Mysuru: Mighty Arjuna, the lead elephant for Dasara procession, rehearsed carrying the wooden howdah today.
Arjuna began his test run from the Mysore Palace and walked all the way to the Torchlight Parade Grounds in Bannimantap with ease and elegance.
Arjuna, along with Kumki elephants Kaveri and Vijaya, was brought near the residence of royal family from Kodi Someshwara Temple at 7 am where the wooden howdah was mounted on Arjuna’s back using a crane.
First, Gaadhi-Namdha (a cushion-like material) was fastened on Arjuna’s back on which the wooden howdah, weighing 380 kgs, was placed and secured with ropes. Sand bags weighing 220 kg was also placed to bring the weight to 600 kgs. This was done to get Arjuna acclimatised carrying the weight of the Golden Howdah which is 750 kgs. In the coming days, the weight will be further increased to equal the Golden Howdah’s weight.
After the Howdah was fixed, all the 12 elephants were taken out for their usual rehearsal on Jumboo Savari route from the Balarama Gate (North Gate) of the Mysore Palace at 8.10 am. The elephants passed via K.R. Circle, Sayyaji Rao Road, Government Ayurveda Hospital Circle where a two-minute stop was given. The elephants then continued their march to reach Old RMC Circle where again a two-minute stop was given and later continued via Abul Kalam Azad Circle to reach the Torchlight Parade Grounds in Bannimantap at 9.28 pm.
The elephants took about an hour and 18 minutes to reach the Torchlight Parade Grounds on Nelson Mandela Road.
Upon reaching the Torchlight Parade Grounds, only the sand bags were removed from the back of Arjuna. As there was no crane installed at the Torchlight Parade Grounds, Arjuna had to carry the 380-kg wooden howdah back to the Palace. After the elephants were fed they resumed their journey back to the Palace at 9.50 am.
While the elephants moved on the Jumboo Savari route, CESC officials accompanied them to check if any of the electric wires came in contact with the wooden howdah and wherever electric wires were sagging, the officials instructed the staff to raise the height of the electric wires so that they would not obstruct during the grand finale.
Traffic Police personnel, who were accompanying the elephants had a tough time controlling the traffic, especially on New Sayyaji Rao Road as many two-wheeler riders zigzagged between the vehicles and disturbing the elephants in the process.
Meanwhile, Veterinarian Dr. D.N. Nagaraju said that the training of carrying the wooden howdah by Arjuna began this morning and added that elephants Abhimanyu, Dhananjaya and Eshwara too would be trained in carrying the wooden howdah on alternate days.
He further said that Arjuna carried a total weight of 600-kg today and added that the weight would be increased in the coming days till the weight reached the weight of the Golden Howdah which is 750-kg.
DCF Alexander, who also spoke, said that the Dasara elephants, which were housed at various elephant camps were brought to Mysuru on Aug. 22 and they entered the Palace on Aug. 26. Training on Jumboo Savari route began on Aug. 27 and after a few days they were trained in carrying weight. As Arjuna had experience, he carried the wooden howdah with ease, he said and added that all the elephants were fit and healthy.