Officially known as the Amba Vilas, the Mysore Palace that stands today was built between 1897 and 1912. Of all the palaces I’ve visited across India, this is possibly the most ornate and exuberant of those built by the Indian maharajas during the period of British rule.
On Sundays it becomes even more dazzling as the entire exterior is lit with thousands of lightbulbs – sadly my visit was during a weekday 😦
The original 19th century palace here was destroyed by a great fire in 1897, the architect of the new palace was Henry Irwin, who was also responsible for building the Vice-regal lodge in Shimla.
The facade of Mysore Palace is a riot of red and gold domes and pinnacles, with scalloped arches and pavilions. At the centre is a five storey tower with a golden dome. The area in front of the palace is like an open stage, with statues of snarling panthers.
Unfortunately photography is not allowed in the interior of the palace. Compared to the exterior, I have to confess I found it a little disappointing, but there are a couple of highlights.
The Kalyana Madtapa (or Marriage Pavilion) is an interesting space, covered by an octagonal stained-glass roof resting on eight sets of triple iron pillars. All of this was imported from Scotland, and reminded me of the Lakshmi Vilas Palace in Baroda (Gujarat) which claims to have more stained-glass than any other building in the world.
The other highlight must be the Durbar Hall, an enormous and ornately decorated public hall with rich stucco decoration and painting on the walls and ceiling.
Mysore Palace is open everyday 10am – 5:30pm.
The Sunday and public holiday illuminations start around 7pm
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