Date: April 27th, 2008
What did it cost to build this palace?
Ans : 42 lakhs (Cost, then – $.5 million)
This throne is made of pure gold. Can you tell how much gold?
Ans : 200 kgs of gold (Cost, today – $6.5 million)
It was a hot summer morning. I glanced at the tattered and frayed red carpet which paved the street from the entrance gate to the palace: it seemed like a sardonic symbol of the fading erstwhile monarchy. By the time we were inside, sweating and panting, I was tired and distracted.
But, the tourist guide knew his job: his quiz brought me right back!
The Amba Vilas palace at Mysore is storehouse of artistic artefacts, heritage and scientific ingenuity. It is a three storied edifice with a length of 245 feet and breadth of 156 feet. It comprises a sequence of arched square towers enclosed by domes. The original palace of Mysore was carved out of wood which was accidentally burnt in 1897. The 24th Wodeyar Raja rebuilt the Mysore Palace of Karnataka in 1912.
While only few public areas and a solitary room are open for public viewing, there are times of the year (the festival of Dusshera), during which one can obtain passes for a more intensive tour, including participating in a mock ‘durbar’ (court) held by the ex-monarch’s scion. It also includes a colourful dance and song performance in the palace’s gardens.
While there are numerous accounts about the palace on the internet, here is a quick guide to what you should look out for when you are taking the tour:-
1) The fusion architecture – The palace was designed in Indo-Saracenic style, by the renowned British architect, Henry Irwin. The architecture of the palace blends the Hindu, Muslim, Rajput and Gothic styles of architecture. What does it tell us about blending, tolerance and appreciation of different cultures?
2) The Paintings – The walls of the palace are painted with pictures of the Dusshera processions which have been painted with such geometric excellence, that, from any angle it appears as if the procession were heading towards you. The halls also houses original painting of the famous painter Raja Ravi Verma.
3) The ‘firsts’ in inventions – Do keep your eyes open to uncover the firsts, like Asia’s first hydro-electric power project set up in 1905 by the monarch, the ingenious fire-fighting system, the concealed wiring, the elevator. It gives deep insights into the political will those times towards growth and prosperity for all.
4) The museum with a global view -The Department of Archaeology and Museums of the Karnataka Government, has now converted the palace into a museum. The museum displays the items possessed by the Wodeyars, such as souvenirs, paintings, jewelery, royal costumes and other items. In addition the upper floor of the museum has a small collection of weapons, used by the members of the royal family. Notice how these have been collected from all over the world. Even in the days when travel was a tedious and painfully slow process, you will see the interest the monarchs had in appreciating the art and craft of other countries. Isn’t it ironic, that now, when we can whiz to any corner of the world within a day, or even seconds, virtually, the interest in other cultures seems to be waning…
So, enjoy your trip to the Palace in Mysore and re-discover India!
Place : Mysore, Karnataka
Highlight : Illuminated palace (Sundays, National holidays and on festivals from 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.)
Best time to visit : September to October during Dusshera
Timings : Open 6:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. & 3:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m