The FHVI Royal Classic Dasara Drive to Mysore, 2019
The FHVI Royal Classic Dasara Drive to Mysore, 2019
The Federation of Historic Vehicles of India (FHVI) held one of India’s largest, vintage & classic car and motorcycle gatherings between the 29th of September and the 2nd of October, 2019. With this, the FHVI marks its fifth successful pan India event.
Officially known as the FHVI Royal Classic Dasara Drive to Mysore (member of FIVA), two words in the event description in particular stand out. Mysore was the capital city of the Kingdom of Mysore, ruled by revered dynasty for over six centuries. Over the course of the centuries, the Mysore Royal family built magnificent palaces, several temples, educational institutions, hospitals, dams and essentially designed the then capital city thus providing employment and guaranteed education to all the subjects in the kingdom. Now, a metropolis in modern day India in the southern state of Karnataka, Mysore attracts throngs of visitors, especially during the Dasara festivities. The festival of Dasara essentially marks the triumph of good over evil and what better way to celebrate it than in the city of Mysore where Dasara is celebrated with the greatest of pomp in India.
The FHVI Dasara event in 2018 was the first such event by FHVI and this year, the Federation ensured that it was better than the first in every respect. Classic cars and for the first time classic two wheelers from northern, central, eastern, western & southern India took part in the spectacular event along with participants from the country of Sri Lanka.
The first of the events kicked off in the city of Bangalore, the capital of the southern state of Karnataka, where the President of FHVI hosted a relaxed evening of cocktails and dinner on the 28th of September, 2019 with a multitude of classic cars and automobilia present at the venue for all to ogle at. This first evening helped in creating an initial bonhomie amongst the member participants that grew only stronger as the days passed.
The next morning saw the participants ready with their classic cars and two wheelers for the event flag-off and this was no ordinary flag-off. The Governor of the state of Karnataka himself, invited FHVI participants to the sprawling grounds of the palatial Raj Bhavan, the Governor’s official residence. The Governor hosted breakfast for the participants at the beautiful ‘Glass House’ at the Raj Bhavan. Shortly after breakfast, the Governor, escorted by the FHVI President, met and spent time with every participant after which he proceeded to address the gathering and strongly encouraged more such events which would receive every possible support from his offices. The Governor then graciously flagged-off the drive.
Once the event kicked off from the Raj Bhavan, the historic vehicles drove in a convoy (the police ensuring the public traffic was temporarily halted to give passage) to the truly magnificent Vidhana Soudha, the seat of the state legislature of Karnataka. The architecture of the vast Vidhana Soudha is unique and has an influence of Indo-Saracenic and Dravidian elements. The well-publicised drive drew scores of enthusiasts from all ages while the Vidhana Soudha provided the participants and their historic vehicles the perfect back drop for a superb photo opportunity. Initial photo-ops done, the convoy then proceeded to another area of the structure where every car was parked in front of the Vidhana Soudha for more photos. A bit of additional fun was thrown in with clues being passed on to participants for the ‘treasure hunt’ that ensued during the drive to Mysore. The treasure hunt turned out to be a great hit with most participants keenly watching out for the clues during the 145 km drive from Banaglore to the palace city of Mysore.
The convoy of historic vehicles stopped midway to Mysore for a hearty snack in the town of Channapatna. After which, the convoy then stopped under the noon sun at a designated pit stop under shade where participants were treated to fresh coconut water and sugarcane juice. The glittering vehicles continued to Mysore and the drive ended at the beautiful Lalitha Mahal Palace. The palace, constructed by His Highness the then Maharaja of Mysore, was built for the exclusive use of the Viceroy of British India and is modelled along St. Pauls Cathedral in London. Today, the palace is looked after by Government of Karnataka and is run as a heritage palace hotel. As the historic vehicles drove into the vast grounds of the palace, participants were greeted by the palatial white structure and every vehicle was parked in order in front of the palace. Hot after the 145 odd km. drive, participants were made to feel special by being welcomed with the auspicious tilak of vermillion gently smeared on the forehead and garlanded by hostesses dressed in traditional Indian attire.
At Mysore, participants were put up at the historic Lalitha Mahal Palace itself and the more contemporary Windflower Resort, both venues going out of their way to keep the guests comfortable. Once at the palace, the organisers wasted no time in throwing one of the palace bars open to participants followed by a sumptuous Indian lunch. Shortly after lunch, the Mysore leg of the event was flagged of by the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Karnataka (the executive head of the state). Inspite of the Chief Minister’s unbelievably busy schedule, the organisers ensured that he graced the event, stopped at the palace and wished the event all success. After the flag off by the Chief Minister, the historic vehicles proceeded in a convoy from Lalitha Mahal Palace for a tour of the city of Mysore. The drive took the historic vehicles around the city of palaces and finally to the magnificent Mysore Palace, the official residence of the Mysore Royal family and the main palace of the erstwhile kingdom. It is worthwhile to mention that the Mysore Palace is the second largest tourist destination in India, second only to the Taj Mahal and draws more than 6 million visitors annually. Built during the turn of the 20th century, the palace’s architecture incorporates Hindu, Rajput, Mughal and Gothic styles. Being the first day of the Dasara festivities, the palace was surrounded by thousands of visitors and the historic vehicles lined up in front of the illuminated palace for a photo op. Lit up for the festivities, the Mysore Palace and the historic vehicles shone like jewellery under the night sky. The convoy then headed to a city hotel for a relaxed dinner after an action packed day.
The next morning, an added attraction especially for the ladies, was a private tour of the famed Dasara Flower Show being held in Mysore. The show even had flowers decorated to resemble a classic car! Later in the morning, every historic vehicle drove in convoy up the hills around Mysore around 13 kms away from the palace city to the Chamundeshwari Temple on Chamundi hill. The temple, originally built in the 12th century and expanded over the centuries, houses the Goddess Chamundeshwari (now the state Goddess of Karnataka) and is much revered throughout India. Not only did the organisers ensure that the historic vehicles parked in convoy right in front of the main entrance to the temple but also arranged for a private visit for every participant into the sanctum sanctorum to seek blessings from the Goddess. The beautiful temple compound houses several other deities and participants freely walked around soaking in the divine energy that the temple exudes. The drive downhill was quite a thrill, with the several palaces of Mysore visible from the hills during the descent.
What followed after the temple visit was another memorable experience. Every participant and guest was served a traditional Mysore lunch in one of the splendid banquet halls of the Lalitha Mahal Palace. This was no ordinary lunch – in typical Mysore ceremonial style, everybody was made to sit together along long tables at once whilst servers quickly provided one delicacy after another, course by course, on beautifully laid out banana leaves. After the truly royal lunch, everyone got up in unison, in the traditional Indian style.
The splendid lunch remained a topic of discussion for the days to follow. With everyone in a good mood, the next destination was Bandipur Tiger Reserve and National Park, 75 odd kms. from Mysore. Coaches were ready to ferry all participants after lunch to the Tiger Reserve. Once at Bandipur, a safari followed in forest coaches. Participants spotted elephants, including tuskers, spotted deer, wild boar, wild geese, peacocks, leopards and a tiger. The safari ended at a resort in the national park where a delectable array of snacks and wines greeted participants in the tranquil atmosphere of the national park. Another great dinner followed and the Director of the Tiger Reserve welcomed the participants. The drive back through the national park in darkness was a fitting end to a spectacular day.
The next day provided a lot of fun for those daring to use their historic vehicles at the ‘Pagal Gymkhana’/ ‘Slalom Test’ – a test to demonstrate the skill of the owner/driver. The light-hearted event saw several owners taking to the closed grounds adjoining the Lalitha Mahal Palace where spectators were treated to timed sections, historic vehicles being manoeuvred through obstacle courses and tight turns. Whilst the Italian and smaller European marques provided a treat for spectators with some hair-raising twists and turns, a Rolls-Royce Phantom II completed the course in a rather gentlemanly fashion!
Post the thrill of the pagal gymkhana, the historic vehicles drove in convoy through Mysore to the famous Brindavan Gardens 20 kms away. The spectacular botanical gardens and fountains are spread over an area of 60 acres and was built in the 1930s. Walkways provide a great opportunity to explore the beautiful gardens. As your eyes follow the gardens, your gaze falls at a sheer majestic wall adjacent – the Krishna Raja Sagara dam built on the river Kaveri. At the botanical gardens, another sumptuous lunch followed by tea was awaited participants and the historic vehicles were lined up at a hotel overlooking the gardens. What followed was the icing on the cake; a drive on massive structure of the dam itself! Completed in the 1930s, entry to the dam is highly restricted as it supplies water to Mysore, Mandya district and almost all of the capital city of Bangalore. FHVI pulled out all stops and managed to get every historic vehicle to travel in convoy on the dam affording everyone a surreal view of the lake created by the dam and on the other the sight of the Brindavan Gardens. Till then, it was the public that had been enthused by the convoy of historic vehicles passing by towns, cities and historic venues but at the dam, it was the participants that were overwhelmed at the vastness and majesty of the dam and the lake. A gentle spray from the force of the water in the lake cooled everyone during the drive over the same.
After driving back to Mysore, sufficient time was given to all participants to relax and dress up in ethnic wear for the grand dinner to end the event. Participants and historic vehicles, both looking regal, made their way to Lalitha Mahal Palace where every historic vehicle was carefully parked to be photographed in one frame with the illuminated palace as the back drop. With new friendships forged and old friendships strengthened, participants eagerly assembled one final time for group photographs and aerial shots and videos before being led to the gala dinner and dance in one of the great halls of the palace. Before dinner commenced, the organisers, including the FHVI President, Vice President, Treasurer and main sponsors of the 2019 FHVI Royal Classic Dasara Drive to Mysore introduced the Global Shapers Community (an initiative of the World Economic Forum) who had planted one tree on behalf of every participant to off-set the carbon footprint of the historic vehicles during the drive. This initiative was greeted by load applause from the participants. The organisers then thanked every participant and handed over sterling silver vintage car and motorcycle mementos hand crafted by C. Krishniah Chetty along with souvenirs from the Government of Karnataka to all. With everyone in high spirits and a great dinner that followed, participants and families hit the dance floor at the venue to celebrate the culmination of a glorious four days and nights.
Special mention must be made of the extraordinary organisational feat of the FHVI organisers which was witnessed right till the end of the event. The entire drive to every venue had an official police escort leading followed by the historic two wheelers, classic cars and at the tail end a brace of mechanics, back-up and an ambulance in case of any emergency. FHVI also ensured that regular traffic gave way to the convoy of historic vehicles through the duration of the drive. And finally, the event would not have been possible without the support of all the sponsors, Government of Karnataka, Karnataka Tourism, Mysuru Dasara Committee, Department of Forest, Jungle Lodges & Resort, Advaith Hyundai, CKC Group, Diageo, Fevicol, Pidilite, Raintree School, BMC Filters, Classic Chase and Global Shapers
The FHVI truly believes in bringing together regional historic vehicle clubs in India by providing one platform for historic vehicle owners and enthusiasts to interact with each other, showcase their vehicles to the public and raise awareness at every level of government administration to protect and preserve historic vehicles for the future and indeed one of the best ways to do this seems to be the FHVI way – by affording members unparalleled hospitality, spectacular venues, memorable driving destinations and unforgettable experiences with seamless execution and this philosophy is seeing historic vehicle owners, their families and friends from all over the country coming together in increasing numbers to build a lasting legacy.
Written by Prithvi Nath Tagore
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