About Balarama: was the lead elephant of the world-famous Mysore Dasara procession and carried the idol of goddess Chamundeshwari on the fabled Golden Howdha for thirteen times between 1999 and 2011. Balarama was one of the star attraction when he carried on his back the sacred idol of goddess in the 800 kilograms (1,800 lb) golden ambari on the auspicious 10th day of Dasara celebrations. Balarama was always known for his demeanaor and calmness at all times.
Balarama was captured in 1987 in the Kattepura forest near Somwarpet in the Kodagu region of Karnataka State, India. Balarama has now been rested from the duty of carrying the Golden Howdah due to his age and reducing weight and has been succeeded by Arjuna. Balarama now leads the procession as the 'nishane aane' or the lead elephant.
Balarama is now looked after at the Morkal Elephant camp at Nagarahole national park and his previous mahout Sannappa has retired and his new master Thimma has taken over.
About Sannappa: He was the lead mahout assigned with the job of training the captured Balarama. For over 30 years, the partnership and relations between Balarama and Sannappa is nothing short of a folktale and one that has stood endearing of relationships between man and animal.
Sannappa is now living a retired life and one he accepts it as a reality. He says, "It has been a long stint of caring for elephants in the forests. We have to accept the reality of ageing".
Sannappa's role with Balarama is now taken over by another mahout, Thimma, who is as kind and gentle withe Balarama as his predecessor.
Dr Nagaraj, veterinarian doctor (Wildlife) and in-charge for dasara elephants, said that the bonding between Balarama and Sannappa is remarkable and a personification for human-animal relations in the era of increasing conflicts.
Dr. Nagaraj adds, that Balarama refuses to take food from anybody else except Sannappa. New mahout Thimma was earlier serving as kavadi (assistant to mahout) well groomed and can easily fill into the shoes of Sannappa. Thimma also has got nine years association with Balarama and he understands the jumbo every well.
Elephants have always been the star attraction of Mysore Dasara.
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Uniquely illustrated and collectible, set of Six illustrated Post Cards - 4" x 6" Postcards
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Dasara Celebration 2018
On October 10, 2018, the first day of the annual Dasara festivities in Mysore, Balarama's Story, was launched in Kannada Version in a grand event by the Chief Minister Sri H.D. Kumaraswamy in the front of the illuminated Mysore palace. The evening was a spectacle and a celebration of the cultural relationship of elephants with humans as the Chief Post Master General of India Post Karnataka Circle, Dr. Charles Lobo presented the first of its First Day Cover and Cancellation album to the august gathering on the dais. It included the Chair Person of the Infosys Foundation Smt. Sudha Murthy and various bureaucrats and