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About Mysuru Palace


Welcome to the Royal Splendour of Mysuru, the home of the Wodyers who ruled Mysuru for more than 500 years, known as the City of Palaces, Mysuru retains a quaint charm, that never fails to enchant. Mysuru is a popular tourist destination, offering several attractions ranging from the royal splendour of Mysuru City and its fabulous Dasara Festival to exquisite temples, pilgrimage centres and scenic spots.  The royal lineage can be traced back to 1399, when Yaduraya, a royal prince of the Yadava dynasty, was on a pilgrimage visit to Chamundi Temple with his brother Vijaya,.  They took shelter in the Kodi Bhairava temple on the banks of Doddakere, the ‘Big Lake’.  There they came to learn that the local royal family was in great danger.  Their ruler had just died, and Maranayaka, a neighboring chief, was threatening the queen.  He wanted her daughter’s hand in marriage.  The queen and the princess were in very vulnerable position.  With the help of Jangama (Wadiyar) killed Maranayaka and married the daughter of Chamaraja and succeeded to the Mysuru principality.  And so the Wodyer dynasty was established – a succession of 25 kings who ruled until 1947, when Mysuru became part of the Indian Union.  The Wadiyars were great patrons of the arts, and the finest craftsmen in the state were employed to work on the Palaces.  Wadiyar period was a new era of prose literature as an independent literary medium and it was in other words a prose writing in the form of the history of the Mysuru rulers.  Chamaraja Wadiyar encouraged Kannada scholars like Ramachandra, author of Hayasaara Samuchchaya.

Designed by the English Architect, Henry Irwin, the Mysuru Palace dominates the skyline of Mysuru. A three storied structure in the Indo-Saracenic style built between 1897-1912, the palace has beautifully designed square towers at cardinal points, covered with domes. The Durbar Hall with its ornate ceiling and sculpted pillars and the Kalyanamantapa (Marriage Pavilion) with its glazed tiled flooring and stained glass, domed ceiling are worth noting. Intricately carved doors, the golden howdah (elephant seat), paintings as well as the fabulous, jewel encrusted golden throne (displayed during Dasara) are amongst the palace's other treasures. The walled palace complex houses the Residential Museum (incorporating some of the Palace's living quarters),temples and shrines including the Shwetha Varahaswamy temple. The palace is illuminated on Sundays, Public Holidays as well as during the Dasara Celebrations when 97,000 electric bulbs are used to illuminate it.

About Mysuru City
Mysuru is the second biggest city in the state of Karnataka. It lies 140 kms from the State headquarters, Bangalore.

It is the erstwhile capital of the Mysuru Maharajas, who ruled Mysuru State from this royal city, for several centuries. Thanks to royal patronage, artists, writers and craftsmen have flourished in Mysuru, making it the cultural epicentre of Karnataka.

Mysuru still retains an aura of old world charm and much of the city’s architectural heritage remains intact. The city’s proximity to famous wild life sanctuaries and its very own zoo make it a popular destination for wildlife enthusiasts from across the world.

Brief History of Mysuru

Mysuru city was the capital of the former royal Mysuru province. The word Mysuru expands to 'Mahishasurana Ooru', which means the town of Mahishasura. According to Hindu mythology Mahishasura was a demon king who was killed by the warrior goddess Chamundeshwari on Chamundi hill near Mysuru. Ever since, the people of Mysuru have worshipped Chamundeshwari as their tutelary deity.

The Wadiyar royal family ruled Mysuru since the 14th century except for a short period of 40 years in the 18th century when Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan were the rulers. Hyder Ali was a general in the army of the Wadiyar king who rose to become the ruler of Mysuru. His son Tipu Sultan followed in his footsteps expanding Mysuru’s territories in a series of daring battles, until he was killed when fighting the British.

Following his death in 1799 the kingdom again returned to the Wadiyar family who ruled Mysuru till monarchy was abolished in 1947, when India gained independence.  

Fast Facts

Population: 22,81,653
Languages: Kannada, English  and Hindi
Best Time to Visit: October to March
Temperature in summer:  Max 34 C Min 21C
Temperature in winter:  Max 30C Min 12C
Rainfall yearly average: 80 cms
Clothing summer: Cottons
Clothing winter: Cottons and light woollens at night
STD Code: 0821
ISD Code:  + 91
 

Climate

India is not the first location you might consider for a cooler summer holiday, but, because of its altitude, Mysuru enjoys wonderful weather all year round.

The highest temperatures are from May to June (23-35C), and even at it coolest, the temperature rarely drops below 16C.

The rainy season is from June to August, but even then it seldom rains all day.  

TOURIST INFORMATION CENTRES:

  1. Tourist Information Center - KFC building, 48 Church street, Bangalore, Karnataka, India. Tel: (91) - 080 - 25585417
  2. Karnataka Tourism Information Centre - Airport Road - Bangalore
  3. Commissioner of Tourism - Govt. of Karnataka. # 49 Khanija Bhavan, IInd floor, Race Course Road, Bangalore. Ph: 080 - 22352828.
  4. Asst. Director Regional Tourist office - Old Exhibition Building. Irvin Road, Mysuru. Ph: 0821 - 2422096 Fax:  2421833
Regional Tourist Office -
Old Exhibition Road, Mysuru, Karnataka, India. Tel: (91) - 0821-2422096

Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation -
Yatrinivas Buildings, J.L.B Road Mysuru, Karnataka, India. Tel: (91) - 0821 - 2423652.

History of Mysuru Palace
A testament to the irrepressible spirit of the people of Mysuru and their kings, the Mysuru Palace has survived political upheavals, disaster and destruction, only to rise out of the ashes more magnificent than ever.

The current Mysuru Palace – the fourth to occupy this site – was designed by the British architect Henry Irwin after its predecessor was destroyed in a fire in 1897. The imposing building that stands today was completed in 1912, but it is believed that a Mysuru Palace was established as part of a wooden fortress, by the royal family of Mysuru, the Wodeyars, as early as the fourteenth century.

In 1638 the palace was struck by lightning and rebuilt by Kantirava Narasa Raja Wodeyar (1638 - 1659 AD), who extended the existing structures, adding new pavilions.
The glory of the new building was to prove short-lived. The death of Chikka Devaraja Wodeyar (1673 - 1704 AD) in the eighteenth century plunged the kingdom into a period of political instability.

During these turbulent times the Mysuru Palace slipped into a state of neglect culminating in its demolition in 1793 by Tipu Sultan, the son of Hyder Ali, a maverick general in the king’s army who rose to become the ruler of Mysuru.

In 1799, when upon the death of Tipu Sultan the five-year old Krishnaraja Wodeyar III (1794-1868) AD assumed the throne, the coronation ceremony took place under a marquee. One of king’s first tasks, on his accession, was to commission a new palace built in the Hindu architectural style and completed in 1803.

The hastily constructed palace soon fell into disrepair and in 1897 was razed to the ground by a fire at the wedding ceremony of princess Jayalakshmmanni.

The destiny of the Mysuru Palace now passed to Queen Regent Kempananjammanni Vanivilasa Sanndihana, who commissioned well-known British architect Henry Irwin to build a new palace that would be a tribute to the legacy of Mysuru and the Wodeyars.

Completed in 1912 and at a cost of Rs. 41,47,913 the result was the Mysuru Palace you see standing today. A masterpiece in Indo-Saracenic architecture, on par with great Mughal residences of the North and the stately colonial public buildings of the South.

The Royals
Patrons of art and culture, fierce warriors and astute administrators, the Wodeyars grew from provincial chieftains, to a mighty dynasty that would rule Mysuru for nearly six centuries.

The founding of the dynasty is veiled in the chivalrous legend of two princely brothers from Dwaraka, in the Northern State of Gujarat.

While on pilgrimage in Mysuru the two princes heard women lament the fate of the local Princess Devajammanni. The King of Mysuru had died and the Chieftain of Karagahalli, a neighboring province, was trying to marry the princess and acquire Mysuru by force.

Rising to the occasion the two brothers mobilized troops, killed the Karagahalli Chieftain and rescued the princess. The grateful princess married the elder of the two brothers, named Yaduraya, who became the first ruler of the Wodeyar dynasty.

It was Raja Wodeyar (1578-1617), the eight king of the Wodeyar dynasty, however, who transformed Mysuru from a feudal principality into a kingdom. Defeating the king of the declining Vijayanagar Empire, he shifted his capital from Mysuru to Srirangapatna. It was also during his reign that the famous Dasara festival was revived.
Ranadhira Kantirava Narasaraja Wodeyar (1638-1659) consolidated the kingdom won by his predecessor, thwarting two invasions by the powerful Bijapur Adilshahis. He also fortified Srirangapatna and Mysuru and began minting coins with his seals.

Chikka Devaraja Wodeyar (1673-1704), the next great Wodeyar, further expanded the kingdom. He also introduced land reforms and streamlined the administration. Following his death, a series of inept rulers plunged the kingdom into political instability.

By the mid eighteenth century, Mysuru was virtually ruled by Hyder Ali, a general in the army of Krishnaraja Wodeyar II (1734 - 1766), and then his son Tipu Sultan. Finally, following the death of Tipu Sultan in 1799 in a battle with the British, the five-year-old Prince Krishnaraja Wodeyar III [1799-1868] was installed on the throne of Mysuru.

It was under the reigns of Krishnaraja Wodeyar III [1799-1868] and his son Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV [1895- 1940], that the modern township of Mysuru was created. It was also during the reign of Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV that the Mysuru Palace was built, under the commission of his mother Maharani Kempananjammanni of Vanivilasa Sanndihana who served as Regent during his minority from 1895-1902.
After his death in 1940, Jayachamaraja Wodeyar became the 25th and last ruler of the Mysuru royal family. It is during this period that India won freedom and monarchy was abolished, closing a chapter in history and ending the era of the Mysuru Maharajas.

Architecture
A dramatic three storied stone building of fine gray granite with deep pink marble domes dominated by a five-storied 145 ft tower with a gilded dome mounted by a single golden flag.

Designed by Henry Irwin, the Mysuru Palace is one of the finest achievements of Indo-Saracenic architecture, summing up many diverse themes that have played through Indian architecture over the centuries. Muslim designs and Rajput style combine with Gothic elements and indigenous materials in an exuberant display of grandeur.

The palace is set among meticulously laid gardens and has an intricately detailed elevation with a profusion of delicately curved arches, bow-like canopies, magnificent bay windows and columns in varied styles ranging from Byzantine to Hindu.
The striking faade has seven expansive arches and two smaller ones flanking the central arch, which is supported by tall pillars. Above the central arch is an impressive sculpture of Gajalakshmi - the Goddess of wealth with elephants.

The sumptuous interiors of the palace, in keeping with the grand exteriors, are replete with exquisitely carved doors, expansive pavilions, delicate chandeliers, exquisite stained glass ceilings and decorative frescoes depicting scenes from the Indian epics. An enduring reminder of the splendour of the Mysuru maharajas and a testament to the dexterity of the local artisans and craftsmen.

Unique Rooms

Ambavilasa or Diwan e khas
The Ambavilasa, a hall used by the king for private audience, is one of the most spectacular rooms of the palace.

Entry to this opulent hall is through an elegantly carved rosewood doorway inlaid with ivory that opens into a shrine to Ganesha.

The central knave of the hall has ornately gilded columns, stained glass ceilings, decorative steel grills, and chandeliers with fine floral motifs, mirrored in the pietra dura mosaic floor embellished with semi-precious stones.

 

 

 

 

Gombe Thotti (Doll’s Pavilion)
Entry to the palace is through the Gombe Thotti or the Doll’s Pavilion, a gallery of traditional dolls from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The pavilion also houses a fine collection of Indian and European sculpture and ceremonial objects like a wooden elephant howdah (frame to carry passengers) decorated with 84 kilograms of gold.

Other features of the Gombe Thotti are the seven canons which is situated in front of the Gombe Thotti and are still fired to mark the beginning and end of the annual Dasara procession.

 

 

 

 

 

Kalyana Mantapa
The Kalyana Mantapa or marriage hall is a grand octagonal-shaped pavilion with a multihued stained glass ceiling with peacock motifs arranged in geometrical patterns. The entire structure was wrought in Glasgow, Scotland.

The floor of the Mantapa continues the peacock theme with a peacock mosaic, designed with tiles from England.

The hall is lined with elaborately detailed oil paintings, illustrating the royal procession and Dasara celebrations of bygone years.

 

 

 

 

Public Darbar Hall
The Public Darbar Hall for public audience is 155 feet in length and 42 feet in breadth, with majestic bottle-shaped columns tastefully painted in pleasing colors. The hall contains a priceless collection of paintings by great Indian artists including Raja Ravivarma.

The hall opens into an expansive balcony supported by massive columns that has a fine view of the Chamundi Hills and parade grounds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Royal Paintings
On the southern part of the Kalyana Mantapa is the portrait gallery. The focal points of the gallery are two portraits by Raja Ravivarma of the one year old child prince Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV. Considered national treasures the paintings also show fine examples of the traditional royal jewellery of the nineteenth century.

The portrait gallery also has two large portraits of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, by English artist Harold Speed. Other portraits of interest are a miniature of Krishnaraja Wodeyar III in water-colour and gold and an oil on canvas of Yuvaraja Narasimharaja Wodeyar by Felix Wecksler.

The portrait gallery also contains a fine selection of photographs from the nineteenth century, the most interesting being a large portrait of Krishnaraja Wodeyar III, consisting of thin bromide prints pasted on canvas, by palace photographer R. Vasu.   Apart from this the Palace also houses innumerous examples of traditional Mysuru paintings. Artists of this school used locally available material for their paintings Subjects of the paintings include Hindu deities, courtly life, historic battles and scenes from the great Indian epics.

 

 

The Armoury
The Ayudhashala or Royal Armoury is considered to contain one of the most important collections of its type in India. It displays arms and armour that belonged to kings of Mysuru and other members of the Royal Family, from the fourteenth century onwards.

The articles on display include traditional weapons like ‘Vyaghrankha’ or Tiger’s Claw, ‘Vajramushti’, the sword used by Kanthirava Narasaraja Wodeyar I resembling a belt and swords used by Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan.

There is also an exhaustive collection of 725 offensive and defensive weapons like javelins, discs, spikes and axes. Many weapons of antiquity like mudgara (club), suragi (cutlass), Jambiya (dagger), and bharji (lance) are also found here.
Many models of guns with inscriptions bearing the names of princes and officials are also on display.
The royal throne with captivating artwork done on gold plates and studded with precious stones is preserved here in a locked room, and is on display during the Mysuru Dasara.

     

Tourism in and around Mysuru

 

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