If there’s one place you should consider spending Dussera, it should be Mysuru. The former princely state, a 147 km- drive from Bengaluru, really knows how to turn up the wattage to celebrate its ‘state festival’.
During Navratri, the gorgeous Mysuru Palace is all decked up with over one lakh bulbs that cast a golden glow in a setting that looks like it belongs in a Sanjay Leela Bhansali movie.
Mysuru’s Dussera ceremony dates back to the 15th century, when the Vijayanagar kings ruled the region. Legend has it that the city, which was earlier called Mahishur, began celebrating Dussera to celebrate the victory of the Goddess Chamundeshwari, who resided at Chamundi Hill, over the wicked buffalo-headed demon, Mahishasura. To this day, Dussera festivities are kicked off from Chamundi Hill. The festival (and the festivities in particular) gained prominence after Persian ambassador Abdur Razzaq wrote about it.
The celebrations were carried forward even after the dynasties changed, hands with the Wodeyars ruling Musuru. In fact, in 1805, Krishnaraja Wodeyar III began the ceremony that made Mysuru’s Dussera celebrations stand out from amongst others, by holding a special Darbar that was open to all. Even today, the Royal Sword is placed on the golden throne on Mahanavami (ninth day) in a special ceremony to commemorate the event.
What to Do in Mysuru
Visit Mysuru Palace
You cannot miss the palace whenever you visit Mysuru; it’s a majestic building built in the Indo-Saracenic style (a mixture of Hindu, Muslim, Rajput, and Gothic styles) that easily takes you back to a grander time in royal India’s history. Lit of for Dussera, the palace is breath-taking. It’s well worth making the effort to get as up, close and personal as you can to the palace when it’s lit up.
Befittingly, the town also comes alive when the sun goes down. Street art exhibitions, concerts and dance performances can be found around the palace area, once you’ve had your fill of the palace lights. Stay out as long as possible and enjoy the various activities on offer.
Watch a Wrestling Match
One of the most exciting events of the Mysuru Dussera celebration is the wrestling tournament held at Devraj Urs stadium near the exhibition area. If you thought that it was just the akharas in Punjab that produced wrestlers in India, then this will change your perception. This tournament attracts wrestlers from across the country, and the challenges definitely deserve your time and attention.
Watch the Vijayadashmi Celebrations
All’s well that ends well is a maxim that the state government and organisers of the Mysuru Dussera take quite seriously. Which is why the sheer excitement of the last day of Dussera, also called Vijayadashmi, is seriously hard to beat. Expect to see elephants decorated in intricate detail from face to feet, walking around the city, colourful deities bestowing blessings to devotees, song-and-dance celebrations and above all, the city coming together to celebrate its most elaborate function. That, in a nutshell, is the essence of Mysuru Dussera.
1. You can find up-to-date information about Mysuru Dussera on their Twitter handle here.
2. For a daily programme, including event timings, click here.
3. Read the article again to ensure that you don’t miss out on the best parts of the festival.
Image courtesy: Muhammad Madhi Karim