Re-visiting History at the Mysore Palace

The Mysore Palace is one of the most famous tourist attractions of India, attracting over six million visitors annually. Built in the early 13th Century by the royal family of the Wodeyar’s, the Mysore Palace is undoubtedly one of grandest buildings in India, known for its spectacular architectural beauty with mesmerizing interiors and royal touches.

WORDS BY: SANGEETA S

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Located in the southern state of Karnataka, it is also known as Amba Vilas Palace. The Palace is the official residence of Mysore’s royal family, the Wodeyars, who ruled over Mysore between 1350 and 1950. Built in the Indo-Saracenic architectural style, this building was rebuilt when the old wooden building was destroyed by a freak fire in late 19th century.

The Palace is a three-storey stone structure with marble domes and has a 145-foot five-story tower. It is made with fine granite, grey in colour, having deep pink marble stones on top. The Palace is surrounded by the beautiful gardens and has blends of the Hindu, Mughal, Rajput, and Gothic styles.
It has three gates – The East Gate, the South Gate and the West Gate.

What to see
The Palace comprises two durbar halls, several colossal courtyards, beautiful gardens, courtyards, a royal portrait gallery and more than ten Hindu temples. The front of the building has several expansive arches. Above the central arch is a sculpture of Gajalakshmi, the Goddess of wealth, prosperity, fortune, and abundance with her elephants.
The first attraction as soon as you enter the palace is the Gombe Thotti or the Doll Pavilion which is a gallery of sculpture and ceremonial objects. As the name suggests, it also has a collection of traditional dolls from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Golden Howdah is one of the main attractions of Mysore Palace which is kept for public viewing only during Dussera festival. The Howdah is mounted on the lead elephant and the idol of deity is placed in the Howdah. During Dussera, a long procession is taken out of the Palace which passes through the entire Mysuru city.

Darbar-e-Khas was the place where the King used to give a private audience while the Diwan-e-aam was a public durbar where the general population could meet the King at scheduled times to submit petitions and present their woes. The hall is beautiful with stained glass ceilings, decorative steel grills, and chandeliers. The Kalyana Mantapa, or the grand marriage hall, is an octagonal-shaped pavilion with a multi-hued stained-glass ceiling with peacock motifs arranged in geometrical patterns. Oil paintings on the walls illustrate the royal procession and Dussera celebrations of bygone years.

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The Mysore Palace at Night:
Visitors especially look forward to viewing the beauty of the Palace at night, complete with lights and illumination. The Palace remains illuminated from 7.00 pm to 7.45 pm on Sundays, state festivals and national holidays and on other days from 7.40 pm to 7.45 pm following the sound and light show. One doesn’t need tickets to see the illumination and one should try and reach the Palace on time to enjoy the surreal lighting.

Dussera Celebrations at the Mysore Palace:
The world-famous Mysore Dussera festival is held at the Mysore Palace. During this extravagant festival, stages are set up at the Palace grounds where many famous artists perform. During the ten-day Dussera festival, the Palace is illuminated daily with nearly 100,000 light bulbs from 7 pm to 10 pm. Various cultural and religious programs are celebrated, highlighting the dance, music and culture of the State of Karnataka are performed. Another attraction includes the Dussera exhibition which is held in the exhibition grounds opposite to the Mysore Palace.

The tradition of exhibition was started by Chama Raja Wodeyar X in 1880 to help the skills of the people of Mysore in developing their handicrafts. The task of holding the exhibition is now entrusted with the Karnataka Exhibition Authority (KEA). Various stalls are set up which sell items like clothes, plastic items, kitchenware, cosmetics and eatables.

How to Enter:
The general entrance is via the South Gate. You will need to get tickets to visit inside, and also shoes have to be left behind at the counter as they are not allowed inside. It is a good idea to get a guide for your visit so that you understand and enjoy the Palace better. Please note that photography and videography are not allowed inside the Palace.

The Palace is about 3-hour drive or 140 kms from Bengaluru, so you can easily plan a road trip from Bengaluru to Mysuru. Eitherway, Mysuru is well connected by air, rail and road.