Tongas, sarots get decked up for Dasara celebrations

These horse-driven carriages attract tourists in large numbers

Tongas, sarots get decked up for Dasara celebrations

 Even as the district administration, the Mysore City Corporation and Dasara sub-committees are making arrangements to host the 10-day festivities, Mysoreans are preparing in their own small way for the celebrations. Operators — owners as well as drivers — of tongas and sarots in the city are refurbishing their horse-driven vehicles to entertain the tourists this season.

While Babu, who is proud to call himself Painter Babu, is busy giving a new look to one Nadeem’s tonga at the stand in front of the KSRTC Sub-Urban Bus Stand, Mohammed is engaged in fixing horseshoes in front of the Palace North Gate, near Chamaraja Circle.

Nadeem, who has taken a small break to repair and repaint his cart, said, he is not worried about the expenses and only wants to showcase it proudly when the festival begins.

Naiz, who drives a sarot, a bigger vehicle, also called ‘buggy’, said the earnings have improved in the five to six years. “With the introduction of the sarots by the MCC and the Tourism department, business has picked up.

Now, there are 11 sarots and 40 tongas in the city. Tongas charge Rs 100 for a ride around the Palace and sarots charge Rs 300 for the same ride,” he said.

Fiaz Ahmad, who represents a section of the operators, said, at least Rs 5,000 is being spent on each vehicle in the wake of Dasara and the owners do it voluntarily. He said, since the last couple of years, youngsters from families of existing operators have become drivers and were earning a decent income.

Traditional uniform

“We are happy that the MCC and the Tourism department has recognised us. We get a traditional uniform during Dasara and we are proud to wear it to mark the festivities,” he said.

Nagaraju, who drives a sarot owned by one Suresh, says besides tourists, even local residents take a ride occasionally. “But, we make the highest number of trips during Dasara. However, there is demand during other vacations and extended weekends,” he said.

Painter Babu, who has been painting tongas since 35 years, says, the horse-driven vehicles should also be operated like taxis. “When I started painting, the colour of all tongas was uniformly black, even though the designs on it had various hues. The authorities concerned should take steps to introduce some uniformity now also,” he said.

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