Preparations at Palace to house Dasara elephants
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Preparations at Palace to house Dasara elephants

August 22, 2023

Works on elephant shelters, sheds for Mahouts and Kavadis, permanent toilets underway

Mysore/Mysuru: Preparations are in full swing at the Mysore Palace premises ahead of the arrival of the Dasara elephants. The jumbos will camp here for approximately two months, undergoing training and consuming nutritious food, till the grand Jumboo Savari. Dasara festival will be held from Oct. 15 to 24.

While the first batch of nine elephants will arrive at the Palace on Sept. 4 after Gajapayana from Veeranahosahalli on Sept. 1, the second batch of five elephants will arrive subsequently, taking the total number of elephants to 14 this year.  The Forest Department intends to release the second list of five elephants either on Aug. 28 or Sept. 1.

After the jumbos are shifted from Veeranahosahalli to Mysuru in trucks, they will stay at the Aranya Bhavan till their arrival at the Palace on Sept. 4 where they will be accorded a traditional welcome.  

While there are already shelters for the elephants including Howdah (Ambari) elephant Abhimanyu, more shelters are being constructed near the Balarama Gate to house new elephants. The construction of over 40 sheds to accommodate Mahouts, Kavadis and their families, who will be accompanying the elephants, has also commenced. 

Usually, tent-like toilets are built for the families of Mahouts and Kavadis. However, this year, the toilet complex inside the Palace near the elephant shelters has been renovated. These places had become dirty and sheltered snakes and scorpions. These toilets have now been given a facelift and new permanent toilets have also been constructed as a permanent solution.  

No Vikrama, Kaveri and Chaitra this year

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Meanwhile, elephants Vikrama and Chaitra, usually part of the Jumboo Savari, will not be participating this year. Chaitra, a 50-year-old Kumki elephant from Rampura Elephant Camp in Bandipur, has been confirmed as pregnant through a mandatory pregnancy test. 

Similarly, 59-year-old Vikrama of Harangi Camp is exhibiting signs of musth, a period of heightened aggressiveness in male elephants. Additionally, the 46-year-old Kumki elephant Kaveri from Dubare Elephant Camp, initially showing potential signs of pregnancy, did not make it to the first list of Dasara elephants. Subsequent tests confirmed her non-pregnant status.  In past years, Vikrama has faced issues during the Jumboo Savari due to musth-related behaviour. This year, he has again demonstrated signs of musth, leading to his exclusion.

Chaitra, previously a Kumki Elephant from Rampura Camp, is renowned for her gentle nature. She participated in Jumboo Savari and gained appreciation for her demeanour. Chaitra is set to give birth to her 14th calf after participating in the event for a decade. To address previous concerns and controversies, pregnancy tests are now mandatory for all female elephants selected for Dasara festivities. These tests aim to ensure that pregnant elephants are not included in the event.

Chance for Hiranya and Lakshmi

With Vikrama’s musth condition, he won’t be participating this year, having missed the last two years as well due to similar issues. There’s a possibility that if he is in good condition next year, he may assume the role of ‘Nishane’ Elephant. Kaveri, from Dubare camp, is doubtful for this year’s Dasara due to her ailments.

Considering these developments, senior female elephants 64-year-old Vijaya and  67-year-old Varalakshmi are likely to take on the role of Kumki elephants this year, walking alongside the Howdah elephant Abhimanyu. 

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Additionally, two other female elephants, 35-year-old Hiranya from Rampura Camp and 52-year-old Lakshmi from Dodda Harave Camp, are expected to be part of the event, offering new opportunities.

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