Captivating Elegance: The Royal Dasara Exhibition

By Suraksha Poojari | 18  October 2023


In a world where memories are often captured in fleeting digital moments, an art exhibition stands as a testament to the timelessness of  photography. The ongoing art exhibition in collaboration with the Indian Institute of World Culture (IIWC) and Heritage Basavanagudi Residents Welfare Forum. Is an exquisite voyage into history curated by the founder director of MAYA films, Maya Chandra. Inaugurated on 15th October 2023, the event brings forth exclusive glimpses from the treasured collection of the Royal Family. 

Smt. Kamakshi Devi Wadiyar and Smt. Indrakshi Devi Wadiyar, daughters of HH Jayachamaraja Wadiyar (the 25th and last Maharaja of Mysore) inaugurated the event, and the exhibition has transformed into a truly special moment. 

The heart of this exhibition beats with the rhythm of nostalgia and heritage, offering a unique chance to view rare photographs of the Royal Dasara celebrations during 1950s – 60s. These enchanting images were captured by the legendary photographer, Shri Subba Rao. 

Subba Rao’s reputation as a photographer was solidified by his mastery of  “Flash Photography.” In the 1950’s, he was a household name in Mysore, running a popular photo studio aptly named “Photo Flash.” It was here that the magic of capturing moments in time came to life. In an era dominated by black and white photography, Subba Rao introduced vibrant hues into his work, adding a splash of colour to the past. And in the world where each flash meant replacing a fragile bulb, he was among the few pioneering photographers to embrace the innovative new bulbs, costing a rupee each. He has captured timeless moments, including those of the Maharaja and the grand Dasara celebrations. 


(HH Jaya Chamaraja Wadiyar taking the salute during the torchlight parade at Bannimantap signifying the conclusion of the Dasara festivities of 1962. Photo by Shri Subba Rao )


During a historic shoot capturing the divine Maharaja, Subba Rao endured an encounter with the police, and got a whack on his back for going too close to the Maharaja !! He says that was a sweet pain he endured for many weeks !! Despite such occupational hazards, he  remained steadfast and went about his work with great passion. For a deeper exploration of Subba Rao’s extraordinary journey, stay tuned for MAYA Films  upcoming biopic on the Maya Films YouTube channel.


Image of Dasara dolls on exhibition, Photos from MAYA films, Exhibited in IIWC, The Art Gallery


This exhibition holds more photographs, rare and precious from the memory lane of Royal Dasara. And alongside the rare photographs capturing history, you will find a unique and delightful collection of Dasara Dolls (Dasara Gombegalu). These dolls are from the private collections of five women each narrating their own story.  The exhibition also proudly features a remarkable soap sculpture collection by the talented Late N.S. Seshadri. a self-taught artist, and civil engineer by profession. 

What makes these sculptures truly extraordinary is that they are made from soap bars (mainly Pears and Lux soaps) with attention to detail. 


At the inauguration ceremony of the Royal Dasara Exhibition held on 15 October 2023, by MAYA Films

The event, inaugurated on the 15th October 2023, brings forth exclusive glimpses from the treasured collection of the Royal family. Curated by Maya Chandra, this exhibition is a testament to her lifelong dedication to documenting the royal family through her podcasts and films. Maya’s vision for this exhibition is to showcase how Dasara was celebrated by the erstwhile rulers before the Mysore state was renamed Karnataka in 1973. 

She was also keen on bringing the local community together in celebrating the spirit of Dasara and featuring women doll collectors. 

Some of the remarkable photographs showcased here  were sourced from the daughters of Maharaja Jayachamaraja Wadiyar, Kamakshi Devi and Indrakshi Devi, and their families. It was during her work on a podcast episode about Dasara that Maya learned about the festive traditions observed inside the palace from Maharaja’s grandson.

Dasara Soliloquies, MAYA Films

This captivating  exhibition is open till 25th October 2023, but there are still several remarkable events to look forward to. You can engage in insightful conversations with the members of the Royal family,  honouring the veteran photographer, Shri Subba Rao, and witness the screening of an exclusive episode of Dasara Soliloquies” By MAYA films. This episode, narrated by Varchusvin SS Raje Urs – Grandson of HH Shri. Jaya Chamaraja Wadiyar, is a part of a seven episode series – The KIng Speaks.  This episode is a beautiful first person narrative of the traditions, culture, and the rituals that take place inside the Mysore Palace. 

To delve even deeper into the legacy of HH Jayachamaraja Wadiyar and the rich heritage of Mysore, listen to our exclusive podcast series “ The King Speaks,” presented by Maya Chandra. 

♫ Listen on Spotify :“The king Speaks”

This event is not merely an exhibition, but an insightful experience that allows you to learn about the royal Dasara celebration and the history of the Mysore Royal family. It’s a chance to walk through time, to witness the past and to appreciate the legacy that has shaped the present. “