Illuminate Raja Marga five days ahead of Navarathri
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Illuminate Raja Marga five days ahead of Navarathri

September 1, 2022

Advance illumination will acclimatise Dasara elephants to the dazzling lights, surging crowds

Mysore/Mysuru: The Forest Department has requested the Mysuru District Administration to initiate the illumination of Raja Marga (Vijayadashami procession route) five days prior to the Dasara celebrations.

Navarathri begins on Sept. 26 and as per the Forest Department’s request, the illumination has to begin on Sept. 21. This is to acclimatise the Dasara elephants with the illumination set up so that they do not panic on the Vijayadashami Day, seeing bright lights.

During the Dasara 2020 and 2021, the celebrations were limited to the Mysore Palace and as such, there was no need for rehearsals on the Raja Marga. As a result, the elephant team stayed away from the procession route from the Palace to the Bannimantap Grounds.

A letter has been sent by the Deputy Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Dr. V. Karikalan to the Dasara Special Officer (Deputy Commissioner) Dr. Bagadi Gautham urging him to initiate steps to begin the illumination five days ahead of the Navarathri celebrations. This is a pre-emptive step so that the elephants stay cool even if they see the bright lights and surging crowds.

The 2022 Dasara will be a grand Dasara with lakhs of tourists arriving. “It has been three years since the elephants have walked amidst crowds and under bright lights. As such, there is a need for rehearsals at least five to six times under the lights. As such, the Raja Marga has to be illuminated in advance so that the elephant team gets used to the surroundings,” the letter stated.

This year, apart from veterans, there are many first-time Dasara participants and effective training must be provided to them so that they will not panic. If the Raja Marga is illuminated in advance, the elephants can be taken out on acclimatising drills, the letter added.

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Wooden Ambari

Already many rounds of sandbag carrying training have been given to the Howdah-carrying Abhimanyu and along with him, other elephants like Gopalaswamy, Dhananjaya, Mahendra and Bheema have also been trained.

As part of the training, sandbags weighing 750 kg (same weight as Golden Howdah) will be mounted on the elephants. The Department is planning to start wooden Ambari carrying training from Sept. 5.

The second batch of elephants is set to arrive at the Mysore Palace on Sept. 7 and in that, Kunthi (36) from Rampura Camp — replacement for Vikrama (59) which is in musth — Gopi (41), Srirama (40) and Vijaya (63) are expected to come from Dubare Elephant camp in Kodagu and Parthasarathi (18) will be brought from Rampura Elephant Camp near Bandipur. These elephants are brought to the Palace late as they do not have any major role to play in the celebrations, unlike their counterparts who have come in the first batch. 

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