As the name itself signifies, the Jaganmohan Palace is an elegant and majestic building in Mysore. Actually it is at a walking distance from the Mysore palace to the west of it. It was originally built during the rule of Krishnaraja Wadeyar III sometime in 1860. When there was an accidental fire in the Mysore palace, this was used as a palace and all important functions took place here. The marriage of the then Yuvaraja was celebrated in this palace.
This palace also served as the durbar hall until the completion of the new pavilion in 1910. Another important function that took place here was the installation of His Highness the Maharaja in 1902 which was graced by Lord Curzon, the Governor General and Viceroy of India.
Later in 1900, a spacious and ornamental pavilion was added to the then existing palace. It was specially designed for the invitees to witness marriages, royal installations, and birthday celebrations. The long hall has two balconies on both sides so that the royal women could witness the functions.
Subsequently the Representative Assembly meetings took place here. Even Mysore university convocations were held here for some time.
Today this palace has been made into an art gallery. The three-story structure behind the main hall is a fine repository of paintings, sculptures, musical instruments and other artefacts connected with Mysore royal family. The excellent paintings include those made by Raja Ravivarma, Ramavarma, and some European artists and Roerich.
Particularly interesting are the paintings giving the genealogy of Mysore kings and other matters of interest. The front facade of this palace is majestic with stucco ornamentation and broad doors. Minarets and domes at the four corners are highly pleasing.
The central part has a vimana like tower with minarets and kalasha. The miniature sikharas on either side have chaitya like niches and the same is found at the central dome. Thus, it looks very elegant. It has a vast enclosure with a fine garden and huge shady trees. Hundreds of tourists visit this palace daily to get a glimpse of the Mysore royalty through paintings and other artefacts in the rare ambiance of a contemporary palace for which the Maharajas were famous universally.
Lalitha Mahal Palace is one of the most gorgeous and splendid heritage buildings in Mysore, perhaps in Karnataka itself, next only to the Maharaja’s palaces at Mysore and Bangalore.
Mysore being a princely state under the British, many distinguished foreign visitors used to visit Mysore for numerous purposes. They used to stay in Mysore palace itself. But this was not suitable for the stay of foreign dignitaries for obvious reasons. Hence the then ruling king Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV thought of constructing a building wholly for the foreign guests, where they would be more at home. Naturally he thought of a European classical building rather than an Indian palace.
The Maharaja immediately commissioned a famous architect by name E.W Fritchley. He selected a vast site near the foot of the Chamundi Hill, far away from the noise and pollution of the city. The magnificent building was completed in 1931 under the close guidance of the Maharaja Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV at a cost of about thirteen lakhs of rupees.
The building is an imposing two-storied magnificent structure. The projecting square porch at the ground floor and slightly projecting first floor porch with a trefoil pattern at the roof level are very pleasing. Both the floors have twin Ionic columns, eight on either side of the entrance which give a pleasing effect to the edifice. Two tiered domes are placed on all the four sides with one each at the middle. However, the most striking dome is the three tiered one which is just above the circular entrance hall. Actually it is at a great height and dominates the entire area including the elevation. One lakh bulbs were used to illuminate the palace on weekends and explained about the facilities for foreign tourists at the palace.
Though planned by a foreigner, the craftsmen were all local who had attained great mastery in the art of construction—be it woodwork, stone work, or stucco. This is evident from the richly-laid ornamental motifs on walls and ceilings, wall panels, window shutters and door Jambs. The imported tiles and some fixtures add a touch of royalty to the building. The balustrade staircase just facing the entrance branches off to right and left to reach the first floor is a pretty piece of Italian marble. Thus from top to bottom and from one end to another is an epitome of royalty. Even international guests are amazed at this dream-like edifice. Today it is a prestigious hotel of the government of India and attracts discerning tourists from abroad as well as within the country. Even important distinguished persons of the government also stay here, and enjoy the touch of royalty of the bygone ages of Mysore.
Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel is owned by the State of Karnataka and has been leased out to India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC.) The Lease Agreement is valid till 2023. There is a particular clause in the agreement which clearly states that “in case of a possible disinvestment, the hotel shall be given back to the State at the book value.” Hence the Management of ITDC have two choices: Manage the property till 2023 and then hand it over to the State Tourism Department or hand it over to the State right away at the book value. In case they feel they can’t run the hotel, the State of Karnataka is free to do whatever they want thereafter.
The Bangalore fort was an ancient one with contributions from Chikkadevaraja Wadeyar, Haidar Ali, and others. Tipu Sultan dismantled some parts of it after 1792 but Dewan Poornaiah rebuilt the fort in 1800 A.D. Tipu’s palace is here within the fort area by the side of fort Venkataramana temple and actually it is very close to the Bangalore Medical College now.
It is said that this palace was begun by Haidar Ali in 1781 and Tipu made use of it later. Though the original facade and the frontal portions are not available now, the palace still makes a lasting impression as an elegant and magnificent structure worthy of the palace. The palace is basically built of wood, except for the peripheral outer walls built of mud and bricks.
The superstructure is of wooden frame with two stories with minute wooden carving decorations. What now remains is a frontal corridor with an upper balcony. Wide cusped arches are very conspicuous by their presence and they add a great majestic appearance. The wooden pillars with tapering design are very tall and this adds majesty to the entire structure. The walls and ceilings are of great attraction as they contain paintings of the contemporary period, consisting mostly of geometric designs and floral decorations.
Originally the upper story had four halls each comprising of two balconies and some rooms. The balconies faced parts of the office and was also used by the prince. At times it served as an audience hall also. At the end of the balconies were some rooms which were used for private purposes of the family of the Sultan. Though they look small from the present standards, with high roof they were cool and convenient for the people to live. There is a Persian inscription to the left of the verandah which calls it abode of happiness and envy of heaven. Its construction was started in 1781 and was completed in 1791 A.D.
After the death of Tipu Sultan it was used by Krishnaraja Wadeyar III to give audience to the citizens of Bangalore in 1808. Subsequently it was temporarily used by the British army. The Karnataka State Secretariat also worked from here. Finally it was taken over by the Archaeological Survey of India which has made it a protected monument. Thus it is a rare and elegant wooden palace at Bangalore.
The Bangalore Palace is one of the most magnificent heritage buildings in the city of Bangalore. Though there are hundreds of heritage buildings in Bangalore, this one differs from all of them both in style and exuberance.
Originally it was a private building belonging to an Englishman by name N. Garrett, who was the first Principal of the Central High School in Bangalore, now known as Central College. It was purchased for the Maharaja in 1884 and the palace was built in 1880 at a cost of 10 lakhs of rupees. The total area of the palace is 45,000 square feet. The construction of the palace was started in 1862 and completed in 1944.
The importance of this palace lies in the fact that it is built on the model of the Windsor Castle, the royal residence at Windsor in the English county of Berkshire. It is a two storied granite building with fortified towers and turreted parapets which are the characters of the Tudor architecture of England. The resemblance is so marked that many scholars feel that this is an imitated version of the Tudor’s building as if it was transported to Bangalore. It has Roman pointed arches and bastion-like towers. Its layout is rich in pointed recesses which add majesty to the contour of the building. Another attraction of this structure is a large number of projections which result in pleasing geometric patterns of varied designs. The facade of the palace is exotic with a combination of tall watch-towers, spacious walls with square and arch-type windows and roundish structures, showing different levels of the roof.
Living quarters for the Maharani were added in 1890. But they were built in the Hindu architectural style and were connected to the main building by a covered pathway. The interior of the palace is full of decorations, molded and fluted pillars and large arches, walls decorated with floral patterns, intricately carved capitals, patterned cornices … all of a high order befitting a palace. Gorgeous chandeliers of great beauty have added a grace and charm to the interior.
Another attraction of this palace was the vast garden under the guidance of Sri N Venkatasamiraju, whose life-size statue adorns a niche in the palace. The vast open area round the palace in a heavily populated city, has added a great luxury to the edifice which itself is an epitome of luxury and royalty of the Maharajas of Mysore whose name and fame has spread far and wide including foreign lands. Thus this is one of the finest palaces in India.
Escape is not a idea that has always been associated with the imperial harem—harem means “forbidden” in Arabic. Built in the mid-sixteenth century, the harem at Topkapi Palace was the personal living quarters of the female members of the Ottoman sultan’s rather large family. Its 400-plus rooms presented lavish (and not so lavish) housing for the sultan’s mother, the sultan’s wives, and, most distinctively, the sultan’s abundant concubines (which during the last days of the Ottoman Empire allegedly numbered greater than 800). Concubines were customarily attractive smart young women from prosperous families in neighboring countries brought into the Harem at a tender age where they were groomed to be prospective wives for the sultan.
The multiplex was controlled strictly by corps of eunuchs, selected because they would be incapable to misuse their standing. Contact with the outside world was via one carefully guarded exit, the Carriage Gate. Within, the harem was a hotbed of conspiracy, where concubines vied for the sultan’s goodwill, hoping to press forward their, and more outstandingly their sons’ fortunes. Undeniably, many concubines rose to positions of great power, dominating the royal household, and in some instances saw their sons’ rise to the rank of sultan, whereupon they would ascend to the coveted rank of sultan’s mother, or Valide Sultan. The second most powerful person in the Empire next to the Sultan, the Valide Sultan or the Queen Mother, had a enormous influence in the matters of the Harem and the relationships between the Sultan and his wives and concubines.
Added to and embellished over a four-century period, the Harem has numerous examples of superb craftsmanship. These days, you can tour many of the harem rooms that make up one of the most fascinating sections of the massive Topkapi Palace, the Ottoman Empire’s seat of authority until the mid-nineteenth century. Paradoxically, bearing in mind the powerful history of the place, the harem quarters are today rather tranquil and quiet—the tour group crowds notwithstanding—and make a welcome diversion from the hustle and bustle of downtown Istanbul and the surrounding Sultanahmet district.