Anyone and everyone who visits Mysore in Karnataka, knows that the Mysore Palace is the city’s crowning beauty. Ironically, with four different trips to the city, this was just my second visit to the palace. My first visit was when I was just 15 and the beauty of the palace stuck with me. Shawn on the other hand had never seen the palace before and I couldn’t help but bug him till he gave in. I am glad that he did because the Mysore palace has an intriguing story and is so pleasing to the eyes. In fact, Shawn and our Veeshan loved the palace so much that we landed up spending around three hours just in the palace. A large part of that time was spent clicking photographs of our surroundings and with such beautiful surroundings, who could blame us?
MYSORE PALACE: A look Into The Past
This is just a small peak into the interiors of the Mysore palace.
The Mysore Palace however is the most majestic of them all. One thing that not many people realize is the fact that the Mysore palace is not very old. In fact, the building was actually constructed in the 20th century and hence its architecture appears to be so modern. Why is an interesting question. The previous palace was a wooden palace. During the Dussehra celebrations in 1896, the palace however caught fire and was burned to the ground. Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV and his mother commissioned a new palace to be built and they hired a British architect named Lord Henry Irwin. Their mandate was that the new palace should be well… Palatial! Lord Henry did not disappoint. An interesting point to note is that the entire construction of the palace cost approximately Rs 41,47,913/-. If you adjust for inflation that is approximately $4 million today!
GETTING TO THE MYSORE PALACE AND ENTRANCE FEES
The Palace is a very popular landmark in the city and anyone who lives in the city can direct you to it with ease. To be more specific however, the palace is located in Chamrajpura. Since the palace is vast in size, you can catch a glimpse of the tip of it from whichever side you approach. One nice thing about the palace is it has a nice parking lot. You pay a nominal fee to park there but it saves you the headache of hunting for parking space in the city. The best time to visit the palace is during Dussehra. It is when the palace is illuminated with lights and is a participant in the celebrations. Alternatively, if you can’t be in Mysore during those days, aim to visit on a Sunday evening (7-7:30) or on a public holiday. That is when you will get to see the palace lit up.
As far as the entrance fees go, we paid Rs 50/- per person which allowed us admittance into the palace grounds, the gardens, the main palace area and to the temples. From what I remember the cost for children below 10 years was free, children aged 10- 18 years have to pay Rs 20/- and foreigners have to pay Rs 200/- for their entry. This ticket however does not the residential complex of the Mysore palace.
EXPLORING THE MYSORE PALACE
There is quite a lot to see when one enters the gates surrounding the Mysore Palace. Honestly, at first, we did not know what to do. There were no signs and we just followed the crowds. Big mistake! We landed up going round and round the palace three times before we saw everything that we wanted to catch a glimpse off. The palace can be divided largely into the gardens, the main palace area, the residence area and the temples. Unfortunately, there is a flow to the human traffic that isn’t discernible immediately. This is what I suggest you do to make the most of your experience and to save time as well as the impact on your feet.
THE PALACE GARDENS
I would suggest visiting the Palace gardens either the first or the last. This is because if you choose to visit them first you will definitely have to walk less. Unfortunately, sometimes the time of the day you arrive at matters a lot. So, if the sun is overhead and the heat is killing you, it may make better sense to enter the palace first where it is definitely cooler. The Mysore Palace gardens extend in front of the palace and are well manicured. They extend right down to the main gate. While you may not be allowed on the lawns, there is enough and more of the paved walkways to explore. The gardens provide a great place to get a great photograph with the whole palace in view. Definitely not something that you should miss.
THE MAIN PALACE COURTS
The majestic inside of the Mysore Palace.
One of the first things that you have to do before entering the main palace courts of the Mysore Palace is to deposit your shoes with the counter outside. The fee attached to it is Rs 2/- per set of shoes that is kept there. You will be handed a white bag in which everyone n your group can keep their shoes and a token to prove they are yours at a later time. Once you have done this, join the line of the numerous tourists entering the palace. This part of the palace tour (self tour) is covered under your ticket.
The main palace courts have a number of halls including but not limited to the Durbar hall, Ambavilasa and the Kalyana Mantapa. Don’t worry about missing out on any of the areas because the flow of tourists walking from spot to spot will guide you in the right direction. I found the inside of the Mysore palace overwhelming. Not only is the palace grand and beautiful but the colours that highlight the walls, the ceilings and even the tiles are hypnotizing. They also form a great backdrop for photographs. I think one of the reasons why we spent so much time inside the main palace halls was because of the number of photographs that we kept clicking. It was hard to stop!
THE RESIDENCE QUARTERS OF THE MYSORE PALACE
The residence quarters of the Mysore palace should be stop two on your self-guided tour of the palace. This part of the palace is not covered under the initial ticket that you bought. We had to pay an additional Rs 45/- per person to enter. There is a spot to deposit your shoes here too. It is just Rs 2/- per person and shoes are not allowed inside. Compared to the main palace area, the residence quarters appear less well kept. They however are no less fascinating. One thing to note is that photography is not allowed here so I can’t show you what the inside looked like. The residence quarters contain a number of artefacts from the clothes that the royals wore to the swords that they used. Old pictures adorn the walls. Some are black and white photographs. Others are almost ancient portraits of the Wodeyar royals. It is fascinating to look at each of them and note the date in which it was painted. As you meander through the residence quarters of the palace you will also see the furniture that the royals used and the trophies that the collected.
THE TEMPLES IN THE MYSORE PALACE
One of the many temples in Mysore Palace.
One thing that struck me when we entered the palace complex was the number of temples that are present in it. Lines of devotees form to pay their respects. Like all temples in India, these temples too require that you remove your shoes before entering. We walked through just one of these temples and found the architecture and carvings really pleasing to look at. If you love exploring temples in south India, I would suggest spending a little more time looking at the ones that are within the complex. We were a little short of time and sustenance, so we decided to head on to grab a bite to eat.