Dasara elephants, which have been synonymous with the popular jamboo savari have the time of their lives during their sojourn here in the run-up to the 10-day festivities. The elephants are extended warm hospitality and, in turn, the massive animals take part in the Vijayadashami procession with clan.
Elephants have been used for the procession for nearly four decades. The lead elephant has to carry nearly 1000 kgs, including 750kg golden howdah, on it's back for nearly four hours and walk 5 kms amid sea of people.
The 45-day training begins for the jumbos-most of them are more than 30-year-old since they are capable of performing tasks easily-a month before the Dasara celebrations, to acclimatise them with city roads. Arrangements for a customised nutrition are made at the Mysuru Palace premises. While mahouts keep an eye on them, the kavadis give them bath.
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Every day, the elephants are taken out around the five-km stretch of Raja Marg to make them familiar with the noise and crowd. Arjuna is made to practice carrying a sandbag and a wooden howdah. The weight is gradually increased from 200 kg to 800 kg during training.
A separate shed has been constructed to cook food for these elephants near Sri Kodi Someshwara Temple in the Palace premises and food is being prepared in large vessels. First, Urad grain and Wheat is cooked in the large vessel to which Green Gram and onions are added which will be cooked again for about two-and-a-half hour and kept aside for an hour. At about 3.30 pm, the cooked food is spread on large plates and the cooked food is made into large balls (mudde) which is given to the elephants before the commencement of training in the evening.
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After the training gets over, food is again cooked at about 7 pm and is stored in the store room which will be locked after 9 pm. The next day morning at about 5.30, the cooked food is again made into large balls and given to the elephants before 6.30 am, following which the jumbos will be taken for training.
To provide nutritional food twice a day for our Dasara guests, 70 kg of Green Gram, 70 kg Urad grain, 70 kg Boiled Rice, 70 kg Wheat, 70 kg Carrot, 70 kg Beetroot, 70 kg radish, 70 kg Knol Khol and 70 kg Cucumber is required everyday and about 15 to 25 kg of nutritional food is given for one time.
But, Arjuna, who carries the Golden Howdah during the Jumboo Savari is being provided 25 to 30 kg of food for one time and all tuskers are given one kg of butter everyday. Arjuna is being given one-and-a-half kg butter everyday. This apart, each elephant is given 450 to 600 kg of Banyan leaves, 250 kg green grass and 50 kg dry grass.