I could never get tired of exploring India. This past week, I stumbled upon a new found love. A love for India’s southern states. I was in Mysore.
The Durbar Hall, also known as Sajje or Dasara Hall, in Mysore Palace is the most photographed room, for a better word, in the city. I had visited the palace earlier, many moons ago, as part of a college educational two-week trip. I remember, distinctively, I had found it kitsch and over the top, and was quick to dismiss it.
I guess I have changed. It is still kitsch, but this time I found beauty in its perfect symmetry. The grandeur, imposing. The stories in its walls – riveting.
It is not a very old palace, built in 1912 at a cost of US$30 million by British architect Henry Irwin for the royal Wodeyar dynasty after their old palace burnt down. The three-storey Indo-Saracenic edifice is a fusion of Hindu, Mughal, Rajput, and Gothic styles. A style one either loves or is overwhelmed by. Though most of it is now a Museum, the family still lives inside, in a demarcated section.
The Wodeyars [also spelled Wadiyars] ruled the Kingdom of Mysore from 1399 to 1950. For a brief interlude, from 1761 to 1799, their power was usurped by their military commander Hyder Ali and his son the ‘Tiger of Mysore’, Tipu Sultan. But more of that in my upcoming posts. 🙂
My Mysore travels took me all over the sleepy royal city with the palace at its heart, to 1,000-year-old ethereal Hoysala stone temples, up some 650 steps to reach the feet of the world’s largest monolithic statue, and into the home of Tipu Sultan. Join me as I write about my travels in the South Indian state of Karnataka. And what better place to start than the room which was the last chapter of its royal past.