 6: Friday
Ride out after breakfast from Bharatgarh Fort. You are now on the home run to the Hola Mohalla and will be riding alongside the canals. These canals run from a huge dam called Bhakra – one of the highest gravity dams in the world. The dam holds excess waters during the monsoon and releases it into this huge network of canals which provide irrigation and run all the way to western Rajasthan – almost 500kms away. The water in the canals flows very fast and is a bright blue. The back–up vehicle will also negotiate the trails along with increasing numbers of motorbikes and small trucks going to the festival. You may encounter fellow pilgrims who have pitched camps along the canals offering tea and refreshments to any and all who pass by. You break for lunch at Kiratpur a short distance from the river and the grooms are able to bathe the horses in the shallows. After lunch, your trail continues along the canal, past a huge dam and to the town of Anandpur Sahib. As you get closer to the town, you can hear a huge roar of music and voices coming through loud speakers, as well as the throbbing engine noise and air-horns from turbo-charged tractors and bikes that people are using to get to Anandpur Sahib. In the late afternoon you arrive at your tented camp near to Gogamedi temple, just on the outskirts of the town of Anandpur Sahib. All being well, after an early dinner, you may be able to drive into town just to experience a little of the excitement. Everything is lit up with a million fairy lights and there is a huge carnival atmosphere. Overnight in tented Camp for two nights.
Day 7: Saturday
In the morning, after breakfast, you will be driven into the town of Anandpur Sahib. You should take the opportunity to visit Virasat-e-Khalsa, the beautiful museum of the Sikhs. The museum, opened in November 2011, celebrates 500 years of the Sikh history and the 300th anniversary of the birth of the Khalsa. The architecture is stunning and the exhibits fascinating. The rest of the day is spent visiting various aspects of the Hola Mohalla. You will visit the main Gurudwara temple where people are relaxing and listening to teachings and music. At some point in the day you will return to camp for lunch. In the afternoon, you return to town. There may be the opportunity to see some displays of horsemanship or to see the martial arts displays. There is colour and excitement everywhere. Later this evening, depending on how much you have seen and how tired you are, you might go back again to town to see further displays. Overnight at camp.
Day 8: Sunday
This morning those leaving for home will be driven to Chandigarh in time for a train to Delhi. Those continuing to Shimla will depart by vehicle (about 2 hours’ drive) to the town of Kalka and to the train station. Shimla is famous as the former summer capital of the British Raj. From the 1860’s the Viceroy of India would move the entire administration between Calcutta and Shimla, a journey of some 1000 miles, to get away from the heat on the plains. The railway between Kalka and Shimla was opened in November 1903. Some facts: it is 96kms long, goes through 102 tunnels and over 886 bridges and climbs from Kalka at 655m to Shimla at 2,100m. You will be boarding the Himalayan Queentoy train which departs Kalka at 12:10 and arrives Shimla at 17:20. The transfer vehicle will continue by road to Shimla and so you only need to take onto the train what you need for the journey. The train, which is pulled by a diesel engine, doesn’t travel very fast (25kms/hr) and there is plenty of opportunity to watch the world go by. You may have short stops at some of the stations and it is sometimes possible to get off for a quick leg stretch. There are many highlights – Bridge 541 is the highest arch gallery bridge in the Indian railway. It has a total of 34 arches in a four storey construction. After a relaxing and fascinating journey you see Shimla in the distance, a sprawling town stuck onto the hillside. On arrival at Shimla you will be met by your guide and vehicle who have made the journey by road and will be transferred to your hotel – the historic Clarkes Hotel. The hotel is in a vehicle free zone but there is an intriguing lift from where the vehicles may park which transports you and your luggage up to the hotel. Clarkes Hotel is a short walk from the Mall in Shimla and so you are within easy access of many shops and restaurants. Dinner is to your own account. Overnight Clarkes Hotel for three nights.
Day 9: Monday
Today is Holi – the Hindu festival of colour. Almost all of the shops, museums and places of interest will be closed because of the merriment which will take place. Your guide will accompany you or you are free to explore on your own. Shimla is a great place to celebrate the festival of colours. You are recommended to wear clothes which you don’t mind getting completely covered in coloured powder. It should wash out, but just in case, don’t wear your best shirt and trousers. Young people and adults purchase bags of different coloured powder which they throw over anyone they might meet. It is recommended that you put cold cream on your face to create a barrier between your skin and the powder and also makes the Holi colours easier to wash off. You will probably also wish to have a scarf to protect your hair from the worst. But rest assured, it does wash off. Some shops may re-open later in the evening; the Shimla mall is famous for it’s shops selling everything from books, to expensive fabrics to jewels. Lunch and dinner to own account. Overnight Clarkes Hotel.
Day 10: Tuesday
This is your day to explore Shimla. You will have a guide and vehicle at your disposal but you could go and explore on your own if you prefer. The main things to visit will be the Jakhu (Monkey) temple, the State Museum and the Viceregal Lodge. The monkeys at the temple are a real nuisance so do take your guide’s warnings seriously. Lunch and dinner to own account. Overnight Clarke’s Hotel.
Day 11: Wednesday
Morning at leisure in Shimla. After an early lunch, drive from Shimla to Kalka in time for the Shatabdi Train leaving Kalka at 17:45 which will arrive into Delhi at 21:55. You will be in premier class and be served dinner during the journey. You will be met on arrival at Delhi. Depending on your flight time you should have time to transfer to a hotel for the opportunity to wash and change. Later transfer to the airport for your homeward flight. Your flight should depart in the early hours of Thursday 16 March. If you would prefer to or need to overnight in Delhi, then we can make these arrangements for you.
Ride Details - Hola Mohalla Horseback Ride
Dates: Febuary 22th – March 4th
Length of ride: 6 days
Meeting point: New Delhi Airport
Daily Riding Hours: 3 – 5
Ability level: INTERMEDIATE: Confident and in control at all paces including posting trots, two point canters and gallops in open country.
Horse: Marwari French breed
Weight Restriction: 198 lbs.
Group size: 4 – 12
Saddles: Sawar Calvary
Vaccinations: typhoid, Japanese encephalitis, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rabies, polio, measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) and influenza
Non-riding activities: visit to Shimla, the Holi Festival, Dehli, and Virasat-e-Khalsa in Anandpun Sahib
Hotel/s: 5****, 4****, 3*** hotels and 4**** camping
*Price: $4,090.00 per person, double occupancy $1,065.00 single supplement
*Discounts will apply when total group grows to over 6 people.
Includes: accommodation, all meals, horse, tack, transfer to/from airport/train station half day sightseeing in Delhi, Toy Train journey, Chair Car fare, executive class train fare from Kalka to Delhi, visit to Hola Mohalla Fair,entrance fees.
Not included: airfare, lunch in Dehli, lunch and dinner in Shimla
Hola Mohalla Horseback Ride: Gallery
Hola Mohalla Horseback Ride