The grand Mysore Palace is one of the finest examples of heritage architecture in India. This magnificent marvel is also known as the Amba Vilas Palace and is the epitome of Indian legacy. Spread over an area of 72 Acres the palace is located in the heart of Mysore city, facing the Chamundi Hills on the east. The palace is surrounded by 12 major Hindu temples dating back from the 14th to the 20th century. The palace was once the royal residence of the Wadiyar Dynasty.
From the beginning of its existence, this man-made edifice has seen several downfalls and destruction and has always revived like a phoenix from the ashes. Built-in the 14th century, by King Yaduraya, the palace has been demolished and constructed several times. It was struck by lightning in 1638 and was reconstructed. In 1793, Tipu Sultan took over the Wadiyar Dynasty, he demolished the palace and rebuilt it. In the year 1897, the wooden palace was burnt to ashes during the wedding ceremony of the princess of Mysore. The current structure was revamped between 1897 and 1912 after the old one was burnt ablaze. Mysore Palace is one of the largest palaces in India and testimony of the wealth and grandeur of the kingdom of Mysore.
The current structure, designed by Ar. Henry Irwin in 1912, is an example of Indo-Saracenic style of architecture, beautifully blended with elements from Hindu, Muslim, Rajput, and Gothic architecture. The fort can be accessed from three sides by huge and welcoming arched gateways which lead to the large garden surrounding the main complex. Above the central arch is a sculpture of Gajalaxmi, the Goddess of wealth, prosperity, fortune, and abundance with her elephants. The main complex is a three-story formation in grey granite with five contrasting deep-pink marble domes. The façade of the palace has seven expansive arches and two smaller ones flank the central arch, which is supported on tall pillars. The palace incorporates an array of courtyards, gardens, and other buildings, mainly temples on the premises. The five-story central tower of height measuring 145 foot is topped by a metal gilded dome borrowed from the Persian style. Above the dome sits a Rajput style Chattri. Other features include protruding balconies, jharokhas, and pointed arches. The balconies appear three-storied from outside.
The sophisticated and elite lifestyle of the royal family reflects in the interiors of the palace. The interiors are very exotic. The aesthetic blend of Hindu and Muslim styles form a beautiful school. The ceiling is plastered with beautiful artwork in gothic and native style. The flooring is an embedded inlay work known as Pietra Dura. The doors are carved in teak and rosewood. These woodwork in teak are massive, bold, and intricate.
The opulent interiors of the palace give a feeling of glamorous Bollywood movies. The intricately delicate carvings and the use of gold give an eye-catchy look. The palace has two ceremonial meeting halls, namely, the Durbar Hall, and the Amba Vilas Hall. The columns of the Durbar Hall are painted such that they create an illusion of endless corridors. The Amba Vilas Hall, also known as the Diwan-e-Khas is a beautifully designed hall used for a public audience. It has the golden Throne of Mysore made of 85 kilograms of gold. The Kalyana Mandapa is an octagonal-shaped marriage Pavillion with a stained glass ceiling. The Gombe Thotti is the main entrance to the palace and displays a collection of traditional dolls.
Mysore is a heritage city and the land of the royals. The colossal palace was once a center of cultural politics during the Wadiyar dynasty. The palace attracts millions of visitors every year through its beauty and historical significance. Dasara is celebrated at Mysore Palace every year with full glory. The fort is decorated with 96,000 incandescent bulbs used for lighting. Dasara is the most important festival in Mysore, which also remains a strong political ritual in the estate. In earlier times, Dasara was a medium to bring people together to contest and exercise various important roles within the politics of the kingdom of Mysore.
Mysore was always forged ahead in terms of cultural and social empowerment, rather than political and economic. Mysore estate was an advanced and modern colony. The city was planned with a vision for the future, its efficiently planned infrastructure and eco-friendly approach included wide roads, drainage systems, water supply, etc. And thus for these outstanding amenities, Mysore city was also known as pensioners paradise. Present-day Mysore is facing problems due to haphazard growth, unchecked solid waste management, atmospheric degradation, etc. The Amba Vilas Palace is now converted into a museum. Its precincts are dominated by public and commercial buildings. The general character of the buildings is traditional and deliberately made in an indo-Saracenic style. The streetscape observed in the precincts is wide boulevards, vistas, plazas, building setbacks, and double lined trees along the roads. The palace gives a proclaimed skyline character to the city’s skyline along with the clock towers, statues, mansions, etc., which can be observed from the Chamundi hills. It is a beautiful, rare, and a captivating view.
The palace continues to retain its designation as the Royal seat of the Maharajas of Mysore, while the palace is managed by the Government of Karnataka.