One of the grandest palaces in India, Mysore Palace is one of the most visited sites in India after the Taj Mahal. It is the former seat of the Wodeyar Maharajas, who ruled Mysore from 1399 to 1950. Though it was destroyed in a fire in 1897, the palace was restored by English architect Henry Irwin in 1912 and today retains its former glory. With its marble domes and 145-foot, five-story tower, it is one of the finest examples of Indo-Saracenic architecture in the country.
Mysore Palace is also known as the Amba Villas and the “City of Palaces” for its seven individual internal structures. Visitors can stroll through the many courtyards, gardens and gates, which bear the Mysore Kingdom emblem and motto. Explore the two durbars (ceremonial halls), doll’s pavilion, the ambavilasa (royal room for private audience), marriage hall and secret tunnels that wind throughout.
The hallmarks of the palace are its colorful stained glass, carved wooden doors, mirrors and mosaic floors. There are dozens of paintings from the time of the Edwardian Raj and an armory with more than 700 weapons on display. Walking through royal artifacts and sculptures lining the majestic halls, it’s easy to get a sense of the extravagance of the former royal family.
The entrance is through the South Gate on Purandara Dasa Road. The Old Fort of the Palace is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and is free of cost, while entrance to the palace buildings is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is 200 Indian Rupees for foreigners. There is a sound and light show at 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. No photos can be taken inside the palace, and shoes must be removed upon entry. Lockers are available, and an audio tour is included in the ticket price.