|Documentary Film Series on Mysore Palace
The Garden City of Mysore, a tourists paradise, has nail and artistic backdrop in the form of the Chamundi Hill on which resides the presiding deity of Mysore and its Royal Family, Goddess Chamundeshwari. The City derives its hoary past the Hill itself. Mahavamasa and Dipavamsa, the Buddhist texts, allude to the despatch of Buddhist missionary, Mahadeva by Asoka to Mahishamandala to propagate the Buddhist Dharma. Mahishamandala is identified with Mahisuru, the City of buffalo demon Mahishasura, who was vanquished by Durga and established herself on the hill in the form of Chamunda.
With the traditional founding of the Mysore dynasty, in 1399 A.D. by Yaduraya, Mysore has seen 24 rulers. However, until the emergence of Raja Wadiyar in 1578 A.D. the Mysore Kingdom was a small feudatory Kingdom under the Vijayanagam Kingdom. With the fall of Vijayanagara in 1565 A.D. the Wadiyars of Mysore, inherited and perpetuated the traditions of Vijayanagara. Raja Wadiyar ascended the throne with pomp and pageantry in 1610 A.D., in Srirangapatna which was then the Capital and inaugurated the Dasara festivities which are still celebrated with all grandeur. The most celebrated Kings after Raja Wadiyar who contributed to the cultural heritage of Mysore are Ranadhira Kanthirava Narasaraja Wadiyar (1638-1659 A.D.), Chikka Devaraja Wadiyar (1673-1704 A.D.),
Krishnaraja Wadiyar (m) (1799-1868 A.D.), Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar
(TV) (1902-1940 A.D.) and Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar from 1940 till the
establishment of the Republic of India.
Added to this was the fire. In 1897, at the close of the festivities, during the marriage of the princess Jayalakshmmanniyavaru, the grater part of this wooden Palace was almost destroyed by fire. We are fortunate to have a photograph of this wooden Palace taken by one John Birdwood, who was a lancer in the Mysore Army and who later became the Commander-in-Chief of Indian Army and later on he was the Master of Peter House, Cambridge. He presented the Photograph to His Highness in 1929. An excellent description of this wooden Palace as it was before disastrous fire of February 1897 has been recorded.
The New Palace
imposing facade has seven big arches and two small arches flanking the
central arch, supported by tall pillars. Above the central arches as the
parapet is the sculpture of Gajalaksmi. The Palace, like the old, is built
around an open courtyard, called thotti open to the sky. To the east of
this thotti on the ground floor, is the impressive elephant gate. Immediately
to the south is the beautiful Kalyana mantapa or the marriage pavilion.
On the first floor, still facing east, is the great Durbar hall, Diwun-e-Ain,
measuring 47.25 in (155 feet long) by 12.80 m (42 feet wide). On the same
floor, towards the south is a daintily decorated private durbar hall,
called Ambavilasa, the Diwan-e-Khas. The second floor has several rooms
and large halls on the sides. The Kalyanamantapa or the marriage pavilion,
in the ground floor, is a beauty to look at. The octagonal, painted pavilion
has a colourful stained-glass wiling.
Apart from the stained-glass decoration which is the central attraction, the walls of this pavilion are covered with murals, depicting the famous Mysore Dasara.
The Dasara or the Festival of Ten nights
was first celebrated on a grand scale by the rulers of Vijayanagar, at
Hampi. We have graphic accounts of these festivities in the accounts of
the contemporary foreign travellers like the Portuguese Domingo Paes,
the Persian ambassador Abdur Razaak who visited Vijayanagar. With the
disintegration of the Vijayanagar empire, it was the Nayaks of Keladi
and Ikkeri, and Wadiyars of Mysore who inherited the traditions of Vijayanagar.
The Mysore rulers made the Dasara immortal by the grand festivities for
ten days, culminating in the famous procession of the Kind in a Golden
howdah, on a decorated elephant.
However, the Mysore artists, under the patronage of, and commissioned
by, the noble Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV, have immortalized the Dasara procession,
on canvas, in 26 panels, on the walls of the marriage pavilion. Thus,
the Kalyanamantapa is not only a architectural beauty, but a veritable
gallery of paintings.
The public Durbar Hall is a massive pillared hall, which deserves to be
rnaintai.ned as such. The rear walls have paintings by Raja Ravivarma
(Rama breaking the Siva Dhanus), and eight forms of Devi, viz., Kalika,
Navadurga, Mahishamardini, Saraswati, Mahalakshmi, Bhuvanesvari, Gayatri
and Rajarajeshvari, by a distinguished local artist-sculptor Sri Shilpi
Siddalingaswami. The central panel has a large paintings of the Mysore
royal family, by another distinguished artist late Sri Y. Nagaraju, who
has also executed some of the panels in the marriage pavilion. The interesting
feature of this panel, however, is that it depicts four generations of
Mysore Kings, viz., Krishnaraja Wadiyar III, Chamaraja Wadiyar, Krishnaraja
Wadiyar IV with his younger brother Kanthirava Narasaraja Wadiyar, and
the handsome prince Jayachamaraja Wadiyar, the last king who ruled the
princely State before it merged into the Indian Union. All the paintings
are encased in delicately carved teak-wood frames, which are by themselves
works of art.
aisle has a beautiful stained glass ceiling decorated with delicate designs,
supported by cast-iron pillars, all of which are manufactured by the famous
Mcfarlane of Glasgow. The beautification of the Ambavilasa was entrusted
to that celebrated artist of Karnataka, Sri K. Venkatappa. While assigning
the work, late His Highness Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV said, "You have devoted
your whole life for the study of fine arts, and have made great name in
your life, you have brought much credit to my State, and I consider it
as a pride. My only ambition is to show you, through your art, to the
distinguished visitors that come here, and say that it is my countryman's
work". A look at this beautiful hall, where Venkatappa his blended blue,
gold and red to provide a pleasing colour scheme shows that the great
artist has lived up to the expectations of late His Highness.
1336 A.D. Vidyaranya, the royal preceptor of the Vijayanagar kings, pointed
out the spot where it was buried, to Hiriham I, one of the founders of
the Vijayanagar empire, who retrieved this. This auspicious throne was
then used by the Vijayanagar kings at Anegondi, for more than a century
and a ha!f. During the early part of the 17th century, the Governor of
Vijayanagar rulers at Srirangapatna obtained this and brought it there.
Originally made of figwood, this throne is said to have been decorated with ivory plaques. Later on, in course of time, it was decorated and be jewelled with golden embellishment and silver figurines. In a Sanskrit work called Devatanama Kusumamanjari composed by King Krishnaraja Wadiyar III, in 1859, there is a detailed description of the golden throne:
"The throne is decorated with golden pillars and mango leaves. The balustrades of the steps leading to the seat are embellished with female figures. The golden umbrella has festoons. The seat has the tortoise seat (Kurmasana). The four sides of the throne are decorated with Vyalas and creepers. Elephants on the east, horse on the south, soldiers on the west and chariots on the north decorate the royal seat. Brahma towards the south, Mahashwara on the north and Vishnu in the centre form the Tinity. In the corners, are fond Vijaya and four lions, two of the mythical Shardulas, two horse and swans in the four corners. It is further adorned with Naga nymphs and Ashthadikpalas or the guardians of the eight quarters".
This throne is a work of art. Although it has undergone slight alterations in the 1940s, it has retained the original artistic, decorative features.
The vast open space, in front of the Palace, with the planned garden that is being laid out, adds charm and majesty to the entire structure. "The place is known for its illumination. The entire building is lined with rows of bulbs, following the contours of the structure, and when lit up, it looks like a Place of lights. It is no wonder that visitors to the Palace exclaim, that the Mysore Place has no comparison anywhere in the world and is unique".
The other main attraction of the Palace are :
(1) The Fort, (2) Cannons, (3) The Dolls Pavilion (Gombe Thotti), (4) The Golden Howdah, (5) Marriage Pavilion (Kalyana Mantapa), (6) Portrait Gallery, (7) Period Furniture Room, (8) The Trophies, (9) The Armory, (10) The Durbar Hall