Mysore — What was and what is!

A window into the past — Mysore Then and Now

Mysore is home to the famous Dasara festival, a 600 year old tradition. A city with the perfect blend of history, culture, and architecture. The city has evolved a lot but the aesthetic value has remained the same.

Mysore, which was once known as ‘Mahishana uroo’ was ruled by the demon Mahishasura known by that name for having a buffalo head. Goddess Chamundi killed him and ended his evil rule, she presided over the city and resided atop chamundi hills, a temple was installed to memorialize and celebrate the victory of good over evil. However, the name given to the hills before it was changed to chamundi hill was ‘Mahabaladri hill’. Descendants of Vijayanagar kings, the Yadu dynasty came to power in Mysore in 1339 A.D. Bettada Chamaraja Wadiyar in 1584 A.D. made Mysore his headquarters by re-building a small fort around Mysore and called it ‘Mahishura Nagara’.

The then king shifted his kingdom from Mysore to Srirangapatna in 1610 A.D. but after Tipu came to power and ruled over Srirangapatana from 1750 to 1799 A.D. after which Wadiyars came back to power and made Mysore their capital. In the period of Krishnaraja Wadiyar III the town began to progress and modernize, which was further developed by Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV into a well developed city for its time with wide roads and towering buildings. The references of Mysore in literature can be found in some famous Kannada literary works like “Kantirava Narasaraja Vijaya”, “Chikka Devendra Vamshavali” (1680 A.D.), “Soundara Kavya” of Noorondayya (1740 A.D.) and “Krishnaraja Vilasa” (1815 A.D.).

Even after decades of Wadiyar descendants there is very less that has changed the essence of Mysore city from what it was before. Mysore has progressed leaps and bounds but that has not changed soul of a beautiful city. A short photo story of Mysore-What was and what is….

  1. Nandi - the bull atop Chamundi hills

You can reach this 350 year old brobdingnagian statue of Nandi the bull both by road or take the steps from the foot of Chamundi hills. This towering giant is 3rd largest Nandi in India was Dodda Devaraja Wadiyar (1659–1673) gift to the city of Mysore. The monolith is carved from a single black rock ans sits at a height of 16 feet and width of 24 feet.

Did you know that Ravana was cursed by lord Nandi for being called bull monkey. Nandi cursed king Ravana that a monkey will be the reason of his destruction and it came true in the form of Lord Hanuman.

2. Government House, Mysore.

Built in 1805 it was then used as a residence for British officials and representatives in Mysore. The architecture of Government House is in Tuscan Doric style and the gateway leading to the drive is in triumphal style. Government house has a beautiful ballroom which was once used by British officials to socialize.

3. Devaraja Market, Mysore.

Over a century old it is a heritage building in Mysore, it an open air market that features all the fresh, just harvested and local product shops. A 19th century two - story building is made of lime mortar and was built when Chamaraja Wadiyar IX was in power. It sees most of the crowd in the mornings and evenings which is the shopping hour and has more than 800 shops.

4. Oriental Research Institute, Mysore

Inaugurated in 1891 by the then erstwhile Maharaja Chamarajendra Wadiyar it was Oriental Library till 1916 before it was renamed to Oriental Research Institute in 1943. Dedicated to research and manuscript editing, it was the first public library in Mysore with a collection of about 75000 books and some among the rare and rich collection was Vedic concordance, Encyclopedia of Religion and scarce editions of Ramayana and Mahabharatha. It also houses some of the famous works that were preserved or published.

5. Balarama gate, Mysore Palace.

Home of the Wadiyar family for more than 500 years, the Mysore Palace is a royal splendour with a quaint charm. Balarama Gate is the Northern Gate of the fort and was completed during 1915–1916 and just outside are two decades old temples of Kote Anjaneya and Kote Ganapathy.

6. Wellington Lodge (Now Tribal museum), Mysore.

One of the earliest colonial structures in the city, Wellington lodge is more than 200 years old. It was residence to colonel Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington from 1799 to 1801, he stayed there as the commissioner of Mysore for two years. It was later used as government office and then a store associated with Government house before converting it to Tribal museum and office of Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya that aims at preserving traditional art and culture.

7. Chamundeshwari Temple, Chamundi hills, Mysore.

The crowning glory of Mysore, Chamundeshwari temple in situated atop chamundi hill, it is more than a thousand years old which was initially a small shrine later built into the temple it is today. The temple is a dedication to ‘shakthi’ the fierce form of ‘chamundi’ who ended the demonic rule of ‘Mahishasura’. The temple found its importance after the Wadiyars (the Mysore Maharajas) came into power in 1399 A.D. Steadfast believers of goddess Chamundi the Mysore Maharajas helped build the temple to what it is today. The temple is built in Dravidian style of architecture with a seven tiered Gopura and golden ‘kalashas’ on top at the entrance of the temple.

8. Ornamental Gateway, Lokaranjan Palace, Mysore.

Also known as summer or pleasure palace, the Lokaranjan Palace is one of the oldest palaces in Mysore and was built between the years 1850–60 by HH. Sri. Mummadi Krishna Raja Wadiyar. The entrance to the palace has beautiful arched gates. The palace was opened to public and used as a Royal school for many years at the time of HH. Sri. Chamarajanedra Wadiyar.

This was the palace where Maharaja Jaya Chamaraja Wadiyar had held his first press conference in Mysore.

~©Royal Mysore Walks.
All original photographs from British Library archives.
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