As a woman entrepreneur of regal lineage, Mallyka Singh Dundlod’s passion for horses and the rich art culture of Shekhavati and community uplift, continue to drive her travel programmes.
What was it like growing up in Dundlod Fort? What are your stand-out memories of it?
When I look back, one thing I do realise and value is how our ancestors play a vital role to continue to keep our roots alive through their legendary stories. My fondest memories of growing up in Dundlod Fort are my childhood days spent with my grandfather, the late Lieutenant Colonel Raghuvir Singh Dundlod. I still remember post his retirement from the army, he came back to his village and went back to farming at Dundlod.
During the winter breaks in my boarding school days, we spent time between the fort and the farm house. All those stories my grandfather shared with us about his army days along with those of pre-independence to present times – and his great sense of humour– still light up my heart. It was truly inspirational learning, first-hand, about life here during the feudal times and how it changed in the democratic system. My grandfather used to serve as the military secretary to His Highness Mansingh of Jaipur, who at the time was the Raj Pramukh, now known as governor. People are always fascinated with events that came before them when it comes from your direct ancestors, it lends its voice to us and we learn more about ourselves. Those stories, and our historic surroundings, were pivotal to giving us a deeper understanding of our heritage and culture.
What was your experience living with a dad who was involved with horse safaris?
We grew up with a father who was spent six months of the year on a horse. It was rather short of extraordinary as whenever we met him, he always had a trunk full of stories to share from his safaris. I still recall the grand parties thrown by my parents at our ancestral home Dundlod House, in Jaipur. There was a celebration called ‘Risala’ which means “Cavalry Contingent”, which involved a full cavalry of up to 20 mounted horses and camel troops and the night would be lit up with mashals everywhere. The entire theme was organised with great tradition and ceremony with the guards dressed in uniform in our Shekhawati colours (saffron and red) and colourful safas. As the guests
arrived, my mother and father presented them safas and scarves while personally greeting each one of them warmly. Soon the place would come alive with dancing horses, folk music, Rajasthani delicacies, a barbeque and bonfire and much merriment. It was a truly a fascinating experience even for us.
My first memory of the legendary Marwari horse goes back to those early days when the lights went off and the horses use to come out of their stables and roam freely in our garden. They would even come to my window in the middle of the night as I looked out at the gardens – and in that magical moment I knew we were going to have a deep connection. My heart used to always fill up with warmth and love for them and I always knew somewhere deep down, when I was growing up, that they would be part of my journey later in life also.
I was barely 6 years old and riding had just started for me, when back in 1985 my father decided to revive the indigenous Marwari horse by starting horse safaris in Rajasthan. Back then it was quite extraordinary to have equestrians from all over the world to visit India to come and ride this rare breed across the stretches of open countryside. Growing up around this magnificent breed, whose legendary stories inspired us was wonderful. Undoubtedly the Marwari horse’s inward curling ears make them so unique. The Marwari also has a unique mirroring capability, which makes it highly intuitive. A rare breed, it descends from the mounts of the famous Rajput warriors. This war horse is brave and loyal, apart from being an important and integral part of our heritage. This magical connection I felt inspired me later in my life to create experiences not only for riders like my father did, but also for everyone out there who wanted to get to know this magnificent animal.
What inspired you to launch a travel company which offers experiences with horses?
I rode on my first horse safari with my father on one of his tours in 2015. Being a mother of two boys while living in Gurgaon for eight years and working in the tourism industry played an important role in making me realise what I had back at home and how I could take it forward through my own travel offerings. A Baisa’s Adventures were my roots calling me back to Shekhawati to explore the region and curate first-hand experiences straight from my heart. So when I rode with my father on the fiery Marwari horse, it seemed almost a symbol of the freedom I so craved - and it kind of opened up a channel where I could chart a new course in my life. My passion turned into a deep desire that everyone out there should get to know and bond with this magnificent animal.
fought by our brave ancestors who knew the true essence of this indigenous breed of Rajasthan.
How do you want to help preserve the legacy of Shekhawati region’s art and craft through your travel offerings?
As a child, I wasn’t really much aware of the remarkable wealth of mural paintings which adorn the wall of the merchant havelis. But in time all this came to enrich my tour programmes. It also led to my curating a programme involving some of the local artisans in this rural area. A Baisa’s Adventures is a tool to highlight the heritage, culture, art and craft of the Shekhawati region, thereby bringing in sustainable development for my fraternity.
We have a wide range of authentic curated experiences, because today’s traveller is not only a tourist looking out for bucket list destinations, but bucket list experiences too. Having handled it all for two years on my own I wanted an exclusive platform to showcase our specialisation and we found this in a B2B firm, Alphonso Stories, which helped us reach an international market we were keen to tap. Our most exciting and must-do experience are Bonding with Horses, Food & Frescoes: Heritage Shekhawati, An Insight into the Craft Landscape of Shekhawati and Ride the Marwari: Dundlod Safaris.
The experiences at Shekhawati will be a small but important step in keeping alive the traditions of the region. A Baisa’s Adventures puts the spotlight on the culture of the region and helps accelerate the pace of sustainable development for its community. All our experiences are curated in such a way that people get an opportunity to engage with each other and not just observe but be a part of it. It’s a place where you arrive as temporary guests– but leave as friends.