This weekend was great. For the first time in my life, i visited the City of Palaces, Mysore. It is situated just 130 kms away from Bangalore, Karnataka in south India. One of the most beautiful thing about this royal city is its historic culture and Mysore still retain same charm of imperial royal splendors with nice blend of medieval cultural heritage and modern industrialization. According to Myth, Mysore was ruled by the demon-king Mahishasura. Goddess Parvathi took birth as Chamundeswari and slew the demon. Later Goddess resided atop the Chamundi Hills after killing the demon and became family deity of Wodeyar dynasty. In 17th and 18th century, Mysore flourished as one of the biggest kingdom in south India until their general Hyder Ali repelled to establish a capital in nearby Srirangapatna. Wodeyars couldn’t stand against power of Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan. Luckily for Wodeyars, British defeated Tipu Sultan in battle of Mysore in 1799 and handed Mysore back to the Wodeyar kings. In 19th and 20th century, Wodeyars transformed Mysore into modern town with cultural arts of simmering silk and sandalwood, well-planned shady avenues, beautiful temples, majestic palaces, and sprawling gardens.

My Experience

Me and my friend Dimpzy had a great weekend exploring the Karanji Lake, Chamundi Hills, Zoological park, Mysore Palace etc.

We started on Saturday morning at 10am and reached around 3pm. We were late as the vehicle had some problem, otherwise, it would just take 3.5hrs from Bangalore to Mysore. On reaching Mysore, we freshen’d up and went to Karanji Lake.

Karanji Lake

Karanji Lake is situated on the way to Chamundi Hills behind Mysore Zoo. It houses the first & biggest aviary and also the first butterfly park. Karanji Lake is often visited for boating facilities available for one and all. This lake is open for public on all days except Tuesday between 10 am to 6 pm. The specialty of this park is that you can walk amidst the birds and you are sure to feel wonderful inside. Karanji Lake was one of the favourite haunts of migratory birds like herons and egrets.

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After spending quality time at butterfly park, we started towards Chamundi Hills.

Chamundi Hills

The Chamundi Hills are located in India, close to the palace city of Mysore. Its average elevation is 1,000 meters. Legend has it that that the demon Mahishasura, the king of the area that is currently Mysore, was killed by the Goddess Chamundeswari (also Chamundi) after a fierce battle. The hills hence got their name and a temple of the Goddess was built on the top. The Goddess is also known as MahishasuraMardini meaning She who slayed Mahishasura. The temple has a very beautiful Idol of the Goddess wearing a garland of skulls. The temple has always been patronised by the rulers of Mysore. In earlier days, the Maharajas of Mysore would ride the ceremonial Dasara elephant during the annual Dasara festival, but after India gained independence, the Idol of Goddess Chamundi is taken on an elephant.

A panoramic view of the city is seen from the top of the hills. Among other landmarks, you can see the Race Course, the Lalitha Mahal palace, the Mysore Palace, the Karanji and Kukkarahalli lakes. At dusk, the view of the city is especially beautiful, and on Sunday evenings and during the Dasara festival, the illuminated Mysore Palace glitters like gold.

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There are steps leading to the top of the hill. There are around 1,000 steps in all, and climbing the first 400 or so steps takes some effort. Enroute to the top, the steps pass the large monolithic statue of Nandi the Bull. Nandi is the vahana (Vehicle) of Lord Shiva. Climbing gets easier soon afterwards.

There are regular buses plying to the Chamundi hills from the central bus stand.

The top of the hill has a few attractions – the Mahishasura Statue, the Chamundeswari Temple, and a few other temples nearby. The Rajendra Vilas palace used to be a popular hotel earlier, but is now closed to the public. The palace is now being redone and provides a panaromic view of the Hill, Chamundi Temple and Mysore City.

It was already dark by the time we reached the top of the hill. Then we went down the hill to Planet X, which is situated at the base of Chamundi Hills, first of its kind Family Entertainment Center in Mysore. Spread over 4 acres it houses 6 lane bowling alley, go-karting track, state of art video games, snooker, billiards, a multi-cuisine restaurant and a cocktail lounge. We had great time at Planet X. I enjoyed Go-carting and bowling and also the delicious cuisines.

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Then, we headed to the palace, thinking that the whole Palace will be illuminated during the weekend. But, when we reached the Palace, we learned that they light up the palace only on Sundays. I took some good snaps all around the palace and then later went for a long walk to see how the shops, markets etc were different from the normal cities. You can see lot of silk clothes and decorative stuffs all around.

Mysore Zoo

Next day, Sunday, we went to Mysore Zoo, which is one of the oldest and most popular zoos in Southern India. Located on the outskirts of Mysore, the zoo is the home to a wide range of wild species. The official name for the zoo is Shri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens, though it is known commonly by its shortened name. Mysore Zoo is one of the city’s most popular attractions. It was established under royal patronage in 1892, making it one of the oldest zoos in the world.

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Mysore Palace

After coming back from zoo, we headed to the palace and went inside and saw all the richness and beauty glowing inside the palace. Tight security is maintained inside the palace. The courtyard, the throne, the bedrooms, the painting etc is really something to beheld.

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History:
The Kingdom of Mysore was ruled by the Wodeyar dynasty from 1399 until the independence of India in 1947 and the subsequent dissolution of monarchy by the Indian constitution. The Wodeyar kings built a palace in Mysore in the 14th century, but this palace was partially damaged by a lightning strike in 1638. It was repaired and expanded, but fell into neglect by the late 18th century. It was demolished in 1793, and a new palace was built in its place in 1803. This palace was destroyed in a fire in 1897 during the wedding of Princess Jayalakshmanni.

The Queen-Regent of Mysore at the time, Kempananjammanni Vanivilasa Sanndihana, commissioned a British architect, Henry Irwin, to build yet another palace in its place. The architect was requested to combine different styles of architecture in the construction of the palace. The construction was completed in 1912. The palace apprently cost Rs. 42,00,000 to build at that time.

Architecture:

The architectural style of the palace is commonly described as Indo-Saracenic, and blends together Hindu, Muslim, Rajput and Gothic styles of architecture. It is a three-storied stone structure, with marble domes and a 145 ft five-storied tower. The palace is surrounded by a large garden.

The three storied stone building of fine gray granite with deep pink marble domes was designed by Henry Irwin. The facade 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.

Every autumn, the Palace is the venue for the famous Mysore Dasara festival, during which the entire palace is lit up with thousands of bulbs, and leading artistes perform on a stage set up in the palace grounds. On the tenth day of the festival Vijaya Dashami, a parade with caparisoned elephants and other floats originate from the palace grounds.

Unique Rooms:

  • Ambavilasa or Diwan e Khas.

This was used by the king for private audience and is one of the most spectacular rooms. 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.

  • 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.Oil paintings, illustrating the royal procession and Dasara celebrations of bygone years ,make the walls more splendid.

Temples:

The palace complex includes twelve Hindu temples. The oldest of these was built in the 14th century, while the most recent was built in 1953. Some of the more famous temples are:

  • Someshvara Temple, dedicated to god Shiva
  • Lakshmiramana Temple, dedicated to god Vishnu

Attractions:
The palace houses several rooms of importance. These include:

  • Audience Chamber: This was Hall of Private Audience, where the king would confer with his ministers. It was also the chamber in which he gave audience to people deserving special attention.
  • Public Durbar: The Diwan-e-aam was a public hall where the general population could meet the king at prescribed times with petitions.
  • Royal wedding hall
  • Armoury: The palace houses an armoury, which contains a collection of different types of arms used by the members of the royal family. These include weapons that were used in the 14th century (lances, cutlasses, etc), as well as weapons that were used in the early twentieth century (pistols, etc).

Finally, sunday night after seeing the glorious illuminated Mysore palace, we headed back to Bangalore.

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