The Palace of Mysore (also known as the Amba Vilas Palace) is a historical palace situated in the city of Mysore in Karnataka, southern India. It is the official residence of the Wodeyars, the former royal family of Mysore, which ruled the princely state of Mysore from 1399 to 1947. The palace also houses two durbar halls (ceremonial meeting hall of the royal court).
Mysore is commonly described as the City of Palaces, however the term "Mysore Palace" refers specifically to the one within the old fort. Mysore Palace is now one of the most famous tourist attractions in India, after the Taj Mahal, with more than 2.7 million visitors.
The Wodeyar Kings first built a palace in Mysore in the 14th century, which was demolished and constructed multiple times. The regent of Mysore, Her Royal Majesty Maharani Vani Vilas Sannidhna, and her son, the Maharaja of Mysore His Highness Rajarshi Sri Sir. Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV commissioned the British architect Lord Henry Irwin to build a new palace in the place of the old one after it burned down. Meanwhile, the royal family stayed in the nearby Jaganmohan Palace. Construction of the current palace was commissioned in 1897 and completed in 1912, and expanded around 1940 (including the addition of the present Public Durbar Hall wing) under His Highness Maharaja Sri Sir. Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar, the last Maharaja of Mysore Kingdom. The construction was completed in year 1912, but slowly the fort was beautified and it's inhabitants were slowly shifted to the newer extension built outside.
The architectural style of the palace is commonly described as Indo-Saracenic, and blends together Hindu, Muslim, Rajput, and Gothic styles of architecture. It is a three-stone structure, with marble domes and a 145 ft five-story tower. The palace is surrounded by a large garden.
The three-story stone building of fine gray granite with deep pink marble domes was designed by Henry Irwin. The facade has several 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, the goddess of wealth, prosperity, good luck, and abundance with her elephants.
Although tourists are allowed to visit the palace, they are not allowed to take photographs inside, and must remove their footwear before entering the palace. Price of admission is 200 INR for foreign tourists and 40 INR for Indians.
Every autumn, the 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 Vijaya Dashami, a parade with caparisoned elephants and other floats originate from the palace grounds.
Dasara is the most extravagant festival of Mysore. The Dasara festival is celebrated in September and October of each year.
The festival celebrates and commemorates the victory of the great Goddess Durga, also called Chamundeshwari, after she slew the demon Mahishasura, thereby symbolizing the triumph of good over evil according to Hindu mythology.
This festival has been celebrated by the Wodeyars at Srirangapatna since 1610, and in Mysore with great pomp since 1799. The tradition is still carried on, although the scale of the celebrations has diminished. The Dasara festivities have become an integral part of the culture and life in Mysore. To celebrate this festival, the Palace of Mysore is illuminated with more than 96,000 lights during the two-month period.
This spectacular room was used by the king as a Hall of Private Audience. Entry to this opulent hall is through an elegantly carved rosewood doorway inlaid with ivory that opens into 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.
- Gombe Thotti (Doll’s Pavilion)
Entry to the palace is through the Gombe Thotti, or Doll’s Pavilion, a gallery of traditional dolls from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The pavilion also houses a fine collection of Indian and European sculpture and ceremonial objects, including a wooden elephant howdah (frame to carry passengers) decorated with 84 kilograms of gold.
- Kalyana Mantapa
The Kalyana Mantapa, or marriage hall, is a grand octagonal-shaped pavilion with a multi-hued stained glass ceiling with peacock motifs arranged in geometrical patterns. The entire structure was wrought in Glasgow, Scotland. The floor of the Mantapa also employs a peacock mosaic, designed with tiles from England. Oil paintings, illustrating the royal procession and Dasara celebrations of bygone years, are displayed on the walls.
The palace complex includes twelve Hindu temples. The oldest was built in the 14th century, while the most recent was built in 1953.
Some of the 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
The Palace houses several rooms of importance. These include:
- An audience chamber which was the Hall of Private Audience, where the king would confer with his ministers. It was also the chamber in which he gave audience to people deserving special attention
- The Diwan-e-aam, a public durbar where the general population could meet the king at scheduled times with petitions
- The royal wedding hall
- An armory which contains arms used by the members of the royal family, which include lances, cutlasses, and other 14th century weapons as well as those used in the early twentieth century, such as pistols
- Palaces of Mysore
- Laxmi Niwas Palace in Bikaner, Rajasthan
- New Palace, Kolhapur of the Bhonsle Chhatrapatis
- Jai Vilas Mahal, Gwalior of the Scindias
- Rajwada, Indore of the Holkars
- Shaniwar Wada, Pune of the Peshwas
- Thanjavur Maratha palace of the Bhonsles
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mysore Palace.|
- Official Virtual Tour website of Mysore Palace
- Mysore Palace
- Official Mysore Dasara Website
- Palaces of Mysore
- Mysore Palace lighting