Exploring Bangalore Palace
Exploring the spectacular history of the now urban silicon city, Bangalore, India. Being one of the most ancient monuments in the city, the Bangalore Palace gives us a complete insight into the city’s past. Starting from the breathtaking stone walls, lined with an array of creepers to the magnificent interiors, the palace reflects the lavish lifestyle of the kings, princes and princesses who resided there approximately 140 years ago.
Here it begins….
It was a bright sunny Sunday morning. It was around 9AM when I set out with my bags packed with all the essentials. Being a resident of Bangalore since 23 years, I felt the urge to explore some of the unexplored parts of the city. Bangalore, a now urban city, sprawling with tech parks and micro-breweries is located in the south of the Hindu-dominated country, India and is majorly known for its rich culture and history. The Bangalore Palace is known to be one of the oldest monuments in the city. Built in the year 1887, the palace was originally owned by King Chamaraja Wadiyar.
My journey began on foot. After grabbing a handful of cash from the nearest ATM, I walked for approximately 1km and then made my way to the palace via Uber. The Palace is currently situated in Vasanth Nagar, an opulent neighborhood located in the heart of Bangalore and is largely surrounded by various remarkable landmarks and luxurious hotels such as the Le Méridien, Shangri La and the ITC Windsor Manor. It is also home to a number of MLAs and other well known government officials.
Upon reaching the palace, I made my way through the huge metal gates enclosing the palace premises. It was approximately a 0.5km walk from the entrance to the main gate of the Palace. The exterior of the palace is made entirely of stone and is lined with an array of climbers, moss and lichens. The looming crenellations of this ancient monument adds up an air of elegance. The then king, Chamaraja Wadiyar, on one of his visits to England, is said to have been awe-inspired by the Windsor Castle of London and hence decided to build a Palace with a similar design and architecture.
After clicking a string of photographs and selfies outside the palace, I made my way towards the ticket booth. I waited for my turn in the long queue of diverse people from different cities and countries. The ticket for a single person cost around Rs540 ($3.50) including the cell phone camera. The prices were varied and were solely dependent upon the nationality of the tourist as well as the type of photography/ videography equipment he/she was carrying.
I soon collected my ticket and walked across to the doorway. As I entered, towards my right, I could see yet another queue leading to the Audio guide device collection counter. The audio device guide basically consists of an Orpheo Mikro connected to a headphone. The Orpheo Micro is designed in such a way so as to compress the MP3 and allow the listener to choose his/her desired language. There were more than 15 languages recorded in the device: English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu to name a few. The general procedure was to collect the audio guide device in exchange for your valid ID proof, may it be your office ID or driver’s license or passport for that matter. I submitted my office ID, collected my device and my tour of the Palace began!
There were several flag-posts in each room of the palace, with numbers ranging from 1 to 21. Upon entering a particular room or hallway, we were instructed to choose the number indicated by the flag-post on our audio device and imbibe all the historical information provided to us by the audio guide device. The device also provided amazing sound effects which helped us relive the life of his majesty as we make our way through the extravagant hallways of the palace.
As I walked around the ground floor of the palace, right across the main entrance, I happened to notice the distinctive Tudor architecture and design. The walls were adorned by several floral and Victorian style paintings. To my left, was the reception hall, a place which was solely dedicated to serve his majesty’s guests of honor. The hall was surrounded by pillars built in a distinctive gothic fashion. The entire hall was lined with chairs and the walls were decorated with several classic floral carvings.
Next, I made my way up the staircase to the first floor of the palace. The staircase was one of the most noteworthy parts of the palace. The walls lining the staircase were entirely made of wood and were decorated with beautiful paintings. At each corner of the staircase, stood miniature statues of knights with shiny black armors. The view from atop the staircase was breathtaking. A glistening chandelier hung from the top of the staircase, which gave the entire place a royal feel. On the other side of the wall was a huge painting of the Maharaja himself! Right across the staircase, opposite to the chandelier, was the living room. It consisted of a massive sitting area, with a pair of stark white dining sets spread across its vast expanse. A pair of cupboards and a huge mirror was lined along the wall of the elegant room. Two large windows beautifully draped with pristine white curtains were located adjacent to each other which supplied the room with ample amounts of ventilation.
As I progressed further, I came across a dark corridor, leading its way to the so called Durbar Hall. The hall had walls on one side and railings on the other. The railings overlooked the open square seating area in the centre. This hall was mostly used by the Maharaja to address his assembly. The faded green screen in the corner of the seating area allowed the Maharani and her attendants to watch the Maharaja’s proceedings. The yellow walls of the Durbar hall were adorned with a wide variety of photographs taken by the King and his ministers during their hunting games as well as a few of their trophy animals. According to the records, the Ooty Hunt was a famous and well known event in the 1920s, and the King Chamaraja Wadiyar made sure to participate in this event every year. Elephants were known to be the main trophy animal during these hunts, apart from tigers. Rogue elephants were sometimes captured with ropes and tamed. However, most often they were killed and parts of them, like the head, trunk and the feet were either hung on the wall or kept in glass cases for display. A few of the Queen’s jewellery were known to have been made from the trunks of these elephants. A table made of elephant feet situated in the centre of the Durbar Hall happened to catch my eye!
I took the next flight of stairs and made my way down towards the royal chambers of the King and the Queen. The King and the Queen were known to reside separately in order to avoid evading each other’s privacy. The Queen mostly resided in her chamber along with her other female attendants. Unfortunately, the doors of the chambers were barred and we weren’t permitted to enter the premises. I then, made my way towards the Square seating area. This area consisted of three granite slabs made up of navy blue ceramic tiles. A fountain in the centre gave the entire area a feminine feel. There was also a ballroom in the corner, which was mainly used by the king during his various private parties. The walls of the seating area were decorated with various beautiful artworks and lined with antique pieces of daily use, such as a sewing machine and a teapot, to name a few. Magnificent pieces of antique wooden furniture were arranged along the walls in an elegant fashion.
The next corridor led to a large room which consisted of several filing cabinets filled with historical files and records. The room opposite it, most likely appeared to be a dressing room, which consisted of glass cases filled with ladies garments of various sizes and colors, most probably belonging to the Queen and her attendants. Another glass case adjacent to it contained several formal blazers and coats, mostly belonging to the Maharaja. A huge rectangular mirror was positioned in one corner of the room between the rows of glass cases.
I then, stepped into the last and final room of the palace. This room appeared to be the oldest, yet the most interesting one of them all! A musty smell emanated from this room, indicating the passage of years. The room was small and had walls adorned with magnificent sketches and portraits, both of events as well as that of people. I spent the maximum amount of time in this room, reading through the captions underneath the sketches and replaying the audio on my Orpheo.
A turn to the right led to the exit of the Palace. A huge statue of the Maharaja Chamaraja Wadiyar was positioned adjacent to the exit towards the left. I came out, took a selfie or two with the statue and made my way out of the palace and towards the spectacular Victorian style outdoor gardens situated opposite to the palace. A pair of metal cannons was situated right outside the palace, facing the garden. I took a leisurely stroll through the garden and clicked a few photographs and selfies beneath the beautiful canopy of climbers. I walked over to the fountain in the centre and admired the intricate designs and carvings on its surface. I then, made my way back to the entrance and stole one last glance at the palace. It was a magnificent and mysteriously alluring sight. My visit had finally come to an end. It surprisingly happened to be more informative than I had expected! I then, booked an Uber and made my way back home with wonderful memories of my visit.