The radiant city of Mysore, abundant with heritage and history finds its heartbeat stuck to one of the most breathtaking places in the country- The Mysore Palace. The abode of the royal family of Wadiyars and also known as Amba Vilas Palace, any trip to Mysore is incomplete without visiting it. The sheer magnitude, elegance and magnificent glare of power that emanates from the palace is enough to keep any visitor enamoured for days.
There are many stories and legends attached to the Mysore Palace. It is said that the palace was actually a glorified bastion, a fortified area with ditches surrounding it as in a military set-up. To the east of palace compound lies the evidence of this – remains of ditches that served as protection against intruders.
The palace that arose later was actually a wooden structure. It got burned down in 1897 during the wedding of the eldest daughter of the Chamaraja Wodeyar. At the cost of a whooping Rs. 42 lakhs, it was rebuilt and completed around 1912. More than 2.7 million visitors thronging the palace every year to see the prized souvenirs housed in the palace. The most famous among them is the sword of the mighty Tipu Sultan.
One of the most eminent features of the palace is its mix of styles when it comes to its architecture. Mysore Palace borrows heavily from the Indo-Saracenic and then blends in elements from the gothic, Rajput and Muslim styles. This is mostly because of the ample no of times the palace has been renovated and restructured. A three-storied structure, the palace borrows from the Islamic style of architecture which reflects in its deep pink domes. The Mysore palace does a fantastic job of integrating India’s cultural richness in its design.
A three-storied structure, the palace borrows from the Islamic style of architecture which reflects in its deep pink domes. The Mysore palace does a fantastic job of integrating India’s cultural richness in its design.
The architect of the famed heritage was Henry Irwin who primarily covered the palace with seven expansive arches. The central arc has an exquisitely sculpted image of Gajalakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity.
The palace is a kaleidoscope of painted glass and mirrors that capture the beauty of the various paintings hung around the palace and reflect them across the hallways and corridors. Also, exotic mahogany gates and doors with intricate carvings along walls and chandeliers of Czechoslovakian make for a perfect visual treat.
Architectural Details That Stand Out
The Mysore Palace fuses together elements from Hindu, Islamic and Gothic architectural styles. For example, the tallest tower of the palace follows a silhouette reminiscent of Gothic cathedrals but it is topped by a large dome typical of Islamic and Persian architecture. Above this metal gilded dome is a domed chhatri that draws inspiration from Rajasthani architecture.
Similarly, the pink marble domes at the corners of the palace are common Islamic architectural elements. They are complemented by protruding balconies on the northern and southern sides that resemble Rajasthani jharokhas.
All of these elements may seem to be cut and pasted from different eras but they have been designed in a way to look seamless. As with architectural details, the workforce too that built this palace can from across India.
Other Things To See In The Palace
The Royal Quarters
When the palace burnt down in 1896, luckily the royal quarters escaped the fire. They are still standing today. Most of this part of the palace is out of bound for visitors but a small section is accessible. The Khasagi Darbar hall is particularly worth mentioning. The pillars in this hall are painted with vegetable dyes that have been mixed with pure gold dust.
Paintings And Frescoes
The walls facing the Kalyana Mantapa or the marriage hall in the palace feature 26 paintings depicting the Dasara celebrations at the palace. There are any more oil paintings and portraits of members of the Wodeyar family you can see around the palace. The ceilings too are worth mentioning. They are intricately painted with frescoes portraying the heavens.
A row of canons stand proud in eth forecourt of the palace. These canons have a range of about 3km and are still functional. They are used during the Palace Navratri celebrations
Special Occasions at Mysore Palace
The Mysuru Dasara festival is held at the royal palace every autumn. Dasara is the most lavishly celebrated festival of Mysore between the months of September and October. Every year, celebrated artists perform on a stage in the palace grounds.
A royal fleet of elephants and floats originate from the palace grounds on the last day of the 10 day festival of Vijaya Dashmi. The entire palace is lit up with close to 96,000 lights during the festival period of two months. The festival commemorates the slaying of Mahishasura, the demon by Goddess Durga also known as Chamundeshwari.
Special Features of Mysore Palace
There are some astounding mentions that have to be made especially regarding the palace.
There are 8 temples inside the Mysore Palace fort dedicated to incarnations of Shiva and saints like Kodi Bharravasvami, Sri Lakshmiramana Swami, and Sri Shweta Varahaswami among others.
Then comes the grand public Durbar Hall where a row upon row design gives the illusion of infinite rows in the hall. The walls on the right to the hall are covered with paintings from the royal family, from the epic Ramayana which gets beautifully reflected along the long columns of the hall via large mirrors set wide across the hall.
The Gombe Thotti is next in line. It’s the Dolls’ Pavillion that leads the entry to the palace and is adorned with collections of dolls from the early nineteenth and twentieth century. One of the spectacular visions is the wooden elephant howdah which is decorated with 84 kg of gold.
The Kalyana Mantapa is the spectacular octagonal ceremonial hall where the royal family had been celebrating its weddings, birthdays and all other royal ceremonies. There is a heavenly tapestry of peacock motifs and floral mandalas which are stuck in place by metal beams. The elegant peacock designs get reflected onto the mosaic tiles on the floor.
So come and forget the daily rut of life and splurge your eyes on this feast of extravagance and royalty. Mysore Palace’s charm and hold over its visitors only grows with the passing year, as each on carries back a lit bit of the palace life in memories.
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