Mysuru (Karnataka), Sep 21 The 10-day "Mysuru Dasara" began on Thursday with much pomp and grandeur, with Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and other officials attending the festivities.
Mysuru Dasara, also called "Nada Habba" (state festival), was inaugurated by Padma Shri awardee K.S. Nissar Ahmed, a renowned Kannada poet, along with Siddaramaiah and other state officials atop Chamundi Hills, located 13 km from Mysuru.
Mysuru, located about 150 km from Bengaluru, attracts visitors from across the world for its traditional Dasara, marking the triumph of good over evil.
With lakhs of people gathering in the historic city, which has been spruced up for the festival with hundreds of flower garlands, the Chief Minister said the festivities took him back to his childhood.
"I've been a part of the festival celebrations right from school days as a NCC candidate, then as a minister and then as the Chief Minister for the past five years," Siddaramaiah told the gathering at the inauguration.
"The festival is one of the best examples of secularism in the society as it's celebrated by everyone," veteran poet Ahmed said.
The festivities on Thursday include the inauguration of Mysuru Dasara film festival, exhibition by women entrepreneurs and self-help groups and inauguration of cultural events by the Chief Minister.
The Chief Minister will also open a Dasara flower show, a key attraction of the fest.
The iconic Mysuru Palace built in 1912 will be lit up with thousands of bulbs from 7.00 p.m till 10.00 p.m on all all the festival days.
The 10-day cultural extravaganza draws at least 10 lakh visitors, including from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Maharashtra.
According to officials, at least 10,000 foreign tourists world also visit the city during Dasara celebrations every year.
The South Western Railway has announced special unreserved trains to tackle the rush and the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation would be operating over 100 additional buses from Mysuru to other cities in the state.
As a part of UDAN's regional connectivity scheme, flights were also launched from Mysuru to Chennai and Hyderabad. Visitors can take a helicopter ride for a panoramic view of the illuminated city.
"This year's festival is expected to have much larger gathering than last year," an official said.
"We are expecting at least 30 per cent increase in footfall this time round," Additional Deputy Commissioner T. Yogesh told IANS.