The City of Palaces, Mysore (now called Mysuru) is steeped in history and is full of beautiful architectural gems. Between the ornate palaces and the regal government buildings there is much to see in Mysore.
The most beautiful and most famous building is Mysore Palace, home to the Wadiyar Dynasty. This family ruled Mysore from 1399 to 1947 which includes during the British reign. When the British ruled India most other maharajahs had to give up their power, but the Mysore Empire was allowed to remain in government as figureheads. In fact, descendants of the Maharajah still live in one section of the palace. Most of the original palace burned down in the 1800s, but a new spectacular one was built on the same spot in 1912. Built in Indo-Saracenic style, Mysore Palace is a gorgeous structure. The main building is built of fine grey granite with white and yellow accents. There are chhatris and pink marble domes on the roof, tall towers, arched doorways and multi-level windows enclosing terraces.
Inside, the palace rooms are very grand. The most beautiful rooms are the Public Durbar Hall, Private Durbar and the Marriage Pavilion. These rooms have vaulted ceilings, ornately decorated columns and beautifully tiled floors. The hallways between these rooms have large, carved wooden doors and colourful tiled designs on the walls. There’s a large outdoor courtyard where wrestling matches once took place.
The palace grounds have manicured gardens with flowering hedges and shrubs and stone walkways. The entire estate is surrounded by a tall stone wall with 4 beautiful arched entry ways, each more beautiful than the last. There are many Hindu temples within the complex, two are enclosed in the palace wall. The royal family still has a herd of elephants that they keep on the palace grounds. The elephants are only used for parades and festivals, otherwise they stay in the shade and eat.
Every Sunday night the palace and its entrance gates are illuminated by thousands of lights. The grounds are packed with tourists to see the gorgeous display. We’re used to having to pay an entrance fee at every site we’ve visited on our travels, but the evening light show was free!
In addition to Mysore Palace, there are many other old palaces in the city. Lalitha Mahal is now a luxury hotel. It was built in renaissance architectural style with large domes on the roof and double columns surrounding a large terrace around the outside. Inside, the dining hall is a lovely blue room with a vaulted ceiling and white moldings. Walking around the busy city of Mysore, we saw many other historical and colonial buildings that are now being used as government offices and art galleries. Even the traffic circles have lovely centre monuments.
On our walk we came across an unusual scene of street-typists. Although, we shouldn’t have been surprised, as we’ve learned to always expect these peculiar street sites in India. We were impressed by how relatively clean it is in Mysore. Later we read that it is one of the top 5 cleanest cities in India.
Chamundi Hill is small hill above Mysore with a large 17th century Hindu Temple. Chamundeshwari Temple has a tall South Indian style tower with many carvings. On the busy grounds around the temple are several statues including Nandi the bull and Mahishasura, the Hindu mythical demon. The legend says that Mahishasura could assume the form of both a human and a buffalo and was the ruler Mysore in ancient times.
There is still a large Christian community in Karnataka evidenced by the massive gothic St. Philomena Cathedral. It’s a large spires and cathedral dome are impressive.
Coming up next: Hampi – Ancient Stone City
To read about more of our adventures go to Destinations.
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