Mysore is a city of palaces, but the most magnificent of them all is the Mysore Palace sometimes known as the Main Palace as well. One of the most unforgettable images of the city is the image of the illuminated Mysore Palace against the dark black sky. It takes ninety seven thousand light bulbs to produce this enchanting image of the Palace. The Palace is situated in the middle of the city and is a reminder of the grandeur of a bygone era and is today an invaluable national treasure.
The Palace that stands today is the fourth one to be built in the same
site. When the capital was shifted back to Mysore from Srirangapatnam,
after Tippu Sultan's death, the Palace was hastily rebuilt with wood and
mud, in a Hindu style. The Royal family moved into it in 1801. But this
Palace was burnt down in a fire that broke out during the wedding of the
oldest daughter of Maharaja Chamaraja Wodeyar in 1897. The
reconstruction of the Palace was undertaken immediately and the Royal
family moved to Jaganmohan Palace. The English architect Henry Irwin
designed the new Palace and it was completed in 1912 at a cost of about
Rs 41 lakhs.
The Amba Vilasa Palace as the Mysore Palace is known, is an excellent
combination of Dravidian, Indo-Saracenic, Oriental and Roman styles of
architecture. The Maharaja's Palace is a beautiful three storied stone
building of fine gray granite and rich pink marble domes, overlooking
this structure is a five-storied 145 foot tower whose domes are gilded
in gold. One enters the Palace through the Gombe Thotti or the Doll's
Pavilion; this is a pavilion of traditional dolls from the nineteenth
and early twentieth centuries. This collection also has a wooden
elephant howdah (structure for carrying people on the elephant) that is
decorated with 84 kilograms of gold.
There are seven canons in front of the Gombe Thotti and are used to
this day to mark the beginning and the end of the Dasara festivities
every year. Ahead of this is the elephant gate, this gate in the main
entrance to the center of the palace. The Kalyana Mantapa or marriage
pavilion has a central octagonal gabled roof that is covered with
stained glass. This pavilion is in the south of the building. The floor
of the Kalyana Mantapa has beautiful geometrical patterns created by
using shining glazed tiles imported from Britain. The Ambavilasa or
Diwan-e-Khas, is the hall used by the emperor for private audience.
This room is one of the most ornate rooms in the Palace and is located
on the first floor, facing east. The Diwan-e-Aam is on the same floor
facing south. The Palace has a number of visually delightful rooms like
the portrait gallery, the royal armory, collections of costumes and
jewellery, delicately carved doors of mahogany and solid silver,
graceful chandeliers, decorative stained glass ceilings, ornamental
frescoes. During the Dasara the Royal throne made of 200kgs of pure gold
is displayed. It is claimed that the ancestry of the throne can be
traced to the Pandavas. On the walls of the Palace the Dasara
processions have been painted in such a way that, no matter where and
how you stand the procession seems to be heading towards you.
There are twelve temples inside the Palace complex dating from the
fourteenth to the twentieth centuries and have varying architectural
styles. The Palace is set in a carefully laid out gardens. One can visit
the Palace of all days of the week between 10am and 5.30pm. The Palace
is illuminated on Sundays, national holidays and state festivals between
7.00pm and 8.00pm and during the Dasara festivities from 7pm to 9pm. You
can hire a Mysore Palace Board certified guide for a nominal fee and he
will take you on a guided tour of the whole Palace.