If you are looking for an exotic destination abroad for your Christmas or year-end holiday, here is a possible location closer home. Mysuru, famous for its extravagant Dasara festivities which attract tourists from across India and the world, is hosting a winter festival. The winter festival was inaugurated in a low-key affair on December 22, but it is aimed at the Christmas and New Year Eve period.
The entire festival is organised by the Mysuru District Administration, Karnataka Tourism Department and the Mysore Palace Board, in association with the city-based hotel, tourist taxi associations.
â€śFor Mysuru, December is already a good month in terms of tourist footfalls after Dasara irrespective of this festival. This event is organized so that tourists have more things to do in addition to the usual attractions of the city. During Dasara, there are a lot of things to see and do. We want to ensure that people stay in Mysuru for even longer days and get a fulfilling experience in the Christmas holidays. We will exceed an overall footfall of 3 lakh within these 10 days,â€ť Mysuru DC Abhiram G Sankar told TNM.
Modelled on the Dasara celebrations, the winter festival or Maaghi Utsav is also a 10-day affair. The central attraction of the festival is the Flower Show held in the iconic Mysore Palace premises.
This is the fourth year that the flower show is being held, showcasing 20,000 flower pots arranged in different patterns, with the flower model of the Lalitha Mahal Palace reaching 21 feet in height, 70 feet in length and 10 feet in breadth.
There will be a 17-foot tall statue of the erstwhile monarch, Maharaja Jayachamaraja of the Wadiyar dynasty, on the occasion of his hundredth birth anniversary. Also, renowned comic characters like Mr. Bean, Chota Bheem will be featured in floral statues to cater to the youngest of visitors.
The entire palace will also be illuminated just like during Dasara from 7pm to 9pm.
Other than the flower show, there are open street festivals featuring puppet shows and other cultural activities, movie screening and guided heritage walks and cycle tours.
There is a dedicated food festival held at Nanjaraja Bahadur Choultry in Mysuru as part of the event. The focus of the food fest is tribal and organic food like Makali roots, bamboo rice dishes, bamboo rice payasam.
There are also opportunities for paramotoring at the palace premises itself. On December 31, a fireworks exhibition will be held.
â€śWe had brought paramotoring during Dasara, it was a huge success. So we decided to replicate this now also,â€ť Sankar added.
According to district officials, the city attracts more than 35 lakh tourists on an average annually. This exercise is set to bolster the tourism potential of the city and surrounding parts in the state.
Utilising the opportunity, the district administration has also teamed up with the Forest Department to organise a limited bird watching tour for enthusiasts and bird lovers. Kukkarahalli lake, Varakodu lake, Lingambudhi lake, Hebbal lake and other wetlands have been chosen as the venue of the event after a technical session held at Mysore Zoo.
The 100-odd bird enthusiasts will be divided into 20 small teams, and an admission fee of Rs 200 will be charged per individual.
â€śThis has been modelled around the annual Karnataka Bird Festival but on a much lower scale. We have a good community of birders here. We have zeroed in on some biodiversity-rich lake beds which are frequented by migratory birds,â€ť Sankar explained.