Mysore/Mysuru: The deadly Coronavirus, which has brought the whole world to a somewhat grinding halt, has affected people from all strata of society, be it the rich or the poor. Nowadays, the new term for this virus disease is “Passport holders’ disease” since more cases are reported among those with a history of recent flight travel.
Tongas, the horse-ridden chariots or carts, have been an iconic part of Mysuru’s royal heritage right from the time of the erstwhile rulers of Mysuru, the Wadiyars. In the early years of the princely rule in the State, the Tongas were the most preferred mode of travel for the nobles and the civilians alike.
These Tongas have stood the test of time and remain very much a part of the city’s culture even to this day. With bright colours, LED lights, and a covering above to make the passengers comfortable, one can take a tour of the city including visit to important places like the Mysore Palace, Jaganmohan Palace, Lalitha Mahal Palace, Zoo and other tourist spots on these Tongas or Sarots with a round trip costing around Rs. 600-700 for small Tongas and Rs. 800-900 for the more royal Sarots.
But now, with the Coronavirus pandemic, these Tongawallahs hardly have any customers. With most of the tourist spots shut in city and with travel ban in place, there are no visitors to the city. Everyday living has become a challenge for these Tongawallahs, who eked out a living through the Tonga rides.
Speaking to SOM, one of the Tongawallahs, Nikhil, a resident of Gandhinagar in city, said, “Business went on well until 15 days ago. We used to earn about Rs. 700-900 a day, out of which Rs. 300 went towards food for the horse, Rs. 200 for the owners of the Tongas and the remaining amount for house expenses. But now, with no visitors, our lives have also come to a standstill. There has been no income at all since the last two weeks. How do I feed my family?” asks Nikhil with a heavy heart.