The erstwhile princely city-state of Mysore came into being with the establishment of the Wodeyar dynasty early 15th century and continued for another 450 years until Independence, albeit with a few significant interruptions during the wars between Tipu Sultan and Lord Wellesley during the latter half of the 18th century. More of a pleasant, stately and sleepy backwater until its proximity to Bangalore came into play recently with the beneficial effects of the information technology industry that supplanted the city’s dependence on sandalwood products, silks, incense and tourism.
In the morning drive to the immediate outskirts of Mysore at Srirangapatnam, a river island-fortress on the Cauvery River and the most visible and potent symbol of the unrelenting war that raged between Tipu Sultan and the British, until the former was defeated and killed in 1799. The remains at Srirangapatnam are numerous, filling the visitor with a sense of history. Untouched over the centuries and conflicts is the great Ranganathaswamy temple of over a thousand years vintage, developed and protected by the succession of ruling dynasties. Tipu Sultan’s summer palace of Daria Daulat Bagh reveals fine and well preserved ornamental interiors, murals and a small exhibition of royal memorabilia.
Return to Mysore to visit the monumentally extravagant Amber Vilas Palace of the Wodeyar rulers, a Henry Irwin creation in the Indo Saracenic genre with unrelentingly and sometimes breathtakingly opulent detail – Glaswegian cast-iron pillars, Belgian stained glass, carved doors, rosewood furniture with mother of pearl inlay, enormous bronze tigers, a royal elephant saddle encrusted in gold, walls coated in arabesque are but a few blandishments.
In the nearby Jaganmohan Palace, the Sri Chamarajendra Art Gallery displays a collection of musical instruments and miniature paintings, and outstanding murals depicting royal pastimes.
The historic city of Mysuru (which used to be Mysore until 2014) is one of South India’s enchanting cities, with its glittering royal heritage and magnificent monuments. Although Its World Heritage–listed palace brings most travellers to Mysore, however its rich tradition with a deeply atmospheric bazaar district littered with spice stores and incense stalls that add a rather rare character to the place. Ashtanga yoga is another major drawcard and there are several acclaimed schools which attract visitors from across the globe.