This is a trip from the 9th of Feb, 2008. It was just another lazy weekend when we decided to head out towards Lokaruchi for a leisurely lunch. During lunch we were discussing about Chamundi hills and the big Nandi… on a whim, we decided to drive up to Mysore post lunch.
There wasn’t much of a crowd at the Chamundeshwari temple and we had a quick darshan. Next we stopped at the Big Nandi and on the way down; we spied the Lalitha mahal palace in the distance… and decided to wind up our visit with a cuppa chai at the palace.
Some quick info about the places covered :
Lalitha Mahal Palace
The Lalitha Mahal is located towards the eastern side of Mysore and you can clearly see it while coming down from Chamundi hills. The palace is apparently the second biggest in Mysore (The biggest one is the main palace, commonly called the ‘Mysore palace’.) Lalitha mahal was built in 1921, during the reign of Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV.
The records say that this palace was built to host the then Viceroy of India; who must have been a frequent visitor. Mysore was the second richest princely state in India at that time (After Hyderabad) and was considered to be one of the ‘Model’ states by the British. It was looked upon quite favourably by the Raj, which explains why the Viceroy must have been a frequent visitor. I read somewhere that the palace was fashioned on the lines of the St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.
The palace was converted into a heritage hotel in 1974 and it is now run by the Ashok Group of the India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC).
Someone had once explained that the name ‘Mysore’ was a corruption or an anglicised version of ‘Mahishasura Ooru’ (‘Ooru’ means a town or a city in Kannada.) The story goes that once upon a time, this area was ruled over by a demon-king (Asura) named Mahishasura. He had obtained a unique boon that whenever a drop of his blood fell on the ground, another version of him would spring up from there, and he also had another boon whereby he was invincible to the male of all species. So, technically he was undefeatable in battle.
As usual, his ambitions outgrew his kingdom and he coveted the heavens and thanks to his powers, he managed to defeat Indra. The Gods then approached Durga, who engaged Mahishasura in a fierce battle for 9 days and eventually defeated and killed him on the 10th day. So Durga is also called ‘Mahishasuramardini’ – the slayer of Mahishasura.
The Goddess is also called Chamundeshwari and a shrine was built for her in the ancient times on these hills. The Goddess has always been patronized by the Mysore royal family. The original temple at the site of the ancient shrine is thought to have been built in the 12th century by the Hoysala rulers, which was eventually expanded and the Gopuram was built during the time of the Vijayanagar kingdom in the 17th century.
* A photo of the Chamundi Gopuram from the 1850’s; Courtesy: British Library.
The Nandi on Chamundi hills
The Nandi was hewn out of a single boulder in 1659 under the auspices of Dodda Devaraja Wodeyar. The monolithic statue is around 16 feet tall and 24 feet in length. This Nandi is also called ‘Dodda basavanna’ or the ‘big bull’.
* A painting of the Nandi on Chamundi hills, dated 1806. Courtesy: British Library.
The Chamudeshwari temple was surprisingly uncrowded and we got a pleasant and quick darshan…
The Mysore race course; as seen from Chamundi hills…
We could see the elegant Lalitha Mahal palace and that was when we though of ending our trip with a cuppa chai at the palace…
The monolithic stone Nandi… This is one of the biggest stone Nandis in India. The Nandis at Lepakshi and Basavanagudi (Bangalore) are bigger than this. But I would definitely rate the Chamundi hills Nandi as one of the most proportionately carved among the three…
There is also a small Shiva temple close to the Nandi…
The elegant Lalitha mahal palace…
Though touted as one of the most ‘Opulent’ palace hotels in India… the quality of service can definitely be improved. But then again, ITDC is a Government organization… with that as the background, I think they are doing a decent job.
We spent some time wandering around the palace.
The stanied glass sky-domes; made from what was considered to be the best glass in the world at that time… Belgian Glass.
The ballroom. I understand that the palace is available for hosting weddings and other functions…
The grand staircase…
By around 7.00pm it was getting quite dark and we were ready to go back to Bangalore… and yes; we did stop at the Lokaruchi again for dinner !