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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Covid-19 takes away sheen of Mysuru Dasara festivities; hotel, taxi businesses take a hit

The administration has restricted people at most of the events and has arranged for live telecasts of the Dasara festival, which attracts about 10 lakh people from across the country and world.

Written by Darshan Devaiah BP | Mysuru | Updated: October 21, 2020 6:49:54 pm
Mysuru Dasara elephants arrive in Mysuru from Nagarahole tiger reserve. Officials welcomed the mahouts and Dasara elephants with rituals. (Photo by Mysuru DC)

With the 10-day Mysuru Dasara festivities, which kicked off on October 16, being a low-key affair due to the Covid-19 pandemic, hotels and taxi services have been the most affected due to low tourist footfall. The administration has restricted people at most of the events and has arranged for live telecasts of the festival, which attracts about 10 lakh people from across the country and world.

Mysuru Hotel Owners’ Association said the battered hospitality sector was expecting around 20 to 30 per cent tourist footfall after the government allowed tourist spots to reopen.

“Due to lockdown, the hotel industry is in loss, but we had expected that during Dasara there will be tourists. But so far the footfall has been low,” said C Narayana Gowda, president of Mysuru Hotel Owners’ Association. Gowda also said more than 100 hotels, restaurants and lodges have shut shop in the city.

Initially, the Mysuru district administration had ordered the closure of all tourist spots around Mysuru from October 17 till November 1 due to a spurt in Covid-19 cases. However, the decision was later revoked after a delegation of tour guides and hotel associations met Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa.

Mysuru palace lit up for Dasara celebrations (Photo by RK Gowda)

“Dasara is the only time for profitable business in Mysuru. Hotels around this time used to be booked for an entire month,” Gowda said while requesting the government to support the industry with a special package.

Uthappa KN, who runs a resort in Mysuru, said besides fear of contracting Covid-19, many people have dropped their plans due to pay cuts. “I have spoken to my regular customers who every year visit Mysuru and my resort. This time when I called them up, they said they can’t plan a trip after their company cut their salaries due to the pandemic,” Uthappa said.

The plight of taxi drivers are no less worse. Several of them said tourists coming to Mysuru from Bengaluru and other districts were bringing their own vehicles.

Speaking to Indianexpress.com, Naveen Kumar, proprietor of a tour company, said, “Travelers don’t want to take cabs after Covid-19 even though we are sanitising and taking all precautionary measures. Tourists are now bringing their own vehicles. Now, we can see only tourists coming from nearby districts like Bengaluru, Mangaluru and Hassan. There are no tourists coming from other states.”

Mysuru Dasara inaugurated by Dr. C.N. Manjunath, Director, Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research along with Chief Minister Yediyurappa atop Chamundi Hill on October 17. (Photo by CM Office)

The Mysuru Dasara was inaugurated by Dr CN Manjunath, Director, Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research, along with Chief Minister Yediyurappa atop Chamundi Hill on October 17 by offering flowers to the presiding deity Chamundeshwari. Goddess Chamundeshwari is the family goddess of the Wodeyars, the erstwhile rulers of Myuru.

Locals said this was the first time the Dasara celebrations in the royal city had taken a big hit. With Mysuru being the second-worst affected district in the state after Bengaluru, celebrations have gone virtual this year and cultural events have been restricted.

Only 300 people have been allowed to participate in the Jumbo Savari — a grand procession of elephants carrying idols of deities, including Sri Chamundeshwari, from Mysuru Palace to Bannimantap Grounds — this year.

“This is the first time I have seen fewer people in the city during Dasara. Taking precautionary measures, we are going out to watch lights and cultural events because Mysuru Dasara is one such event that can’t be watched online,” said Kushala Prasad, a resident of Mysuru.

Madhuri Rao, an IT professional and native of Mysuru, said live streaming was not working most of the time. “When I tried to watch Dasara cultural events online, there were a lot of technical issues that doesn’t give the feel of Dasara,” she said.

Despite muted celebrations, the district electricity company Chamundeshwari Electricity Supply Corporation has lit up Mysuru city. A stretch of 50 km has been illuminated by the corporation this year and Mysuru palace has also been illuminated.

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