Bangalore Palace tour 🏰: Glimpse into the Wodeyars story – Part 𝟙

Bangalore is the capital of Karnataka and Mysore is a weekend getaway from Bangalore, touted as the cultural capital of Karnataka, famous for the ten day Dasara festival held every October.

The most famous landmark in Mysore is the Mysore Palace of the Wodeyars – the erstwhile rulers of the Mysore kingdom ⚔️. I have visited the palace once, several years ago; after getting the tickets, we had to remove our footwear to tour the palace interiors; no mode of photography was allowed during the tour inside the palace. There was long queue of visitors and the Hindi-speaking people managing the show kept screaming to get a move on. There was little time to look at everything properly amidst the hurry burry, but the grandeur of the palace was still awe inspiring. I remember the vast palace grounds with the surrounding enclosures and life like statues of tigers sculpted in all their ferocity. Along with the grand scale of construction, the other vivid recollection is the colour combinations of the grand halls inside the palace. There are three floors in the palace and since no photography was allowed, the colours combinations are seared into my memory and they are still ablaze – the pillars in the grand hall on the first floor was sapphire and gold; the second grand hall had a beautiful combination of pink and gold and the third grand hall was draped in green and gold. The Mysore palace is magnificent and well worth a visit even barefoot !!

The Mysore Palace is palace no.1 of the Wodeyars. I have also visited their palace no.2 in Ooty called the Fernhill Palace currently run as a heritage hotel 🏨. We were in Coonoor, a charming hill station in Tamil Nadu for a few days and we ventured to nearby Ooty on a day’s outing, a more popular hill station and the Fernhill Palace was a stop in the evening. We had tea and sandwiches there after admiring the accessible parts beautiful palace; since we were not staying we weren’t allowed to explore all the rooms. The picturesque palace is set amidst sprawling lawns and beautiful trees; wood and colour is what I recall from the Fernhill Palace; there is wood everywhere, the plush sofas, colourful paintings and the well manicured lawns. Hotel guests were enjoying the evening in the garden, while we sped away.

H H Pramoda Devi Wodeyar, the widow of the late Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wodeyar (26th Maharaja), is the owner of both the Fernhill Palace and the Bangalore Palace – palace no. 3 So my first question was answered, who were the residents of the Bangalore palace – the Wodeyars !

The royal family assembled at the Bangalore Palace in June, with the arrival of the rains, recollects one of the princesses

The Fernhills Palace used to be hunting ground for the royals and their guests where they embarked on hunting tigers; 300 tigers were claimed to be killed by one Maharaja alone and the photos are exhibited at the Bangalore Palace. The royal family assembled at the Bangalore Palace in June, with the arrival of the rains, recollects one of the princesses in the audio guide available at the Bangalore Palace.

Bangalore Palace

We reached the Bangalore Palace by 10:00 am on a Sunday morning; they were open and we were the first to enter 😊. It took us three hours to complete the tour and when we were leaving, a long queue had built up at the ticket counter. The palace stands isolated in the midst of wide open tracts of land and there is a well maintained garden directly in front of the palace. The open grounds around the palace have often served as locations for concerts and banquets over the years.

The Bangalore Palace stands isolated in the midst of wide open tracts of land

After paying for the tickets, you can collect the free audio guide as you start the tour. Taking the audio guide is a good idea as there are no guides at the palace to explain stuff and you need to know what it is that you are looking at and the stories; without which it becomes a pretty boring.

Bangalore Palace

From the outside, the Bangalore Palace looks totally different from the other two palaces – the grand and imposing Mysore Palace and the charming Fernhill Palace; it looks a bit like a European castle with its turrets and stone walls 😊. The creeping green vines add a distinct charm and a castle like feel. All it needs now is a moat !

The first thing you notice as you enter the palace are the royal insignia and coat of arms adorning the walls. The royal insignia is called the Gandaberunda – a two headed bird – a symbol of strength. It is also now the official emblem of the state of Karnataka.

The Gandaberunda – a two headed bird – a symbol of strength, insignia of the Wodeyars

The coat of arms of the Wodeyars is a combination of the Gandaberunda, flanked on either side by a creatures with an elephant’s head and a lion’s body, with a Yali at the top – all symbols of strength !

Inside the main entrance to the palace stands a rectangular wooden enclosure – the first lift in Bangalore ! Above the main entrance is the head of an elephant still in possession of it’s precious ivory tusks 🐘 – shot by the Maharaja’s father. So who is this Maharaja?

Maharaja Chamaraja Wodeyar X (23rd Maharaja 1868-1894) was the first to occupy the Bangalore Palace. He purchased the land from the Britisher Rev J Garrett in 1874 and set about building the palace, a home in Bangalore 🏰.

The main entrance to the palace, with the lift on the left, the elephant’s head on the top

The audio guide takes us along the spiral rosewood staircase starting from the right of the main entrance to a landing on the first floor of the palace. Beautifully sculpted statues of knights guard the staircase.

The spiral rosewood staircase from the main entrance to the first floor of the palace
A regal knight along the staircase

The first floor has a spacious durbar hall, the formal meeting place; it furnishings is only a remnant of the grandeur of the yesteryears. The height of the room, tall stained glass windows, the beautiful arches, the chandeliers still exude the old world regal charm. The Maharaja is supposed to be seated in front of the large Belgian mirror facing the audience. The patterns in gold carved on the ceiling still looks majestic.

The durbar hall at the Bangalore Palace
The ornate roof of the durbar hall at the Bangalore Palace

From here we move onto the living quarters of the royal family….in the next post. Here’s the itinerary 👉 Itinerary for a weekend in downtown Bangalore🏙

Till next post, take care !!

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