The magical charm of circus - once considered as a premium and most enthralling source of amusement - fading away gradually with advancing time.
People, including children, are more seeped into the digital world; and of course, the grand mall culture has been successful in attracting everyone in its fascinating world.
'Great Apollo Circus' arrived in the holy city on November 10 and opened up from November 17 with daily three vibrant shows. Each show is of about three hours that unfolds typical circus presentations.
However, an elephant that plays cricket, a dog that drives a toy car and parrots that enjoy little swings are big hit among children. In addition, gymnastics by African artistes is captivating, too.
Apollo, a big brand in the world of circus, has been now left with only 60 artistes, including young females in the age group of 22-30 years. There was a time when the Apollo had more than 150 artistes, but with fading charm the number of artistes dropped, too.
Despite high advertisement in the city, very few seats got occupied in each show. When asked to performers how they feel when they see empty chairs during their performance; they say it pinches.
However, they ensure that they are giving their best performance in each and every show. "I joined circus at a very young age. During those days, people had great craze for the circus, but today it's reverse. However, for most of us this is our life and our lovely passion," says Rinku Khan, 54-year-old artiste, who is part of the 'flying swing' presentation.
"Circus is a beautiful world, which people should help saving from death," opines Khan, the senior most artistes of the Apollo circus.
However, the circus manager, Bhadur Singh, took the HT team backstage - where nearly 30 tents were erected to accommodate the artistes. Whether its winter or summer, irrespective of any weather condition, these tents remain their accommodation.
We went there about 11.30 am, barely an hour before the start of the maiden show of the day. Artistes were seen dressing up casually and animals, especially dogs, were happily playing with each other.
Everyone was seemed to be connected that gave a feeling of a family and a colourful environment. "We do not feel that we are at work. It's more like a home, a family here. After the show, we sit in groups and chat for hours," said Raju, a dwarf, who plays the role of clown.
Vijay Kumar, a chef, who is with Apollo for last 18 years, says it is family now. He enjoys making food for the staff and ensures that everyone has taken proper meal.
"Circus is life for all the artistes and other staff here. They love what they do and often appreciate the family culture, but what worries me and my team the most is the end of the circus world, which seems to be coming closer day-by-day," said emotional Bhadur Singh, adding: "We wish the show must go on.!"
Great Apollo Circus runs three shows daily -12.30 pm, 3.30 pm, 6.30 pm.
The price of ticket varies between Rs 40 and Rs 120.
December 25 is the last day of the circus in the city at D-Block, Ranjeet Avenue Grounds.