The old city of Mysore was built around the main palace of the Wodeyar dynasty. Many mansions and smaller palaces were built for close relatives of the rulers in urban districts such as Nazarbad, and Lakshipuram. By contrast the agraharas (residential areas) consisted of mall houses, in these lived the palace cooks and clerks, who were mainly Brahmins.
The last king of Mysore, Jayachamaraja Wodeyar (1919-1974), was, [for example], a renowned scholar in philosophy , a versatile music composer and a writer and humanist . And like many others in the Wodeyar clan before him, a great patron of the arts and culture .
Mysore has emerged from its feudal past as an important urban centre with a notably cosmopolitan way of life.
Mysore is the second-largest city in Karnataka,...and a district and divisional capital. It is also one of the fastest growing cities in southern India, with new manufacturing and software industries establishing production facilities.
The palace and open space around it are surrounded by walls and still give a sense that it was once a fort. In the fort, we find several Hindu temples, each of which belongs to different sect…The usual composition of the temples within the Mysore fort compound gIves the impression of a spatial configuration in which the king is at the centre of a religious domain as the protector of his people and dharma (the moral order) within his kingdom.Aya Ikegame
During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, however, the fort changed its form from a residential town into a modern garden or empty space where only the palace and temple remained...This spatial transformation of the ort was a crucial part of a city improvement project in Mysore, which tried to beautify the capital at the same time as endeavuoring to meet modern demands of sanitation and hygiene…In this process, the modern Western idea of improvement and the traditional kingly role as a protector of dharma were somehow reconciled ad mutually strengthened.
...Orissa government had taken the decision for placing the capital at Bhubaneshwar in September 1946...Dr. H Otto Koenigsberger, a German Jew, was first mentioned as a town planner, who had fled Germany and arrived in India at the invitation of Diwan (Chief Minister) Mirza Ismail of Mysore in 1939.
The name Mysore dates back the days of emperor Ashoka. However, it is widely held that Mysore is an Anglicized version of ‘Mahishsurana Uru’ which in Kannada means the village or town of Mahishasura, the Buffalo-headed demon .
Mysore was the capital of Mysore state from about 1800 to 1973. After India re-organized the states, Mysore state was expanded to include Kannada-speaking districts that were part of neighbouring states. It was renamed Karnataka, and the capital was transferred to Bangalore
Mysore is also known as the “Garden City” or the “City of Palaces” and has also earned the nickname “Ashtanga City" for the proliferation of wonderful yoga teachers who reside here.
Mysore has evolved into an industrial boom town and a magnet for capital and technical workers.
Mysore, the famous “city of incense”...is home to some 17 palaces, of which Amba Vilas is arguably is India’s most opulent.
Mysore palace, which is certainly a good example of Indo-Sarcenic style of architecture – a blending of traditional and modern – is both a heritage monument of India’s princely past, and a momento of the maharaja’s lavish taste and spending.
Mysore, which the British looked on [w]as one of the ‘model states’ of princely India, responsibly run on progressive lines. By the inter-war years the maharajas of Mysore were second only to the nizams of Hyderabad terms of wealth, with an income in excess of two million pounds a year, some of which was spent on the construction of the Lalit Mahal Palace, an extraordinary architectural fantasy, just outside Mysore city, modeled on St. Paul’s Cathedral in London .
Every year during the Dasara Durbar, the city of Mysore put itself on show, with a formal gathering and homage at the Amba Vilas Palace, followed by a magnificent procession, complete with flags, arches, bands, troops, standards, palanquins and caparisoned elephants.
Especially for some of us who grew up in the erstwhile Royal Mysore, this time of the year is very nostalgic. It would have been nice if Mysore Dasara was what it used to be.
All these innovations are being done without in any way tampering with the purity and uncompromising quality that has characterised Mysore silk fabrics - including saris for decades.
This is one element I always missed in a Mysore silk saree. So, I had to go for Kancheepuram, Peddapuram [saris] or Banaras when I needed to wear a very heavy-looking sari. Now, I have bought one and even gifted another to my sister-in-law as part of her wedding trousseau.Nandana Roy
Mysore has been rightly considered one of the most progressive of States in India and, in several respects, far in advance of conditions obtaining in British India. There is progress in all directions.
Rulers and landed aristocracy vied with each other in their patronage of composers and musicians and the cyclical patronage of royal Courts at Vijayanagar, Tanjore, Trivandrum , Pudukottai, Mysore , Ettayapuram, etc. In Preface
The strong scent of sandal and agarbathies, the aroma of fresh roasted coffee beans, the heady fragrance of Mysore Mallige and a thousand roses blossoming..., yes, Mysore is land of fragrance. Mysore’s most famous festival is the 10 day Dusshera in Oct-Nov each year.
The dasara celebrations, on the lavish scales now maintained, date from the beginning of the 17th century, when Raja Wodeyar came to the throne of Mysore after Sri Rangaraja, as descendent of the Vijayanagar Princes. With his ascent also dates the use of the famous throne by the Maharaja, during the festival. Raja Wodeyar who became the king of Mysore at the beginning of the 17th century, celebrated the dasara festival on a royal scale, and after him, year after year the Dasarz has gained in splendor, entertainment and attractiveness.
The importance of the festival in the cultural psyche of the people of the State could be gauged by the fact that both Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan allowed its continuance, even during the Interregnum period when they usurped Mysore from the Wodeyars. The titular Wodeyar was permitted to carry out the rituals in a low-key fashion.
British Gazetters of the Raj era, those marvellously accurate records of the minutiae of Indian life, mention the presence of "thousands of rosewood inlay workers" in Mysore during the 19th Century. With their "wondrous and unparalleled" skills of inlaying finely etched ivory motifs on rosewood surfaces, they literally captured a panorama of India, its festivals, flora and fauna.
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