The City of Mysore: A Colonial & Princely Past
I found Mysore a tad underwhelming, however I suspect that after our adventure in the park (See Mudamalai, MudamalaiPrt2, MudamalaiPrt3), any destination was bound to be viewed as such. Shawn had originally objected to the visit, but gave in because it was somewhat en route to our next destination. We soon found that, despite our lackluster first impression, every city has something to recommend it and sometimes it just takes a little effort to search it out.
My interest in seeing Mysore lay in the city’s colonial past as well as its reputation as being the yoga capital of the world. Due to a lack of time, I unfortunately did not get to experience yoga in Mysore (or anywhere else in India for that matter). And in all honesty, the intense heat was more than a slight deterrent. We did however get to explore and discover a few of the city’s hidden gems.
Mysore is a bustling city with lots of old colonial buildings, many of which, though dilapidated, possessed a regal charm. Evidence of the city’s colonial past was everywhere: from the unprecedented width of the roadways and overabundance of roundabouts, to the uncustomary order of the city layout and the seemingly out-of-place statues of stark historical figures. The city even had a ‘Big Ben’ replica (which just for measure had a touch of Indian flair).
A visit to Mysore Palace filled my imagination with ancient scenes of Indian Princesses wrapped in ornate silks, draped in elaborate gold jewelry and lounging in the cool shade of the open air courts, all the while being entertained by dancers, poets and musicians.
The various rooms in the palace were elaborately decorated with ornately gilded columns, stained glass ceilings, elegantly carved doorways inlaid with ivory and mosaic floors embellished with semi-precious stones and a geometric peacock motif. The architectural design and bold decor was obviously designed for one thing… to impress. And impress it does.
Much to my surprise, we discovered that the original Mysore Palace had burnt to the ground and the one built in it’s place, and image, was only 150 years old. It’s a shame, as I suspect the original possessed even more charm and grandeur.