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Adventure & Sports in Rajasthan

Rajputs have been keen equestrian and they take to the horses like a fish to water. Their taking to polo in big way was only natural. Their association with polo dates back to the Mughal period and miniature paintings at the Mehrangarh Fort bear testimony to this early introduction to the game. However, Polo did not become a passion until the British period when it became a natural and a marvelous peacetime pursuit.

It was in 1889, when the colourful Prime Minister of Jodhpur Sir Partap Singh invited the Bengal Lancers to raise the Jodhpur Lancers; Polo was introduced to Jodhpur in its current modern form. Three years later Jodhpur raised its Polo Team, which won many accolades home and abroad. In 1897, when Sir Pratap travelled to London for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, he took his polo team along, amongst the very first Indian teams to travel abroad, and, for that matter, foreign teams to invade England and create history. They won many matches there, at Hurlingham and Ranelagh, and returned with their reputation enhanced; the finest Indian team during those years. Rajasthan produced many great Polo players, which include Sir Partap Singh, Rao Raja Hanut Singh, Thakur Hari Singh and the colourful Maharaja Man Singh II of Jaipur, who took over the pride of jodhpur as an inevitable gift by being the suave son in law of Jodhpur. Thus the best of the players and the finest of the polo ponies were shifted to the royal house of Jaipur, the rest is history.

This super premium category sport still thrives in Rajasthan and has seen a quantum jump in its popularity as a life style sport. It has attracted attention from corporate houses for sponsorship. It has also attracted interest of the Prime Minister of India, many celebrities and the army. Today, polo is not just restricted to the royalty and the Indian Army, many companies a nd firms too patronise the sport. Polo facilities are on the rise and polo holidays in India too are in vogue. Especially in Rajasthan.

The superb synchronization between man and his horse, the amazing speed, the brute power, with the backdrop of green arena makes for most exclusive and glorious sport of all. Rajasthan also gave the game its Royal Tradition with patronage of the Maharajas, which earns it the nicknames The Game of Kings-The King of Games. Rajasthan still stages exciting Polo games and is treat for the tourist to watch this game that demands extreme physical and mental condition.
The aristocracy were enamoured of the gentlemen's game that was so popular in British India. Unfortunately, the weather did not permit them the indulgence of creating golf courses in this arid wilderness, and it was only in Jaipur, as a part of the large scale palace renovations undertaken by Maharaja Man Singh that a course was added to the city. That 18-hole course is still the only one in Jaipur and, in fact, in Rajasthan, and though it is not a professional course, it is good for a round of golf in what are picturesque surroundings: a palace next door, and peacocks on the hazards.
Vintage Car Rally

When the first motorcars started coming to India, Rajasthan's princes and aristocracy were among the earliest to order them. These, in turn, have become the venue for various rallies. Vintage car rally: An annual event, the Jaipur Vintage Car Rally has become an important one on the Indian social calendar. Held in January, and keenly contested, it invites prestigious entries. Since some of the aristocratic families have still kept their vintages in their garages, the turnout too is impressive, with some cars dating back to the very early years of the turn of the century.

However, if you are a vintage car buff, and are likely to miss the rally, you will find it heartening to note that many of these beauties are still in peak running condition, and are alos hired out for special occasions, rides, incentive parties, or marriages. 

Kite Flying
The people of Rajasthan have adopted different sporting events over the years, and these have provided a great deal of variety to their lives. Interestingly, there is an eclectic quality to these sporting events that can range from more sophisticated sports such as golf to the well-known Rajasthani's passion for kite-flying.

The passion for kite-flying in Jaipur is legendary, and every city has community clubs where the sport is ardently practiced. Every city skyline is alive with kites during the early morning and evening, and sometimes even during the day. Children gather at rooftops to compete about both their prowess as well as the resilience of their strings. Makar Sankranti on 14th of January is when the sport of kite flying is almost endemic, with an International Kite Flying Competition in Jaipur and Jodhpur, while the monsoon period is another favourite. However, but for a brief spell during the peak months of summer, kite flying continues throughout the year.

Visitors can participate through the simple measure of buying colourful kites and string inexpensively for only a few rupees and joining the Rajasthani people at what could almost qualify as the state festival.

The most popular mode of transport in Rajasthan could also provide the ideal leisure, since traveling on a bicycle is almost therapeutic, provides exercise without b eing exhausting, and is certainly inexpensive. Bicycles can be hired almost anywhere in Rajasthan. Though the bikes tend to be basic, they are foolproof and unlikely to develop major snags. The period of hire can range from a few hours to a few days. However, those looking forward to doing some serious biking in the state should opt for buying racing, gear bicycles that are available in all major towns, and are not expensive. At the end of the trip, such bikes can either be sold or simply gifted away. Obviously, bikes are ideal when exploring the countryside where towns are in close proximity (Shekhawati, for example) or for getting around the hilly idylls of places such as Mount Abu.

The hilly areas of Rajasthan provide several days of ideal trekking opportunities. The Mewar belt with the Udaipur-Kumbhalgarh-Chittaur combine, or the area around Mount Abu, or the Sariska-Alwar-Amber belt is best for trekking.

Winter is the best time for trekking, though the monsoon months provide romantic, green getaways. It is best to trek in a small group, and carry only basic necessities, since provisions can be bought along the way, but do ensure a supply of bottled water. Trekkers can choose a camp in the open countryside, though there are likely to be quaint, personalised hotels available in most areas. Trekking can be along established routes, though a more exciting option may simply be to chart one's own trails, moving practically as one likes.

Camping is a fine art in Rajasthan with established camps in set locations tha t would be fit for royalty. Especially created tents include those with bedrooms, a small hallway or leisure area, and attached bath. These tents use hand-block printed fabrics within the interiors, to create a rich ambience. Such tented camps can be found at places like Samode Bagh, an hour's journey outside Jaipur, or at Pushkar for the duration of the fair in November. However, such tents can also be hired, and agents use them to create cities wherever required; or for moving visitors to different places, where these tents are pegged each night. Such camping expeditions bring the
outdoors alive, albeit in style. From the food to the entertainment, everything takes on a more exciting edge while at camp.

Visitors can travel short distances between towns or historic resorts in these hot air balloons. The best, of course, is to coast over fairs such as Pushkar or Baneshwar or Nagaur in a hot-air-balloon. Jaipur is now a popular centre for ballooning.
A sport that is begging to be tried out in Rajasthan, with its open, sandy countryside, this has so far only been offered by operators who have brought in their equipment with them.
Camel Safari
Rajasthan invites you to feel the adventure of a Camel Safari, which takes you through the golden sands of the vast Thar Desert. Like horse safaris, camel safaris are also popular in Rajasthan. The camel, popularly known as the ship of the desert, is not only common in the Thar desert, but also the only means of transportation in remote areas.
Ride through sandy tracks, passing through remote villages. Pitch your tent at a new place each night. Spend the evenings next to the camp fire and dance to the folk music. The safari is organised to take one through the golden sands of the vast Thar desert and untamed countryside, enabling one to experience the days gone by when time drifted at a leisurely pace. The rolling landscape of the sand an shrub covered area is breathtakingly beautiful and the range of flora and fauna surprisingly large for desert area.

The camel breeders of Raika are the best guides. They know every pasture, waterhole and village of the region. One can ride or walk along leisurely with the safari and the enjoy the desertscape. The camel-carts are fully equipped and tourists need not bother about comfort in the desert. Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation arranges the camel safari on request from Delhi and Jaipur during Nagaur Fair and desert festival.
Bird Watching
Rajasthan's lakes, ponds, marshlands and grasslands are a haven for bird lovers. One can find around 550 species of birds and most of these are residents. The best colony of birds in the world is Kealodeo National Park situated in Bharatpur.It has more than 400 species of birds and more than 130 of them breed inside the park. Being a unique bird place, the UNSECO has recognized it as a world heritage site. It is truly a paradise of feathered life which provides unlimited opportunities to bird watchers.

Various other lakes and ponds, spread over the state offer the enthusiast an opportunity to watch the activities of the birds. The major wetlands other than Bharatpur are Kukas, Kalah,

Bund, Buchora Chandi, Chhaparwara and Ramgarh in Jaipur, Silislerh Jaisamand and Mansarover in Alwar, Ana Sagar and Faterhsagar in Ajmer, Jaisamand,Pichhola and Badi ka Talab in Udaipur, Balsamand and Sardar Samand in Jodhpur, Bassi Dam in Chittaurgarh and Meja Dam in Bhilwara.

The best season for bird watching starts with the onset of winter marshlands and lakes are inhabited by migratory birds as well as resident birds. In salt-water lakes, flamingos are also found, like in Pachpadra near Barmer and Sambhar near Jaipur. Bird watching is a hobby which has minimum requirements. All you need is a binocular.
Water Sports

Water sports may appear an alien concept in Rajasthan but the presence of large lakes has actually made the development of such sports possible. Even though they are not popular yet, the opportunities exist, a fact that was brought home when the water games during the prestigious Asian Games in 1982 were held at Jamua Ramgarh on the outskirts of Jaipur.

STEAMER RIDES: "Kayaking, water scooter etc. facilities can be made available. Please contact Tourist Reception Centre, Kota for details. Phone: 07442327695.

Regular boating is offered at several places in Rajasthan, whether on the lakes in Udaipur, or at places such as Siliserh near Alwar. Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation has made paddle boats available at a number of lakes.

This is a new sport in the arena. An upcoming added sport for visitors.

For the angler, Rajasthan's lakes and streams teem with game fish. The fishing expeditions can be undertaken with appropriate licenses in most of the lakes in Rajasthan. Expensive angling equipment is difficult to hire locally, and thus is recommended to carry your own rod.

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