Mysore is known as the City of Palaces. It houses several palaces and temples that have seen decades of changes in the city. The most well known of all these historic structures is the Mysore Place, also known as Amba Vilas Palace and Main Palace. The palace belonged to the Royal family of Mysore, the Wadiyars. Way back in the 14th century this structure was made of wood and mud. It got damaged by various environmental forces several times later. Subsequently in 1897, the job of rebuilding the whole palace was handed over to the British architect, Henry Irwin.
It took 5 years for this palace to build and it uses different architectural styles – Rajput, Hind, Muslim and Gothic. it is built using fine granite and pink marble. Its tallest tower is 145 meters in height.
The palace has now been converted into a museum housing beautiful antiques and artefacts like lamps, mirrors, furniture and statues. Lot of walls of corridors and halls adorned with wonderful paintings of the royal family and scenes of the Royal family from the olden days. Some magnificent rooms like Diwan-E-Khaas (where the king addressed audiences), Diwane-E-Aam (which was used for public gatherings) and Marriage Pavilion (which is a large octagonal room located on the ground floor). All rooms are grandly decorated with ornamental pillars, stunning stained glass roofs, gigantic chandeliers, and geometrical design mosaic marble tiles. It is very sad that photography is not allowed inside the palace; I missed a great photography experience.
The Royal family gets involved with the people during Dusshera (falls in September or October) celebrations which are considered big in the whole of Karnataka. On the 10th day of the festival, a huge procession, consisting of elephants and other floats, is led from the palace. This festival has been celebrated by the Wadiyars since decades and it still celebrated in an extravagant way. The whole palace is lit up using around 97000 lights. Even today, the king himself travels in a traditional way in a silver palanquin form the palace to the Bhuveshwari temple.
The royal family was in news lately for the sad demise of their last king, Srikanta Datta Narsimharaja Wadiyar. He has not left behind any heirs (which the locals blame on a 400 year old curse).
The palace reflects the grandeur and royalty of the regal lineage. Once you are inside the palace, look at the thrones, large paintings of noble women wearing rich silk sarees, ornate railings and visualize the palace in its functional state, it is a rather extraordinary feeling. It totally captivates you. This destination must not be missed if you are touring Bangalore or Karnataka.
A few notes:
– Palace timings are 10:00 am to 5:30 pm. Entry fee for Indian Adults is Rs. 40 and for Foreigners is Rs. 200.
– The palace is illuminated on Sundays and Public Holidays. Keep in mind, though, that it gets extremely crowded on holidays.
– Sound and Light show is conducted on all days between 7:00 pm to 7:30 pm.
– Photography is strictly prohibited inside the palace. You can take your time to roam around in front and side and take lots of pictures. Camera has to be deposited at the locker room located immediately after the main entrance.
– You are not allowed to wear shoes inside the palace. There are shelves arranged to keep shoes. You will be given a token in return.
No doubt I loved the palace and found it very impressive. But there are 2 things that upset me. For one, I found the staff pretty rude and rough. It was very crowded the day I went there and maybe they got aggressive trying to control the crowd. But, it completely spoiled the experience. They were almost treating people like cattle. Secondly, you remove your shoes at the entrance and exit the palace towards the back. You then need to take a complete round to reach the front again to collect your shoes. That path is made of cobblestone; so it is very hot. Kids will find this task very difficult. Camel and elephant rides happen on the same path and so, it is dirty too. Walking barefoot on this path was such a downer. It is a better idea to carry your shoes in your bag and wear them immediately after exiting the palace.