in the 10 years that i have lived on-and-off in bangalore, there has always been one major place i have continued to overlook: the bangalore palace. i got to see the exterior of it once, when my father’s friend invited me to join his family for the antique car rally which ended at the palace, but i had never ventured inside. to be completely honest, it was simply too far away when i lived in rajarajeshwari nagar, and although i had planned to visit during my stay-cation last october, i got sidetracked by other events.
but at the end of january, cindy and i decided it was finally time to pay the palace a visit. we were up early one sunday for the pinkathon, and we took advantage of our momentum to check this one off our list. although sunday is generally the busiest day for visitors to the palace, we arrived around 12.30pm and managed to beat most of the crowd, enjoying a quiet stroll through the interiors.
we took a few pictures before entering the palace [which got us into an argument with a bored security guard] and then ventured inside to get our tickets and audio guides. both the entrance ticket and the camera fee were higher than any other place i’ve visited in india [except the taj mahal, when i had to pay the foreigner price because dimple opened her big mouth], but they were worth it to enjoy my visit properly.
the audio tour takes you through the rooms and quarters used by the royal family of mysore during their stays in bangalore. the family would spend most of the summers and winters in bangalore, so they entertained a lot and hosted a number of visitors from india and beyond.
as we walked through and marvelled at the architecture, chandeliers, and furniture, we were treated to stories of the wodeyar family and occasional anecdotes from the last maharaja and his cousin, a princess who also spent significant time in the palace. we learned about the different quarters used by the men and women of the royal family, and we got to see some great old photographs of the family.
the tour wraps up with a visit to the last maharaja’s office, an eclectic room filled with a combination of knickknacks and photographs of the maharaja himself. all told it took us about 45-50 minutes to complete the tour, even with all the stops we made to marvel at high ceilings and take tons of pictures.
i can’t believe it took me so long to finally visit the palace, but i’m glad i finally made it. it was an expensive visit, but it was absolutely worth it to walk around the old rooms and learn about the history of mysore’s royal family. plus, you know i can’t get enough of those beautiful ivy-covered walls.
after i visited i was surprised to learn that a number of my friends didn’t even know bangalore had a palace. i wish that it were publicized more, because it’s a cool place to see. if you’re interested in visiting and seeing it for yourself, i have a few things to keep in mind:
- the palace is open every day from 10am-5pm. sunday will generally be the busiest day for visitors, but if you get there before 12.30ish, you’ll beat most of the crowd
- tickets will set you back a bit — admission is rs 230 for indians and in the neighbourhood of rs 460 for foreigners, but the audio tour is included in the price of admission
- camera fees are high, too. it costs about rs 250 to use a camera phone, rs 635 to use a still camera, and rs 1100 to use a video camera, which are the highest fees i’ve ever seen in india. cindy and i paid for one still camera between us but then used both of our point-and-shoots once we were inside the palace since there wasn’t much monitoring. i would keep mine in my pocket if there was someone who worked there lurking in a room
- take exterior pictures after you tour the interior if you want to avoid a fight with the security guards
despite the cost of tickets and camera fees, i would still recommend a visit, especially if you’ve lived in bangalore a long time and have never been. it’s a shame more locals don’t know about it, because it’s beautiful.
have you ever lived in a city for a long time but not visited a big attraction? what other bangalore attractions am i overlooking?