Mysuru: The first prime event of the 408th Dasara festivities, the Gajapayana, started on Sunday with the first batch of caparisoned Dasara elephants led by Arjuna, leaving for Mysuru for the acclimatisation exercise from Veeranahosahalli near Nagarahole Tiger reserve in Hunsur taluk.
District in-charge minister and Dasara executive chairperson G.T. Devegowda flagged off the Gajapayana, feeding the pachyderms jaggery and sugarcane with Tourism Minister, Mr Sa Ra Mahesh , Minister for Kannada and Culture, Ms Jayamala, JD (S) State President and Hunsur MLA Mr A H Vishwanath and other elected representatives present besides Mysuru DC Mr Abhiram G Shankar, Southern Range IGP Mr Sharath Chandra and DCF Siddaramappa.
58 year-old-Arjuna who will be carrying the 750 kg golden howdah for the eighth year, Varalakshmi, Vikrama, Dhananjaya and Gopi were brought to Mysuru in lorries and are resting at Aranya Bhavan here.
Sixty- year old Balarama who carried the golden howdah for 13 years, will join them later. Mahouts and Kaavaadis of the Dasara elephants were honoured on the occasion. Mr Devegowda said, “we have offered poojas to the elephants who are symbol of Lord Ganapathi. Owing to the recent calamity in Kodagu, Dasara will not be held on a very grand scale but all standards will be maintained. Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy has assured that funds will not be a constraint for Dasara festivities.”