My home city of Mysore is featured as a major tourist attraction in one of my earlier blog posts [See: 20) On my home turf - Mysore the City of Palaces - Personal Photo Album Part 6 (Feb 11)], with the accent largely on its numerous palaces. The most famous of these palaces is of course the one in the heart of the city, called Amba Vilas Palace. For most people it is just the Palace of Mysore. As a tourist attraction it is one of the most beautiful sights anywhere in the world, especially when fully illuminated at night, and only the Taj Mahal in Agra seems to attract more tourists in the country.
The city and its palace come alive during the 10-day annual Dasara (grotesquely spelt as Dusserah in some parts of the country) festivities and draw huge crowds from all over the country and abroad to partake of its cultural activities culminating in a grand procession on its thoroughfares starting from the palace on the tenth (Vijayadasami) day. The central attraction of this procession is a huge elephant carrying the idol of goddess Chamundeshwari seated in a golden throne, symbolically proclaiming the victory (vijaya) of good over evil. The preceding days are highlighted by numerous cultural and other festivities of different kinds in and around the palace complex. Nightfall is heralded by the breathtakingly beautiful illumination of the palace complex and prominent places in the neighborhood, turning the city into a veritable dream world worthy of any fairy tale.
The festivities inside the western wing of the palace are marked by the traditional durbar (court) held in the olden days by the ruling maharaja, with the tradition now being kept alive ceremonially by the present descendent of the ruling Wodeyar dynasty. Special invitees and visitors to the durbar cannot but be enthralled by the magnificent pomp, pageantry and splendor associated with the whole ceremony, again reminiscent of a magical world in a bygone era.
The following pictures, most of them shot in situ with my brand new Canon EOS 1100D DSLR camera by my son-in-law Mr S M Ramesh on one particularly glorious night earlier this week, tell a story of their own. All of them were taken with the camera hand-held and without flashlight, testifying to his considerable photographic skills and experience. He was accompanied by Chiranjeevi who also provided me one of the pictures.
[All pictures are in high resolution and can be blown up to their full size by clicking on a picture and opening it in a separate window]
The main entrance to the palace complex is through the sprawling eastern gate though this is the least used of the three public gates to the complex, the other two being to the south and the north. Here is a distant view of the palace seen through this gate, both brightly illuminated, with the unavoidable silhouettes of the spectators in the foreground spoiling the view somewhat:
The next picture takes the viewer inside the complex and reasonably close to the palace to give a better panoramic view of it.
This view is again spoilt somewhat by the temporary structures put up for the ensuing last day procession. While these may have been necessary, the same cannot be said of the numerous flags that serve only to signal their purposeless presence.
The next picture captures the whole of the palace from a vantage point near the southern gate, one of the best such points in the palace complex.
Inside the Palace
The interior of the palace is indeed a place straight out of one’s dreams, the craftsmanship so unique as to defy comparison with other such great architectural wonders of the world. Here is a magnificent picture of the interior of the durbar hall, with the rather ugly and large screen at lower left spoiling the view significantly.
The next picture shows a portion of the interior with three of the great doors all wide open and showing the intricate inlay work on and around them. The middle door is made of pure silver and the other two of wood inlaid with ivory.
The next picture highlights the intricately beautiful ceiling over the fabled gold throne that takes the centre stage.
Here is the spectacular Durbar Hall, with the gold throne at the far end, awaiting the ceremonies to begin:
The next picture shows another view of the Durbar Hall before the durbar began, with visitors filling up the viewing space on either side. It also captures a close up view of one of the great chandeliers seen so plentifully inside the palace.
The golden throne that the Maharaja of Mysore used to occupy in the (g)olden days of the kingdom is perhaps the most visible symbol of the grandeur permeating the palace. Here is a picture of it sometime before the present descendant of the royal family ascended it to herald the now purely private and symbolic ceremonies of the day.
The throne is liberally bedecked with flowers and an idol placed in front in keeping with tradition. It is an even greater visual spectacle without these trappings on any other day. The next picture is a close up view showing the throne with its overhanging grand canopy.
The next picture highlights the rich architectural splendor of the ceiling of one of the long corridors in the palace.
Here is a picture of another corridor containing a variety of artifacts both along the wall and the floor. The large one in the foreground accentuates the scene remarkably well.
The next picture is a view of the famous octagonal marriage hall highlighting the pillars and the floor.
The interior walls of the marriage hall are lined with rich tapestry and oil paintings, many of them depicting the last day (Vijayadasami) events just outside the palace. Here are two such paintings:
Outside the Palace
A number of places and structures surrounding the palace are also brightly illuminated as part of the Dasara festivities. The following picture shows the richly illuminated statue square just outside the northern gate of the palace, with the palace itself visible in the background.
Further north of the statue square is the clock tower, another enduring, even if ill preserved, symbol of the city. Here is a picture of it looking towards the palace with a main road and its traffic on the left. Rather surprisingly it shows the correct time, something I am noticing for the first time.
The next picture captures the whole of another great statue square (K R Circle) on the northwestern end of the palace ramparts from atop a nearby building.
The city municipal corporation headquarters located towards the southwest of the palace complex is a dazzlingly and colorfully illuminated building, captured in the next picture.
Crawford Hall, headquarters of the University of Mysore, one of the oldest universities in the country, is very tastefully and modestly illuminated as can be made out in the next picture.
The next picture, capturing a building to the south of the palace complex, is interesting as much for its illumination as for the signboard on the bus that appears to have come to a halt when this picture was taken.
The last picture of this album fittingly captures one of the numerous illuminated fountains (Hardinge Circle) in the city, a city that erupts into a riot of light and color at night during the celebrated Dasara festivities every year.