When the much publicized lighting come on at 7pm, the grandeur of Mysore Palace makes the most jaded traveler gasp for a moment and transports him into a fantasy land.
I had seen the palace lights a million times over in pictures and had set an expectation for the evening. I did look forward to seeing an elegant structure, tastefully illuminated. But in that moment when every other light in the vicinity was turned off and the decor lighting came on to built a palace outline formed just from tiny dots of light, I realized what is the feeling of being blown off from my feet like. It was like being in a fairy tale world and seeing something that only the best of the story tellers can imagine and narrate.
I made a short day-trip to Mysore to witness the Dasara celebrations. But at a time when the government was grappling with the problems of survival and had other imperative things to look after, the festival had become a low-key activity. There were information kisoks where people disseminated old tourist brochures but did not know the festival schedules. The famed mud-wrestling had now moved on with times and had shifted to a synthetic turf. The exhibition was not yet open and the cultural activities were limited to the evening hours. Our day at Mysore was limited to exploring the palace, and I am glad it turned out so.
Most of my visits to Mysore in the past were on transit. I admired the quiet, wide lanes of the town as opposed to Bangalore’s congestion. I was jealous of its open spaces and the lakes teeming with birds. But it was just once that I stopped to see the sights, and even then, did not visit the palace. I made up for the loss on that day of Dasara. When the festival did not offer the expected excitement, it became a day dedicated to exploring the palace.
Even when it became obvious from outside that it is a grand edifice perhaps filled with luxury, the insides continued to impress me at every corner. The tall pillars painted in turquoise, the grand wedding hall three-stories high, the dolls of marble and wood on display, the golden throne, chairs of crystal and silver, an unbelievable work of tusks inlaid into wooden doors, gilded decorations in the private darbar hall, the grand pillars and marble floors of the public darbar, an array of canons in the courtyard, exquisite paintings of dasara procession make up only a small part of the impressive palace. The architects of the palace have not stopped until every corner of the palace is perfected and every room is decorated in the best possible way.
That evening when a cultural event was in progress in the palace premises, our eyes were focused on the edifice and its lighting. It looked like yet another beautiful structure in the evening hour as the floodlights focused on the walls. But the moment the decorative lights hugging every corner of the palace came alive, it was like a revelation of the maximum stretch of beauty. I admit, I haven’t seen anything else as grand and as beautiful yet.