Frequently cited as the city of palaces, there are a number of palaces within Mysore. However, the term Mysore Palace refers to the one within the old Fort, the Amba Vilas Palace. The Mysore Palace was the home of the Wodeyar Maharajas of Mysore. It has now been converted into a museum that treasures souvenirs, paintings, jewellery, royal costumes and other items, which were once possessed by the Wodeyars.
History Of Mysore Palace
The original palace was built of wood, in the 14th century. It has been demolished and re-constructed a few times. In 1897, the Regent, Maharani Vani Vilas Sannidhna of the Wodeyar Royal house, commissioned a British architect to build yet another palace. The new palace was completed in 1912, and later extensions were added in 1940.
Architecture of Mysore Palace
It is a 3-storied structure, which blends together a Hindu, Muslim, Rajput and Gothic style of architecture, commonly described as Indo-Saracenic style. The structure is made of fine gray granite with deep pink marble domes.
The facade has seven expansive arches and two smaller ones flanking the central arch, which is supported by tall pillars. Above the central arch is a sculpture of Gajalakshmi, with her elephants. The palace is surrounded by a beautifully manicured garden.
Special features of Mysore Palace
Public Durbar Hall In Mysore Palace
The Public Durbar Hall hosts an imported French lamp, representing Egyptian figurines. Right before the Durbar Hall is a life size statue of Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV. This plaster of Paris sculpture is the creation of B. Basavaiah, the palace artist.
Major ceremonial gatherings are conducted in this hall. It has a marble floor and colonnades of cusped arches supported by intricate and elaborately painted columns, which create an illusion of infinite corridors. Paintings decorate the walls on the right. Large mirrors on the far walls offer multiple reflections of the paintings amidst the columns.
Private Durbar Hall In Mysore Palace
This hall was used by the king for private audience and is one of the most spectacular rooms in the palace. Entry to this opulent hall is through an elegantly carved rosewood doorway inlaid with ivory that opens to a shrine to Ganesha.
The central nave of the hall has ornately gilded columns, stained glass ceilings, decorative steel grills, and chandeliers with fine floral motifs, mirrored in the pietra dura mosaic floor embellished with semi-precious stones.
The royal throne, called the Chinnada Simhasana or Ratna Simahasana, with captivating artwork on its gold plates is displayed during the Dasara festival. The Maharajas of Mysore used to sit on the golden throne and hold durbars in the Palace Durbar Hall.
Gombe Thotti (Doll’s Pavilion)
Entry to the palace is through the Gombe Thotti or the Doll’s Pavilion, a gallery of traditional dolls from the 19th and early 20th centuries. The pavilion also houses a fine collection of Indian and European sculpture and ceremonial objects like a wooden elephant howdah (carriage for passengers) decorated with 84 kg of gold.
Kalyana Mantapa In Mysore Palace
This is an octagonal-shaped hall where royal weddings, birthdays and ceremonial functions were celebrated. The dome, supported by a cluster of pillars, is made of cast iron. There are 26 paintings which depict the famed Dasara procession. The paintings representing Dasara festivities are based on actual photographs and executed during the years between 1934 and 1945.
The stained-glass ceiling is a rich tapestry of peacock motifs and floral mandalas held in place by metal beams. The design of the glass and framework was created by the artists of Mysore and manufactured in Glasgow, Scotland. The building has gorgeous chandeliers of Czechoslovakian make.
A majestic chandelier, hangs low from the centre of the tall dome. The flooring of this magnificent Kalyana Mantapa has artistic geometrical patterns created using glittering glazed tiles imported from England. The outside columns have carvings with scenes from the Mahabharata and the Ramayana.
Portrait Gallery In Mysore Palace
Many valuable paintings as well as photographs of the Royal Family are exhibited in the portrait gallery. There is a portrait of Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV, a king with a vision and a great patron of arts. In addition, the portrait gallery displays two works by the famous artist, Raja Ravi Varma.
Casket Room In Mysore Palace
The casket room displays a variety of curios. When the Mysore Maharajas visit various parts of the state, their subjects would have many requests to place before their liege. These requests would be formally submitted in small caskets made of silver and sandalwood. Additionally, they would present the kings with mementoes of their visit in these boxes.
Armoury In Mysore Palace
The palace houses an armoury, which contains a collection of different types of arms used by members of the royal family. These include weapons that were used in the 14th century (lances, cutlasses, etc.), as well as weapons that were used in the early 20th century (pistols, etc.).
Temples In Mysore Palace
The palace complex includes 12 Hindu temples. The oldest of these was built in the 14th century, while the most recent was built in 1953.
Some of the more famous temples are:
- Someshvara Temple, dedicated to God Lord Shiva
- Lakshmiramana Temple, dedicated to God Lord Vishnu
- Shwetha Varahaswamy Temple, dedicated to Lord Varahaswamy, one of the 10 incarnations of lord Vishnu
- Kodi Bharravasvami Temple, dedicated to Shiva in the form of Bhairava
- Sri Trinayaneshvara Swami Temple, the ancient temple which existed even before the time of Raja Wodeyar, originally located outside the Mysore fort
These and other temples are located within the present-day Mysore Palace Fort.
Mysore Palace and Mysore Dasara
Mysore Palace is the venue for the famous Mysore Dasara festival, during which leading artists perform on a stage set up in the palace grounds. On the tenth day of the festival, the Vijaya Dashami, a parade with decorated elephants and other floats originate from the palace grounds.
Palace authorities have introduced battery-operated vehicles to enable tourists to see the palace premises. It is available between 10 am and 6 pm at the entrance of Mysore Palace and priced at Rs. 40 for adults and Rs. 20 for children.
A silhouette of the Mysore Palace illuminated with nearly 1 lakh bulbs, glowing against the night sky is one of the most enchanting images tourists take home. The palace is a visual feast to the art connoisseur and student of history.
Although tourists are allowed to visit the palace, they are not allowed to take photographs inside the palace. So one need to visit the place to get a sense of the history, culture and art enmeshed within the walls of the palace.