Mysore Palace (Amba Vilas)

Day 4 cont. – 28th December 2011


Mysore Palace (Amba Vilas)
Mysore Palace (Amba Vilas)
Mysore is the second largest city of Karnataka state. It is famous for sandalwood and silk. Until 1947 it was ruled by the Wodeyar dynasty.

In 1897 the old palace was burned down completely by an accidental fire. The new palace was commissioned in the same year and completed by 1912.

This palace is one of the youngest palaces in India and is in very good condition. It is the second most popular tourist attraction in India after the Taj Mahal. The royal family still lives in a partitioned area of palace.

We reached there around 12:30 – 1:00 pm. I bought the tickets (Rs 20) and as we entered the main gate, we were told that cameras were strictly prohibited inside the palace. We could, however, take photos outside the palace, so we decided to take photos after visiting inside the palace. There is a big deposit room where you can keep your camera free of charge. The camera backpack was put into a locker and key was handed to me.

As we were walking to the palace, an elderly gentleman asked if we needed a guide. This place certainly deserves its story to be told, so we hired Mr. Subbarna, age 81, for a guided tour of the palace. The official cost of tour was Rs. 350 but at the time of payment I rounded off the figure to Rs. 500.

Footwear was not allowed inside the palace so we deposited our shoes too.

There was a second tier of security at the palace gate where x-ray screening was done. This was the same type of screening that you see at the airport.

I asked Subbarna why cameras were not allowed and he told me it was due to bomb scare. For some reason mobile phones with cameras were allowed. I do not know much about explosives, but if a camera can be a threat then mobile phones also demand some respect.

Anyway, I took out my phone and took whatever photos I could.

The palace is amazing. The royals certainly knew how and where to spend the money. Subbarna told me, at that time (almost 100 years ago) it cost Rs 42 Lac (approx. $100,000) to build the palace. Many of the decorations in the palace are gift from other head of states.

There is a golden howdah (elephant seat) consisting of 80 kg gold. This howdah also has traffic lights installed. Traffic lights on elephant? Tell me more!!!
Beautiful pink marble domes
Beautiful pink marble domes
Subbarna told us that the King ordered an elevator from Britain but since electricity was not there yet, a team of 12 people used to pull it up.

Italian marble, Belgian glass, Burmese teak, silver doors were just a part of the majesty.

The outer walls are decorated with more than 100,000 electric bulbs which are lit on every Sunday evening for one hour (7-8 pm) and on special occasions. I can only imagine how the palace would look in the dark with that lighting.

It took us more than an hour to take the tour. Subbarna took our leave and we thanked him.

There is a private residential museum owned by Srikanta Datta Narasimharaja Wodeyar where royal family's personal belongings are on display. It has a separate entry fee, I think Rs 20. We went to see that also. The barefoot walk was killing us, but we were enjoying the place, oops, I mean palace.

After finishing the museum, we collected our shoes and put it on. It was such a relief; just like walking on the air.

There was a pay-per-use toilet. As I was going inside, a gentleman was in shock as he was handing over Rs 2 to the attendant. He was saying, "I have washed my hands also, is that free or is there a charge for that too?"

While taking back the camera, I asked the person at the deposit counter if a tripod was allowed. He said, "Not a problem as long as outside the palace".

Although there was enough light to shoot without the tripod, it is always better to have more stability and composition angles. I called Prakash on his mobile to ask him to bring the tripod from the car. Prakash, with his limited understanding of English, brought the car to the gate and called back to say that he was not able to find us. It took me another 5 minutes to make him understand what I wanted.

He kept mumbling that the parking lot was full and it would not be possible to park the car again. There was no option other than dropping the idea of the tripod. To add to the misery, the sun was on the wrong side now, making it difficult to take a well lit shot of the palace from the front.

Painting of Dussehra festival procession
Painting of Dussehra festival procession
Joohi was quite supportive and was bearing with me. She was also suggesting some nice composition.

After 20-25 minutes I saw Prakash coming in my direction with the tripod in his hand. I literally hugged him. I admired that he came inside such a huge and crowded place expecting to find us. Ironically, this was his first visit to Mysore palace.

There was so much to photograph; I tried my best to capture everything. I was feeling tired with all the walking and hot sun, so maybe I could not give it my best.

We left the palace at 3:00 pm and went to a small and, thankfully, less crowded restaurant for lunch. We finished our lunch by 3:30 pm. Prakash told us that the monuments at Srirangapatna close at 5:30 pm so we need to hurry.

Much before our visit to Mysore, Prakash kept mentioning about a silk and handicraft emporium. He insisted that we should stop and visit, even if we did not buy anything. I said that it was getting late and we can do this on the way back. He informed us that we would be going back on a different route.

I did not want to kill his earnings as he was most probably getting some kind of commission, so I agreed to take a quick look. And a quick look it was. Joohi and I are not much of the shopping type; and did not find anything special to take home except for a few small items.

As we sat back in the car, Prakash told me it was too late to visit Srirangapatna and that we should do so while going back to the Bengaluru airport.

When asked how much time it would take to reach Srirangapatna, he said, "30 minutes". It was 4:00 pm; one hour was more than enough for us.


Mysore Palace (Amba Vilas) Photographs
(Click on an image to enlarge it. Press F11 key to watch in full screen)

Note: The photos were taken using cell phone since camera is not allowed inside.
Wrestling courtyard
Wrestling courtyard
Golden howdah (Elephant seat)
Golden howdah (Elephant seat)
Intricate wooden carvings on the ceiling
Intricate wooden carvings on the ceiling
Subbarna showing us the way
Subbarna showing us the way
Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV on the golden throne
Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV on the golden throne
The private durbar (court), Ambavilas
The private durbar (court), Ambavilas
Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV
Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV
Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV with his sisters painting by Raja Ravi Varma
Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV with his sisters painting by Raja Ravi Varma
Photo of the queen
Photo of the queen
Portrait of the queen
Portrait of the queen
The queen with her children
The queen with her children
Photo of royal children
Photo of royal children
Ivory showpiece
Ivory showpiece
Silver dressing mirror
Silver dressing mirror
The durbar hall
The durbar(court) hall
Durbar hall ceiling
Durbar hall ceiling
The royal emblem
The royal emblem
Silver door from the old palace
Silver door from the old palace


Palace Complex Photographs
(Click on an image to enlarge it. Press F11 key to watch in full screen)
The path to the palace
The path to the palace
Shweta Varahaswamy temple inside the palace complex
Shweta Varahaswamy temple inside the palace complex
Main domes of the palace
Main domes of the palace
Prakash, the driver
Prakash, the driver
Small balconies above the court
Small balconies above the court
Open area covered by nets to prevent from birds
Open area covered by nets to prevent from birds
Main court area
Main court area
The bronze tiger
The bronze tiger
Gilded dome with golden flag
Gilded dome with golden flag
Large tree inside the palace complex
Large tree inside the palace complex
Lakshmiramana Swamy inside the palace compound
Lakshmiramana Swamy inside the palace compound
Beautiful view inside the palace boundary
Beautiful view inside the palace boundary


Private Residential Museum Photographs
(Click on an image to enlarge it. Press F11 key to watch in full screen)

Note: The photos were taken using cell phone since camera is not allowed inside.
Royal family photographs
Royal family photographs
Children toys
Children toys
Saddle for the state horse
Saddle for the state horse
Temple jewels carriage
Temple jewels carriage
Painting of the court of the god in gold
Painting of the court of the god in gold
Mahishasura Mardini, painting of the goddess
Mahishasura Mardini, painting of the goddess
Photo of the royal family
Photo of the royal family
Silver furniture
Silver furniture
Elevator which used to be pulled by men
Elevator which used to be pulled by men
Various guns used during that period
Various guns used during that period
Spear used by royal soldiers
Spear used by royal soldiers
Pikes used by Mysore army
Pikes used by Mysore army
Various kind of swords
Various kind of swords


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