7 December 2006

Horse Fair

One of the largest horse markets of Tamil Nadu, which usually assembles at Tiruvannamalai during the Karthigai Deepam festival, is fading into history as the number of horses coming for sale decreases each year.

Traders and brokers, who thronged with different horses to the market, attributed the diminishing trade to the depletion of the horse population in the State, as horse chariots, once a popular mode of transport, are becoming obsolete giving way to two wheelers and automobiles

"The number of horses that arrived to the shandy this time, is around 500, when compared to around 2,000 horses, a few years ago," recalled a Tiruvannamalai-based horse trader. Horses from areas such as Gudiyatham, Ambur, Cuddalore, Chidambaram, Mayavaram, Salem, Erode, Harur and Mathanappalli were brought to the Tiruvannamalai Bullock and Horse fair, however sales was not encouraging.

A trader from Ambur said he was the last chariot-operator from his town, but as everyone now opts for auto rickshaws, he wanted to get rid of his business. Another trader from Guidiyatham complained that a tax of Rs.120/- for each horse was charged at entry points into town. Many traders feel exorbitant charges are detrimental to the fair which assembles once a year. Increase in transportation expenses and local taxes also added to the woes of the traders.

However such tourist areas in Tamil Nadu as Kodaikanal still rely on horse driven chariots as a mode of transportation. Horse riding and rearing also has followers in the State. The price for a young horse is around Rs.4,500/- (U.S.$100) and for an older one Rs.7,000/- (U.S.$160).

The Government has organised a free medical camp near the shandy for treating ailing cattle and administering vaccines to horses and cows for diseases such as foot and mouth and anthrax.


Divyakka said...

I was suprised the first time I saw a horse in India - on the beaches in Chennai. I thought they were one animal that did not exist in India!

Arunachala Living said...

Well they are working animals in most places - not pets. Also horse racing is VERY popular in India. With some famous, large horse racing tracks in most of the major cities.