Tourist spots in and around Mysuru in Karnataka would remain shut from October 17 to November 1 to restrict the entry of visitors to the city during the Dasara festival and contain the spread of coronavirus, an official said. With Mysuru being the second worst-affected after Bengaluru in the state by the pandemic, the world-famous Dasara fest, including the victory parade to mark the triumph of good over evil on Vijayadashmi day (October 26), will be confined to the Amba Vilas Royal Palace in the city center to avoid crowds.
"Mysuru Deputy Commissioner Rohini Sindhuri has ordered the closure of all tourist spots in and around the city for 15 days from October 17 when the 10-day Dasara fest begins under COVID-induced restrictions, to dissuade tourists from thronging the city of palaces," a district official said on Thursday.
The entry of visitors to the palace of the Wodeyar dynasty will also be restricted during the ban period as per the guidelines of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs to prevent large gatherings in public places, said the official.
Celebrated as "Naada Habba" (state festival), the 10-day event every year showcases Karnataka's cultural heritage resplendent with folk art forms, and attracts large crowds and tourists to Mysuru.
This year, Dasara festivities will be held between October 17-26, the last day being Vijayadashami.
Some of the prominent tourist spots in the city are the royal palaces, Jayachamarajendra art gallery, Mysuru zoo and the Chamundeshwari temple atop the hill on the outskirts.
Brindavan Gardens, Nimishambha and Sri Ranganathaswamy temples, Tipu Palace, Kokkarebellur and Rangantittu bird sanctuaries in adjacent Mandya district will also be out of bounds for visitors amid the virus scare.
Around 10 lakh people from across the country and the world visit Mysuru during the Dasara and Diwali festivals every year to witness the caparisoned elephants procession from the royal palace to Bannimantap grounds across the city for the torchlight parade as the grand finale of the 10-day fete.
"Even the people in the city have been advised to celebrate the festival at home and watch the Dasara religious and cultural programmes on television, as they will be telecast live from the palace grounds. About 300 people only will be allowed to witness the events at the venue (Amba Vilas Palace)," said the official
The grand fest (Naada Habba) will begin on Saturday at the Chamundeshwari temple. It will be formally inaugurated by the Bengaluru-based state-run Jayadeva Heart Hospital director CN Manjunath in the presence of the Wodeyar family and the invited dignitaries.
Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa will review the COVID-19 situation in the city on Friday and attend the Dasara fest inauguration on Saturday morning.
Wearing masks, thermal screening, hand washing and physical distancing will be mandatory for all at the venues where the fest events take place.