The trumpeting elephants added their melody to the beating drums, The brilliance of the mighty beasts was enhanced by the golden howdah Upon which sat the handsome Maharaja, acknowledging the cheering crowd As he made his way to his abode - the brilliantly lit Mysore Palace!
Not just a scene from yesteryears, but one that can be witnessed to date – especially during the Dasara Festival at the Mysore Palace. The royal procession during the festival is just one of the things that glamourize the Mysore Maharaja Palace. However, it is the palatial abode itself – that tells you the true tale of a Majestic Magnificence – one that you will discover through this guide to the Mysore Palace.
I cannot even remember the number of times that I have visited the Amba Vilas Palace of Mysore. As a Bangalore resident, it became my duty to treat every houseguest to the best places to visit in Mysore. Naturally, the royal tour of the Mysore Palace topped that list. Like any tourist guide in Mysore Palace, I knew the spots that would get the “oohs and aahs” from my audience. I was proclaimed as the unregistered, official guide to Mysore Palace.
Guide to the Mysore Palace
- 1 Guide to the Mysore Palace
- 2 History of Mysore Palace
- 3 The architecture of Mysore Palace
- 4 Gates of the Amba Vilas Palace
- 5 Gombe Thotti – The Doll’s Pavilion
- 6 Wrestling Courtyard at the Mysore Palace
- 7 Kalyana Mantapa – The Marriage Hall of Mysuru Palace
- 8 Portraits Gallery in Mysore Maharaja’s Palace
- 9 Casket Room – Royal Collection of Mysore Palace
- 10 Durga Pooja Painting in Mysore Palace
- 11 Royal Furniture
- 12 Artistic Ceilings & Colorful Flooring
- 13 Public Durbar Hall of Mysore Maharaja Palace
- 14 The Amba Vilas – Private Durbar Hall of Mysore Palace
- 15 Hallway of Doors
- 16 The Residential Museum of Mysore Palace
- 17 Temples of Mysore Palace
- 18 Pin This
- 19 How to get to Mysore Palace?
- 20 Where to stay in Mysore?
- 21 Mysore Palace Information: Entry Fees, Timings & the Light & Sound Show
- 22 Visiting Mysore Palace during Dasara Festival
- 23 Travel Tips
- 24 Booking resources
Legendary thrones, cursed tales, precious treasures and private chambers!
A tour of the most popular of the places to visit in Mysore is going to be more than just seeing the various attractions of Mysore Palace. Almost every section that I share here has an interesting tale. That is what makes the Mysore Palace – one of the most visited tourist attractions in India after the Taj Mahal. I am sure that by the end of this guide to Mysore Palace I will be treated to your “oohs and aahs“. So, let’s get started.
History of Mysore Palace
The Mysore Palace history goes back to the 13th century with its current ruling dynasty – the Wodeyars (or the Wadiyars as they came to be called by the British). King Yaduraya is said to have constructed a wooden palace in the Old Fort Area (Puragiri) way before the 14th century. Struck by lightning, this structure was replaced by yet another wooden but elaborate castle by the then Maharaja Kantirava Narasa Raja Wodeyar. It was this palace that was taken over by the famous Tiger of Mysore – Tipu Sultan.
Tipu Sultan never really lived here. Though he held on to it till his death in 1799, after which it went back to the Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar II. The Mysuru Palace faced another calamity in 1897 in the form of a kitchen fire during the wedding of Princess Jayalakshmi. Almost the whole structure was destroyed.
Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV and his wife – Maharani Kempananjammani Devi shifted to the nearby Jaganmohan Palace and commissioned a new abode through a British Architect – Henry Irwin. The present-day Mysore Palace, also called Amba Vilas Palace, was rebuilt in 1912 for a sum of INR 42 lakhs. Today, this magnificent palace of Mysore is still owned by the Wadiyar Family. They reside in a small section of it while the rest of the palace has been converted into a heritage site – managed by the Government of Karnataka.
The architecture of Mysore Palace
The Amba Vilas Palace will bowl you over with its mesmerizing fusion of European, Rajput, Mughal and Hindu style of architecture. Standing in front of this palace was enough for me to see the glimpses of the four architectural styles – the domes reminding me of the Mughal palaces, the arches and pavilions of the Rajasthani ones, the pillared windows and floors of the various British palaces and finally, the deities of the Hindu ones. The right phrase for this amalgamation would be Indo-Gothic or Indo Saracenic architecture.
The 245 feet by 156 feet huge palace building is set amidst manicured gardens and faces the revered Chamunda Hills. (The rulers were devotees of Goddess Chamundeshwari) .
The palace grounds are home to over 12 temples, 3 gates, and a 5-story watchtower with a gold-plated dome. The palace itself is three stories tall and is made with a combination of grey granite and pink marble stone. The impressive arched facade has a huge sculpture of Goddess Gajalakshmi in the center with her elephants to symbolize wealth and prosperity.
Gates of the Amba Vilas Palace
Mysuru Palace has three major gates facing East, West and South. Of these, the one in the West is generally opened only during Dasara. The general public is let in through the South Gate. However, the most important gate is the East Gate. It is called the “Ane Bagilu” – which translates into Elephant’s Gate. This is largely for the royal family and VVIPs. This is the gate where the famous Dasara procession starts.
The Ane Bagilu has beautiful brass filigree and sports the royal crest & coat of arms. A two-headed eagle forms the center of the crest below which is written “nabhibhatikadachan” in Sanskrit. It translates to “never being scared”.
These are the gates to the palace but besides these, there are various arches that lead you into the palace grounds. When you enter through the biggest one facing the Mysore Palace, you will see huge bronze tigers. These were made by a British sculptor in the early 1900s.
Gombe Thotti – The Doll’s Pavilion
A long corridor with numerous dolls, tastefully arranged in settings to depict mythological stories or even scenes from everyday life. The doll collection in the Mysore Palace were a part of the Royal collection. Some of the doll homes have been procured from Europe, way back in the 1920s.
The Gombe Thotti is not a recent addition but depicts the tradition followed during the Dasara Festival. This tradition goes back to the time when the Kingdom of Mysore was a part of the famous Vijayanagar Empire. During the 10-day festival, these dolls are decorated and arranged.
A few additions to this traditional set-up includes a Golden howdah. What is special about it is the fact that the wooden piece is covered with 84 kg of Gold!!! Even today, during the Mysore Dasara Procession it is mounted on the lead elephant and Goddess Chamundeshwari rides through Mysore city on it.
Watch out for the cannons on the opposite side of the dolls pavilion – they are taken out and still fired during Dusshera.
Wrestling Courtyard at the Mysore Palace
The first of the many courtyards of the Mysore Palace attracted me with its artistic spiral staircase. Peeping in closer, showcases two bronze tigers at the entrance of the courtyard. That is when you will realize that this is no ordinary space.
What you encountered is actually a wrestling courtyard. This is where the patrons of wrestling – the Wodeyar Maharajas enjoyed the sport, especially during the Dusshera Festival. However, the sport was no ordinary sport. It involved specialized wrestlers called Jetties. These wrestlers practiced a rare form of this sport called Vajramushti. The sport involved wearing knuckle weapons made of ivory or silver. Owing to that, the wrestling show turned out to be quite violent.
Vajramushti is still practiced by the Jetties but has slowly faded in terms of popularity. The modern rendition of this sport has done away with those knuckle weapons. As you walk around the corridor around the Wrestling courtyard of Mysore Palace, block out the sound around you and try to hear the cheers of the Royal crowd seated around this courtyard. I bet, you will be able to picture an actual wrestling match.
The Wrestling courtyard stays true to the Indo Saracenic architecture of Mysore Palace. The stained glass windows framed by brackets with Indian cherubs and birds. And then there are those Gothic balustrades below the arched windows. The effect is just mesmerizing!
Kalyana Mantapa – The Marriage Hall of Mysuru Palace
Opulence Galore! Amalgamation Personified!
The marriage hall or the Kalyana Mantapa of the Amba Vilas Palace will make your eyes pop out. Starting with the delicate stained glass ceilings that are filled with the colors of peacock feathers and pretty flowers. The entire ceiling was made in Scotland and brought here.
Hanging from the ceiling is a stunning chandelier that offsets the green iron pillars around the octagonal mantapa. The chandelier is yet another artifact that was brought from Europe – specifically Czechoslovakia. The chandelier runs on electricity – which brings me to a fact about the Mysore Palace. The newly constructed Palace was one of the first buildings to be lit with electricity.
The floor of the 8 cornered hall is made of these colorful mosaics with a 8-star forming the center of the pavilion. This is possibly where the star of the day sat on a gorgeous throne. At the center of this star is a peacock made with the same tiles – again all the way from England.
The hall was used for important religious and social functions like marriages, coronations and even birthdays! In fact, it was used as recently as 2016 for the wedding of the current titled Maharaja of Mysore.
As you walk around the Kalyana Mantapa, you will see panels of several paintings depicting the famous Dasara procession. The paintings are quite detailed and are based on the actual scene during one of the processions. There is one depicting the British soldiers near the famous St. Philomena’s church. All these paintings were commissioned by the Mysore Maharajas to the best artists in Karnataka.
Portraits Gallery in Mysore Maharaja’s Palace
While you might not have been invited to the Royal Wedding, but looking through the photographs is always fun to live it. The Portrait’s gallery near the Kalyana Mantapa is filled with photographs and paintings of the Royal Family. A lot of these photographs were taken in Mysore but as the technology was new then, these were developed in England.
Baby Princes, pretty princesses, stunning Queens and Maharajas posing against their palace – the Portrait galley helps you discover the actual life of the Wodeyar dynasty. Among the many paintings and photographs – lookout for the 3D image of Krishnaraja Wodeyar. Quite like the painting of Jesus in the Vatican Museum. you will find that the Maharaja’s eyes will follow you wherever you go!;-)
And while you are busy enjoying these paintings, keep an eye out for the rare Raja Ravi Verma paintings in this gallery – specifically Krishnaraja Wodeyar as a baby.
Casket Room – Royal Collection of Mysore Palace
SECRETS? CODES? MYSTERY!?
Likely that is the first thought you would have when you walk into a room full of closed caskets!.
Well, at least that is what I thought but these caskets are not so mysterious. They were basically used to present invites and announcements to the King. The caskets are predominantly made of sandalwood and can be seen in all sizes. In addition to the wooden ones, you will also see a few silver and ivory caskets.
Durga Pooja Painting in Mysore Palace
Among all the paintings in the Portrait Gallery, every guide in Mysore Palace will stop at this particular one – the painting of the King Krishnaraja Wodeyar performing the royal pooja of Goddess Chamundeshwari – a form of Durga. The painting is a real representation of the Dasara Pooja (Ayudha Pooja) performed by the King. There are so many details within the painting that make it one highlight in the Palace – like the Golden Howdah that you have already seen in your tour.
An exquisite rosewood door will draw you into a room that is filled with Royal furniture. The elaborate chairs made with silver for the visiting dignitaries, ivory framed mirrors and carved tables will greet you in this mosaic-covered room.
Every chair here has the Wodeyar coat of arms carved on its back, have tigers on their armrest and tiger paws as their legs. The furniture in Mysore Palace was made by specialized temple craftsmen called Gudiyars.
More than the furniture in this room, I was mesmerized by its colored floor and the delicately carved Burma Teak Wood Ceiling. The ceiling is something that I even saw in other parts of the palace. The use of teak wood was not just for ornamentation but also, served to keep the rooms cool and reduce the echo within.
Artistic Ceilings & Colorful Flooring
It isn’t just the furniture room that will bowl you over with its ceiling and flooring. All through the Mysore palace, you will find yourself in awe of it. Almost every section, including the corridor, will make you want to stop and admire the vibrant layout enclosed within the arched frames.
Add to that the colorful tiles on the walls and the aesthetic doors, you cannot but help add those extra minutes to your tour of Mysore Palace.
Public Durbar Hall of Mysore Maharaja Palace
Welcome to the most photographed feature of the Mysore Maharaja Palace. The Public Durbar Hall of Mysore Palace will dazzle you with its green and gold arches. I have always been bowled over with the exquisite details of this hall.
The well-spaced arches with their golden floral filigree and the way they reflect on the polished floor always keeps me rooted to one spot for some time. I can never get over the sight of those symmetrical arches and the ornate ceilings enclosed within.
The Maharaja occupied the center of this hall so that his subjects could see him clearly. Around him, on either side are green balconies where the ministers and dignitaries sat as per their status. The general public would occupy the central grounds below.
In this area, pay attention to the stucco art ceiling in the center. You will see the trimurti Gods – Lord Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu surrounded by 12 zodiac signs. The other stucco arts also, showcase various mythological stories.
The Public Durbar hall is cordoned off and that prevents you from exploring the other end of the Public Durbar Hall. However, at certain angles, you can see pretty oil paintings. Try spotting the oil painting of Sita’s Swayamwar along this end. This was done by the same Ravi Varma and is a pride of this hall. Also, note that the floor around the paintings is made with semi-precious stones.
The Public Durbar Hall was not a part of the original construction of the Mysore Palace. It was made almost 25 years later in 1938.
The Amba Vilas – Private Durbar Hall of Mysore Palace
If the Public Durbar Hall had you awe-struck, wait till you see the private durbar hall -also, called Amba Vilas Durbar Hall. It is in this ostentatious hall that the King met his council of ministers and had meetings with important dignitaries. Build to impress, every aspect of this hall has a tale to share.
Let’s start with the blue and gold pillars that are made of wrought iron and are hollow to absorb sound better. This is exactly opposite of the granite green -gold ones in the public durbar hall that would reflect sound. The gold used in the pillars is real and the paint in the hall has never been changed or touched upon. This is how it has been for the last century or so.
Between these pillars, the floor is made with marble and has the same inlay work as what you see at the Taj Mahal. In fact, pietra-dura artists from Agra were called in for this work. The rest of the floor might seem plain in comparison but this was usually covered with carpets. However, one interesting thing about that simple floor is that it was a part of the old wooden palace that burnt down.
The almost to floor chandeliers adds to the ornamental appeal of the hall. While those hang from a glass ceiling, the rest of the hall had the same teak wood roof that reduced the noise levels.
A golden throne – that used to be on display earlier, would be placed at the far end of the hall for the Maharaja to sit. These days, the throne is either kept in a different display area or is not showcased. However, from my earlier visits I recall it as a super impressive with gems all over it. Clearly this private durbar with its throne was a reflection of power and supremacy of the Wodeyar rulers!
Hallway of Doors
Pay special attention when you exit the Amba Vilas Durbar Hall of Mysore Palace. You will notice that there are actually three doors that lead in and out of it. Two of them are made of rosewood while central one is a silver door. The silver one has carvings of various Hindu deities over it.
As you descend the steps, you will come across a passage of artistic doors. These are actually salvaged from the old wooden palace and many of them have been just integrated as showpieces. They do not lead to any rooms. Except the one below that leads to the Ganesha Shrine, which managed to escape the palace. fire. The shrine is open only to the Royal family and even today, they perform their poojas in it.
The Residential Museum of Mysore Palace
So far, this guide to Mysore Palace has covered the public areas of the royal residence. There is a smaller private section that can be visited. However, this section cannot be photographed. Called the residential museum, this space showcases the private rooms and collection of the Wodeyar family. It is not a part of the Government area but is owned by the royal family.
The museum is well curated to showcase the various weapons, cars, toys, palanquins, head gears, clothes, jewelry and even, private room set-ups. The building is itself, a heritage treasure as it is a part of the original wooden palace which escaped the fire.
Temples of Mysore Palace
12 temples in the whole complex definitely deserves some attention!. Each one of them has a story attached to it. The most important of these temples is the Lakshmiramana Swami Temple. This is apparently the oldest and is revered as devotees are mysteriously cured of their ailments. There is a story of a partially blind man who recovered his eyesight after visiting the temple. This temple is also, used for the coronation ceremonies.
The other important temples of Mysore palace include –
- Shweta Varahaswamy Temple – It is constructed in the Hoysala style and dates back to the Vijayanagar days
- Bhuvaneshwari Temple – Right next to the north entrance of the Palace complex. It is said to have a rare copper mandala.
- Venkatramana Swamy Temple – The temple is said to have provided solace when the dynasty was overthrown by Tipu Sultan
- Kodi Bhairavaswami Temple – Dedicated to Lord Shiva
- Trinayaneshvara Swami Temple – this used to be outside the palace earlier but when the boundaries were redefined, it was enlarged and included in the Palace premises.
- Prasanna Krishanswami temple – The Krishna temple was built as a symbol of the roots of the Wadiyar dynasty. The Wodeyars (called Wadiyar by the British) are said to have descended from Lord Krishna’s Yadu race. The two princes from that dynasty helped the Chamraja princess and older one married her in the 1300s. This was the beginning of the Wodeyar dynasty.
The Mysore Palace is fraught with legends and tales that always ensured that I was never bored over my umpteen visits. In fact, I keep finding a new one whenever I visit it. I am sure that by now, you are keen on uncovering a new story on your own. So go and pin this to your boards – just to help you navigate the stunning Maharaja’s palace in Mysore!
How to get to Mysore Palace?
Mysore has its own airport but with limited connectivity. It is better to fly to Bengaluru and drive down to the Mysore Palace . Bengaluru airport is 150 km from the Mysore Palace. There are plenty of cabs that you can hire from the airport itself. Refer to the booking resources below to book one online.
Mysore is well connected by rail to all the major cities in India. There are regular fast trains from Bengaluru through the day to Mysuru. You can even opt for the shuttle buses from Bengaluru to Mysuru. There is one every hour.
Mysuru palace is located on Sayyaji Rao Road – which is almost the center of the city. Any auto or taxi will take you to the palace. It is quite easy to find transport around the palace too.
Where to stay in Mysore?
Mysore offers you a plethora of stay options. You can opt for luxury heritage hotels to home-stays depending on your budget. Try looking for your hotel in Mysore around the Banni-mantapa area. This is quite central to the city and you will find it easy to access not just the palace but the other attractions in Mysore.
Mysore Palace Information: Entry Fees, Timings & the Light & Sound Show
The entry fees for the Mysore Palace cost INR 70 for adults. Photography in the main section is allowed but without flash. You will need to pay INR 20 per camera. Please note that if you are caught using the flash or photographing a private area, you are subject to a fine or punishment.
The Mysore Palace timings are from 10 am to 5:30 pm everyday. Keep aside at least 2 hours to visit the complete palace. If possible, stay for the light and sound show in the evening that tells you the glorious history of the Kingdom of Mysore.
There are two light and sound shows at the Mysore Palace. The details of these are as below
- Kannada Light and Sound Show at Mysore Palace – Every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 PM. On Saturday, this is played at 8:15 PM. The ticket price for this is INR 70
- English Light and Sound Show at Mysore Palace – Takes place on Thursday, Friday and Saturday between 7 PM to 8 PM. This is priced at INR 90 per adult.
One of the key highlights of visiting the Mysore Palace in the evening is its illumination. The entire palace is lit with over 97,000 light bulbs and is a sight to behold. The palace lights up for 15 minutes everyday after the Light and Sound Show.
Visiting Mysore Palace during Dasara Festival
The best time to visit the Mysore Palace would be during the 10-day Dasara festival. This is usually in the month of October. The entire palace is decorated and the palace is lit everyday for 10 days between 7 PM to 10 PM.. If you are lucky, you might even see the famed Golden throne with the sword of Tipu Sultan placed upon it.
You can also, witness the elephant procession – Jumboo Savari that starts from the Mysore Palace and goes around the city of Mysore. Earlier the kings used to be a part of this procession but today, Goddess Chamundeshwari is taken on the same Golden Howdah on an elephant. The procession is a great place to see some traditional folk dances and music. The ground opposite to the palace is the venue for this cultural fiesta.
- The tour of the Mysore Palace requires you to walk barefoot. You will have to deposit your shoes at the counter in front of the palace entrance.
- When visiting the residential palace, you will be required to deposit your camera and bag at the locker in front of the entrance.
- There are several audio tours for the Mysore Palace that can be downloaded prior to your visit. I recommend using the app Pinakin for this.
- There is a small cafe within the Palace premises for some quick eats. Rest Rooms are easily available here.
- Mysore Palace has a Braille guide for the visually impaired. It also, offers wheelchair facilities for the disabled.
- Consider using Booking.com for your hotel in Mysore. They have over 100 properties listed and you can book without paying an advance.
- Klook.com is a good place to book your cabs between Bangalore and Mysore. It even has a day trip tour of Mysore which includes a visit to the Mysore Palace. Use the link to book the same.
- If you use Amazon for shopping for your travel needs or even home, do consider clicking through this link and browsing.
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Popularly referred to as a Restless Ball of Energy. My Mom refuses to entertain my complaints about my equally restless daughter & assures my husband that I was born with a travel bug.
I am a Post-Graduate in Marketing by qualification and a travel blogger by passion. Besides travel, I enjoy photography and if you don’t find me at my desk, I would be out playing badminton or swimming or just running. I believe in planning for every long weekend through the year. And when I cannot travel physically, I travel virtually through this travel blog. My travel stories have also, got published on various websites and magazines including BBC Travel, Lonely Planet India and Jetwings. I have recently published my first book – When Places Come Alive – a collection of stories that are based on legends, landscapes, art and culture of a place which is available in both ebook and paperback format.