The journey between Bengaluru to Mysuru took us 6 to 7 hours. There were a number of stoppages in between and it was already evening by the time we reached Mysuru. We were a little exhausted nonetheless; there was something that kept us excited. It was a Sunday when we reached Mysore and on every this day of the week, the Mysore palace is brightly lit up for an hour for the people to see it in all its splendid beauty. An unbelievable, 97000 electric bulb are used for the purpose, but what less can you expect when a palace is been illuminated?
Upon arrival, we checked into our hotel and relaxed for a while before hopping back into our car to visit the Mysore Palace. As we drew closer to the palace, the traffic became heavier. Perhaps, it was also because there was a big exhibition going on nearby. The palace entrance was on the opposite side of the exhibition gate and looked beautiful and regal.
This was the South Gate – the entrance gateway for general public. The North Gate is opened for public during the famous Mysore Dasara celebration. The Main Gate – Eastern Gate faces the palace and is reserved for VVIPS. Close to all the gates, there are temples.
A Bit of Historical Background
The Palace that stands today is not the original one. It is infact the fourth one to be built on the same site. The first one was built by the ruling Wadiyars in the 14th century. Unfortunately, it was destroyed by lightening in the 1638. It was quickly rebuilt, however, political uncertainty of the region first led to its disregard and then demolition in 1793. In 1799, with a new king on the throne, Mysore Palace was again rebuilt. The palace stood for almost a century before being engulfed by fire during a royal wedding ceremony in 1897. The current palace was completed in 1912 under the aegis of Queen Regent Kempananjammanni Vanivilasa Sanndihana.
The Beautifully Illuminated Mysore Palace
We got down at the South Gate and queued up to get inside. It was not a long one but inside was a different story – the crowd was huge and almost every other person was busy capturing the beauty of the palace on his/her camera or mobile. This was perfectly understandable, as the Mysore Palace looked absolutely dazzling! It is actually with a lot of historical monuments. Once they are illuminated, they appear different from daytime, almost like adopting a new persona. The lights spell their magic highlighting each little corner individually as well as presenting a stunning beauty in entirety. Adding to the beauty of the palace was the musical performance by Police band. They absolutely set the mood and the ambience for us to roam around and enjoy ourselves thoroughly.
Mysore Palace – During the Day
A day later we returned to explore, during daylight, the palace designed in Indo Sarcenic style by British architect Henry Irwin. It is constructed mostly of granite and the deep pink marble stone at the top give it a distinct look.
Shoes are not allowed inside and have to be deposited at the footwear counter .There is a different counter to collect them. The staff there will guide you.
The Private and the Public Durbar Hall
There are plenty of attractions within the palace, but one that inspires the wow feeling is most definitely the Diwane-e-khas or the Private Durbar Hall. The Durbar hall looks absolutely spectacular, and rightly so, as this was the palace where royal ceremonies took place and the king sat in discussions with advisors on issues pertaining to the state. It has beautifully carved teak wood ceiling surrounding a central pillared area. The ceiling here is of stained glass and the pillars look beautiful in blue and gold hues. A number of chandeliers enhance the beauty of the hall.
The Public Durbar hall or the Diwane-e-aam was the place where the king presented himself to his people. Accordingly, it is huge and faces the front lawn of the palace and the main entrance gate. Chamundi hills can be seen from here. The balconies and galleries that run around the hall were meant for visiting dignitaries. The walls and ceilings are carved with images of Devi Chamundeshwari – The Goddess of royal family – and ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu.
The Other Attractions
Apart from the two Durbar Halls, there is also a marriage hall or Kalyan mantapa; a dolls pavilion; caskets containing invitation and mementoes received by the royal family; silver chairs; an old palace model; a wrestling courtyard; a golden howdah and numerous paintings. The paintings adorn the hallway and depict the Dasara festival parade and procession. The Golden howdah was earlier used to carry the king during the Dasara procession, however, now Goddess Chamundeshwari is carried in it. There is also a portrait gallery which displays portraits of the various members of the royal family.
Out of this main museum, there is a residential section which though not as grand and well maintained as the main palace, is still worth visiting. There is a separate fee for this section though. The Palace ground has a number of temples – Kodi Bharravasvami temple, Sri Shweta varahaswamy Temple, Sri Trinayaneshwara Swami Temple, Sri Bhuvaneshwari Temple, Sri Gayatri temple and Sri Prasanna Krishna Swami Temple.
Mysore Palace makes for a wonderful visit, both during day and night. The palace is open for visit between 10 AM – 5.30 PM. The palace is illuminated every Sunday for an hour and also on public holidays. For the rest of the week, it is illuminated for a very short time, post the sound and light show. The show is held from 7-8 everyday except Sundays. So if you are not visiting on Sunday, you still have a chance to see it in all its beauty. Keep aside two hours for the palace if you really want to enjoy it completely.