In Mysore, you are never too far away from a heritage building or a mansion with a royal connection. Not for nothing is it called the city of palaces! At its centre is the Amba Vilas Palace, better known as Mysore Palace, a constant presence as one crisscrosses the city. But look beyond and there are beautiful manors or stately homes or public buildings, with decorated porches, archways and terraces, exquisite balustrades, and cornices visible at every turn. These are the ones not to miss.
Mysore Palace - Sayyaji Rao Road
The century-old palace is bound to overwhelm, with towering fort walls set amidst sprawling grounds and with the stunning architecture and highlights it contains within. Such as the golden throne, darbar hall, the peacock hall (also called the marriage hall) with stained glass features, a dolls’ museum, residential museum, and artworks among other things. A breathtaking sight is when the whole palace is lit up in the evenings, while a sound and light show provides a dramatic rendition of Mysore history.
Jaganmohan Palace - Subbarayanakere
Certainly, nothing can compare to the grandeur of Amba Vilas. But Jaganmohan Palace makes up with its treasures within. A three-storeyed building, it houses the Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery which contains artworks and artefacts of the royal palace belonging to the Mysore kings as well as Tipu Sultan. These include masterpieces by Raja Ravi Varma, the Roerichs, Venkatappa, and the famous Glow of Hope or Lady with the Lamp by Haldenkar.
Lalitha Mahal Palace - Lalithmahal Nagar
Located just below Chamundi hills, Lalitha Mahal Palace looks like a shimmering vision. More than a century old, this white double-storeyed building sits on a hillock amidst terraced gardens. Its dome is the dominating facet. Inside are Venetian floors, a beautiful ballroom, Belgian mirrors, carvings and sculptures, and a luxuriously upholstered ancient lift. The building is currently a hotel and charges an entry fee.
Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion - Manasagangothri
After the Mysore Palace, Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion is the most beautiful building, but on a smaller scale. Built in 1905 for a princess, it is located opposite Kukkarahallikere and is now part of the Mysore University campus. But visitors have access since it houses many museums including the Folklore Museum. It is a stunning edifice with Corinthian and Ionic columns, beautiful windows, and arches, which continue inside.
Rajendra Vilas Mansion - Chamundi Hills
Located on Chamundi Hills, Rajendra Vilas Palace, built in Rajasthan-style architecture, was once the summer palace of the Mysore Maharajas. After it was renovated in the late 1930s, the 25-room mansion was deemed too small for the royal family and converted into a hotel. Sadly, that too closed down and today it can only be viewed from the outside. But whatever is visible is stunning: central dome and dome-shaped pavilions at the corners, semi-circular verandah, and spacious terraces.
Town Hall - Mandi Mohalla
An imposing structure located on Ashoka Road, the Mysore Town Hall, also called Rangacharlu Memorial Hall, sits on lush lawns and goes back to the late 19th century. In the front are four pairs of Corinthian columns topped by elaborately carved pediments with Goddess Lakshmi and elephants. Other features include balconies with cast-iron work and arched windows. It is used for events and performances.
Hotel Metropole - Lakshmipuram
Hidden from view owing to gigantic trees, the stark white, majestic Hotel Metropole was built more than a century ago as a guest house for the Maharaja’s British guests. The arched doorways, verandahs, and majestic pillars open into a beautiful green courtyard. Inside are displayed royal antiques and memorabilia that make for interesting viewing.
Chittaranjan Palace - Jayalakshmipuram
Built over a century ago for the Mysore princesses, Chittaranjan Palace is today better known as The Green Hotel. It isn’t very large and has about 30 rooms, with a squat, square facade painted brilliant white. But it exudes a quiet majesty through its pillars and terrace embellishments. Inside, in the central courtyard area is the women-run Malgudi Coffee Shop and Bakery, a delightful cafe where it is easy to spend hours.