September 29, 2009

Mysore - Part 2

You can see part one here


Colors of Dasara

This year (2009) Navarathri started on 19th september and the Dasara will be celebrated on 28th of september. As usual cultural programmes were organised, rain was a spoil sport and the programmes did not go as planned. 

Here are some of the photos which was taken on the first day of Navarathri, I was lucky enough to sneak in along with the press :) It was amazing to get a first person view of the event or it would be that they would broadcast the programme on huge screen set up outside the palace for the crowd to see... 
Artists posing for the Press before the act 

Folk Dance called Karadi Kunitha (Bear Dance)
Another folk dance, I'm not sure what its called... they tell a story of warriors who fight demons and restore peace..

This guy was kind enough to pose for me after the programme upon my request...

Jumbos of the Dasara Jumbu Savari:

Dasara celebration begins with the of the “Gajapayana” during the mid of August, is the ceremonial journey taken by the  elephants to take part in the Dasara procession.

The procession begins with the tribal and folk dances by the local artists Earlier, during the time of the Mysore Dasara, the kings, accompanied by the "Pattada Aane" would visit the forest and perform pooja to all the pachyderms  that would participate in the celebrations. Then, the jumbos would walk to Mysore Palace. 

These days the forest department transport the elephants in trucks, from Nagarhole to Mysore. A traditional welcome is given to the elephants once they arrive at the main entrance of Amba Vilas Palace in Mysore.

Elephants returning from their daily mock processions during the Navarathri. Mock Procession is held everyday so that the jumbo's get used to the busy streets of Mysore

I managed to gather some information about the elephants used in Mysore Dasara. A team of  6 elephants march to the palace city of Mysore.

Balarama: The magnificent leader, he is the one carrying the Golden Howdah.  He has been leading for the past 9 years and has participated in the Dasara for 14years. He was captured in 1987 in the Katti pura forest area,  now stays in Mathigodu elephant camp.

Abhimanyu:The mascot who pulls the “Anegadi” the elephant cart, has been participation from the past 10 years. He is from the Hebballa forest, Kodagu district, now stays in Murkal elephant camp.

Vijaya: She has been in Dasara for 5 years, was captured in 1963, from the Dubare forest area, Madikeri division.

Gajendra: He belongs to the Kattepura forest area. Captured in 1987, presently living in Nagarahole has been in Dasara for 12 years.

Arjuna: He has been in the Dasara for 7 years and has once shouldered the burden of carrying the Golden Howdah, is from the Hebballa forest area of Kodagu in 1969.

Sarala: Our oldest elephant, she has been participating in Dasara from the past 4 years. She is from Kakanakote in 1977 forest, now residing in Sunkadakatte elephant camp.

There is also another contingent of 6 elephants which will join this group during the first week of September.

Mysore Palace :

Click on the image to enlarge

To be Continued... 

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September 23, 2009

Wordless / Skywatch

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Mysore - Part 1

This is going to be a long post with loads of Pictures so I have split it into few series. Click on any image to enlarge

Mysore, city of palace's, Cultural Capital of State of Karnataka also happens to be my home tome, this is where i was born and brought up so this place holds a special place in my heart :)

History : 

Before the rise of the Gangas in the 10th century there is little historical evidence relating to Mysore. The Gangas established their supremacy in the 2nd century and they ruled over a large part of Mysore till about 1004 AD. There is an inscription on Chamundi Hills that was done in 950AD during the reign of the Gangas. This inscription is the oldest inscription found in Mysore. 

The Cholas ruled Mysore for over a century after the Gangas. The Chalukyas followed the Cholas and then came the Hoysalas in the 12th century. Hoysala are known for the beautiful temples they built during their reign. It is said that they built or expanded the existing temples in Mysore and on the Chamundi Hills. 

After the Hoysalas came the Vijayanagar Kings and then the Mysore Yadu dynasty came to power in 1399A.D. This dynasty also contributed to temple building in Mysore. Bettada Chamaraja Wodeyar, the raja of Mysore rebuilt the fort of Mysore and made his headquarters and called the city 'Mahishura Nagara' meaning the city of Mahishur. 

Its during the reign of Krishnaraja Wodeyar III the town of Mysore expanded and moved beyond the walls of the fort. Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV developed Mysore into a beautiful city with excellent planning. Under his reign Mysore became famous for its wide roads, magnificent building and elegant parks. Today Mysore is a modern city that has managed to retain its old world charm. Today Mysore in famous in the world for its sandalwood and rosewood artifacts, stone sculptures, incense sticks, inlay work with ivory and not to forget its exquisite silk sarees.

Mysore Palace

The word Mysore is a corrupted version of "mysooru", which is derived from the word "mahishur" or "Mahishasurana Ooru", which means the town of Mahishasura in Kannada which is the local language. 

According to Hindu mythology a demon named Mahishasura, earned the favor of Lord Shiva after a long and hard penance. Lord Shiva, impressed with his devotion, blessed him that no man or deity would be able to kill him and that only a woman can kill him. 

Gigantic statue of Mahishasura on top of Chamundi Hill (very famous landmark of Mysore)

Mahishasur was very pleased with this boon as he thought that a woman can never defeat him. Arrogant Mahishasura started his reign of terror over the Universe and people were killed mercilessly. He even attacked the abode of the gods and conquered the heavens and became their leader. 

When his cruelty became unbearable, Chamundeshwari (Durga) was called to slay the demon. Chamundeshwari and killed the monster on top of the Chamundi hill near Mysore. Hence the hill and the city have the names Chamundi Hill and Mysore respectively. The fight between Chamundeshwari and Mahishasura lasted for nine days and nights. These nine days came to be called Navaratri or Dasara. 

Chamundeshwari Temple on top of the hill which dates back to 11th Century (period of the Hoysala's)


Dasara is the most extravagant festival of Mysore. This festival has been celebrated in Mysore with great pomp and show since centuries and the Dasara festivities have become an integral part of the culture and life in Mysore. 

During the 10 day festivities the normally clam, slow, peaceful city erupts into life and every street and street corner is bustling with activity. House, shops and important buildings in the city are decorated and illuminated for the period of the celebrations. 

Today Dasara in Mysore has become the state festival of Karnataka. As part of the celebrations renowned musicians of Karnataka and from outside perform in front of the Palace. The State Government arranges music, dance, and folk dance performances, doll shows. Wrestling and sports competitions are also held. 

The ninth day is also the day of the Ayudha Puja. After the slaying of Mahishasura and other demons by Chamundeswari, there was no more use for her weapons. So the weapons were kept aside and worshipped. This Ayudha puja is being celebrated since ancient times. The Ayudha Puja is a worship of whatever implements one may use in one's livelihood. On the preceding evening, it is traditional to place these implements on an altar to the Divine. 

The high point of the Dasra celebrations is the Vijayadashami procession held on the tenth day. The main attraction of the procession is the idol of Goddess Chamundeshwari kept in the golden howdah on top of a decorated elephant. The procession begins at the Mysore Palace and ends at the Banni Mantapa grounds, traveling a distance of about 2.5 miles. The procession is followed by a breath taking torch light parade in the evening and a stunning display of fireworks.

To be Continued....... 

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September 14, 2009


Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary is about 18km form Mysore and is home to some of the most exotic birds. It is a group of small islands in the Cauvery River. it includes of a group of six islets, the isolated islets and the abundance of aquatic insects during the monsoon make Ranganathitttu a favorite abode for birds. Sanctuary is a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts nature lover and bird watchers. 

Ranganthittu was formed as a result of a small dam across the river Cauvery in the 1600s. The Bird Sanctuary at Ranganathittu owes its existence to the world famous ornithologist Dr. Salim Ali who convinced the Maharaja of Mysore in 1940 to declare Ranganthittu as a protected area.

The sanctuary is not very large it covers an area of But is home to a great variety of birds and a few reptiles. 
The sanctuary is home to a wide species of birds including cormorants, darters, white ibis, spoon billed storks, open billed storks, painted storks, white necked storks, egrets, herons, terns, kingfishers, sandpiper etc.

There are a few mammals in the sanctuary like fruit bats, bonnet macaques, palm civets, common mongoose and common otters. 

there were hundres of bats in this bush
Marsh crocodiles make up the reptile population of the sanctuary.

It was pretty scarry to get so close to this guy

The sight of fruit bats, crocodiles and birds flying around is a beautiful sight to watch. You can take a boat ride around the sanctuary and get a closer look at the birds and the crocodiles. 

The entrance of the park has huge bamboo surrounding the winding path. On both sides of the path are boards with pictures and information about the different birds that are found in the sanctuary. There is a small canteen situated near the lake made in a clearing between the bamboos.

If you are a nature enthusiast it is best to visit the sanctuary in the early hours of the morning before the sanctuary gets crowded with visitors.

It is said that some of the birds come here from far off place like Siberia, Australia, and even North America.  Authorities have created additional islets at the sanctuary to make way for more number of birds to lay eggs and breed. the birds begin arriving in sanctuary in December every year and finally leave with their little ones in August only to return yet again the following year.

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September 7, 2009

St Mary's Basilica

View photo's of Mary's Feast 2010 Here

St. Mary’s Basilica is a spacious gothic Church, designed by a French architect and built in the form of a Cross. It is 172 feet long and 50 feet broad. The imposing and magnificent tower forming the fa├žade of the Church is 160 feet high.

A beautiful statue of Mother Mary holding Child Jesus in her arms which is 6 feet in height is set up in an attractive shrine just outside the Church building. It is the chief object of veneration and source of inspiration for the people.

Every day, Our Mother Mary is draped in a ‘Saree’ the typical dress of the Indian lady.

It is said that in 1875 when the new Church was built, people tried to remove this statue in order to install it on a prominent altar inside the Church, but they failed in their effort since the statue remained immovable. This strange happening is considered even today as a sign of Our Lady’s miraculous power.

St Mary's Basilica is one of the oldest church in Bangalore, It dates back to 17th Century. and has quite a history behind it. It is said that few Christians came from Ginjee, of Tamil Nadu, found that the land was fertile to sow white rice and began to settle down and built a small village. This village took the name ‘Bili akki palli’ because it is said that the rice they cultivated was white and also because a number of white birds were found in those rice fields. The people in order to practice their religion built a thatched hut and named it as ‘CHAPEL OF KANIKKAI MADHA’ ("CHAPEL OF VIRGIN MARY")

In 1811 Fr. Jean Dubois built a small chapel with a residence for priests. Later on, Rev. Fr. Andreas an Indian priest from Pondicherry succeeded him and he expanded the Church building in the shape of Cross, with a hall facing East and West and with two aisles North and South.

After some years great plague had spread through out and people sought the intercession of Mother Mary to relieve them from the clutches of disastrous death. Mother Mary interceded the victims’ prayers and the plague vanished from the vicinity. Since she cured the people from the dreadful disease and gave them good health, she was also called as ‘Annai Arokiamarie’ (Our Lady of Good Health) and it remains the same till date.

Busy streets of shivajinar and beautifully illuminated church

The present Church of St. Mary’s built by Rev. Fr. Kleiner was solemnly consecrated on 8th September 1882 by Msgr. Joannes Maria Y. Coadou, Vicar Apostolic of Mysore, in the presence of 35 priests and about 4000 Catholics of Bangalore. It is interesting to note that, all the other parishes of Bangalore were born out of this ancient parish of St. Mary’s Church.

Due to an increase in the population, and more devotees flooding to visit the Shrine of Our Lady, the space that was available for the devotees to stand and pray was found to be very congested. At this juncture, a hall like structure was constructed facing east and placed the statue of Our Lady in a prominent place. This enabled thousands of devotees to see her without any hindrance and pray to her more devotedly.

The Main feast is celebrated with all grandeur on the 8th of September, the Feast day of the Nativity of Blessed Virgin Mary, every year. This feast is considered by the people, not only as the Feast of the Parish, but also for the whole of the Archdiocese and State of Karnataka.

In preparation to the Feast, nine days novena is observed, wherein Holy Masses are celebrated through out the day starting from 5 am, in which thousands of people participate with devotion (including me). Throughout the Feast the devotees are found to be dressed in ‘Saffron’ clothing.

Flag Which is hoisted on the first day of Novena

On the first day archbishop blesses the flag and joins the Chief Guests in hoisting the flag. This hoisting of the flag symbolizes that our hearts too are to be raised towards the Almighty God with the perpetual help of Our Lady. Thousands of people gathered around the flag post, join in singing the praise of Mary Our Mother – ‘Ave Maria’ (Praise to Mary) and the song fills the air (the experience is something hard to explain in words). As per tradition, the flag is hoisted everyday, beginning from the Flag Hoisting day till the ninth day of Novena.

On the Feast day, September 8th people gather in Lakhs, without any distinction of caste, creed or religion, not only from all parts of Bangalore, but also from all over India to pay their homage to Our Lady. The whole city embraces the festive mood on that day. Through out the day people flock in with lighted candles and flowers to pray and thank Mother Mary. In the evening, around 5.00 p.m., a grand car procession – a chariot carrying the 6 feet statue of Mother Mary, draped in a wonderful silk saree, with spectacular illuminations and decorations, is carried on the streets of Shivajinagar.

Some More pictures
Chapel of Eucharistic Adoration

Picture of Jesus Christ inside the Chapel of Eucharistic Adoration

I will rise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father i have sinned again the heaven and before thee. St Luke. XV 18