Mysuru/Mysore Dasara Festival is a big attraction. Having its presence made in every travel book on India, the festival is attended by thousands of people coming from various parts of India and the world. The main event of the traditional Dasara procession (locally known as Jamboo Savari) is held on the streets of Mysuru city, on the day of Vijayadashami. The main attraction of this procession is the idol of the Goddess Chamundeshwari which is placed in a golden howdah on the top of a decorated elephant. However the celebrations begun 10 days earlier with city hosting various arts and cultural events.
Our experiences are mainly based on our attempt to witness the festival as the locals do (It might not have been our best decision but nothing beats the feel of collective enthusiasm of the locals!). Based on these experiences, we are listing the key factors that one should take into account while visiting Mysore Dasara Procession or the city during the festival time.
1. It is extremely crowded
Yes, it is so crowded that you will not find an inch of space. Be cautious of not getting yourself hurt. You will find people pushing each other in front of the palace gates, occupying vehicle roof tops, walls, hoardings, fences; actually anywhere and everywhere they can find some space. Even pavilion at the entrance gate (tickets starting Rs 500) too gets overcrowded due to black marketing of tickets by auto drivers.
The easiest way to get a proper seat and enjoy Dasara festival is to get inside the palace and witness it from the onset from the VIP pavilion. However to do so you will need loosen your pockets to buy special Gold class entry tickets!
2. Mysore is quite hot in October
With October heat, Mysore gets really hot. The procession goes on for almost 2 hours excluding the initial wait time of securing a place well in advance on the road side (If you plan to attend without ticket like us :)). During 2015 Dasara procession, there ere absolutely no arrangement of shade for the public. Hence do carry caps, umbrellas, food and water.
3. Take extra care of children and elderly people
Yes, especially for above two reasons, if you are with children and elderly people, we will suggest to buy tickets and watch the procession. It will be much safer plus the ticketed pavilions have shades arranged.
4. Book your stay well in advance
You will either not get a place to stay or get something shady at exorbitant rates in case you are planning to reach and book on the spot. All good places are booked well in advance and rates sky rocket as time approaches for the Dasara festival in Mysore. It is highly recommended to book well in advance.
5. Avoid visiting other tourist attractions during Mysore Dasara
This may look contrary to your plans as you would like to visit all Mysore attractions in one visit only. But, all Mysore tourist attractions are completely jam packed by tourists and you will not find space to enjoy any place. We visited Maa Chamundeshwari Temple but line was so long that we just had a look from outside and decided not to go inside. Then, we went to famous Mysore Zoo and gave up the idea seeing the long queue of people walking shoulder to shoulder both on entry and exit! Phew!
We finally decided to visit Mysore museums and spent our time visiting 5 of them. They were relatively less crowded and we enjoyed our day far from crowd. You may refer our blog about Mysore Museum visits here – Mysore Museums: City of Art and Culture
The best part of our visit was to explore old Mysore on foot. Try that!