Symbolising the victory of good over evil and with prayers for ushering in peace and prosperity, Mysore’s showpiece event, Dasara, got off to a colourful start with a blend of the religious, traditional, and contemporary events here on Saturday.

While the customary inauguration was at the Chamundi Hills with special prayers at Chamundeshwari temple in the presence of dignitaries that included the Jnanpith Award winner Chandrashekar Kambar and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah between 10.44 a.m. and 11.07 a.m., the cultural programmes got under way late in the evening at the Amba Vilas Palace to the sounds of folk and classical music.

In the evening, all roads led to the palace where 96,000 bulbs bathed the monument in a golden hue. It will be the epicentre of activity for the next nine days with a slew of classical dance and music programmes for the connoisseurs to soak in.

The Mysore palace and the open-air Dasara concerts on its premises are a continuation of a golden tradition from the days of the maharajas which put Mysore firmly on the cultural map of the State and the country.

Officially described as the 403rd edition of Dasara, the festivities in Mysore has lined up the best-in-class artistes who will regale the audience at seven main venues, including the Kalamandira, Jaganmohan Palace, Ganabharati, Town Hall, Kuppanna Park, and Chikka Gadiyara, where over 150 cultural programmes will be played out during the next 9 days. On Saturday, there was a lengthy queue at Chamundi Hills to beat the restrictions that comes into force with the arrival of the dignitaries and darshan was suspended for public for sometime.

But once the official function got under way, there was a steady stream of devotees to the temple and a large group of tourists from Rajasthan, Gujarat and other States were chanting bhajans in gusto in praise of goddess Chamundeshwari that kept the public enthralled.

The temple premises which were bedecked with floral arrangements was a feast for the eyes and despite the steady inflow of crowd and rush there was orderly maintenance and discipline that ensured darshan for all.

Even as the official inauguration of Dasara was under way, the Mysore palace saw the enactment and unfolding of the private durbar of the Wadiyars of Mysore in which the former MP and scion of the royal family Srikantadutta Narasimharaja Wadiyar held sway and ascended the golden throne with royal paraphernalia complete with the march of the royal elephants and horses.

The icing on the Dasara cake is the film festival, and stars from the Kannada film world such as Priyanka Upendra, Ambareesh, Tara, Umashree, B. Saroja Devi, Darshan and others drew their fan following in full measure at Kalamandira during the inauguration.

For the weekend crowd descending on Mysore, the Dasara itinerary is replete with exciting events including an opportunity to savour “taste of India” and “Taste of Karnataka” — culinary delights from across India and the State at food mela that was inaugurated at Scouts and Guides ground.

While the palace holds centre stage, the authorities are working hard to make Dasara a memorable event and the entire city is awash with special lighting arrangements, including government buildings, heritage structures and the main roads, transforming Mysore into a fairy land.

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