Friday, 13 February 2015

An evening in Mysore Palace

As i mentioned in the previous post, the famous Mysore palace was the first in our wishlist of the places to visit in Mysore, but we were left disappointed in our first attempt, as the visit timing for the palace was over.

Day -2 in Mysore

After having Darshan, we left the place for our hotel and completed our official work well before 05:00 PM, so as to reach the palace before it's closing time. As the palace was very near to our hotel, by 04:00 PM, we had entered the palace premises after taking entry tickets. Entry ticket for adults is Rs. 40/- per head and for children having age between 7 and 2 years, Rs. 25/- per ticket is charged. The first look at the magnificent palace left us mesmerized and we were completely in awe of the place. 

The kings and monarchs of ancient India have been long known for their opulence and grandeur and the palaces and forts built during their time are the best examples of their infatuation towards flamboyant lifestyle. However, the palaces built by Wodeyar rulers have one additional specialty apart from opulence and pomp and that is their unique architecture style. The architectural style of the Mysore Palace is Indo-Saracenic, which is a blend of Hindu, Muslim, Rajput and Gothic styles of architecture. The architectural marvel also tells it's visitors the story of emergence of chivalrous wodeyars from regional chieftains to mighty kings of Mysore, who ruled Mysore for nearly six centuries (13th to 19th century), except interregnum period of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan's rule. 

The new palace was renovated by British architect Lord Henri Irwin during the period of Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV. Though, there are many historic palaces in Mysore and Bangalore, built by Hoysala and Wodeyar rulers, but only this Amba Vilas Palace is famous as Mysore Palace. The palace is centrally located in Mysore, facing towards Chamundi hills. The palace is surrounded by a large garden.

Mysore Palace
We were spell-bound by beholding the palace from outside and now we were going inside for a riveting experience. The photography inside the palace is prohibited, hence we could not take any photo, but i will try to narrate, what i witnessed. Apart from the huge walls decorated with mural paintings, there were several priceless artifacts and goods, once used by kings and queens, kept on display. There was the golden howdah (throne) of the king, weighing around 750 Kg. The king used to sit in the golden howdah carried by an elephant during annual Dasara procession. Now a days, the idol of Goddess Chamundeshwari is placed in the howdah during the procession. We saw many statues and paintings, kept in showcase, which were received by the King as a gift from other rulers and dignitaries. In another hall, there was a portrait gallery having portraits of all the members of royal family. The gallery boasts of some paintings of royal family made by famous artist Raja Ravi Varma. We were intrigued to see some three dimensional wall paintings depicting various momentous occasions of Maharaja Krishnaraj Wodeyar's rule, such as war scenes, Dasara procession and paintings of royal army including horses and elephants. The paintings have been made in such a way that it seems, every one's eyes in paintings are following you, once you walk observing those paintings.

There is one casket room in the palace, where mementos and many caskets made of silver and sandalwood received from general public are kept. When the king used to visit various parts of state, his subjects used to submit their requests or complaints in a casket made of silver and sandalwood and used to present mementos in respect of king. There is one public Darbaar Hall, where king used to host ceremonial functions. There were many huge doors made of silver and sandal wood having intricate carvings on them, which were locked and out of public view. We heard from some local fellows that the royal property is under litigation and many rooms concealing enormous wealth have been sealed by administration on court's order.

                                                                                  Inside the palace                                        image courtesy

                                                                          Public Darbaar Hall                                   image courtesy:

At some distance from the palace, there is old palace, which has been converted into museum. The museum has wide collection of weaponry used by kings including swords, knives, spikes, axes, daggers and many models of guns. The dresses of kings and musical instruments used by them were also on display. There were some portraits and personal photographs of wodeyar kings and their family members. 

At the old building, where security arrangements are bit lax, the graffiti on the wall made by poor fellows declaring their love to the world, were common sight like any other heritage site in India.

Now, the security guards had started to vacate the palace premises and we came out after witnessing the royalty from the close quarters. Only, had  the king been alive, our visit to royal family would have become complete. 

Gate way to the Palace
As we came out, a couple of chariots driven by horses were there and the drivers were insisting us to take a ride of the outskirts of the palace. They were asking for Rs. 20/- per person, but we bargained and settled for Rs. 10/- per person. We were to take a round of the palace, however, we came to know that the famous Mysore Dasara Mela is in full swing at Dasara Ground and we decided to enjoy the mela too. Dasara Ground is the place, where the annual Dasara procession originated from the palace heads towards. The mela starts with the Dasara Festival and ends after 90 days. The glittering entry gate of the Mela Ground was inviting us to spend some time among artisans and craftsmen across the country. Mysore Dasara Mela attracts rural artisans from each part of India to set up stalls displaying their products, thus creating additional sales channel for them. We did some shopping from there and returned to our hotel.

Mysore Dasara Ground
In the next post, i will write about my visit to Vrindavan Garden and Srirangpatna, the den of Tipu Sultan. Till then adios!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Mysore : The city of Palaces and Temples

After writing a series of posts on Sikkim, now i would like to share my travel experiences of other places of India, though my Sikkim story is not yet finished. I will write more on other relatively less visited and untouched parts of Sikkim in the days to come. 

Recently, I got an opportunity to travel to Mysore on an official trip of 05 days. Five day's trip meant, we had some time left for exploring the rich heritage and culture of the city. The idea was to make most of the trip by utilizing any opportunity, i got to wander and roam around the beautiful city.

With those thoughts, on a chilly morning of November, i started my journey  to Mysore from Patna via Kolkata and Bangalore. By 1:30 PM, my flight had landed at Bangalore Airport and from there, i boarded the bus for Satellite Bus Stand, from where one can get buses for Mysore any time. The journey from Airport to Bus Stand will offer you glimpses of infrastructure development, that has taken place in Bangalore over the years and has helped the city to join the coveted league of metropolitan cities of India. The Bangalore- Mysore road had numerous speed-breakers and one can imagine, what would have happened to a person sitting in the last row seat of a bus. By 5:00 PM, our bus had reached to Mysore covering the distance of around 150 km in three and half hours. Incidentally my hotel was at walking distance from the bus stand and the day after i came to know that i was residing in the close vicinity of royalty too, i.e. in the neighborhood of erstwhile rulers of Mysore. Mysore, apart from being a heritage city, is also on the way of becoming a world class modern city. It's a beautiful blend of old world charm reflected in palaces and centuries old temples and ultra-modern days reflected in high-tech campuses of some world class IT companies. In Mysore, one can feel the spiritualism in the air and connect to the almighty without being disconnected to the today's online world. It was pleasant for me to see some kids visiting the temples without their parents, as it was difficult for me to imagine myself visiting temple 
in that age without insistence and pressure of parents. Here, i would present before you the daily account of my mysore trip.

Day - 1

Next day, after completing my work, i along with other colleagues went to see the royal palace, however we were out of luck, as the visitors are not allowed to enter palace premises after 05:00 PM. The palace was in front of us in all it's evening glory, yet it was beyond our reach. May be the royalty didn't want to be disturbed by it's subjects at odd hours. Failed to meet the blue blood in our first attempt, we decided to pay visit to Lord Hanuman, who was present there in the august company of Lord Venkateshwara and Lord Shiva. These temples attract as many devotees and visitors in the evening, as the palace does during the day. One astonishing, but pleasant fact, which i noticed that people of different faiths were also visiting the temple with their kids for the blessings of Lord Hanuman. We were told that temple was very old and had earned the reputation of a wish-fulfilling temple, therefore, people from all the communities come to offer their prayers in the temple. I saw many burqa-clad women taking Yantram, a sacred thread from the priest for their kids to protect them from all the ailments and to ward- off all the evils.

Hanuman Temple at the entrance of Mysore Palace
Day - 2

Our next day's plan was to visit Chamundeshwari temple located on top of Chamundi hills, 12 Km away from our hotel in the morning and Mysore palace in the evening before 05:00 PM. As per the plan, we left for Chamundeshwari temple early in the morning and with in 15-20 minutes, we were in the temple premises. The ambience was highly spiritual over there and soon, we joined the fast growing serpentine queue of the devotees to have Darshan and offer our prayers to Goddess Chamundeshwari or Durga, the presiding deity of Mysore. The temple has always been hold in reverence and patronized by Kings of Mysore.

Chamundeshwari Temple, Mysore
The temple is considered one of  51 Shaktipeeth and one of the 18 Maha Shaktipeeth. The hairs of Devi Sati is said to have fallen here. For those, who are not aware of Shaktipeeth, i will try to explain in brief. The Shaktipeeth has it's origin in mythology of Prajapati Daksha's Yajna and Devi Sati's self-immolation. Devi Sati, angered by his father Daksha's decision of not inviting her husband Lord Shiva in the Yajna, set  herself ablaze by jumping in the Yajna fire. Lord Shiva then came to take the corpse of Devi Sati and wandered in sorrow of losing his beloved. Wherever the burnt body parts of Devi Sati fell, the places came to be known as  seats of Shakti or Shaktipeeth.

Intricate stone carvings on the temple wall attracts one's attention and i think, this is the specialty of all the temples of Mysore. These temples also tell the tales of grandeur and splendour of ancient South India. The statue of Goddess is made of gold and there are many gates made of silver. We took the blessings from the deity and then spent some time capturing our spiritual moments in camera. We also saw a giant statue of Nandi made of Granite. It must be one of the largest statue of Lord Shiva's bull mount.

                                                                               Nandi Statue                                             Image courtesy

After having Darshan of Goddess Chamundeshwari, we returned to our hotel. In the next post, we will take a tour of the majestic Mysore Palace and then Vrindavan Garden and Srirangpatna. Stay Connected.