The festival on an average, sees around 10-12 lakh people, visiting the 11-day festivities that include processions, parades, cultural shows and other activities, showcasing Karnataka’s culture. Photo: PTI
The festival on an average, sees around 10-12 lakh people, visiting the 11-day festivities that include processions, parades, cultural shows and other activities, showcasing Karnataka’s culture. Photo: PTI

Cauvery dispute: Mysore Dasara festival takes a hit as tourists stay away

The drop in revenue and footfall comes despite initiatives like special flight services, online discounted offers as well as promotional activities at Kempegowda International Airport to promote the 400-year-old Mysore Dasara festival

Bengaluru: The annual Mysore Dasara festival has recorded a decline in tourists inflow this year due to the violence and protests that engulfed the state during September due to the dispute over water-sharing of the Cauvery river.

The drop in revenue and footfall comes despite initiatives like special flight services, online discounted offers as well as promotional activities at Kempegowda International Airport to promote the 400-year-old festival.

“There is a marginal drop, even though it’s not as bad as we anticipated," Priyank Kharge, Karnataka minister for Tourism, IT and BT, told Mint on Monday. He did not specify the quantum of decline.

Maharaja of Mysore Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar attends Mysore Dasara festival at private darbar in Mysore on Saturday. Photo: PTI
Maharaja of Mysore Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar attends Mysore Dasara festival at private darbar in Mysore on Saturday. Photo: PTI

Raja Wodeyar, who ascended the Mysore throne in 1610 after the fall of the Vijayanagara Empire, had instituted Mysore Dasara. The festivities have passed on through the generations, and continues to be celebrated with grandeur every year, attracting tourists from across the country and abroad.

In 2016, the tourism department earmarked 2.38 crore for the festival which, on an average, sees around 10-12 lakh people visiting the 11-day festivities that include processions, parades, cultural shows and other activities, showcasing Karnataka’s culture.

However, Kharge said that the quick steps taken by the government to quell the protests and violence has managed to minimize the damage to the annual Mysore Dasara.

The festival also did not see any stalls from Tamil Nadu this year. Merchants from various states put up stalls with accessories, crafts, jewellery, sarees and other ethnic merchandise for sale to tourists from across the globe. Kharge said that there is space for about 300 stalls in the main area of the festival. The frequency of the golden chariot was also brought down from three to one, he said.

Karnataka was at the receiving end of at least five unfavourable verdicts—5, 12, 20, 27 and 30 September—by the Supreme Court, which resulted in widespread protests and at least one instance of rioting and arson.

Trouble makers, in the guise of pro-Kannada groups, took to the streets on 12 September burning Tamil Nadu-registered vehicles and vandalizing properties believed to be owned by Tamilians. The day-long violence saw around 100 vehicles burnt, crores of properties destroyed and at least two people dead due to police action. The situation had triggered prohibitory and curfew orders in many parts of the state, including the state capital, Bengaluru.

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