The first morning of any riding holiday is always full of apprehension for me. Am I wearing the right shirt – will be I be too cold or too hot? Will I need a raincoat? Waterbottle? have I got everything in my bum bag that I’m going to need (lippie, camera, sun screen, tissues, a little money, a sweet or two)? Where do I put my luggage so that it reaches the next stop? Will our bags meet us at lunch? And that’s even before I start to worry about which horse I’m going to get? ….Or is that just me?
Our horses are all tacked up and waiting for us in the dried up river bed. And judging by how they are circling at the end of their ground tethers, they are keen to get away!
Bonnie does a safety briefing – the most important one of course that we must keep our distance. It isn’t long before we are mounted up and it is clear I’m going to need both hands on the reins – so no photographs or filming for a while as they jog along eager to be going.
We cross and recross the stream trickling through the wide dry river bed of the Ghaggar river. This is quite a built up area and there are some huge office blocks beside the river banks and plenty of people waving and beeping from the road.
We have to cross over the river at one point by the bridge. The lorries beep loudly and rush past but the horses barely notice, they are totally traffic proof.
We descend back to the river where some people are washing huge green felt tents. Seems a good source of the water, but I doubt they are using a biological soap and so I wonder who might be wishing to use the water further down stream? (unfortunately we see much more serious polution later on)
After about 3 hours in the saddle it’s a welcome sight to see the truck set up for our lunchstop. The horses are untacked, fed and watered and we relax with a cold drink and a delicious hot lunch.
The afternoon ride is shorter, particularly since the skies are now looking very dark and grey and there are some heavy drops of rain. In fact they come to nothing and we are end up quite hot in our raincoats.
We leave the horses to be transported across the busy town of Kalka by truck and we also continue by car to visit the Mogul Gardens of Pinjore.
These are one of the oldest gardens in northern India, laid out on seven terraces and completely enclosed in a high wall. The history of Pinjore dates back to the days of Mahabharata who is said to have found this lovely place but the gardens in their present form were designed in the 17th century.
We go for coffee and a dasa (a large tasty crepe) and by the time we leave we can see the gardens at dusk with the trees lit up by coloured lights.
A beautiful sight and well worth the wait; as was the following exciting journey by car through the busy town of Kalka. It’s not 6.30 and the town looks to be completely alive – all the shops and small stores open, though dimly lit by a single hanging bulb – a huge comparison with our nearest an English village or town which is a ghost town come 6pm. There are hundreds of people shopping, talking, and going somewhere. There seem to be no rules as to how you pull onto a main road or give way. I would probably not get anywhere if left to drive in India.
It is dark when we arrive into camp, but plenty of time for a shower. And the rain stays mainly on the plain and doesn’t disturb a very jovial evening and an excellent meal around a camp fire.
You can read all the posts from the Hola Mohalla trip by clicking on the links below:
We do hope to do it all again next year, with only a few modifications to the itinerary. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.inthesaddle.com