Mysore is a city of palaces, but the most magnificent of them all is the Mysore Palace sometimes known as the Main Palace as well. One of the most unforgettable images of the city is the image of the illuminated Mysore Palace against the dark black sky. It takes ninety seven thousand light bulbs to produce this enchanting image of the Palace. The Palace is situated in the middle of the city and is a reminder of the grandeur of a bygone era and is today an invaluable national treasure.
The Palace that stands today is the fourth one to be built in the same site. When the capital was shifted back to Mysore from Srirangapatnam, after Tippu Sultan's death, the Palace was hastily rebuilt with wood and mud, in a Hindu style. The Royal family moved into it in 1801. But this Palace was burnt down in a fire that broke out during the wedding of the oldest daughter of Maharaja Chamaraja Wodeyar in 1897. The reconstruction of the Palace was undertaken immediately and the Royal family moved to Jaganmohan Palace. The English architect Henry Irwin designed the new Palace and it was completed in 1912 at a cost of about Rs 41 lakhs.
The Amba Vilasa Palace as the Mysore Palace is known, is an excellent combination of Dravidian, Indo-Saracenic, Oriental and Roman styles of architecture. The Maharaja's Palace is a beautiful three storied stone building of fine gray granite and rich pink marble domes, overlooking this structure is a five-storied 145 foot tower whose domes are gilded in gold. One enters the Palace through the Gombe Thotti or the Doll's Pavilion; this is a pavilion of traditional dolls from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This collection also has a wooden elephant howdah (structure for carrying people on the elephant) that is decorated with 84 kilograms of gold.
There are twelve temples inside the Palace complex dating from the fourteenth to the twentieth centuries and have varying architectural styles. The Palace is set in a carefully laid out gardens. One can visit the Palace of all days of the week between 10am and 5.30pm. The Palace is illuminated on Sundays, national holidays and state festivals between 7.00pm and 8.00pm and during the Dasara festivities from 7pm to 9pm. You can hire a Mysore Palace Board certified guide for a nominal fee and he will take you on a guided tour of the whole Palace.