Tongawallahas to get uniform touch, this Dasara

Tongawallahas to get uniform touch, this Dasara

Brace for heritage ride: An illuminated tonga waiting for tourists to take them for a heritage ride, at Chamaraja Circle in Mysuru. Dh-File photo

After a gap of a few years, in a bid to accord a traditional touch to the ‘Tongas’, ahead of Dasara-2018, the Tourism department has decided to provide uniforms and Mysore peta to tongawallahas. This Dasara, tongawallahas will be dressed in a traditional attire while taking out tourists for a heritage ride across the city.

The Tourism department used to offer uniforms to the tongawallahas, during Dasara, when the BJP government was in power. However, it was discontinued, owing to certain reasons.

Tongas are an integral part of Mysuru history and the uniforms to tongawallahas has been designed in line with the heritage value of the city. The tongawallahas selected the design, and the uniforms are getting ready, said Deputy Director for Tourism H P Janardhan. He said, the tongawallahas were asked to select the design of the dress and the uniforms will be distributed before the commencement of Mysuru Dasara on October 10.

Two sets of uniforms will be distributed to 50 tongawallahs. It is a move to promote Tongas in the city, the deputy director said.

The tongas of Mysuru has a long history. Before the advent of autorickshaws and taxis, tongas were the major mode of transportation in the city. The tongas were famous during the time of the Maharajas and nearly a hundred families depended on them for their livelihood. Now, the tongas are used only for pleasure rides.

According to sources, the city has 70 tongas and 10 sarots (buggies). The tongawallahas want the state government to take measures to promote traditional tongas and to protect the welfare of the families which depend on the tongas. Earlier, the government used to offer a subsidy for buying tongas, but, it has been stopped from the last few years.

“The government used to offer Rs 2,000 to take up repair works earlier, said a tongawallah. It has become difficult to maintain the family as there are only a few takers for tongas. Each tonga may earn Rs 1,500 a day during special occasion like Dasara. But, we need to feed horses and it costs a minimum of Rs 400,” a tongawallah said.