The city of Mysore lit up with lights during the Dussehra festival

Mysore Dussehra Mahotsav; A Unique Visual Treat

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Despite the crowd warnings from the Kannadigas, we were very eager to know what’s special about the Mysore Dussehra. So as adventures tend to do, we sorted our gear and set off to witness the celebration, which was magnificent by all accounts. The celebrations kickstarted with a great festive vibe and a largely crowded railway station. We scoured the streets of Mysore looking for good viewpoints. 

With no good information on Google and other social media platforms, the preparations were almost nil. So, we have written this guide extensively for you guys with advice for first-time visitors. 

Read carefully as it has all the information you’ll need to know to visit and partake in Dussehra day celebrations.

Mysore Dussehra Visitor’s Guide

When Is Dussehra Celebrated?

Mysore Dussehra is celebrated for 10 days every year. The first 9 days are known as Navratri while the last day is celebrated as Dussehra (also called Vijayadasami). The festival is celebrated every year during the month of September-October.

Legend has it that the Goddess Chamundeeswari or Durga slew the demon Mahishasuran on the day of Vijayadasami. In Mysore, Dussehra is a Royal Festival Celebrating the victory of Truth over Evil. Whereas in other parts of India, the festival is celebrated to honor the victory of lord Rama over Ravana. Either way, it is a celebration of truth over evil.

Mysore Dussehra & History

The word Mysore is an evolved version of the word “Mysooru” derived from the word “Mahishur” or “Mahishasurana Ooru”, meaning the town of Mahishasura in Kannada.

Legend has it that Mysore was ruled by Mahishasura (meaning a monster or demon). In response to the prayers of the people, the Goddess Parvathi incarnated as Chamundeshwari and killed Mahishasura atop the Chamundi hill near Mysore. The famous 10-day-long Dussehra of Mysore is in honor of the Goddess, and her victory over vanquishing the demon.

horse parade during the Mysore Dussehra
Goddess Chamundeshwari on golden howdy during the jumbo safari possession, Mysore Dussehra
The Goddess Chamundeshwari, with all due respect, is carried on the golden howda during the Dussehra possession
Goddess Chamundeshwari on golden howdy during the jumbo safari possession, Mysore Dussehra
The Goddess Chamundeshwari, with all due respect, is carried on the golden howda during the Dussehra possession

In the olden days, the kings of Wodeyars rode on elephants to the Chamundi hills while carrying the bronze idol of Chamundeshwari (Durga). After worshipping the goddess and offering his prayers, he used to bring back to Mysore city and celebrate Dussehra. Over the years, today Dussehra is about celebrating the possession of Goddess Chamundeshwari on the elephant.

Per reliable historian accounts, the Dussehra festivities began with the Vijayanagar Monarchs in the 15th century. After the fall of the Vijayanagar kingdom, the Wodeyars of Mysore (Kings) continued the rich tradition of the Dussehra Festival in the year 1610 at Srirangapatna. They would perform poojas at the Chamundi Hill Temple. In 1805, the tradition of gathering a royal assembly was first introduced in the Mysore palace. The occasion of conducting the Dussehra exhibition is now entirely entrusted to the Karnataka Exhibition Authority since 1987.

In Karnataka, Dussehra is observed as the state festival – Nadahabba. This is because the celebration is steered by generations of the royal family of Mysore. The royal family of Mysore performs special poojas on the occasion of Dussehra.

During Dussehra, the entire city is gaily decorated and illuminated. The Mysore Palace and other significant buildings are lit with fairy lights and other objects. Famous artists perform cultural programs making Mysore an enthralling destination for visitors. The elephants for the Dussehra processions also undergo training all in preparation to add splendor to the grand day. Take it from us, it is an experience that you need to witness at least once in your life.

 

Mysore Dussehra Tickets

The Gold Pass

The gold pass (Rs. 4999 per person) can be purchased only from the official website, and not from any unauthorized persons or agencies. The ticket is issued on the starting day of Navratri. Golden cards should be collected from the Myura Hotel, JLB Road, Mysore by submitting a valid ID and payment proof. The payment receipt alone will not be considered for the gold pass entry.

People with the Gold pass have exclusive seating inside the palace premises for the ‘Jumbo Savari’ and the torchlight parade at the Bannimantap. Gold pass holders can also visit (entry allowed only once) Mysore Palace, Shri Chamarajendra Zoological Park, Chamundeshwari Temple (Rs. 100 per Darshan), Flower Shoe, Dassehra Exhibition, Railway Museum, and the Krishnaraja Sagara Dam (KRS dam). The ticket is only valid until Dussehra Day.

Dussehra Events – Tickets

The tickets for the Vijayadasami Procession (Jumbo Savaari) and the Torchlight Parade can be purchased separately on the same official website. The tickets have to be collected from the DC office at the Mysore Spandhana Center 2 days prior to the morning of the Dussehra. The payment receipt will not be considered for entry.

The tickets are usually sold out within a few hours of the announcement day. Be prepared earlier on, to ensure you book the tickets fast.

Ticket price: Rs. 1000 and Rs. 1500 for the Vijayadasami Procession (Jumbo Savari) and Rs. 500 for the Torchlight Parade.

You can also watch the Jumbo Savari for free on the streets of Mysore. But the Torchlight Parade can be seen only be viewed if the tickets are purchased.

Mysore Dussehra Events

The Jumbo Savari and the Torchlight Parade are two of the most significant events on the day of Dussehra. Additionally, You can visit the palace which is lit with 1 lakh lights after dawn, adding a preternatural glow and festiveness to the ancient terrain.

Another important thing that you shouldn’t miss is the golden throne kept in the private durbar hall inside the Mysore palace. This is kept for public display only during the Dussehra festival. An extra Rs. 50 is charged to view the golden throne.

The palace and city lights are turned on from 7 PM to 11 PM on all days during the Dussehra festival celebrations and also the next 7 days for the visitors. The sound and light show which takes place in the palace is temporarily resumed during Dussehra.

During Dussehra, “Ambaari” – a double-decker bus service with an open rooftop is run by the Karnataka Government, starting from the KSTDC Mayura hotel premises. You can view the beautiful city which is lit with lamps all around.

  • Tariff: Rs. 250 for seating on the lower deck, Rs. 350 for the upper deck or rooftop. The prices might be increased based on demand.
  • Duration: 1-hour ride
  • Timings: 6:30 PM, 8 PM, and 10:30 PM (only during the Dussehra festival)
  • Bookings can be done online or at the KSTDC Mayura Hotel.

The Jumbo Savaari

The jumbo parade at Mysore Dussehra - Elephants marking the start of the parade
The decorated elephants mark the start of the jumbo parade

The most spectacular procession held during the celebrations is the Jumbo Parade. The event kicks off with drums followed by ornamented elephants walking one after the other, many ‘Rathas’ depicting the significant monuments, Hindu gods and goddesses, and new scientific improvements. Between the ‘Rathas,’ you can enjoy the royal parade encompassing various dance forms and music performed by artists across India. The diversity of the country is beautifully showcased in the parade.

The goddess Chamundeshwari, in all her glory, is said to shower blessings by sitting on a Golden Chariot, which is around 750 grams of Gold, placed atop a decorated elephant. In the olden days, it showcased the strength, power, and economic status of the King to its subjects. Nowadays, it is a symbol of traditional heritage. This marvelous sight is one to behold and it marks the end of this spectacular parade.

The possession ideally ends at the Bannimantap ground. From there, the elephants disperse to reach their home, and the goddess is moved to Bannimantap or Banni tree (Prosopis Spicegera) on the same night.

  • Ticket price: Rs. 1000 and Rs. 1500. The seating will be in a designated deck with chairs and shelter alongside the streets.
  • Timings: Start at around 3 PM and end at 6:30 PM.
  • Venue: The Jumbo Parade starts from the Mysore Palace and ends at the Torchlight Parade ground or Bannimantap grounds. 

Twin’s tip: Book a hotel room (on Parade Road) to enjoy an elevated view from the terrace. It costs less, provides better views, and lets you escape the crowd.

The Torchlight Parade

The Torchlight Parade has a series of events happening on the Bannimantap grounds. There is a marchpast followed by an invigorating showcase of cultural fusion dances of folk, classical, and western a vibrant music show, and horseback rides, all culminating in the great Happy Dussehra Drone show. Images of an elephant with Radha, the Palace, and the Mysore ‘Simhasana’ are illustrated by drones in the sky among others.

Next is the highly anticipated event of the Torchlight Parade. 300 people, dressed in white, holding two lit torches in hand march in perfect and precise uniformity synchronizing in beautiful formations setting ablaze the rich cultural heritage of Mysore with real fire. Starting with a welcome formation and vigorous drills, they do formations like the swastika (the Hindu symbol of well-being), crosscut, and letter formations in both Kannada and English.

All the important and higher state officials can be seen on the dais. The event is also live telecasted in DD Karnataka and its YT channel in the Kannada language.

  • Ticket price: Rs. 500 without which you’ll not be able to see the show. People with Gold Passes are also permitted to enter the grounds.
  • Venue: Torchlight Parade ground or Bannimantap grounds
  • Timings: 7:30 PM to 10:30 PM

Twin’s tip: For the best view, sit as close as possible to the main stage.

Dussehra Exhibition

Started by the Maharaja of Mysore, Chamaraja Wodeyar X in 1880, the Dussehra exhibition is held in the Doddakere Maidana for 10 days straight. With laser light shows, sand arts, amusement parks with a Ferris wheel, interesting games, stalls with cultural artifacts, bags, footwear, dresses, etc can be found. You can also find a variety of eatables to match the vibe.

  • Entry Price: Rs. 30 for adults, Rs. 20 for Children.
  • Parking: Available

Essential Advice For First-Time Visitors

Crowd observed during the Mysore Dussehra
  • Book bus and train tickets in advance as they tend to fill out faster during the festival season.
  • Beware that the city is very crowded for the entire day. More than 10 lakh+ people fly to witness the grand event.
  • On Dussehra day, the Palace and the Chamundi Temple are closed to the general public and visitors. You can only visit the palace grounds but you cannot enter inside.
  • Reach Mysore before noon. You’ll already be seeing numerous people occupying the pavement and reserving their seats. Settle in a place with a good view as soon as you get there. As time goes by, you’ll be stranded, with no place to walk or even set foot. 
  • The city and palace lights are turned on after 6:30 PM and switched off at 11 PM.
  • Stock enough water and food to handle the next 6 hours. You might see people distributing free and paid water bottles until 2-3 PM. Once the parade starts, these services will be hard to find.
  • Bring a large towel or newspapers to sit on and wait patiently for the event to begin. Carrying an umbrella also helps you escape the scorching heat.
  • Most of the roads are blocked for vehicle entry. It is difficult for even the tuk-tuks to pass through. The best mode of transport is walking.

Photo Gallery

Artists perform and engage the crowd with different activities throughout the parade or jumbo savari. The different sound of drums beating the rhythm of the artists, beautifully decorated with colorful costumes is a sight to behold. The cheers and shouts of the people just add up to the vibes. See them for yourself through the pictures below.

Colourful artists performing at the jumbo savari
Dussehra festival - jumbo parade with drums
Popular monuments showcased during the possession
Popular monuments showcased during the Dussehra possession
Artists performing stunts on the streets of Mysore
Artists performing stunts with fire to engage the audience
Double drums at the parade
Formations done by the dancers
Formations done by the traditional dancers
Decorated umbrella held by people
Ornamented umbrellas jingling with bells
A visual representation depicting rich history
A visual representation depicting the rich history of the state
Roll drums in the parade
A different kind of drum rolled on the streets
Formations by drummers on the Mysore jumbo savari
Passionate drummers doing formations
tall man with wooden legs
Artists enacting play on the streets during the jumbo savari
Costumed as Hindu God and Goddesses, artists enacting play
Traditional dancers embarking the diversity
Traditional dancers embarking the diversity

Although there are few selective pictures for you guys, the jumbo parade is so huge; the event happens for more than 3 hours straight. We can’t stress you enough to witness this in person, at least once in your lifetime.

We hope this blog was useful in planning your trip to witness one of the grandest Indian festivals of Dussehra at Mysore. For more such interesting guides, subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on social media platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest.

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