Dasara festival have both mythical and historical association with the city of Mysore.
The 10 day (and 9 nights) celebration denotes the mythical victory of the good over the evil. The demon Mahishasura - after whom the city's name is associated with - was slayed by goddess Chamundeswari after a fierce battle.
The goddess is thus treated as the presiding deity of the city, and also of the Wodeyar dynasty that ruled the kingdom.
The hill that overlooks the city is called the Chamundeswari Hills. Atop is a large temple dedicated to the goddess Chamundeswari. On the way to the temple is a brightly painted statue of Mahishasura which draws a lot of tourist attention.
This symbolically the Dasara festival in Mysore starts with special rituals at the Chamundeswari temple.
Historically the 10 day festival was the state festival celebrated at Vijayanagara (present day Hampi) by the Vijayanagara kings. After the fall of Vijayanagara empire, the Wodeyars of Mysore continued the legacy.
The first state festival was held in 1610 at Srirangapatna, the then capital of Mysore, under the rule of Raja Wodeyar I. Mysore Dasara 2010 was celebrated as the 400th anniversary since its introduction in the Mysore kingdom.
During the Mysore Dasara a special durbar is held in the Mysore Palace. That tradition continues even today. The present scion of the Wodayar dynasty ascents to the golden thrown in a private but significant function held inside the palace.
For the visitors to Mysore, Dasara season is a rare occasion in the year when the massive golden thrown is taken out from the palace locker for public viewing.
Apart from the numerous rituals ,customs and art programs associated with Mysore Dasara, the biggest draw is the grandiose procession called the Jumbo Savari.
The Mysore Dasara dates and programs schedules are announced every year. Typically the Mysore Dasara festival season falls in late September or early October.
The programs list range any thing from wrestling competitions to art exhibitions to food festival.
Mysore Dasara-2014 : Dates and Venues in Mysore City