Welcome to the Royal Splendour of Mysore, the home of the Wodyers
who ruled Mysore for more than 500 years, known as the City of
Palaces, Mysore retains a quaint charm, that never fails to
enchant. Mysore is a popular tourist destination, offering several
attractions ranging from the royal splendour of Mysore 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 Mysore principality. And so the Wodyer dynasty was
established – a succession of 25 kings who ruled until 1947, when Mysore 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 Mysore
rulers. Chamaraja Wadiyar encouraged Kannada scholars like
Ramachandra, author of Hayasaara Samuchchaya.
Designed by the English
Architect, Henry Irwin, the Mysore Palace dominates the skyline of
Mysore. 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 Mysore CityBrief
History of Mysore
Mysore 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 Mysore Maharajas, who ruled
Mysore State from this royal city, for several centuries. Thanks to
royal patronage, artists, writers and craftsmen have flourished in
Mysore, making it the cultural epicentre of Karnataka.
Mysore 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.
Mysore city was the capital of the former royal Mysore province. The
word Mysore 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 Mysore. Ever since, the people of Mysore have
worshipped Chamundeshwari as their tutelary deity.
The Wadiyar royal family ruled Mysore 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 Mysore. His son
Tipu Sultan followed in his footsteps expanding Mysore’s territories
in a series of daring battles, until he was killed when fighting the
Following his death in 1799 the kingdom again returned to the
Wadiyar family who ruled Mysore till monarchy was abolished in 1947,
when India gained independence.
Kannada, English and Hindi
Best Time to Visit:
October to March
Temperature in summer:
Max 34° C Min 21°C
Temperature in winter:
Max 30°C Min 12°C
Rainfall yearly average:
Cottons and light woollens at night
India is not the first location you might consider for a cooler
summer holiday, but, because of its altitude, Mysore enjoys
wonderful weather all year round.
The highest temperatures are from May to June (23-35°C), and even at
it coolest, the temperature rarely drops below 16°C.
The rainy season is from June to August, but even then it seldom
rains all day.
TOURIST INFORMATION CENTRES:
Information Center - KFC building, 48 Church street,
Bangalore, Karnataka, India. Tel: (91) - 080 - 25585417
Tourism Information Centre - Airport Road - Bangalore
of Tourism - Govt. of Karnataka. # 49 Khanija Bhavan, IInd
floor, Race Course Road, Bangalore. Ph: 080 - 22352828.
Director Regional Tourist office - Old Exhibition Building.
Irvin Road, Mysore. Ph: 0821 - 2422096 Fax: 2421833
Old Exhibition Road, Mysore, Karnataka, India. Tel: (91) -
Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation -
Yatrinivas Buildings, J.L.B Road Mysore, Karnataka, India. Tel: (91)
- 0821 - 2423652.
History of Mysore
A testament to the irrepressible spirit of the people of Mysore and
their kings, the Mysore Palace has survived political upheavals,
disaster and destruction, only to rise out of the ashes more
magnificent than ever.
The current Mysore 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 Mysore Palace
was established as part of a wooden fortress, by the royal family of
Mysore, 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 Mysore 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 Mysore.
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
The destiny of the Mysore 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 Mysore and the Wodeyars.
Completed in 1912 and at a cost of Rs. 41,47,913 the result was the
Mysore 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.
art and culture, fierce warriors and astute administrators, the
Wodeyars grew from provincial chieftains, to a mighty dynasty that
would rule Mysore 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
While on pilgrimage in Mysore the two princes heard women lament the
fate of the local Princess Devajammanni. The King of Mysore had died
and the Chieftain of Karagahalli, a neighboring province, was trying
to marry the princess and acquire Mysore 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 Mysore from a feudal principality
into a kingdom. Defeating the king of the declining Vijayanagar
Empire, he shifted his capital from Mysore 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
Mysore 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, Mysore 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 Mysore.
It was under the reigns of Krishnaraja Wodeyar III [1799-1868] and
his son Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV [1895- 1940], that the modern
township of Mysore was created. It was also during the reign of
Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV that the Mysore 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 Mysore 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 Mysore Maharajas.
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 Mysore 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
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 façade 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 Mysore maharajas and a
testament to the dexterity of the local artisans and craftsmen.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
Mysore 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
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 Mysore 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 Mysore Dasara.