His Highness Krishnaraja Wadiyar III, the 22nd Maharaja of Mysore, built the Jaganmohan palace in 1861 as an alternate residence for his family. During the wedding ceremony of his daughter, Princess Jayalakshmanni in 1897, the then Mysore Palace, a wooden structure, caught fire and was completely destroyed. This resulted in the royal family moving into the Jaganmohan Palace while the Amba Vilas Palace was being built.
The palace is now an art gallery with exhibits by great artists from all over the world.
The Jaganmohan Palace, a three-storied royal dwelling, is aesthetically beautiful and radiates in white. It is constructed in traditional Hindu architecture which is visible in its pilasters and doors. Observe the intricate carvings on the main door of the palace. What you see here is ‘Dashavatara’, the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu.
Did you notice the murals that adorn the palace’s interior walls? They depict various events that took place in the history of the Wadiyar dynasty.
Don’t forget to spend some time in the front yard and get engrossed in the beauty of the palace. The external facade of the palace, that you can see from the front yard, with the three entrances and the hall behind it did not exist until 1900.
Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery
By Christopher J. Fynn [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons
In 1915, during the reign of Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV, the palace was turned into an art gallery, which was later renamed to Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery in honour of HH Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar in 1955.
There are over 2000 paintings by renowned artists like Raja Ravi Varma and Svetoslav Roerich.
Points of interest within the palace:
Lady with the Lamp:
The ‘Glow of Hope’, also known as ‘Lady with a Lamp’, is among the more famous paintings in this gallery. The dimly lit room enhances the illusion of the ignited lamp. Though it was painted by S.L. Haldankar, it is often wrongly credited to Raja Ravi Varma due to the striking resemblance to Varma’s painting style.
The lady depicted in this painting is Haldankar’s daughter, Gita. This watercolour painting was completed in 1932 and then showcased at a Dasara art exhibition in Mysuru a few years later. The King of Mysuru bought the painting for 300 rupees, a big amount back then, to add to his private collection.
Raja Ravi Varma:
Being from an aristocratic family, Ravi Varma was married to Bhageerthi Bayi, the princess of the royal Travancore family, in 1866. Recognizing his aptitude towards art, Ayilyam Thirunal Rama Varma, the subsequent ruler of Travancore, encouraged him to receive formal training in painting.
During his studies, Varma learnt a lot of European techniques and is known as the ‘Father of Modern Indian Art’. Realistic paintings, intricate details, play on light and shadow and are typical of Varma’s style. His art couples the European techniques with Indian contexts. Most of the depictions of Hindu gods and goddesses that we see in visual media today are a result of Varma’s imagination.
The Jaganmohan Palace hosts over 16 Varma paintings, all of which were a part of Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar’s private collection.
The art gallery is open to visitors on all days from 10 a.m. to 5.30p.m. Tickets are available till 5 p.m.
Cover Image Courtesy: By Bikashrd [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons