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Mysuru – The City Of Ancient Architecture

Arup Chanda

If you visit Mysuru or Mysore as it was called earlier, do plan to take a camera for sure. The entire city is full of ancient heritage buildings with stunning architecture which you will not find elsewhere.

I reached Mysuru and a friendly auto driver took me to Hotel Prakash Palace nearby. The first evening I decided to amble around admiring the magnificent structures around the hotel. Much to my surprise, even the medical college opposite, was constructed in the architecture of the Mughal era. Well, Tipu Sultan ruled Mysore!

On the following day I headed for the Mysore Palace in the heart of the city. You have to take off your footwear as you enter the palace so a handy pair of socks is recommended. I immediately hired a guide as I wanted to delve into the history of the palace.

My Guide explained: “King Yaduraya first built a palace inside the Old Fort in Mysore in the 14th century, which was demolished and constructed multiple times. The regent of Mysore, Her Majesty Maharani Vani Vilas Sannidhna, and her son, the Maharaja of Mysore His Highness Rajarshi Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV commissioned a British architect Lord Henry Irwin to build a new palace to replace the old one which had been turned into ashes by fire. Meanwhile, the royal family stayed at the nearby Jaganmohan Palace. The construction in charge was taken by B. P. Raghavulu Naidu who was the Executive Engineer in the Mysore Palace Division. He undertook elaborate studies on architectural designs that had to be applied for the construction of the new palace by visiting Delhi, Madras and Calcutta and then started making plans for the new palace. Although commissioned in 1897, it was completed in 1912 at the cost of over Rs. 41 lakhs and later expanded around 1940. I marveled at this magnificent masterpiece standing in front of us and visited by hundreds of people from all over the world daily.

After putting my shoes back on I decided to take a look around the place in one of the many electric cars. Unfortunately for me the driver was too busy talking on his mobile and appeared to just mumble about the surrounding temples.

Unsatisfied, I decided to take an elephant ride – and that was really a ride! I highly recommend this as not only do you get a fabulous aerial view of the place but the mahout proved to be an excellent guide. He not only took us around the entire palace grounds but explained to us in detail about the history which included all the structures, temples and even the horse and camel stables of the erstwhile King. The stables still exist, and if adventurous, one can even take a camel ride!

The palace visit usually takes around three hours. So, I returned to my hotel for lunch.

Following this I decided as it was a Sunday and that the Brindavan Gardens would be illuminated, to take an a/c bus and visit the Gardens.

Outside the Gardens are several eateries serving numerous tasty snacks from fish-fry to pakoras.

The Brindavan Gardens is a celebrated beauty spot in this part of India and is world famous for its symmetric design. It is one of the most beautifully laid out terrace gardens in the world. The creation of this garden in the Krishnaraja Sagar Dam site and its beautification were the achievement of Sir Mirza Ismail, the then Dewan of the princely state of Mysore.

Modelled on the design of the Shalimar Gardens of Kashmir in the Mughal style, the garden is enriched with a number of terraces, parterres, fountains, running and cascading water channels, water chutes, lush green lawns, flower beds, shrubs and trees. Today, the Brindavan Gardens is world famous for its ethereal beauty, grandeur, illumination and musical fountains.

Today, the garden extends to over 60 acres and it is laid out in the three terraces, which end in a horseshoe shape. The slopes are planted with colorful Bougainvilleas and ornamental plants. The garden is enriched with innumerable fountains decorated with colored lighting. The illuminated running waters and fountains with changing colors of lights is an event that the tourists can look forward to in the evenings. The garden has many open spaces, lawns, illuminated flower beds and ornamental plants. It also has well laid out roads and pathways. The boating pond in the midst of the garden is a location where the visitors can also enjoy a boat ride.

After the garden was illuminated it was delight. I met a Bangladeshi family. The man visited the gardens after 30 years along with his children and recounted how the garden was then and that the Hindi movie “Silsila” starring Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha was being shot when he had come then! We reminisced about the good-old-days and a shared a coffee together.

I returned back to my hotel after a thoroughly enjoyable evening after consuming some of the delicious snacks just outside the beautiful gardens, vowing to return to Mysore once a