This is one place in Bangalore that deserved a visit, and after 4 years of calling this techie-inundated city my home, the time finally presented itself to make a trip there. Before I relate the tale of our visit, let me state that all precautionary measures were put in place by the palace authorities, who made sure that we were COVID safe, the visitors were at an all time low, we maintained safe distance from people and refrained from touching anything in the palace (a measure we’d all have to take either way!).
Built in the late 1800s by Chamaraja Wadiyar, the king of Mysore, the Bangalore palace was built inspired by the Windsor Castle in the United Kingdom. This palace follows the tudor style and bears little or no resemblance to the architecture of the region. But what it wears on (literally and) effortlessly is the greenery of the Garden City and what a sight it makes with a drapery of green.
Set amidst the lush Palace grounds, this palace is rather modest in its enterprise, no diamonds encrusted in the walls here, forgive me but am from Hyderabad, but what it does boast amply about is the flora and the fauna of the region. An elephant head on the mantelpiece maybe a thing of honour in the past, but an elephant leg as a stool for sitting on? Oh well. A part of the palace is open to the public and this part showcases a lift, the magnificent Durbar Hall, the women’s quarters, the men’s quarters and an entry porch. While the rooms are filled with notable photos of the regaling past, they are also dotted by personal photos of the King and Queen of Mysore, in shorts, with binoculars, on the Great Wall of China, making them seem so humane and in context with today.
The part of the palace that is open for visitors has two interesting courtyards, one used by the women of the palace and another of stone, used most probably by the men. The design and decor of the two are as varied, evoking completely different feelings and providing the user a very different experience. While the women’s courtyard is dotted by fountains, a colourful filigree and a concoction of plants, it is greatly complemented by colourful chandeliers and spectacular pieces of art. In the other more stony courtyard, there are displayed the hunting exploits of the kings of Mysore. I cannot fathom much less like but an elephant leg for a stool seems like quite a magnanimous King’s passion. In palaces all over India, we see the king happily gloat about and display the regions great reveals. Say the Kohinoor diamond in Golkonda, or the Mughal finery of marble in the Agra fort, the gems may be long gone but their indentations sure remain, revealing a great past. However, the animal exploits used as furniture was the first that I had ever witnessed. The odd animal staring at you from a panelled wall is one thing, but to sit on one is quite the other. Taxidermy to it’s full effect, am guessing the Mysore king would have had a taxidermist or two on speed dial! I for one, couldn’t wait to get out of the courtyard!
The dressers on display showed a great nature of vanity by the king, but the cherry of all the displays is the Maharani of Mysore’s most recent picture. With a coiffured grand head of grey hair, dressed in a royal silk sari and a string of solitaire diamond necklace she not only looks her part but also oozes an aura of delight and awe. A picture of elegance and of great beauty. The class is visible all over the Bangalore Palace, what can I say, the weather on the day of our visit was darn classy too. No wonder them flowers bloom so easily in Bangalore, lets just say it’s the weather. The Bangalore palace is also greatly inspired by the Windsor and in that it makes no sense, to have a great symbol of Tudor Architecture in the middle of Bangalore, but them when has great architecture ever made sense?! (think Eiffel Tower, which has singularly kept the French treasury well-oiled)
The plants growing on the walls of the palace adds so much charm to the building that I couldn’t help but recall Frank Llyod Wright’s statement about plants being the saving grace of architecture. Is the building ugly? Oh well, just plant a vine to grow around it and we all can be assuredly pleased. It is not the most stellar palace around, much less even compared to the Mysore Palace, but it’s quite young, hardly around the late 1800s or even early 1900s. I was told that the Maharaja and Maharani do visit the palace, maybe one of those days when they’d like to visit the city for the weather, or the latest jaunt, but then they do reside in the palace, probably in the wing we are not allowed to enter, the side with a very beautiful ornate white structure that I can only assume is the sun room. It does paint a pretty picture. The quiet in the palace grounds cuts one off from the hustle and bustle and mostly traffic of Bengaluru, that may not be the erstwhile Bangalore anymore, but safely tucked away in the palace grounds one can hardly tell and with that alone one is charmed!
P.s. the humour in the palace with the canon was hilarious. The sign said that the canon could be the property of whoever could left it and carry it away. It was a fair contest, we did not have Lord Rama with us, lest we could have won, easily and hands down. But the son and husband’s Uncle did want to have a chance at the deed where thieves could be rewarded, not the petty kind but the grand kind. We tried but couldnt lift the canon hence could not make it our property. Sigh!