Around the 14th century, a new kingdom was ascending to power in the Deccan plateau. Surrounded by the lush, rain-fed Sahyadris, it boasted of several exquisite temples, mandapas, forts and palaces.
This was the glorious Vijayanagara Empire, whose legacy lives on through its ruins that have captured its stories in stone. But there is one part of the kingdom, a vassal state rather, whose exuberance radiates till date. A step into the ornate Mysore Palace is enough to take one back to the times of kings and queens and their royalty. Located in Mysore city, it is magnificent in its architecture as well as in its history.
First built in the 14th century by Yaduraya, the first king of Mysore, the palace was known as Puragiri, which literally translates to ‘citadel’. Located within the Old Fort, the Mysore Palace served as the official residence of the Wadiyar dynasty. It has been destroyed and reconstructed multiple times—in 1638 it was struck by lightning and rebuilt on the orders of Kanthirava Narasaraja Wadiyar. However, this brand new palace was soon destroyed again by Tipu Sultan, who became the ruler of Mysore in times of political instability. After his death, however, Krishnaraja Wadiyar—at the age of 5—commissioned a new palace to be built in the Hindu architectural style. The palace that we see today was designed by the British architect Henry Irwin, after the earlier one was destroyed in a fire in 1897.
These stories associated with Mysore Palace’s colourful past are what we are all set to explore in our first heritage walk in the city. Organised by Sahapedia, through its outreach programme India Heritage Walks, it shall take place on June 15, 10:30 am onwards.
Mysore Palace is one of the most prominent tourist attractions in India. The kingdom has held an significant place in the history of South India, and the palace is an important landmark for properly understanding the complexities of the feudal kingdoms that arose and fell in the region. One of the biggest historical buildings in the country, the Wadiyars ruled here for over 400 years without a biological offspring. They were courageous warriors, patrons of arts and culture, and very efficient administrators.
Upon visiting the palace, one can imagine the riches of gold and silver, the fleets of elephants, horses and soldiers. Large ornate doors made of silver, the golden throne of the king, beautiful spiralling staircases, and the numerous paintings that tell the story of the Wadiyars lifestyle and the king’s reign are some of the attractions that we shall explore on our visit to this grand monument.
We shall also take a tour through the doll pavilion, which houses a collection of dolls that are worshipped during Dasara—a tradition that has been practised since the times of the Vijayanagara Empire. We shall stop by the portrait gallery to explore the personal collection and photographs of the rulers, ruminate about all the decisions that were taken at the public Durbar hall, marvel at the splendid swan centrepiece, and connect with our spiritual selves at the many temples in the palace.
An important aspect of the walk is understanding the unique architecture of the palace, which is a mixture of Mughal, Rajputana and Gothic architecture—a testament to its diverse history. The palace is laid out with a myriad of pillars and sprawling gardens. Each structure boasts of delicate arches, stained glass ceilings, exquisitely carved doors and beautiful bay windows. The interiors of the palace were mostly done by indigenous artisans and craftsmen, thus imparting a local touch to the otherwise exuberant palace.
While the Wadiyar dynasty and its rule may have ended, its stories still remain alive in this palace. On this walk, we shall learn about these narratives along with other interesting facts about the Wadiyars and their lives in the Mysore Palace.
These tales will be narrated by Jitendra Kumar, a Kalaripayattu trainer and practitioner, folk storyteller, writer, poet and also a theatre artist associated with IPTA Bhilai. He has conducted nine walks with Sahapedia across several heritage sites, and is a treasure trove of knowledge.
So, come, uncover the past of Mysore and unravel its many secrets, as you stroll the magnificent Mysore Palace.
This guided tour is free.
For registration and more details, click here.
To understand more about the culture and heritage of Mysore on Sahapedia, click here.