The Mysore Palace, once the residence of the Wodeyars, is one of the largest palaces of its kind in India, and one of the most splendid. Designed in the Indo-Saracenic style by Henry Irwin, the British consultant architect of Madras state, it was built in 1912 for the twenty fourth Wodeyar Raja on the site of the old wooden palace that had been destroyed by fire in the year 1897. Twelve temples surround the palace, some of which are from earlier periods.
The palace provides a magnificent view on Sunday evenings, and during festivals, when the whole palace is illuminated by thousands of lightbulbs. The entry to the palace is through the Gombe Thotti or the Doll's Pavilion, a gallery of Indian and European sculpture and ceremonial objects. Halfway along is the elephant gate, which is the main entrance to the centre of the palace. The gate is decorated with floriate designs, and bears the Mysore royal symbol of a double headed eagle. To the north of the gate are dolls, dating from the earlier nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and a ceremonial wooden elephant howdah (frame to carry passengers) decorated with 84 kilogram of 24 carat gold.
The interior of the Palace
Walls which lead to the Kalyan Mandapa or the royal wedding hall, are lined with elaborately detailed oil paintings, illustrating the great Mysore Dussehra Festival of 1930. The hall itself is magnificent, featuring chandeliers, and multicoloured stain glass arranged in peacock designs. On climbing up the stairs, is the Public Darbar Hall, or the hall for public audience, which has paintings of some celebrated artists, and offers wonderful views of the parade grounds and the Chamundi Hills. Chamundi Hills has a temple dedicated to Goddess Chamundi or Durga. The smaller Private Durbar hall or the hall for private audience, features some splendid work of beautiful stained glass and gold leaf paintings.
When to visit
The weather of Mysore remains pleasant throughout the year. Mysore should preferably be visited at the time of Dussehra, a festival which comes in the month of September or October. Mysore is beautifully decorated during this time.
The best way to reach Mysore is from Bangalore (130 km from Mysore ) by train or bus. Trains 6210 Express, 6222 Kaveri Express and the Shatabdi Express run between Mysore and Bangalore regularly. Bangalore is connected to all the major cites of the country by air. Bangalore is also connected to Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Hyderabad, Madras and Mangalore by Express trains. Bangalore is well connected to Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Kanyakumari, Managalore and Madras by bus.
The good hotels to stay in Mysore are Dasaprakash Paradise (Tel: +91-821-515655, 514272, 515877), Metropole (Tel: 520681, 520871), Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel (Tel: 27721, 27650, Fax: 33398) and Quality Inn Southern Star (Tel: 27217-9, Fax: 521689)