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’.
The 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.
The 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.
The 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).
The 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.
The 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.
The 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.
This 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.
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.
One 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.