While in Bangalore, be sure to visit Bangalore palace for a glimpse of royal splendor! It was built by Maharajah (king) Chamara Wadiyar of Mysore, when he wanted a place to stay in while visiting the city. The 45,000 square feet palace was built on 428 acres of land, with vast, colorful gardens which were designed in a way to guarantee color at all times of the year! It is an imposing structure with Tudor style architecture, typical Gothic windows, fortified towers, battlements and turrets, while inside is a treasure trove of elegant wood carvings, pretty relief paintings on the ceiling, floral motifs and cornices.
The massive main door made of rosewood leads to the entrance hall—with a figure of the Maharajah, photographs on the walls, and separate counters for tickets and audio guides.
The palace has been thrown open to visitors in recent times, and the entry fees cover the guide. Various sites in the palace are numbered, and if you press the corresponding number on the mp3 audio player, you hear a clear, concise history of the spot. The tour takes less than an hour, but there is no hurry-you can pause at any time or replay a commentary! It can be heard in one of the following languages: Hindi, Kannada (the local language), German, Spanish, Italian or French, and of course, English. Separate fees have to be paid for using a camera, and higher fees for a video.
Opposite the main door, ornate wooden doors open out to the grand ballroom, with chandeliers and arched doors. This room once reverberated with the sounds of bands and royal parties, while the royalty and nobility danced on the wooden floors, made of teak wood from Burma.
As you turn back to the main door, what strikes you is the enormous head of a tusker (elephant) mounted above it! Take the majestic rosewood staircase, with ornate wooden carvings and flanked by statues, to reach the grand Durbar hall where the Maharajah granted audience. It has enormous chandeliers, an ornate ceiling and pillars, a huge gold bordered mirror to mark the spot where he sat on his throne and a latticed balcony meant for the royal ladies.
The walls of the corridor leading from the Durbar hall are lined with photographs of the legendary Dasara festival celebrations in Mysore, where the Maharajah played an important role. Next, marvel at the intricate craftsmanship of the rosewood staircase leading to the private residence of the royal family.
After the Maharajah’s quarters, walk through a section of classical paintings, with copies of originals which are now in museums like the Louvre. After the Maharani’s (queen) quarters with pretty floral motifs is the “hunting” section-a corridor lined with photographs of tiger and elephant hunting parties, stools made of elephant and bison feet, and the trunk of an elephant.
Exhibits on the lower floors include genealogical portraits, family snapshots and some personal belongings of the Wadiyar royal family. These are displayed on the corridors around an open courtyard-the Maharani’s courtyard, with a pretty fountain in the center, where the ladies of the royal household gathered to cool themselves and exchange news and gossip! A small room leads to another corridor and courtyard-the Maharajah’s courtyard. This has pretty tiled benches, and a floral design in the center. An interesting exhibit on the corridor near the courtyard is a jockey’s weighing scale.
The last room, known as the Raj corner, has interesting photographs. The tour comes full circle at the main door near a large, stone traditional stone lamp, while the narrator describes the gardens and the architectural style of the building. As you leave the palace, take a moment to sit on one of the benches and look at the magnificent structure, the colorful gardens and the horses nearby! Horse drawn carriages parked in front complete the old age charm. A visit to this royal home is sure to transport you to another world, far removed from the IT complexes, pubs and malls which are usually associated with India’s silicon city!
Maps and More: Karnataka-published by the Karnataka State Tourism Department