Mysore/Mysuru: Dasara is that time of the year when Mysuru lives up to its sobriquet of Royal City and Mysuru is among the few places where tongas still exist.
The tongas are now used only for joy rides, especially during Dasara when the tongawallas deck up their tongas and illuminate them with LED lights to attract tourists apart from regular customers. There are 40 tongas and 20 chariots (Sarots) that operate within the city. Sarots, also called ‘Victoria’, have four wheels and can carry up to eight people, while tonga or ‘Mysore Shah Pasand Tonga’ are two-wheeled, can load up to four people and are pulled by a relatively small horse.
These tongawallas depend only on tourists visiting Mysuru to witness the Naada Habba. But with no Dasara programmes including the yearly Dasara Exhibition, Flower Show, Food Mela, Yuva Dasara and the Jumboo Savari limited only inside the Palace premises, the livelihood of these tongawallas, which is already in dire straits due to lockdown, is staring at a bleak future this Dasara as very less tourists are expected this festive season.