Dancer
Horseman and 3 horses
Rajasthan, India
Hobby Horse
Man in Orange Hat
Man, Turban & Camel
Stallion
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From royal palaces to camel polo, fall under the spell of this magical place

Bordered by Pakistan on its northern boundary, Rajasthan has been washed by centuries of invasion and internal conflict, leaving a remarkable legacy of culture, tradition, and architecture within one of India’s largest states.

Once agrarian based, today there’s a steady drift of migration from rural areas to crowded modern metropolises seeking better paid jobs, education, and lifestyle. Even in the remotest of places, locals have embraced technology. Just about everyone, from youngsters to the elderly, has a mobile phone, and the selfie is passionately embraced.

No matter where you are in Rajasthan, bold colours and the brightness of the light define this magical place–from the garish glitz of painted and bejewelled trucks transporting goods, to the shimmering brilliance of wild peacocks, India’s national bird.

Many visitors simply flit across the state from one tourist drawcard to another, taking in the lake city of Udaipur with its romantic white marble Lake Palace Hotel, or the rosy-pink walled capital, Jaipur. Further north, there’s the ochre-coloured fort city of Jaisalmer. Comparatively few journeys into its rural backwaters and dusty back roads, where scarlet-turbaned village elders tend raggedy, flop-eared sheep. And in doing so, they miss the most wonderful of journeys and one that’s best made using horsepower. Marwari horses, like those belonging to the Jodha Stud Farm of a renowned breeder and Horse India travel company co-owner, Dr Ajeet Singh’s, are the perfect way to travel across Rajasthan.

Once owned by warriors and royalty, Marwaris are a rare breed, and the Indian government restricts their exports. This elegant, centuries-old breed is noted for its endurance, courage, and beauty. With super-model looks and long legs, it also has very unusual ears that are lyre-shaped and end in a distinctive curl. Marwaris stallions also perform – they dance. Prancing and high step to a cacophony of folk music at the Ranakpur Horse and Camel Polo festival, each is urged on to greater efforts by their team of male handlers, with the aim of winning the festival’s dancing horse competition. Victory is a matter of personal honour, and loud protests erupt when the winner is eventually announced.

Text & Photos Ingrid Piper