Mysuru: One of the main tourist attractions during Dasara is the illumination of landmarks of the city. While some of the buildings look pale (not the Mysore Palace) in the mornings, they glitter during night. Illumination is the prime reason for night tourism to gain momentum in Mysuru, especially in the Central Business District. Forget a tourist, even a city resident will not miss this visual splendour which he can see only once a year.
Among the many sobriquets earned by Mysuru is the “City of Lights” due to the way illumination is done. Starting from the iconic and tower-all Mysore Palace to any street or a shop in the central business area, all buildings and arches are illuminated to reflect the rich cultural heritage of the land that was initiated by the Wadiyars and continued by democratically elected governments and of course the royal family members.
Along with the traditional celebrations and the rituals, illuminating the city forms an important part of checklist prepared by event planners and organisers where attention is given to each landmark. Over 25-kilometre of roads and streets in the central area of the city is usually illuminated.
This Dasara, insignias on State’s prominent landmarks, personalities, memories of Mysuru Dasara and other landmarks have been replicated at different areas. A replica of Vidhana Soudha has been put up near the City Railway Station while the insignia of Mysore Palace can be found at Ramaswamy Circle.
Doddakere Maidan has the maximum lighting models as the area has high traffic. Till now, the vast ground was used just for parking vehicles and this year, the administration has decided to utilise space in a better way. It is now hosting giant illuminated insignias and over 8 structures including that of Sri Jayachamaraja Wadiyar, stone chariot of Hampi, elephant carrying the Golden Howdah along with four other elephants, Buddha, Basaveshwara, Mahatma Gandhi and B.R. Ambedkar have been set up.
The contract for illuminated insignias has been bagged by Bengaluru-based Mohan Kumar Sounds and Lights and they are using powerful and energy-efficient LED bulbs.
The special feature of this year’s illumination is only LED lights are being used and Chamundeshwari Electricity Supply Corporation (CESC) has decided to do away with incandescent bulbs. Even for the illumination of Raja Marga (Sayyaji Rao Road), LED bulbs in a warm white shade (closer to the golden colour emitted by incandescent bulbs) have been used. LED bulbs give better lighting and consume lesser power. Ten years ago, Dasara illumination used to consume around 3 lakh units of power. Today, the lighting consumes less than 35,000 units because of LED lighting.
WHAT GOES BEHIND PALACE ILLUMINATION
Mysore Palace is probably India’s only illuminated royal structure and is a major tourist attraction, especially during Dasara where millions of tourists come from far and wide to see the lit up Palace. Usually, the Palace is lit up from 45 minutes to two hours. This year, however, the District Administration has decided to illuminate the splendid structure till the Palace Cultural Programmes end.
According to Palace Board officials, nearly a lakh bulbs light up this unique century-old structure. The structure has been illuminated since ages and has rarely witnessed any malfunction, thanks to the efforts of a bunch of officers who work to ensure proper and faultless illumination.
Firstly, a team of electricians led by a supervisor prepares for the task well in advance before illumination. The challenge is to ensure synchronisation and continuous electricity flow. Over 15 workers headed by Assistant Executive Engineer work in tandem to maintain continuous power supply and ensure precise illumination.
In fact, the work on illumination starts much before the Navaratri begins. Workers first change defunct bulbs and remove damaged power cables and every year, they replace nearly 50,000 bulbs. The Palace is fitted with over 98,000 plus bulbs and the lamps are fixed on teak wood.
There are four power sub-stations for distribution of power for illumination. The red light atop Mysore Palace in the central dome is used to synchronise the timing of lights from all the four stations simultaneously.
This red light, earlier, was an indicator of the presence of Maharajas inside the Palace. 15 minutes before illumination, the red light is switched on and switched off after 13 minutes. This is an alert to all station workers. Two minutes later when the red light is switched on again, the Palace is illuminated.