When the hustling bustling city turns into a traditional royal city where you see a herd of elephants walking on the streets with their mahouts guiding them. An elaborate fair set up attracting a lot of foreign and local visitors. When the city turns sparkling clean to welcome thousands of tourists and transports everybody back to age-old era filled with festivities and celebrations. When the city comes alive filling its atmosphere with the aromas of celebrations. When the night gets illuminated with lights all across, one knows it’s time for Mysuru Dasara.
LEGEND OF MYSURU DASARA:
As per mythology, the history of Mysore Dussehra dates back to the times when Goddess Chamundeshwari of Chamundi Hill killed the cruel buffalo headed monster, Mahishasura. To celebrate this victory over evil, the Mysore Dussehra is celebrated with grand pomp and show. The city Mysore (Mahishur) as called in previous times also got its name from this demon.
It is also believed that Pandavas had hidden their weapons beneath the Banni tree during their one-year period of Agnatavasa (living life incognito). The kings worshipped this tree to help them feat the victory in the war. That’s the place where Dasara festivities culminate on the night of Vijayadashami in the grounds at Bannimantap called as Panjina Kavayatthu (torch-light parade).
The festival dates all the way back to 1610 when Wadiyar King, Raja Wadiyar I started it. With his wife, King performed a pooja to worship Goddess Chamundeshwari in Chamundi Temple, situated on top of Chamundi Hill in Mysore. In 1805, Krishnaraja Wadiyar III held a special durbar (royal assembly) at Mysore Palace for the first time On Dasara. Only during therule of Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV in 1894-1940, the celebrations became magnificent.
FESTIVITIES OF MYSURU DASARA:
Mysore Dasara is an elaborate 10 day affair during which the architectural marvel, Mysore palace gleams with a mammoth series of 1 lakh incandescent lights for 3 hours everyday. The illuminated palace turns into a photographers’ delight and its silhoutte is a most spectacular sight to behold. A series of events like film festival, cultural dance show, various sports events, hot air balloon ride, flower show, dasara procession, torch-light parade and so many more events take place during the 10 days of the festivities.
The most popular event, Mysuru Dasara procession locally known as Jumbo Savari takes place on the day of Vijayadashmi and is attended in a huge number. People start assembling in queue 2 hours in advance so as to get the front seats to witness the spectacle of procession parades and ceremonies. The event begins with the royal couple offering prayers to Goddess Chamundeshwari. Soon after, the Goddess in Golden Howdah is seated on one chosen elephant which marks the beginning of the procession through the streets of Mysore starting from the Mysore palace till Bannimantap Grounds. The procession soon turns into a convoy of ornated elephants, horses and camels moving along the chosen elephants. Artists from various parts of Karnataka exhibit their culture in form of spellbinding performances. The sequenced tableau reveals the stories of different parts of the state adding to the vibrance of the artists performing alongside illustration. The march past of people in uniforms, the music played by police bands and the dances performed by masked people surely leaves people awestruck. The torch-light parade marks the climax of 10 day Mysore Dussehra festival. The amazing firework display, laser show and daredevil show by Indian Army bike riders are a pure delight to watch.
While the festival reaches its pinnacle on Vijayadashmi’s night, but the exhibition which happens opposite to the Mysore Palace starts on the day of Dussehra and lasts for around two months. The giant wheels, the merry go rounds, the pink cotton candy, clothes , jewellery, handicrafts makes everyone go gaga about the fair. This exhibition catches eye balls of locals and tourists as it does not only showcase the tradition and culture of Karnataka but of the entire country. Exhibitors come from different parts of India to put up the stalls and exhibit the crafts from their state.
THINGS TO NOTE FOR MYSURU DASARA:
- Dasara Celebration Dates : The festivities will begin on 21st September 2017 and will last till Vijayadashmi on 30th September 2017.
- How to reach Mysore : By Air : You can take a flight to Mysore airport from all parts of the country. By Rail : Mysore has two railway junctions- Mysore Station and Ashokapuram. By Road : If you are nearby, you can drive down or take a private or a public bus to Mysore. If you want to witness the festival in sheer luxury, The Golden Chariot, south India’s first and only luxury tourist train, is making two Dasara Special Trips to Mysore from Bangalore.
- Where to stay in Mysore: Mysore has a wide range of accommodation options ranging from budget hotels, to mid range hotels to lavish heritage palaces. It is best to opt something near the city center to make the most of the festival. I stayed at Hotel Viceroy comfort which is a mid range hotel and can be looked as an option while you are there.
- Where to buy Mysuru Dasara tickets from: The tickets last year were available at the following places : Mysore City Corporation, MUDA, KSRTC – Rural Bus Stand, DC Office, Mysore Palace,Town Hall. The tickets were not available online till last year. The information for this year is still not announced, check the official site in few days.
- Time to witness the lit Mysore Palace: The palace is lit from 7pm to 10pm on the day of Dussehra whereas on the remaining 9 days, it is lit from 7pm to 9 pm.
ATTRACTIONS TO VISIT ON YOUR TRIP TO MYSORE:
While in Mysore, head out to visit the popular attractions of the city:
- Mysore Maharajah’s Palace (Amba Vilas)
- Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens
- Brindavan Garden
- Sri Chamundeshwari Temple
- St. Philomena’s Church
- Karanji Lake
- Railway Museum, Mysore
Dasara is beckoning! Are you planning to witness this spectacle of Mysuru Dasara this year?