Mysuru Dasara: Arjuna, The Ambari Elephant Retires Making Way For 'Combing Specialist' Abhimanyu
After carrying the golden howdah with Devi Chamundeshwari seated within for eight long years on his back, Arjuna the Dasara ambari elephant has retired. And his heir has just been announced. Abhimanyu, the 59 year old elephant from Mathigodu camp in Tithimathi in Kodagu will carry the howdah this year.
With the pandemic having curtailed all celebrations, Dasara too will be a low key affair this year with the elephant parade restricted to the Mysuru Palace campus.
Forest officials who visited various elephant camps across the state earlier this month, picked five elephants based on their fitness and health conditions. Pattada aane Vikrama, Kumki elephant Vijaya, Cauvery and Gopi are the other four elephants as the pandemic restrictions have reduced the number to five this year.
The selection of elephants in regular times happens much earlier after which the elephants arrive in batches to Mysore and are taken care of with special nutrition and exercise preparing them for the parade.
Arjuna, whom we met during last Dasara, has turned 60 this year and as per the Supreme Court orders can no longer be entrusted stressful and heavy tasks. Hence, the baton has been passed on to the 5,500 kg weighing 54 year old gentle giant.
Abhimanyu was captured in 1977 from the Hebbala forests and is known as the combing specialist as his services have been sought from states across the country to help capture wild and rogue elephants. From protecting forest department officials from wild elephants during capture operations, to being a fearless one in tiger trapping tasks, tales of Abhimanyu's bravado are one too many.
While Arjuna's tusk stood out in all his images, Abhimanyu though can't match his tusk, but is said to be an equal in majesty and his temperament and stamina hailed as his strength. He has been called the 'AK 47' and the 'King of Forest' for his performance in over 125 elephant trapping and 12 tiger capture operations.
He has been part of the Dasara celebrations for over two decades and was mainly involved in pulling the 'Aane gaadi' the cart that carried the palace musicians.
Dasara this year will be an almost silent affair as the food mela, Yuva Dasara, sports meet, and other cultural events will not take place this time to avoid crowding. The budget for the celebrations too has been cut down to Rs 10 crore from the usual Rs 50 crore this year.
The only silver lining in these gloomy times would be that the state has decided to honour Covid warriors and invite them as special guests to the Dasara and these frontline workers will light the lamp this year as the state's guests instead of popular personalities as is the tradition every year.
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