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The Palace and the Zoo

Mysore Travel Blog

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The Maharaja's palace (Mysore, India)

As soon as we’ve finished breakfast, we leave the hotel to dive into the history of Mysore. During breakfast, I had already read in my travel guide that the original name of this city was Mahishuru, which evolved into Maisuru. Mysore is the anglicized form of the name. The Government of Karnata has announced the intention to change the English name of the city to Mysuru.

Until 1947, Mysore was the capital of the small Kingdom of Mysore and was ruled by the Wodeyar dynasty. The Palace of Mysore was the official residence of the Wodeyar family. It was commissioned in 1897 and completed in 1912. It’s now one of the most famous tourist attractions in Mysore and it’s within walking distance from our hotel.

The Maharaja's palace (Mysore, India)

The outside of the palace looks as if it comes straight out of a story from A Thousand and One Nights. It is huge and every square meter seems to make me think I’ve landed straight into the story of Aladdin.

The Wodeyar kings and their extensive families used to live here, this royal dynasty ruled the Kingdom of Mysore from 1399 to 1947. The Wodeyar family remained in place during British rule, but they were subsidiaries of the British Raj and had to pay annual subsidy to the British. The British took over the administration of the Kingdom and as long as they didn’t decide on anything that would bother their conquerors, the Wodeyar kings were free to rule.

The inside of the palace shows clearly that the last kings were never completely free.

The Maharaja's palace (Mysore, India)
The interior may look colourful and Indian, everything is dominated by a European style. It’s beautiful, but it all has a certain taste of sadness. The people in this palace were here because the British allowed them to stay and it’s unlikely they were free to make decisions of their own.

Most of the rooms that are open for visiting are jaw dropping though. The most spectacular is the hall called Ambavilasa. This was used by the king for private audiences. It’s decorated woth gilded columns, stained glass ceilings and a mosaic floor embellished with semi-precious stones.

The Kalyana Mantapa (Mariage Hall) is a large pavilion that also has a stained glass ceiling, this time with peacock motifs arranged in geometrical patterns. The entire structure was mad in Glasgow, Scotland.

The Maharaja's palace (Mysore, India)
The peacock theme continues with a peacock mosaic, designed with tiles from England. Oil paintings that illustrate royal processions of the Wodeyar kings remind of the fact that this palace housed an Indian royal family, and not a British one.

The last king of the Wodeyar dynasty was Jayachamaraja Wodeyar, who ruled from 1940 until Indian independence from British rule. In 1947, after India attained independence, he acceded his kingdom to the dominion of India, but continued as the Maharaja until India became a Republic in 1950.

We have a late lunch at the nearby Parlane Hotel, where the serve excellent club sandwiches. Then we head out for the Mysore Zoo. The zoo dates back from 1892 and is set in pretty gardens. We are most impressed by the tigers though. Of course we had seen tigers before, but never like this.

The Maharaja's palace (Mysore, India)
There are four tigers (two of them are white) and each of them is allowed to roam the large ground for a couple of hours a day. From the caretakers at the smaller area where you can see the other tigers, we understand that it’s not a wise idea to let the tigers out at the same time. They would fight, probably till death.

The tiger that is out in the larger habitat while we are there is fully relaxed, strolling, licking his paws, yawning. It’s the first time we can watch a tiger from this close, without a iron fence blocking our view and we are mesmerized. It’s probably not as safe as in European zoo’s, if you would piss of the tiger I can imagine he could jump over the moat or take a swim, but it’s well worth it.

We enjoy watching the other animals, there are birds here we have never seen before, and it’s reasonably quiet in the zoo. There are only a few people who take pictures from us and ask us to take pictures from them…

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The Maharajas palace (Mysore, Ind…
The Maharaja's palace (Mysore, In…
The Maharajas palace (Mysore, Ind…
The Maharaja's palace (Mysore, In…
The Maharajas palace (Mysore, Ind…
The Maharaja's palace (Mysore, In…
The Maharajas palace (Mysore, Ind…
The Maharaja's palace (Mysore, In…
The Maharajas palace (Mysore, Ind…
The Maharaja's palace (Mysore, In…
The Maharajas palace (Mysore, Ind…
The Maharaja's palace (Mysore, In…
The Maharajas palace (Mysore, Ind…
The Maharaja's palace (Mysore, In…
The Maharajas palace (Mysore, Ind…
The Maharaja's palace (Mysore, In…
The Maharajas palace (Mysore, Ind…
The Maharaja's palace (Mysore, In…
The Maharajas palace (Mysore, Ind…
The Maharaja's palace (Mysore, In…
The Maharajas palace (Mysore, Ind…
The Maharaja's palace (Mysore, In…
The Mysore Zoo(Mysore, India)
The Mysore Zoo(Mysore, India)
The Mysore Zoo(Mysore, India)
The Mysore Zoo(Mysore, India)
The Mysore Zoo(Mysore, India)
The Mysore Zoo(Mysore, India)
The Mysore Zoo(Mysore, India)
The Mysore Zoo(Mysore, India)
The Mysore Zoo(Mysore, India)
The Mysore Zoo(Mysore, India)
The Mysore Zoo(Mysore, India)
The Mysore Zoo(Mysore, India)
The Mysore Zoo(Mysore, India)
The Mysore Zoo(Mysore, India)
The Mysore Zoo(Mysore, India)
The Mysore Zoo(Mysore, India)
The Mysore Zoo(Mysore, India)
The Mysore Zoo(Mysore, India)
Dinner at Dynasty, restaurant at t…
Dinner at Dynasty, restaurant at …
Mysore Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
Only place in India that serves descend French fries
The Hotel Palace Plaza has a restaurant called Dynasty on the ground floor. The same excellent quality of food is served at the restaurant located at … read entire review
Mysore Sights & Attractions review
A taste of A Thousand and One Nights
Until 1947, Mysore was the capital of the small Kingdom of Mysore and was ruled by the Wodeyar dynasty. The Palace of Mysore (also known as Maharaja… read entire review
Mysore Sights & Attractions review
Beautiful tigers
This zoo dates back from 1892 and is set in pretty gardens. We were most impressed by the tigers. Of course we had seen tigers before, but never like … read entire review
Mysore
photo by: chiyeh