Gajapayana, signalling the march of the caparisoned elephants from the jungle camps to Mysore to participate in the Dasara celebrations, was inaugurated at Nagapura on the outskirts of Nagarahole in Hunsur on Wednesday.
The event signals the countdown for Mysore’s big ticket event, Dasara, held annually and is the fulcrum to promote tourism.
An old tradition, Gajapayana is only symbolic in the present times unlike in the past when the elephants would walk the entire distance from the forests to the palace. In recent years, the elephants walk a short stretch and then are loaded to trucks and shifted to Mysore.
The first batch of five elephants which left for Mysore from Nagapura include the howdah-carrying elephant Arjuna apart from Balarama, Abhimanyu, Sarala and Varalakshmi. The sixth elephant in the first batch is Gajendra and he will be transported from K.Gudi in B.R.Hills.
The elephants will camp at the palace courtyards and will be subjected to regular rehearsals as part of the preparations for the Dasara procession, also called “Jamboo savari,” on Vijayadashmi. The elephants are brought from the jungle camps to the city a month ahead of the festival to let them acclimatise to the new ambience. The herd will be joined by the second batch of six elephants later. Dasara is slated to be held from October 5 to 14 this year.
Revenue Minister V. Srinivas Prasad, who is also the district in-charge Minister, flagged off the Gajapayana which was preceded by prayers, rituals and cultural programmes.