Today we went to the Mysore Palace… it was built completely out of wood before a fire started in the kitchen, burning down everything except a temple. Within eight months of its burning, the queen ordered the palace to be rebuilt. It took fifteen years, but the Mysore palace, finished in 1912 is fire-proof— the queen commanded that no wood should be used unless absolutely necessary.
Since electricity came to Mysore (remember! Mai-soh-reh) in 1906, the palace had electricity from the moment the royal family arrived.
The entire outside is covered in columns of incandescent lightbulbs— over 97,000 bulbs have been used. There is a sound and light show every Saturday and Sunday (half an hour on Saturday, an hour on Sunday).
But before I start sounding like a guide book…
We arrived at the palace after taking a tuk-tuk— the man who had led us to the tuk-tuk explaining to us all the while that there is a festival today in Mysore— that people are grinding spices and making incense and weaving silk all by hand, and that there are no taxes today because of it. That today is the last day of a week-long festival which is very rare.
Thanking him politely, we headed toward the palace, where we had to take off our shoes— unfortunate, as the stones were blisteringly hot (as my feet blistered once from running on hot pavement… I can vouch for it). Tiptoeing and jumping from the shoe deposit area to the audio-guide-pick-up area, we took our five audio guides (included in the foreigner's ticket of 200 rupees), put them on, and progressed through the palace.
There is an elephant gate with repousséd gold, through which the monarch entered on his elephant (stunningly decked out in gold headdress and train). On either side there is a stuffed elephant head. XXXX, the Xth monarch, was an avid elephant hunter until he had a 'change of heart' and began to devote himself to more environmental endeavors.
Further on there are hallways with columns reaching up to the ceiling, painted in thin red and yellow and white stripes. There are mirrors on either end, making the columns seem to go on forever.
Some ceilings are made of carved teak, with lotuses and petals. Lamps are of Egyptian or Roman women holding up the lightbulb, which looks like a crystal ball.
And, outside, once we'd gotten our shoes back, there was a chipmunk, perched on one of the lightbulbs, looking ridiculously comfortable. (The chipmunk was the precise size of the lightbulb, excepting its tail, which is about the length of another lightbulb.)
After taking pictures from every angle possible of the chipmunk, we moved on, to the statues of crouching tigers to take pictures with them too. And then to find a tuk-tuk to take us home, so that we could relax before seeing the light show.
We decided not to, but we'll see it tomorrow!