Location: Mysore, Karnataka
Founded In: 1897-1912
Mysore Palace is one of the most prized possessions of the Mysore city
of Karnataka. The foundation of this magnificent palace was laid down in
the year 1897 and it took approximately five years for the monument to
be completely ready. The palace used to serve as the official residence
of the former royal family of Mysore and also housed the royal durbar
(offices). Mysore Palace of Karnataka is officially known as the 'Amba
Vilas' and counts amongst the numerous historic palaces of the city.
Wodeyar kings, who used to rule over the Kingdom of Mysore till India
attained independence, built a palace in the city in the 14th century.
However, the palace was partially damaged in 1638, after being hit by
lightning. Thereafter, it was renovated as well as extended. However, by
the late 18th century, it again fell into neglect. The palace was
demolished in 1793 and another palace was built in its place. In 1897, a
fire occurred in the palace during the wedding of Princess
Jayalakshmanni and it came down to ruins.
Finally, in the year 1897, Kempananjammanni Vanivilasa Sanndihana, the
Queen-Regent of Mysore ordered the construction of another palace at the
same site. She commissioned British architect, Henry Irwin, to build the
palace using different styles of architecture. The construction was
completed in 1912, at a cost of approximately Rs. 42,00,000. There is
dominance of Indo-Saracenic style in the architecture of the Mysore
Palace, which has been beautifully blended with Hindu, Muslim, Rajput,
and Gothic styles.
The palace is a three-storied stone structure and stands adorned with
pink marble domes and a 145 ft high, five-storied, tower. It has been
constructed out of gray granite and is encircled by a large blooming
garden. The facade of Mysore Palace is flanked by seven expansive
arches, out of which the central one is supported by soaring pillars.
The central arch is also adorned with a remarkable sculpture of
Gajalakshmi, the goddess of wealth, who is always shown being flanked by
elephants on both sides.
Mysore Dasara Festival
Every year, Mysore Palace serves as the venue of the Mysore Dasara
Festival, held in the autumn season. During the festival, the entire
palace is lit up with thousands of bulbs. A stage is put in the palace
grounds, where artistes from different parts of the country come and
perform. On the tenth day of the festival, known as the Vijaya Dashami,
a parade originates from the palace grounds, with ornamented elephants
and other floats.
Diwan-e-Khas is the hall used by the king for holding private
rendezvous. It is an impressive room, which is entered through an
exquisitely carved rosewood doorway, inlaid with ivory. The central
knave of the hall, stands ornamented with elaborately gilded columns,
stained glass ceilings, decorative steel grills, chandeliers with fine
floral motifs and mosaic floor inlaid with semi-precious stones.
Gombe Thotti, also known as the Doll's Pavilion, is a gallery that has
a rich collection of traditional dolls, dating back to the nineteenth
and early twentieth centuries. Apart from that, the gallery also houses
an amazing assortment of Indian and European sculptures and ceremonial
objects, like a wooden elephant howdah bedecked with 84 kg gold.
Kalyana Mandapa served as the marriage hall of the royalty. It is
basically a huge pavilion, in the shape of an octagon. The pavilion has
a multihued stained glass ceiling, adorned with peacock motifs arranged
in geometrical patterns. It is said that the entire structure was
fashioned in Glasgow city of Scotland. Even the floor of the Mantapa is
ornamented with the peacock theme and has a peacock mosaic. On the walls
of the palace are exceptional oil paintings, illustrating the royal
procession and Dasara celebrations of that time.
There are twelve Hindu temples inside the Mysore Palace complex. The
oldest temple dates back to the 14th century, while the latest one was
built in 1953. The most famous temples include the Someshvara Temple,
dedicated to Lord Shiva and Lakshmiramana Temple, dedicated to Lord
Public Durbar, or the Diwan-e-Aam, is the hall where the king used to
hear the petitions of the general public.
Mysore Palace also houses an armory, with a rich collection of
different types of arms that were once used by the members of the royal
family. These include weapons that were used in the 14th century (like
lances, cutlasses, etc), as well as early 20th century (like pistols).