- Palace tourists have a glimpse of ancient guns booming
- Loaded tranquilliser darts ready in case elephants run amok
Mysore/Mysuru: Except for a couple of body jerks by Dasara elephants — first-timer Ashwathama, second-timer and the youngest Lakshmi — none of the pachyderms displayed fear or anxiety during the first 21-round cannon firing practice held at Mysore Palace premises this noon. A little fear was observed in Gopalaswamy.
Lead elephant Abhimanyu, generally known for his daring attitude was close to the cannons and stood like a rock, without even showing slightest signs that he is disturbed. He stayed cool with his female companions Kaveri and Chaitra. With only a few days left for the start of the festivities, the cannon firing practice to familiarise the elephants to the booming sound from the artillery has begun.
Usually, seven cannons are used to fire 21 rounds (three each at a time) and the practice is held for three days for the finale where the 21-gun salute is accorded soon after the inauguration of the Jumboo Savari on Vijayadashami Day. While Oct. 5 will be the second day of practice, the last date is yet to be announced. Today, over 32 horses from cavalry too were part of the exercise.
Cannon practice was conducted at the parking lot of the Palace premises by personnel from the City Armed Reserve to acquaint the jumbos to the loud noise so that they are not side-tracked to the noise during Jumboo Savari. Last year due to COVID, the elephant team was stationed near Varahaswamy Temple inside the Palace while the cannons were fired at the parking lot.
This year, however, the elephants were brought to the parking lot and as a precaution, Ashwathama, Lakshmi and Vikrama were tied to trees. Ashwathama is a first-timer while Lakshmi is the second time participant and she is the youngest of the lot. Vikrama, though a veteran, was tied as he has been undergoing after-effects of musth.
Interestingly, two loaded tranquilliser syringes were kept on top of a Forest Department jeep’s bonnet ready to be used in case any elephant panics and runs amok due to the cannon firing sound. A gun and other equipment too were on display. Usually, these items are kept inside the jeep during rehearsals and this is for the first time they were on display.
Cannon firing was witnessed by a number of people today including tourists who had come to see the Mysore Palace. Many of them were seen exclaiming “Wow” to the dexterity of the Policemen who skilfully fired the cannons. Apart from tourists, many Mysureans too came to the venue to have a glimpse.
City Police Commissioner Dr. Chandragupta and Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF) Dr. K. Karikalan were present.