|The Palace Gate: Jaganmohan Palace|
In Mysore, one is never too far from royalty. Located west of the illustrious Mysore Palace, the Jaganmohan Palace is one of the seven palaces that the Wodeyar kings built in and around the city, making it a true recipient of the royal legacy. Within the main city itself, there are seven such palaces. As one enters the Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery, located inside the palace, one is greeted with a striking masterpiece adorned with intricate carvings that have been carved in a short span of just 70 days. Venturing deeper, one finds wooden doors that narrate the tale of Dasavatharam, the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu.
The Jaganmohan Palace was built during the reign of Krishnaraja Wodeyar-III and was completed in 1861. Since the main Ambavilas Palace, widely familiar as the Mysore Palace was burnt down in a fire, the Jaganmohan Palace was commissioned to serve as the residence of the royal family until 1912, the year when the Mysore Palace was completed. Many important decisions pertaining to the erstwhile kingdom of Mysore have been taken inside the palace premises. The coronation ceremony of Krishnaraja Wodeyar-IV took place in a pavilion inside this palace in 1902. This was followed by the first legislative council of the erstwhile Mysore State that was held here in July 1907 which was presided over by the Dewan.
The Jaganmohan Palace was converted into an art gallery in 1915 and was formally renamed as the Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery in 1955. As one walks over the cool wooden tiled floors of the palace, the sheer number of paintings that are on display at the gallery surprise one. With over 2000 paintings, most of which belong to different schools of Indian art. The most common being the Mysore, Mughal and Shantiniketan style of Indian art. A family tree of the Wodeyars since Yaduraya Wodeyar in 1399 alone captures an entire wall. The interior walls that have been painted with murals showcase the grandeur of the naddahabba (state festival) that is the Dasara festival and the canvas depicts the sequence of the Jumbo Savari.
Located in three floors, the Jaganmohan Palace has some of the finest kitsch objects, some of which are part of the royal memorabilia which include chairs like the mayurasana, rare musical instruments and various examples of Japanese art. There are also paintings that have been made on a grain of rice which are visible only when peers through a magnifier. It also has a prestigious collection of oil paintings done by Raja Ravi Varma, the classical painter who is believed to have painted Indian Gods. Some of the paintings narrate important scenes from the Mahabharata, Ramayana and Srimad Bhagavatham.
Another striking feature is a painting of a 'Lady with The Lamp' that was painted by Haldankar. It is the only exhibit which is placed in a dark room. It gives the illusion as if the glow of the lamp lights up the face of the woman. With a French clock which chimes as if in a parade with miniature soldiers beating drums marking the seconds and a bugle marks the minute. Sculptures, musical instruments, brassware, war equipment, antiques, coins and currencies are some of the other important things one must see here. The items on display in truly make it one of the largest collections of artifacts in South India, making it one of the leading art galleries of the country.