The Mysore Maharaja's Dusshera 

Tripoto
30th Sep 2017

Dasara in Mysore is known the world over for its pomp and splendor. As a photographer, it was time to tick off my bucket list and kick start my solo travel with this trip. I sleepily checked in to my hotel on a rather cold morning on the 7th day of Navaratri.

Day 1

Dasara in Mysore is known the world over for its pomp and splendor. As a photographer, it was time to tick off my bucket list and kick start my solo travel with this trip. I sleepily checked in to my hotel on a rather cold morning on the 7th day of Navaratri.

Photo of Hotel Paradise, Yadavagiri, Mysuru, Karnataka, India by Smita Joshi
Photo of Hotel Paradise, Yadavagiri, Mysuru, Karnataka, India by Smita Joshi
Photo of Hotel Paradise, Yadavagiri, Mysuru, Karnataka, India by Smita Joshi
Photo of Hotel Paradise, Yadavagiri, Mysuru, Karnataka, India by Smita Joshi

As an independent photographer and a solo traveller, this is the maiden attempt at capturing such a massive festival. I finalized my trip during the beginning of August but it was already late to apply for a photographer pass to witness the festival from the palace premises. This was, though, an opportunity to witness the festival from the public perspective. The Police were amazing, showing extensive patience in controlling the multitudes, sometimes unruly, crowd that tried to rush past the barricades.

Drawing inspiration from the Republic Day parade model, the procession had the howdah elephant ‘Arjuna’ carrying the idol of the Goddess along with fourteen other elephants. This will be further taken to the 'Bannimantap' for a torch light parade. Cultural troops from other districts of Karnataka and also other states, and various theme-based tableaux also formed part of the procession. The brightly dressed elephants, elegantly decked up and adorned with ornaments were a sight to behold. At least once in a lifetime.

Strolling around the city during the day, visiting the Mysuru Palace to plan the next day’s shoot and enjoy some rain photography that day – this was my day. I soon realized that Mysore is a paradox. It is calm, lazy, and a peaceful town that turns exactly opposite with grand lighting all over the city, active, celebratory mood thrown around the entire locales, and everyone in a festive mood for the ten days of Dasara. People from across the world gather on the streets surrounding the historical palace on the Vijayadasami, the concluding day of Dusshera festival to witness the grand ‘Jamboo Savari.’ The event was inaugurated by the chief minister of Karnataka by offering floral tribute to the statue of Goddess Chamundeswari ensconced in a grand 750 kg golden howdah. The ‘Balarama’ Gate is the exit from where the procession would come out, take a turn and proceed towards the Bannimantap Grounds to mark the end of Dasara celebrations.

As an independent photographer and a solo traveller, this is the maiden attempt at capturing such a massive festival. I finalized my trip during the beginning of August but it was already late to apply for a photographer pass to witness the festival from the palace premises. This was, though, an opportunity to witness the festival from the public perspective. The Police were amazing, showing extensive patience in controlling the multitudes, sometimes unruly, crowd that tried to rush past the barricades.

Photo of Mysore Palace, Agrahara, Chamrajpura, Mysuru, Karnataka by Smita Joshi
Photo of Mysore Palace, Agrahara, Chamrajpura, Mysuru, Karnataka by Smita Joshi
Photo of Mysore Palace, Agrahara, Chamrajpura, Mysuru, Karnataka by Smita Joshi
Photo of Mysore Palace, Agrahara, Chamrajpura, Mysuru, Karnataka by Smita Joshi
Photo of Mysore Palace, Agrahara, Chamrajpura, Mysuru, Karnataka by Smita Joshi

Drawing inspiration from the Republic Day parade model, the procession had the howdah elephant ‘Arjuna’ carrying the idol of the Goddess along with fourteen other elephants. Cultural troops from other districts of Karnataka and also other states, and various theme-based tableaux also formed part of the procession. The brightly dressed elephants, elegantly decked up and adorned with ornaments were a sight to behold. At least once in a lifetime.

Photo of The Mysore Maharaja's Dusshera by Smita Joshi
Photo of The Mysore Maharaja's Dusshera by Smita Joshi
Photo of The Mysore Maharaja's Dusshera by Smita Joshi

Note: For people who want to witness the grandeur, you can buy tickets on their official website https://www.mysoredasara.gov.in. The tickets open a couple of months ahead of Navratri. Gold passes can be obtained on the same website that will let you enjoy the grandeur of Vijayadashami day as well as access to innumerable events like concerts, flower shows, exhibitions and cultural exchanges ahead of Vijayadashami day.

Stay: I stayed at Hotel Paradise, a decent, budget level hotel by the Dasaprakash group that has a very authentic, Karnataka style restaurant. Please note that the bookings are full almost couple of months before the festival so make sure you block an accommodation well in advance.

Getting around: You can hire Ola autos that are reasonably priced. Bargain with the autowalas to get a good deal if you are hiring on the go.

Reaching there: Mysore is connected with a great number of buses from Bangalore and trains from across the country. If getting to Mysore is challenging, find yourself a flight/train to Bangalore and get a bus from Bangalore - there are buses starting from airports as well. Check out KSRTC's website for Volvo bus availability. A lot of private players are also reliable.

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