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Stay at the Khas Bagh Jaipur and Ride Marwari Horses

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The rich, colourful heritage of Rajasthan, its splendid ancient forts and magnificent palaces and its proud tradition of horses, all combine to create a fascinating setting. There is no better way to see Rajasthan than on the back of a beautiful, forward going and spirited Marwari Horse.

Using polo ponies and the native Marwari horses with their characteristic bell-ears, is a great way to see Rajasthan's immense contrasts, from its rural subsistence villages, the acacia scrub and wilderness of the Thar Desert to the splendid hunting lodges, ancient forts and charming country estates in the Aravalli hills.

Most rides include visits to the bustling centres of Jaipur, Jodhpur or Udaipur and some can be timed to take you to the lively camel fairs of Pushkar and Nagaur, an intoxicating mix of camel traders, hawkers, bazaars, craftsmen and entertainers.

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During my recent visit to the vibrant city of Jaipur, I stumbled across “Khas Bagh " a farm retreat tucked away in the Aravali hills. A stone's throw from the 12th century Amer Fort, Khas Bagh is built on the lines of a medieval style haveli with open courtyards, verandahs with arches and intricately carved stone pillars and jaalis, all hand craft by local craftsmen.

Eighteen luxuriously appointed rooms with antique furniture, a pool and a polo lounge with black and white family photographs all add to providing an authentic bespoke Rajput stately home-stay experience managed by Ransher Singh a polo player and his father Colonel Rathore retired from the elite para commando regiment of the Indian Army. Every room has a spacious enclosed overhanging balcony, borrowed from old palace architecture.

A family run property, one thing I gathered fairly quickly was that the owners love all things horsy which is evident as soon as you drive in. The stables and the paddocks with horses create the backdrop for an authentic country holiday. Here you can venture out at dawn into the countryside on horseback, cantering through farmlands, fields and hamlets. For willing learners, horse lessons can also be taken in their paddocks

From village walks to cycling tours, jeep rides to the medieval Amer and Jaigarh forts, horse rides at dawn and elephant safaris on offer, there is much to experience at Khas Bagh. One can also simply relax with a swim and sunbathe, or play croquet on the sprawling lawns.

As dusk settled in, it was time for a sundowner at Khas Bagh followed by a barbeque with a bonfire in the outdoors next to the swimming pool. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to war stories from Colonel Rathore.

As it was September, the weather was fairly hot and humid when I visited but for someone visiting this retreat during winter, you could always make yourself cozy in the Polo Lounge.

With its fireplace, piano, wooden floors and paneling it will remind you of an old colonial country club. The family polo pictures and polo trophies carry stories of polo travels across the world. I would also definitely recommend having supper on their terrace that offers breathtaking views of the countryside.

Ransher mentioned that for those looking for more active pursuits they have explored several cycling trails into the neighboring villages. Here one can ramble along, see traditional artisans at work or get a glimpse of authentic rural life.

The swimming pool that is screened naturally by tall elephant grass on its periphery has an open shower with blue pottery tiles and state-of-the-art dressing rooms.

The pool is an all-weather attraction. Sadly I didn’t have much time and so I was only able to squeeze in a walk through the village and a short cycle ride. However I did find time to soak in the sun, on the pool's island beds. After enjoying a meal on the deck it was time to big farewell to the ever so cheerful hosts – Ransher and Colonel Rathore of Khas Bagh.