|Lalitha Mahal Palace, Mysore (side view)|
I was wowed by it the first time I saw it. That was over a decade ago. I was in college and in the middle of learning a few things about mass communication when a teacher of ours found us a great opportunity — to watch the filming of a television show so that we could have an understanding of ‘the making’ of a show. The show happened to be BBC’s Mastermind India and the place where it was going to be shot that time was a magnificent palace called Lalitha Mahal Palace in Mysore.
Before we left for the programme, we were given not only a briefing about the ‘show’ but also the venue. We were — at least I was — sure that this was a privilege: watching Siddhartha Basu at work, getting to see the making of Mastermind India and seeing the beautiful palace I had only seen from afar.
In the two days of the production of the four episodes of the South India preliminaries of the quiz show, I got a sneak peek at the Palace Hotel: it’s famous marble staircase, the blue ballroom and its grand rotundas.
In the years that followed, I’d passed by the gorgeous Lalitha Mahal Palace several times, but little did I think that one day I’d get to see it all: the ancient lift, the antique furniture, period knobs and bolts its crystal chandeliers and all.
|The Blue Ballroom at breakfast time|
|The Grand Staircase.|
|From the Grand (marble) staircase that overlooks the main entrance.|
|The ancient lift (elevator) imported from England in 1921.|
|A dressing table in one of the guest rooms.|
A bit about Lalitha Mahal’s past and present:
The Lalith Mahal Palace was once the guest house of the Maharaja of Mysore. It might have been a place where he put up his very important guests; it was palatial, nevertheless and a pretty regal place at that. This guest house was built by Maharaja Krishnaraja Wadiyar Bahadur IV in 1921. It continued to be just that until 1974 when it turned into a ‘heritage hotel.’ That year a new wing was added and rooms modelled into ‘guest rooms,’ as the hospitality industry refers to it. Good for the palace, ITDC continues to keep up its heritage status.
The Palace is owned by the Government of Karnataka and is still one of the structures that Mysoreans take a lot of pride in. With a touch of Renaissance architecture, its famous double columns, its iconic domes and striking green corridor walls, how could one not be proud of it?
At the end of our stay at Lalitha Mahal Palace, last month, we got a private tour of the Viceroy Suite, which is the most expensive guest quarter of this heritage hotel. The gentleman who took us up there told us that everything in the suite except for the television, is original, meaning they belonged to the 1920s.
Now, let me take you on a quick tour through this luxurious suite:
|The Bath inside the Viceroy Suite|
The lift which was imported from England in 1921 was a hand operated lift for a long time. If I’m not mistaken it was made into an electric one in the 90’s
The gorgeous Lalitha Mahal is quite a sight by itself. But there are other good views you can catch here.
- City of Mysore — because this palace sits on a ridge, you get a fairly good view of the city from the top floor of the Heritage Wing.
- Mysore Palace — if it is a Sunday or Dasara time, you get a great view of the fully- lit Mysore Palace.
- Chamundi Hill — As the Lalitha Mahal palace is built at the foot of this famous hill, you will be able to see Chamundi standing tall at the left side of this heritage hotel. If you chose to stay there, you might want to wake up early and watch the mist lift off Chamundi Hill.
People who are not hotel guests can have a tour of the palace, only not all of it. Visitors will have to pay a fee at the gate and may not be allowed to use the grand marble staircase that leads to the guest rooms in the heritage wing of Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel.