Mysore, the second-largest city in Karnataka, is well known for its heritage and culture. Once the seat of the kings of Mysore, the heritage city or city of palaces is now a world-famous tourist destination. The days of the Raj are long gone, and the city of Mysuru has made many leaps in technological and business advancement. But it still retains the old-world charm of the bygone days and appears to be a sleepy town. Life moves at a slower pace here in this city of beautiful palaces, old temples, monuments and ancient tradition and culture. The rulers of the Wadiyar dynasty left their mark on the city of Mysore in the form of several beautiful palaces. No visitor should leave the city without seeing these beautiful palaces in Mysore.
Also Read: 8 offbeat and unique things to do in Mysore
Palaces In Mysore You Must Visit
The heritage city, also known as the City of Palaces is home to seven palaces, the incredible Mysore palace is the most famous of them. The Wadiyar kings and queens were great patrons of the arts and hired the best craftspeople in the country to work on these palaces. A visit to Mysuru is incomplete without a visit to these palaces that are architectural marvels.
Several of these royal residences are now part of government heritage properties. The buildings have been repurposed and used as government offices and entry is restricted. But you can still visit those where the public is allowed.
1. The One That Needs No Introduction: Mysore Palace (Amba Vilas Palace)
The city’s proudest possession and most iconic landmark is the magnificent Mysore Palace. Home of the erstwhile rulers of Mysore, it is now among the famous tourist attractions in India that attracts over 6 million tourists every year. Originally built in the fifth century, this palace has since been demolished and reconstructed and renovated several times. The three-story structure is constructed in the Indo-Saracenic style with blends of Hindu, Mughal, Rajput, and Gothic styles of architecture.
The grey granite structure features beautiful, deep pink marble domes, turrets, expansive arches and a 145-foot five-story tower with a gold plated dome. The facade of this palace has seven expansive arches, and atop the central arch sits an impressive idol of the goddess Gajalakshmi and her elephants.
The two durbar halls in the palace are opulently decorated with beautiful paintings, carved columns, stained glass ceilings, rosewood doors and chandeliers. The octagonal kalyana mantapa with its beautiful stained glass ceiling with peacock motifs is a breathtaking sight. In addition to these, it also has a gombe thotti (dolls pavilion), several temples, courtyards and is surrounded by beautifully laid out gardens. It is open from 10 AM to 5.30 PM. It is one of the most beautiful of all the palaces in Mysore, best seen in the evenings, and on public holidays, when it’s lit with over 1 lakh bulbs.
Best Time To Visit: Visit during Dasara to see how the palace and its surroundings are lit up.
How To Reach: Located in the heart of Mysore city, you can reach the palace easily by buses since the nearest bus stand is at a walking distance. The KSRTC buses operate at regular and short intervals at this bus stand.
Who Built It: The twenty-fourth Wodeyar Raja.
When Was It Built: 1912
2. Stay In This Five-Star Hotel: Lalitha Mahal Palace
The white painted Lalitha Mahal Palace at the base of the Chamundi Hills is one of the most elegant palaces in Mysore. Built in 1921, the Lalitha Mahal Palace is the second largest of the palaces in Mysore. Maharaja Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV commissioned E.W. Fritchley, an architect from Bombay (now Mumbai) to build the palace. It was built for the exclusive stay of the then Viceroy of India. Later it was used as a guest house for the Maharaja’s European guests.
This palace was built in the Renaissance style of architecture and is considered to be an adaptation of St Paul’s Cathedral in London. The two-storied structure, which is set amidst sprawling landscaped gardens, is said to be a reflection of English manor houses and Italian palazzos. The palace is now a five-star heritage hotel.
Best Time To Visit: The palace can be visited in any season.
How To Reach: It is approximately 14 km from Mysore Airport and 7 km from Mysore Railway Station.
Who Built It: Maharaja Krishna Raja Wodeyar Bahaddur IV
When Was It Built: 1921
3. A Display Of Art: Jaganmohan Palace
The beautiful Jaganmohan Palace is located in the centre of Mysuru city. Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar III had it built in 1869. The royal family moved in and lived here when the main palace, Amba Vilas, was under construction after it burnt down in an accident. Today Jagmohan Palace has been repurposed into an art gallery and called Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery. It’s considered to be one of the best art galleries in south India, displaying artwork and artefacts that belonged to the Wadiyars.
The massive wooden doors of the palace are one of its main attractions. The carvings on the doors depict the dashavatara (the ten incarnations of Vishnu). The walls of the palace also have murals depicting the Mysore Dasara and beautiful carvings depicting the lineage of the Wadiyars and their royal history. The Jaganmohan Palace is open to visitors from 8 AM-5.30 PM every day.
Best Time To Visit: The palace can be visited in any season.
How To Reach: It is 2 km from Mysore Railway Station & 2 km from KSRTC Bus Station.
Who Built It: Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar III
When Was It Built: 1869
4. A Mansion Turned Research Institute: Cheluvamba Mansion
The Cheluvamba Mansion on the Mysore-Krishnaraja Sagar road is in the north-west part of the city. The palace, which is near Mysore Railway Station, was built in 1911 for Princess Cheluvajammanni, the third daughter of Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV. Like the other buildings of the Wadiyar dynasty, the building is spread over a large area and surrounded by beautifully landscaped gardens. Currently, it is home to the Central Food Technological Research Institute. For the general public, entry to the Central Food Technological Research Institute is restricted.
Best Time To Visit: Plan a visit during the flowering season but be aware that the season in Cheluvamba Park varies depending upon the plants there.
How To Reach: The palace is at a distance of 2 km from Mysore Railway Station & 3 km from KSRTC Bus Station.
Who Built It: Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV
When Was It Built: 1911
5. A Mansion Of Museums: Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion
Jayalakshmi Vilas was constructed in 1905 by Maharaja Chamaraja Wodeyar for his eldest daughter, Princess Jayalakshmi Ammani. The palace was initially known as the First Rajkumari Mansion. It’s set on a vast estate on a hillock, west of Kukkarahalli Kere (lake). It’s now part of the University of Mysore. It was acquired by the University to establish Manasagangotri, the postgraduate centre in the campus.
Since the building had been neglected for a long time, it had been in a state of disrepair when it was acquired. It was renovated from 2002 till 2006 at the cost of INR 1.17 crores, which was donated by the Infosys Foundation. The renovated mansion is spread across six acres and has 125 rooms, 300 windows and 287 exquisitely carved doors. The mansion currently houses three museums— the archaeology, folklore and general museums display priceless artefacts.
Best Time To Visit: The palace can be visited all around the year.
How To Reach: The palace is located at a distance of 5 km from Mysore Railway Station & 5 km from KSRTC Bus Station
Who Built It: Maharaja Chamaraja Wodeyar
When Was It Built: 1905
6. Once A Summer Palace For Kings: Rajendra Vilas
The Rajendra Vilas Palace on top of Chamundi Hills was used as a summer palace by the Wodeyar kings. At an elevation of 1000 feet, the palace offered great views of the city below. Its construction was initiated in 1920. However, a smaller structure existed at the location since 1822. Maharaja Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV commissioned the construction in the place where he was once taught philosophy and English.
The palace was completed in 1938-1939, but it turned out to be smaller than originally planned because of financial constraints. Post Indian independence, it was converted into a luxury hotel by the reigning king, Srikanta Datta Narasimharaja Wodeyar. The hotel had 25 suites built in the Indo-Saracenic style with blends of Rajasthani architecture. However, it was closed due to labour problems in the 1980s. Though renovation of the palace began in 2004, it wasn’t completed. Currently, the palace lies in a state of neglect.
Best Time To Visit: You can visit the palace-hotel all around the year.
How To Reach: As it is located atop Chamundi hills, it is just13 km from the city centre by road.
Who Built It: Mummadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar
When Was It Built: 1820s
7. Now An Eco-Friendly Heritage Hotel: Chittaranjan Palace
The Chittaranjan Palace was originally built for one of the princesses of the Wadiyar dynasty by the Maharaja of Mysore. Constructed in 1916, it was sold to a Mysorean family, who converted it into the famous Premier Studios, the headquarters of a film company. Several movies and TV shows have been shot in the studio, including the popular TV serial ‘The Sword of Tipu Sultan’. However, the studio was shut down after a fire broke out. Now, the palace has been converted into an eco-friendly heritage hotel. Its 31 rooms run on solar energy and don’t have any air conditioning or televisions. The green hotel also donates all its profits to charity.
Best Time To Visit: You can visit the palace all around the year.
How To Reach: The Green Hotel is located atVinoba Road, Jayalakshmipuram, Mysuru.
Who Built It: The Maharaja of Mysore.
When Was It Built: 1916
A Glimpse Of Royalty
These beautiful palaces of the royal family, the Wadiyars, hold a lot of symbolic value, not just for their history but also their magnificence. These architectural marvels from the past are a testament to the Wadiyars’ tastes and the expertise of the craftsmen who built these palaces and it is apt that Mysore is called the city of palaces. The inhabitants of some of these palaces are long gone, but they still stand proud. A visit to these palaces in Mysore will give you a glimpse into the once-grand life of the Wadiyar dynasty.
FAQs About Mysore’s Palaces
The most iconic landmark of Mysore and the city’s proudest possession is the magnificent Mysore Palace. Home of the erstwhile rulers of Mysore, it is now one of the most famous tourist attractions in India.
Mysore or Amba Vilas Palace is worth Indian rupees 1000 to 1500 crores.