In the blockbuster movie ‘Sholay’, Dhanno, the horse, was a prominent character till the end. Not only in movies, but horses also play a major role in races and are also part of the city’s Heritage.

Though the horses used in races and by the Police Department are treated royally, the same is not in case of the horses used by tongawalas. Though most of them maintain the horses with the little money they earn, they are normally seen standing in blazing sun tied to the tonga or compound grills in various parts of the city.

The Mysore City Corporation and Tourism Department also utilise these tongas during the Dasara festivities to showcase the heritage of Mysore. The tongas are decorated and the tongawalas are dressed in tradition attire during Dasara celebrations. Many of the visitors are also seen travelling on these tongas to different tourist locations in the city.

There were also times when tongawalas used to transport children to and from school. But as days passed, these tongawalas who were once among the important members of the society were neglected. It is only in the recent past that they were allowed to be a part of Dasara celebrations.

The tongawalas are seen with their tongas in front of various tourist locations especially Mysore Palace or Zoo hoping to find a customer. But not many of them succeed everyday and return home empty-handed.

The tongas were given prominence during the rule of Wadiyars. The Tourism Department which decided to revitalise the use of tongas, has decided to construct tonga stands at various parts of the city under the JNNURM scheme.

Initially, the Tourism Department had identified around 20 places across the city to construct tonga stands, but finally construction work of only three tonga stands were taken up.

Speaking to Star of Mysore, JNNURM Assistant Engineer Mohan said that though they had identified 20 places and had prepared a Detailed Project Report (DPR) for a cost of about Rs. 1.90 crore, they are only constructing three tonga stands at a cost of Rs. 30 lakh since they could not find ideal places for the construction of other stands.

Earlier, it was proposed to construct the tonga stands near Mysore Palace, Silk Factory, Ganapati Ashram, Foothills of Chamundi, Lalitha Mahal Palace, Karanji Lake, Mysore Zoo, Jaganmohan Palace and other important tourist destinations in the city, but since there was no space available, it was decided to construct tonga stands only opposite Kukkarahalli Lake, Private Bus Stand and Sub Urban Bus Stand. The construction work on the tonga stand opposite Kukkarahalli Lake is expected to be completed within a month’s time.

Mohan added that four big tongas can be parked in each stand which will provide shelter for horses. This apart, the idea of constructing the tonga stands at various tourist destinations was to popularise the tongas so that it would help the tongawalas earn their daily bread.

Courtesy : Star Of Mysore