Monday June 17, 2019

Amba Vilas: The Majestic Palace of Mysore

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By Nithin Sridhar

India is well known for its heritage sites, be it temples, palaces or forts. Among the numerous palaces and forts that are present, one palace that stands tall in its majesty and unique in its beauty is the Amba Vilas Palace, which is often referred as the ‘Mysore Palace’.

DSC05406-001Mysore is a ‘city of palaces’ and apart from Amba Vilas Palace, it also has numerous other palaces like Jaganmohana Palace, LalitMahal Palace, CheluvAmba Mansion etc.

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The Mysore Palace is built in Indo-saracenic style of architecture and is famous for its beautiful domes and interior halls. The Palace structure harmoniously fuses elements from Hindu, Mughal, Rajput, and Gothic styles of architectures. The Palace is also famous for holding Mysore Dasara processions every year.

DSC05428The Palace includes a three-storied stone structure with deep pink marble domes and a centrally placed five storied 145 feet tall tower with a golden dome. Above the central arch one can see a beautiful sculpture of Gajalakshmi – the Goddess of wealth along with elephants.

DSC05432The Palace faces the east towards the Chamundi Hill, on which there is a temple of Goddess Chamundeshwari, who is the family deity of the Maharajas of Mysore. The palace is surrounded by a large garden and has numerous entrance gates. The main gate is the eastern gate and it directly faces the palace. Visitors are allowed through the Southern Gate.

DSC05436-001The interiors of the Palace are equally intricate and mesmerizing. It has beautifully stained glass ceilings, carved doors, walls decorated with paintings depicting scenes from Hindu scriptures, beautiful chandeliers and colorful pillars. The Palace includes various rooms like Ambavilasa, GombeThotti (Doll’s pavilion), KalyanaMantapa (marriage hall), Durbar Hall, portrait gallery, and Ayudha-Shala (armory).

DSC05444-002The architecture and the interiors of the Palace is a reminder of the glory and majesty of the Royal past of Mysore and the highly developed artistic skills of artists and artisans supported by the Royal family.

IMG_20151002_143212The Mysore Royal Family traces its roots to the Yadavas of Dwarka in Gujarat. The Wadiyars have ruled the Kingdom of Mysore from 1399 to 1947 except for a few gaps like when they were reduced to nominal heads by Tipu Sultan. The Wadiyars are well known for their patronage of Indian culture, traditions, arts and music.

IMG_20151002_142252The original Mysore palace was built in the 14th century by King Yaduraya, the founder of Wadiyar dynasty. But, it has been demolished and reconstructed multiple times. In 1638, when the palace was stuck by the lightening, it was built by the then KingKantiravaNarasa Raja Wodeyar. The palace was again demolished by Tipu Sultan in 1793 but it was later rebuilt in 1803 by Krishnaraja Wodeyar III, who assumed the throne of Mysore after the death of Tipu Sultan.

IMG_20151002_190101This Palace was reduced to ashes in 1897 when it caught fire during a royal wedding ceremony. The current Palace, the fourth in number, was commissioned then in 1897 and completed in 1912. The palace was designed and built by the British architect Lord Henry Irwin.

© Nithin Sridhar @NewsGram
© Nithin Sridhar @NewsGram

There are 12 beautiful Hindu temples in the Palace complex. Prominent among them are: Sri Gayatri Temple and Sri Trineshwara temple near the Main (East) Entrance, Shwetha Varahaswamy Temple near the South Entrance, Sri Bhuvaneshwari Temple at the North Entrance, and Lakshmiramana Temple behind the Palace, towards the West.

IMG_20151002_190543One of the main attractions of the Mysore Palace is the light illumination of the entire palace after sunset during specific days. The view of the illuminated palace is fascinating and attracts large number of visitors. Another attraction in the palace is the Sound and Light shows that are organized during specific days.

 

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Hindu Icons Which Have Spiritual Significance

These icons have to be treated with extreme respect and should not be touched or removed without the owners consent.

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rangoli
Rangoli, Toran, Aum and Swastika – optional display inside or outside the home. Pixabay

Hindu Council of Australia has compiled a list of Hindu Icons that Hindus may wear on their body and which have spiritual significance. This list has been made to remove confusion among non-Hindus about what is sacred to Hindus.

Hindu Sacraments worn on the body

Hindu icons all year round

bangles
Bangles worn on wrists by women – a cultural item. Pixabay

Scared Hindu icons that can not be removed

  1. Nose stud – essential for girls during puberty, can not be removed for one year.
  2. Yajnopavit/Janaue – essential for boys after their Yajnopavit right of passage, once worn can not be removed and worn again without extensive rituals (not even during swimming lessons)
  3. Sindoor/Mangalsutra – essential for married women. Removal is not permitted while husband is alive.
  4. Choti/Shikha – small hair tail for boys during a right of passage.
  5. Pagdi (Turban, A cloth wrapped around the head) – touching or removing it is disrespectful. It can be removed for a short period in privacy, like when having a shower and must be worn as soon as possible.
  6. Sivalingam (Veera and Adi Shiva people, Lingayat) or other Hindu Gods as pendant in a necklace.

Sacred Hindu icons that can be removed by the wearer

  1. Bindi – optional for women and girls, it can not be removed by others.
  2. Bangles worn on wrists by women – a cultural item
  3. Kondhani – a bracelet made of black thread worn around the waist
  4. Anklets (Pahjeb, Payal) – a metal bracelet worn on ankles
  5. Ear rings/studs for boys and girls in some families
  6. Gem stone on rings for special effects of planets
  7. Hindu Sacraments worn on Special Occasions

    Anklets (Pahjeb, Payal) – a metal bracelet worn on ankles
    Anklets (Pahjeb, Payal) – a metal bracelet worn on ankles. Pixabay
  1. Tulsi Mala – A necklace of Tulsi beads. During special religious observations.
  2. Teeka, Tilak, Vibhuti – essential during Hindu prayers, optional otherwise
  3. Mehendi/henna/turmeric – essential when getting married or when a close family member gets married, optional for married women during karva chauth day. Henna is a fast colour (looks like a emporary tatto) that takes a week or more to fade away
  4. Men are not allowed to cut their hair during Sabramalai month (Mid of November to January 14/15)
  5. Rakhi – a special bracelet worn on special festival day of Rakhi.
  6. Kajal/Surma (dark black eye ointment)
  7. Raksha/mouli – multi colour thread bracelet as a protective icon during special days
  8. Gajra – a flower arrangement by woman at the back of there hair.

Hindu icons in a Hindu home

These icons have to be treated with extreme respect and should not be touched or removed without the owners consent.

  1. Rangoli, Toran, Aum and Swastika – optional display inside or outside the home.
  2. Home shrine

(Originally Published: Hindu Council of Australia)