Without the elephants Dasara festivities is incomplete

By: B S Prabhurajan 
Mysuru, Oct 14 (UNI) The cynosure of all eyes, the ‘Naada Habba’ (Dasara Festival) or people’s festival celebrated with grandeur in Mysuru is incomplete without the presence of 12 caprisoned elephants drawn from different elephant camps in Karnataka.


Each one of the elephants has a characteristic feature that was remarkable and evokes admiration.


Without the elephants the Dasara festival has no charm and chief attraction not only grand finale of procession on October 4 but also other visitors and tourists every at the palace premises


Elephants that participate in Mysuru Dasara tend to have an aura about them. Some tuskers like Arjuna, Balarama, Abhimanyu, and Vikrama have been regulars in the festivities for years now.


The cynosure of all eyes since 2012 is Arjuna who, during the Vijayadashmi procession, will carry the idol of goddess Chamundeshwari that will be placed on a golden howdah weighing around 750 kg. Arjuna is around 58 years old and is 2.95 m in height, 3.75 m in length and between 5,500 to 5,870 kg in weight.


He was caught in the Khedda operations of 1968 in Kakanakote forests and has participated in 18 editions of Mysuru Dasara. Said to have been temperamental initially, Arjuna has mellowed down over the years and replaced Balarama as the howdah carrier in 2012. His mahout is Vinu and the kavadi or the assistant is Sanappa.


Vikrama is 45 years old and was captured from Doddabetta forests in 1990. At 2.6 m in height and weighing 3,820 kg, he has participated in 14 editions of Dasara and since 2015 has been roped in as ‘Pattada Aane’ for religious ceremonies of the palace.


Gopi from Dubare elephant camp is around 36 years old and was captured in 1993 from Karekoppe forests. He has participated in eight editions of Mysuru Dasara so far. He is 2.62 m in height and weighs 3,710 kg.
Making his Dasara debut is Dhananjaya, 35 years old from Dubare. He was captured from Yasaluru region in Hassan in 2013 and has been deployed in operations to drive away or capture other ‘rogue’ elephants that habitually frequent human landscape and inflict damage. He measures around 2.78 m and weighs nearly 4,050 kg and is among the more powerful of the new generation tuskers with the Forest Department.


Varalakshmi, at 62, is the senior-most in the first batch of six elephants. She is 2.4 m in height and weighs 3,325 kg. Captured from Kakanakote forests in 1977, she has participated in nine editions of Dasara. She is from Mathigodu elephant camp and is described as passive in temperament.


Chaitra is 47 years old and from Bandipur. She weighs 3,600 kg and is 2.52 m in height. The daughter of the elephant Gange, Chaitra was born in the camp and has been described 
as calm and gentle in her temperament. She has already participated in Mysuru Dasara four times.

The more seasoned among the elephants Abhimanyu and Balarama who used to be part of the first batch, are assisting the Forest Department in a combing operation in Ramanagaram. Hence the two, along with Drona, Vijaya, Kaveri and Gopalswamy will join the six jumbos in the days ahead as part of the second batch and train together.


The majestic Gajendra who is around 63 years old and has participated in Dasara 20 times, will be missing in action. He has been rested this year as his mahout passed away recently and the authorities did not want to take a chance with a new person at the helm.