It is the
official residence of the Wadiyars - the erstwhile royal family of
Mysore, and also houses two durbar halls (ceremonial meeting hall of
the royal court).
Mysore has a number of historic palaces, and is commonly described
as the City of Palaces. However, the term "Mysore Palace"
specifically refers to one within the old fort. The palace was
commissioned in 1897, and its construction was completed in 1912. It
is now one of the most famous tourist attractions in Mysore.
Although tourists are allowed to visit the palace, they are not
allowed to take photographs inside the palace.
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
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, prosperity, good luck, and abundance with her
romance are associated with the emergence of the Yadu or Wadiyar
dynasty, who ruled from Mysore from 14th century onwards for nearly
six centuries. As one enters the Eastern gate of the Mysore Palace,
one can spot a small temple dedicated to Kodi Bhyraveswara. This
temple is of historical significance as it saw the emergence of the
Wadiyar dynasty. In this temple, a dramatic turn of events took
place way back in the year 1399 A.D.
As the story goes, two young men, Vijaya and Krishna of the Yadu
dynasty hailing from Dwaraka in Gujarat came to Mysore, after
visiting Melkote on their pilgrimage. The two royal princes took
shelter at the Kodi Bhyraveswara Temple, which was close to the
Doddakere, from where people of then small city of Mysore fetched
water for drinking and daily chore. At dawn, they heard some women,
while washing closes discussing the distress situation of the young
Princess Devajammanni. The death of her father, Chamaraja, the local
ruler, had landed her and her mother, the queen, in trouble. Taking
advantage of the situation, the neighbouring Chief of Karugahalli,
Maranayaka, began demanding the kingdom and the princess in
marriage. Taking the help of a Jangama Odeya, a Shaivite religious
man, the two chivalrous brothers came to the rescue of the
distressed Maharani and the Princess. Mobilising troops, they killed
the Karugahalli Chief and his men and saved the Mysore royal family
and their kingdom. A happy princess married the elder brother,
Vijaya, and he became the first ruler of the Yadu dynasty. He
assumed the name Yaduraya. Thus the traditional founding of the
Wadiyar dynasty took place in 1399 with Yaduraya. Since then, 24
rulers have succeeded in the dynasty, the last being Jayachamaraja
Wadiyar. It is during his period, India won freedom and later
monarchy was abolished. With that ended the reign of the Mysore
Maharajas. Yaduraya ruled from 1399 to 1423. Hiriya Bettada
Chamaraja Wadiyar (1423-1459), Thimmaraja Wadiyar (1459-1478) and
Hiriya Chamaraja Wadiyar (1478-1513) succeeded him. Hiriya Bettada
Chamaraja Wadiyar II (1513-1553) became the fifth ruler. Thimmaraja
Wadiyar (1553-1572) succeeded him and he defeated some neighbouring
chieftains and expanded his boundary. The next ruler, Bola Chamaraja
Wadiyar (1572-1576) was called 'Bola' or 'Bald' because while he was
visiting the Chamundi Hills to worship the Goddess, a lightning
struck and he lost all his hairs. After him, Bettada Chamaraja
Wadiyar III (1576-1578) ruled for a brief period of about two years.
The next ruler, Raja Wadiyar (1578-1617), emerges as the first
powerful ruler in the Mysore royal family. Till his emergence,
Mysore was a small feudatory kingdom under the Vijayanagar Kingdom.
The Mysore chieftains owed allegiance to the Vijayanagar kings and
the Vijayanagar representative at Srirangapatna. Taking advantage of
the fall of Vijayanagar kingdom in 1565 A.D., Raja Wadiyar defeated
the Vijayanagar representative in a battle at Kesare near Mysore,
shifted his capital from Mysore to Srirangapatna in 1610 and acquire
the famous throne and ascended it. However, he continued the
traditions of Vijayanagar and revived the famous Dasara festival,
celebrating it for the first time in Srirangapatna with pomp and
grandeur. After Chamaraja Wadiyar (1617-1637) and Raja Wadiyar II
(1637-1638), the next powerful ruler to ascend the throne of Mysore
was Ranadhira Kantirava Narasaraja Wadiyar (1638-1659). A courageous
ruler, he successfully fought back the efforts of Bijapur Badsha to
acquire Srirangapanta twice, fortified the Srirangapatna and Mysore
forts with arms and weapons, and began minting coins with his seals.
Dodda Devaraja Wadiyar (1659-1673), who ruled next, further expanded
the kingdom by acquiring areas of Keladi Shivappa Naika and Palegars
of Madurai and Thiruchinapalli.
Chikka Devaraja Wadiyar (1673-1704) emerges as the next celebrated
ruler. Besides further expanding the kingdom and strengthening the
forts, he introduced modern administration with a lot of reforms in
his vastly expanded kingdom. He appointed staff for specific jobs,
fixed wages for different works, built several canals to provide
water for irrigation, introduced weights and measures and also
postal system, imposed taxes to improve revenue, constructed
storehouses to store produces, and set up 18 departments (Chavadis)
in the administration. During his 31 years of reign, Mysore saw peak
of its glory. Kannada literature flourished under him, the Maharaja
himself making significant contribution. Kantirava Narasaraja
Wadiyar (1704-1714), Dodda Krishnaraja Wadiyar (1714-1732) and
Chamaraja Wadiyar (1732-1734) succeeded Chikka Devaraja. It was
during the reign of Krishnaraja Wadiyar II (1734-1766), Hyder Ali
Khan and his celebrated son Tipu Sultan became the virtual rulers of
Mysore. They were in total command till 1799 when the British Army
killed Tipu in the 4th Mysore War in Srirangapatna. Nanjaraja
Wadiyar (1766-1770), Bettada Chamaraja Wadiyar (1770-1776) and Khasa
Chamaraja Wadiyar (1776-1796) continued as rulers in the Mysore
dynasty during the interregnum. With the death of Tipu, the capital
was shifted back to Mysore. Five-year-old Prince Krishnaraja Wadiyar
III was installed on the throne of Mysore in 1799. He ruled till
1868. He revived the Dasara celebrations on a grand scale in Mysore.
The old Mysore Palace was rebuilt. During his period, steps began to
be initiated for developing Mysore into a modern township. New
Agraharas and temples were built outside the Palace Fort. Kannada
literature saw a new dimension.
Krishnaraja Wadiyar was the longest ruler and Chamaraja Wadiyar,
during whose period Mysore saw further progress on modern lines,
succeeded him. Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV became the 24th ruler of
Mysore in 1895. His mother, Maharani Kempananjammanni of Vanivilasa
Sanndihana was Regent during his minority from1895-1902.
The 38-year rule of the Maharaja saw an all-round progress in his
State, including Mysore. Ably assisted by two Dewans, Sir
M.Visvesvaraya and Sir Mirza Ismail, Mysore emerged as a modern city
and State. It earned the encomium 'Ramarajya'. After his death in
1940, Jayachamaraja Wadiyar became the 25th and the last ruler of
the Mysore royal family.
Every autumn, the Palace is the venue for the famous Mysore Dasara
festival, during which leading artists 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.
Dasara is the most extravagant festival of Mysore. The Dasara
festival is celebrated in the months of September and October of
The festival celebrates and commemorates the victory of the great
goddess Durga, after she slew the demon, Mahishasura, and thereby,
symbolizing the triumph of good over evil according to Hindu
mythology. Some call her Chamundeshwari.
This festival has been celebrated by the Wadiyars at Srirangapatna
from 1610 and in Mysore with great pomp from 1799 and the tradition
still is carried on although the scale of the celebrations has
diminished. The Dasara festivities have become an integral part of
the culture and life in Mysore.
To celebrate this festival the Palace of Mysore is illuminated with
more than 96,000 lights during that two month period.
Public Durbar Hall
Visitors will first see imported French lamp stands in the
corner representing Egyptian figurines, just before entering the
Durbar Hall there is a life size statue of Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV.
This plaster of Paris sculpture is the creation of B.Basavaiah,
Palace artist, near him is the cut-out photograph of his favorite
servant, Jamedar Peer Bait.
King would host major ceremonial gatherings in this hall. Cool
marble floor, through colonnades of cusped arches supported by
intricate and elaborately painted columns. Row upon row, creating an
illusion of infinite corridors. Paintings decorate the walls on the
right. There are images of gods, portraits of royal family and
scenes form the great epic the Ramayana each painting has its own
uniquely carved frame, each one perfectly created to suite its own
niche. Large mirrors on the far walls offer multiple reflections of
whatever scene is unfolding amidst the never-ending columns,
paintings, gods, temples and city skyline.
Private Durbar or Ambavilasa Palace
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 nave 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.
Octagonal shaped hall where all royal weddings, birthdays and
ceremonial functions were celebrated. Dome supported by clusters of
pillars are of cast iron. There are 26 paintings which depict Dasara
procession. There also four other subjects such as the birthday
procession of Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV, Durga Pooja or Ayudha Pooja on
the south wall of the Kalyanamantapa, the car festival of Goddess
Chamundeshwari and the celebration of Krishna Janmastami on the
western corridor. The painting representing Dasara festivities are
based on actual photographs and executed during the years between
1934 and 1945.
The stained-glass ceiling soars heavenward – a rich tapestry of
peacock motifs and floral mandalas held in place by metal beams. The
design of the glass and framework was created by the artists of
Mysore and manufactured by famous walter McFarlance Saracen Foundry
in Glasgow, Scotland. Majestic chandelier, hangs low from the centre
of the tall dome, the peacock design is reflected in the mosaic
tiles on the floor.
Outside columns carvings with scenes from the Mahabharata and the
Ramayana the two great Hindu epics of Ancient India. Electricity
came to Mysore in 1906. Palace was completed in 1912. There’s been
electricity since the first day the royal family moved in.
Many valuable paintings as well as the Photographs of the Royal
Family are exhibited in the portrait gallery on the southern part of
the Kalyana Mantapa. Wadiyar dynasty paintings and photographs are
on display. Portrait of Krishnaraja Wadiyar the fourth, was a king
with great vision and an extraordinarily generous patron of arts.
Also the first Wadiyar ruler to live in this palace. Portrait of
black and white image of Jayacharamajra Wadiyar’s wedding to a
Jaipur princess. The nuptials took place in the Marriage hall with
the bountiful wedding feast lavishly laid out on the tables in the
foreground. Painting of Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV just one year old,
sits on pram with his two older sisters. The portrait gallery is
proud to exhibit two works of the famous Royal Artist Raja Ravivarma
dated in 1885.
When the Mysore kings visit various parts of the state, their
subjects received them with the greatest respect. They often had
many requests, these would be formally submitted in small silver and
sweet-smelling sandalwood caskets. Additionally they would present
the kings with mementoes of their visit in these boxes.
Sandalwood is one of the earliest items of trade, and its oil has
been used in perfumes for over 4000 years. Sandalwood is believed to
be scented by the gods. Its sacred properties mean its traditionally
used to carve images of deities and create prayer beads. Seventy per
cent of Indian sandalwood comes from the tropical forests of
Karnataka and a diminishing resource.
inside Mysore Palace Fort
Bharravasvami Temple – dedicated to Shiva in the form of
Bhairava derives its name because of its location in the past.
Lakshmiramana Swami Temple – Oldest temple in the city.
Located towards the western part of the fort, inside the Palace.
An inscription found in Cole’s Gardens (present day Bannimantap)
registers a Grant for God Lakshmiramana in 1499 AD. According to
the annals of the Mysore Royal Family, a half blind Brahim was
cured his blindness around the year 1599 at the interposition of
Raja Wadiyar. The temple is also important as all the religious
ceremonies in connection with coronation of child Raja
Krishnaraja Wadiyar III were held in this temple on June 30,
Shweta Varahaswamy Temple - located beside the south gate.
It’s constructed in the famous style of the great Hoysala
Empire, which controlled most of Karnataka from the tenth until
the fourteenth centuries.
Trinayaneshvara Swami Temple – Ancient temple which existed
even before the time of Raja Wadiyar, located outside the
Original Mysore fort, on the bank of Devaraya Sagar (Doddakere).
It was during the time of Kanthirava Narasaraja Wadiyar and his
successor Dodda Devaraja Wadiyar that the fort was enlarged and
the Trinayaneshvara temple came within the fort.
Prasanna Krishanswami temple – The Mysore dynasty claims its
descent from Yadu Vamsa (Yadu Race) founded by Sri Krishna of
Mahabharata. Therefore, Krishnaraja Wadiyar III felt sad that
there was no temple dedicated to Krishna. To fulfil this lacuna,
he started the construction of Sri Prasanna Krishna Temple in
1825 and according to inscription, it was completed in 1829.
Venkatramana Swamy Temple – During the time of Tipu, the
Mysore family was still in Srirangapatna. Queen Lakshmammanni,
wife of Krishnaraja Wadiyar II was deeply worried about the
dynasty and its future. Then lord Venkataramana is said to have
appeared in her dream, and directed her that his statue which is
in Balamuri should be consecrated in Mysore. By this pious act,
her dynasty would get salvation. She therefore, proceeded to
Balamuri without the knowledge of the Sultan and brought the
image of Venkataramana, consecrated it in the temple, and
offered continuous worship. This is said to have helped the
family and after the fall of Tippu, the Kingdom was restored to
the Wadiyar dynasty.
Bhuvaneshwari Temple – located on northern side of the
Palace Fort corresponding to the Varahaswamy temple in the
south, thus providing a symmetrical structure in the fort
complex. Constructed by Sri Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar in the
year 1951. One of the important objects in the temple is a
copper Surya Mandala which is said to have been transferred from
the Palace to this temple by His Highness Jayachamarajendra
Gayatri Temple – located in the south-east corner of the
fort directly corresponding to the Trinayaneshara swamy temple
constructed by Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar in 1953. Three shrines
dedicated to Savithri, Gayathri and Saraswathi.
The Wadiyar dynasty (also spelt Wadiyar by the British) was an
Indian royal dynasty that ruled the Kingdom of Mysore from 1399 to
1947, until the independence of India from British rule and the
subsequent unification of Indian dominion and princely states into
the Republic of India.
Wodeyar / Wadiyar is found in most records and is used by
the royal family members themselves. The spelling by modern
transliteration rules from Kannada is Odeyar the word Wadiyar is a
surname of a community in South India who are from the Potters
community. Now also you can see the six feet Potters wheel, stick,
etc., which is fully made of the pure Gold, in the Mysore palace.
The word is pronounced to start with a vowel sound and not with the
consonant as present in the English spelling. Odeyar in Kannada
means the king or the owner.
The dynasty was established by Vijaya, Vijaya took on the name and
ruled Mysore, then a small town, from 1399 CE to 1423 CE. The
Wadiyars of Vijaya's dynasty belong to the ArasuWadiyar community of
Karnataka, which includes many of the noble clans of the region.
The Mysore kingdom was ruled by a succession of Wadiyar rulers for
the next couple of centuries. However, the kingdom remained fairly
small during this early period and was a part of the Vijayanagara
Empire. Later, after the fall of the Vijayanagara Empire in 1565,
the Kingdom of Mysore became independent and remained so until 1799.
The Kingdom of Mysore came under the British during the reign of
King Krishnaraja Wadiyar III (1799-1868). His successors changed the
English spelling of their royal name to Wadiyar, and took the title
of Bahadur. The last two monarchs also accepted the British
The Vijayanagara Empire disintegrated in 1565. The power vacuum
created soon after was utilized by Raja Wadiyar, who ruled Mysore
from 1578 to 1617. He expanded the borders of the Mysore kingdom and
also shifted the capital from the city of Mysore in 1610 to
Srirangapatna, a rare island formed by the river Cauvery , which
provided natural protection against military attacks.
Subsequent famous rulers of the dynasty include Kanthirava
Narasaraja I (ruled 1638-1659) who expanded the frontiers of the
Mysore Kingdom to Trichy in Tamil Nadu. The dynasty reached its peak
under Chikka Devaraja (ruled 1673-1704), who widely reformed the
administration of the empire by dividing it into 18 departments
(called Chavadis) and also introduced a coherent system of taxation.
Wadiyar Rulers of Mysore
Bettada Chamaraja Wadiyar I (1423–1459)
Wadiyar I (1459–1478)
Chamarajarasa Wadiyar II (1478–1513)
bettada Chamaraja Wadiyar III (1513–1553)
Wadiyar II (1553–1572)
Chamaraja Wadiyar IV (1572–1576)
Chamaraja Wadiyar V (1576–1578)
Wadiyar I (1578–1617)
Wadiyar VI (1617–1637)
Wadiyar II (1637–1638)
Kanteerava Narasaraja Wadiyar I (1638–1659)
Devaraja Wadiyar (1659–1673)
Devaraja Wadiyar (1613–1704)
Majaraja Wadiyar (1704–1714)
Krishnaraja Wadiyar I (1714–1732)
Wadiyar VII (1732–1734)
Krishnaraja Wadiyar II (1734–1766)
Chamaraja Wadiyar VIII (1770–1776)
Chamaraja Wadiyar IX (1766–1796)
Krishnaraja Wadiyar III (1799–1868)
Wadiyar X (1868–1894)
Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV (1902–1940)
Jaya Chamaraja Wadiyar XI (1940 - 1947)
Rajpramukh of Mysore state, (1950–1956)
Governor of Mysore state (present-day Karnataka),
Governor of Madras State (present-day Tamil Nadu),
De-recognized as Maharaja of Mysore by the 26Th Amendment to
the constitution in 1971. Died on 23-9-1974.
Srikanta Datta Narsimharaja Wadiyar, (b-1953, ascended the
throne in 1974- though a private affair)