Cover more tourist spots with a heritage tonga ride, government urged

For those seeking the exotic and offbeat in exploring Mysore’s architectural structures, Heritage Walk may be the right way to go about it.

To be inaugurated on October 7 as part of the Dasara celebrations, it will be organised by the Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage and expose the participants to the sights, smells and sounds of Mysore to get them a first-hand experience of the city.

C.G. Bethsurmath, Commissioner of the department, told The Hindu that organisers would identify popular circuits for the three-day event. Resource persons and trained guides will lead each group of tourists and give them a quick rundown of the history and salient features of the important landmarks in the circuit.

Though there are over 200 structures in Mysore identified for their heritage value and architectural significance, popular guided tours tend to commence from town hall and cover salient landmarks within a radius of 1 to 2 km. This covers the clock tower, Chamaraja Circle, K.R. Circle, Dufferin clock tower, Devaraja Market, K.R. Hospital, Cauvery Emporium and the Ayurvedic Hospital.

Depending on the availability of participants, resource persons and guides, a few more circuits may be also be contemplated, said Mr. Bethsurmath. But the Heritage Walk will not be confined to Dasara alone; the authorities are planning to have it as permanent feature for the benefit of tourists visiting Mysore.

“We will start with Dasara but there are plans to have it on weekends throughout the year so that tourists who wish to explore the sights and sounds of the city in greater detail, may get an opportunity,” said Mr. Bethsurmath.

“The logistics and identification of resource persons and publicity for the events are key areas which will receive our attention in the next few days,” he added.

The concept of Heritage Walk was introduced during Dasara in 2004, but never received the stamp of permanency like Yuva Dasara and did not feature for sometime. However, experts opine there is “tremendous potential” for the Heritage Walk, which could showcase Mysore “like never before.”

Rangaraju, retired professor of the department of archaeology and museums, University of Mysore, said it was time for the heritage walk to became a permanent feature in the city.

However, Prof. Rangaraju called for incorporating additional routes or redesigning the existing ones to cover more places of importance like Mysore palace, and Niranjan Math where Swami Vivekananda stayed during his visit to Mysore in the late 19th century.

Krishnaraja Boulevard has a slew of heritage structures including the court complex, Ursu Boarding School, Maharaja’s College, Yuvaraja’s College and the Oriental Research Institute (ORI) which is a repository of ancient manuscripts.

A little further down the road is Crawford Hall and the Deputy Commissioner’s office.

Likewise, another route could be designed to include the race course, Karanji Nature Park, Administrative Training Institute and conclude at Lalitha Mahal Palace, said Prof. Rangaraju.

He pointed out that the distance could be a liming factor but the authorities could promote a ‘Heritage Tonga Ride’ as well, to cover other circuits.

This could give a reprieve and a new lease life for the tongas of Mysore, he felt.