October 21, 2007

na kanda Dasara!

Witnessing the magic of Dasara was always on my wishlist when it came to seeing and experiencing festivity… Watching Dasara on Television, reading about the festive season in newspapers and websites year after year was so tempting and making a decision to experience Dasara this year was just irrestitable!

Atlast! Somewhere during this time of Dasara in a quiet corner of my heart I knew yes! This must be the year. But just again round that corner were the same old barricades (Well ‘m sure that’s the case with all enthusiast) – oh I have work, its crowded, it must be raining there etc etc. 5 days out of 9 rolled over and my excitement of being a part of the Dasara culture was building up!!

Finally, the 6th day of navrathri, I decided to go over to Mysore for a couple of days with my little bro Rony and my awesome pal Anil (Well convincing these guys was quite a task but atlast it was worth it the effort :)

Travelling to Mysore has always been a cake walk and this least bit of distance is just so easy to cover. We reached Mysore by noon. Took a deep walk around the palace, mysore circle. This was totally unintentional but for sure gave a good sense of the festive preparations that was on a total swing!

Mysore is my mom’s native place and needless to accommodation and hospitality was not a something to be bothered about J Headed towards uncle’s house, discovered through my aunt that Anil is her cousin and hence my far relative (wow! That was something!), good food, got some gyan about the do’s and don’t during Dasara and decided to explore the Jaganmohana palace. 

The Jaganmohana palace is a 150 years old beautiful and ornamental palace built by the Kings of Mysore built in 1861. 

The main structure of Jaganmohan Palace consisting of three stories has been converted into the famous Jayachamarejendra Art Gallery during the reign of Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV. It displays the paintings and artifacts that belonged to the Kings of Mysore. Today this art gallery is considered one of the best in South India.

This palace without any doubts is a heaven for art lovers. Raja Ravi Varma resides here. Because of the season the palace was crowded than usual but who cares. Once you step in nothing really matters. Not even your ownself. Indulging is the optimum you can do.

Jaganmohana palace has imbibed in itself the rich tradition and culture of Mysore. The amazing soldier clock (its hard to explain this master piece in words) the massive mirror, the artifacts of the Mysore dynasty, the Pallakki, amazing music instruments, arms and ammunitions are some things that remain in memory forever.. and the first floor opens the doors to the heaven of colours. Raja Ravi Varma is the name that rules here.  This painter had magic in his hands… a blessing worth envying. Its festival to the eyes to see huge paintings of this great artists that speak of his determination, hardwork and his worship for art. S.L Haldankar’s “Glow of Hope” is a life time experience… I was sure I spent the maximum time more than everyone present there gazing at this beautiful art work.

It had drizzled just before we exited Jaganmohana Palace and I must say the palace with green before it looked stunning! 

This was the first time I carried so much of Jaganmohana Palace and I was so contended. Mysore was just happening during this season! Experiencing joys of Dasara watching the streets.

Curzon park and Mysore Palace was our next destination. Curzon Park sees flower shows every year during Dasara. I am not sure about the previous years or years to come but we were lucky to see some amazing flowers on display. The ikebana exhibition was another treat to top it all the Nandi bull made with 4 lakh roses was the bonanza! We were going crazy clicking and clicking and clicking pictures.

Flowers are my person favorites and needless to say I was immensely over joyed :)

Curzon park led to the Ahara Mela and what’s that? Lots of food!!! The display of the big green chillies was catchy and very interesting. I got to taste the big pappad (which I, during my childhood used to call exhibition pappad) after a long span of time! The 20 rupees spent on the pappad was worth it to re-remember little sweet childhood memories.

It was time to see the Bride! Making our ways through the muddy foot path and the police checking, we entered the Mysore Palace

It was an experience to sit right in front of the Mysore Palace. After changing three places to make sure we got a good view of the palace and the artist who was to be performing shortly.

To know little about this great master piece, drawing back to history, when the capital was shifted back to Mysore from Srirangapatnam, after Tippu Sultan's death, the Palace was hastily rebuilt with wood and mud, in a Hindu style. The Royal family moved into it in 1801. But this Palace was burnt down in a fire that broke out during the wedding of the oldest daughter of Maharaja Chamaraja Wodeyar in 1897. The reconstruction of the Palace was undertaken immediately and the Royal family moved to Jaganmohan Palace. The English architect Henry Irwin designed the new Palace and it was completed in 1912 at a cost of about Rs 41 lakhs.!! 

Sitting in front of history under the wide sky and feeling the cool breeze kissing my cheeks was an out of the world feeling.

And now for the most awaited moment, it was 7pm and everyone’s eyes were on the palace. The clock ticked 7 and there it was! The palace was lit up… The Bride!

The darbar just then had concluded and we were fortunate enough to atleast see some huge well decorated elephants that were walking out of the palace.

It was time an additional excitement along with what I was going through within. I really apologise to have forgotten the artists name, a Hindustani vocalist who began the evening with his soothing and melodious music. Anil and Rony initially thought he had caught cold :) but I was sure ultimately even they enjoyed his music during that chill evening.

We were looking forward to hear to Kadri Gopalswamy, the maestro in saxophone, that was something I was dying to listen to, but there was a spoiler L the Rain! It started to pour and everyone started running and so did I with Anil and Rony. It came across as such a disappointment to me. It was hard to believe that the concert was not going to happen at least in a short while from then, it was already late and waiting any longer was impossible. Well every dark cloud has a silver lining and even mine had one :) what if I could not witness the concert? I got some amazing shots of the palace for a lifetime memory! 

We three were totally wet but curiosity always never kills the cat. Enthusiastic enough to watch another performance, we moved back to Jaganmohana palace. Completely drenched in rain all three of us mercilessly wet the dry seats J the performance had already began and at the end of it we felt we were fortunate enough to have witnessed a family that had offered their lives to dance above religion and race. My apologies once again to have forgotten the artist’s name J but his dedication to art is something I can never forget. He was 61! And the energy at that age was just incredible… This performance was really special and marked and end to a great evening…

It was still pouring and we headed back home… The colored T-shirt was the light hearted comedy by the end of the day :) Anil and Rony will understand what this was :)

After planning for the next day, I slept, already waiting for the sunrise and to get more of Dasara!

Next morning was welcoming with a bright sunshine! We headed towards Lalitha Mahal Palace. The ambience here is just very sweet. Quiet, serene and majestic. Oh how I wish to spend a day at Lalitha Mahal Palace which is a palace hotel now... tremendously expensive though. Photographing this white beauty was a good start to the day…

The Lalitha Mahal Palace is situated 11kms from Mysore city on top of a small hillock. This Palace is set in the middle of sprawling terraced gardens. Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV commissioned this two-storied Palace in 1921. This Palace was built to exclusively to accommodate the Viceroy of India. E.W. Fritchley from Mumbai designed the Palace in the Renaissance style and included designs concepts from the Italian palazzo and English manor. This Palace meant for special royal guests has now been converted into a heritage category five-star hotel.

Walking out through the premises of Lalitha Mahal towards Jockey Quarters was fun J with an amazing friend and a little brother besides… it couldn’t get better.

Our next destination was Chamundi Hills. We headed towards the City bus stand and moved towards the hills from there. Travelling to Chamundi Hills is a lovely experience. Gazing at the whole city is an amazing experience. Chaumni Hills really carries the festivity in its womb during Dasara…. The religious base of Dasara lies in here.

The Chamundi Hills is about 3km from the city. It is at a height of 1065 meters above sea leave and about 800 feet above Mysore city. On the top of the hill is the Chamundeshwari temple that dates back to the 11th century. Goddess Chamundeshwari is an incarnation of Goddess Parvathi who took this form to destroy the demon king Mahishasura.  

We next headed towards the Mysore Zoo. It is a common misconception offlate that Mysore zoo is quite boring. But it was rejuvenating to be in the company of innocence. Besides walking and walking, spending time with god’s lovely creations was a happy task.

The zoo was called Palace Zoo and was inaugurated in 1892. In the beginning the zoo was developed on 10 acres of the Summer Palace. The Maharaja hired Mr. G.H. Krumbeigal a German landscaper and horticulturist to set up the zoo. As the Maharaja was an animal lover he took special care to ensure that all the enclosures for the animals were spacious and aesthetically built. The enclosures are in use to this day. After independence the Zoo was gifted by the then Maharaja to the Department of Parks and Gardens of the Mysore State Government in 1948. In 1972 the Government handed over the Zoo to the Forest Department and it then entrusted it to an autonomous body in 1979

We headed towards the Mysore Palace once again just to be able to go inside the palace but the task looked like next to impossible because of the long and never ending queue of people in front of the palace. Well its Dasara and there is lots to see and experience during this time at Mysore.

Rangayana is one place I heard a lot of about. We decided to explore this place which is famous for theatre and art. The exhibition about the efforts of Raja Ravi Varma’s towards bringing art on print was interesting. Rangayana is another place with amazing ambience and the breeze there literally carries the essence of Art and Culture of Mysore.

Just when we thought that our Dasara experience was just ending and were deciding to head towards the railway station, there was something cute awaiting. The dasara bombe pradarshana. This was something I always wanted to see and here it was! The various varieties of Dasara dolls and their arrangement with at most dedication was a happy scene. Like everywhere, we just couldn’t stop admiring and increasing the number of clicks on the camera.

Well there was a last surprise! The Pide Piper known as Kinnari Jogi in Kannada. A huge one! I was so indulged in the pide pipper that when Anil said "Ay hidithane" :) I took a step back! :) he he That's the magic of stories deep rooted within :)

Well yes! Now it was the real end of the Dasara experience… Dasara is an “Expereince” of a life time. A memory that will remain fresh forever! The excitement within me was still the same as I started with...

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