Mysore Dasara is Dussehra with a difference! The city's royal heritage ensures that the festival is elaborately celebrated on a grand scale. In Mysore, Dussehra honors the Goddess Chamundeswari (another name for Goddess Durga) of Chamundi Hill, who killed the powerful demon Mahishasur.
When is Mysore Dasara?
In 2017, Mysore Dasara gets underway on September 21 and concludes on September 30.
Where is it Celebrated?
In the regal city of Mysore, in Karnataka. Events take place at various location all over the city, including auditoriums, Mysore Palace, the exhibition grounds opposite Mysore Palace, Maharaja’s College ground, and Chamundi Hill.
A Festival of Royal Origin
The festival can be traced all the way back to 1610, when it was started by Wadiyar King, Raja Wadiyar I. The king and his wife performed a special puja to worship Goddess Chamundeshwari in Chamundi Temple, situated on top of Chamundi Hill in Mysore. Later, in 1805, Krishnaraja Wadiyar III started the tradition of holding a special durbar (royal assembly) at Mysore Palace. This continues today. However, it was during the rule of Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV (from 1894-1940) that the celebrations became grand. The highlight was a royal procession with the king riding in a golden seat on a decorated elephant.
The festival lost some of its pomp after India attained Independence in 1947, which resulted in royal rulers losing their kingdoms and authority. Some of it has been regained in the last few decades though.
How is the Festival Celebrated?
Mysore Palace is dazzlingly illuminated by almost 100,000 light bulbs, nightly from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m., during the festival.
In addition, the palace's magnificent Golden Throne is taken out of storage and assembled in the Durbar Hall for public viewing. This is the only time it can be seen throughout the year.
The main event takes place on the last day of the festival. A traditional procession (known as Jumboo Savari) winds its way through the streets of Mysore, starting at 2.45 p.m. from Mysore Palace and ending in Bannimantap. It features an idol of the Goddess Chamundeshwari, which is privately worshiped by the royal family beforehand, carried atop a lavishly decorated elephant. Colorful floats and cultural troupes accompany it. In the evening, from 8 p.m., there's a torch-light parade at the Bannimantap grounds on the outskirts of the city. Highlights include fireworks, daredevil stunts on motorcycles, and a laser show.
For the first time, a street festival is also being organized this year on September 27, 2017. It will take place on Devaraj Urs Road, which will be closed to traffic, from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m.
Other popular attractions include Yuva Dasara (an event targeted at the youth), food festival, cultural programs at Mysore Palace, sporting events (such as wrestling), a shopping festival, a flower show, and helicopter and hot air balloon rides.
- See a program of events on the Mysore Dasara website.
Dasara Sightseeing Tours
- goMowgli, India's first backpacker bus, runs Mysore city tours during the festival.
- Royal Mysore Walks conducts a variety heritage walks, cycle tours, and jeep tours of the city throughout the festival. Bookings can be made online here.
- Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation operates a full-day Palace on Wheels bus tour to five Mysore palaces and three museums. The cost is 999 rupees per person and lunch at Hotel Lalitha Mahal Palace is included.
- You can also get an aerial view of the city! Short 10 minute helicopter tours over Mysore depart from Lalitha Mahal helipad between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. The cost is 2,300 rupees per person. Tickets are available from the helipad counter.
- Want to experience the festival in style? The Golden Chariot, south India’s first and only luxury tourist train, is making two Dasara Special Trips to Mysore from Bangalore. The first departure is on September 23, 2017 and the second one is on September 29, 2017. Both trips are for two nights/three days. The difference is their itineraries in Mysore. The later one provides the opportunity to see the procession and parade on the last day. If this doesn't particularly interest you, choose the other trip, which focuses on exploring the city's heritage and palaces. The cost is 25,000 rupees for Indians and 40,000 rupees for foreigners (per person, twin sharing), plus 5% tax. This includes all meals, accommodations, entrance fees, cultural shows, and guide.
Is Mysore Dasara Free?
Many events that happen as part of Mysore Dasara are free. However, the procession and torch light parade require tickets. A restricted number of VIP Gold Cards are available. These premium passes provide separate seating arrangements with VIP facilities, free entry to many Mysore attractions including the zoo, and a range of other benefits during the festival. The cost of the VIP Gold Card for 2017 is 3,999 rupees for one person. It can be purchased online here. The details of other tickets are yet to be released.
Where to Stay
Check out these 11 Guesthouses and Hotels in Mysore for All Budgets. The Pai Vista is particularly close to Mysore Palace. The Ashwarya Residency is within walking distance.
Borrow a Bicycle to Get Around
If you're fit, Mysore has a public bicycle share system called Trin Trin. Additional bicycles will be added at prominent docking stations for the duration of the festival. The cost is 50 rupees for a day and 150 rupees for a week.