The plateau of Karnataka is said to have been associated to the happenings in the Epic Ramayana. It witnessed a horde of historical activities since the ancient prehistoric civilization. The Magadhan Yadav ruler Chandragupta Maurya, influenced this region till his death at Shravana Belagola. Karnataka witnessed the rule of the Satavahanas for nearly 300 years, followed by the Kadambas and the Pallavas. The Gangadikaras ruled till 11th century. The Chalukyas of Badami and later the Rashtrakutas ruled over this region. The Kalacharis, Hoysalas, Yadavas, Kakatiyas exercised their control. Karnataka also witnessed the onslaught of the Muslims under Malik Kafur. The Hindu power established itself in 1336 at Vijayanagar by great Yadav rulers Harihara (Hakka) and Bukka. Vijayanagar period was an age of glory and prosperity. The most famous Yadav rulers of Vijayanagaram Empire was the Yadav the great King Krishnadev Raya. In 1565 the empire of Vijayanagar was shattered by the Sultans of the Deccan at the famous battle of Talikota. Meanwhile in 1399 AD, the Wodeyar dynasty (Yadavs) established itself in Mysore, a small principality and made Srirangapatnam its capital. Wodeyar's were overthrown by Hyder Ali. Mysore witnessed the strong rule of Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan. In 1799 the British controlled Mysore, the hub of Karnataka, and it remained as a princely state up to 1947. The state of Karnataka earlier called as Mysore, became a state of the Indian Union in 1973.
Chivalry and romance are associated with the emergence of the Yadu or Wadiyar dynasty, who ruled from Mysore from 14th century onwards for nearly six centuries. As one enters the Eastern gate of the Mysore Palace, one can spot a small temple dedicated to Kodi Bhyraveswara. This temple is of historical significance as it saw the emergence of the Wadiyar dynasty. In this temple, a dramatic turn of events took place way back in the year 1399 A.D.
As the story goes, two young men, Vijaya and Krishna of the Yadu dynasty hailing from Dwaraka in Gujarat came to Mysore, after visiting Melkote on their pilgrimage. The two royal princes took shelter at the Kodi Bhyraveswara Temple, which was close to the Doddakere, from where people of then small city of Mysore fetched water for drinking and daily chore. At dawn, they heard some women, while washing closes discussing the distress situation of the young Princess Devajammanni. The death of her father, Chamaraja, the local ruler, had landed her and her mother, the queen, in trouble. Taking advantage of the situation, the neighbouring Chief of Karugahalli, Maranayaka, began demanding the kingdom and the princess in marriage. Taking the help of a Jangama Odeya, a Shaivite religious man, the two chivalrous brothers came to the rescue of the distressed Maharani and the Princess. Mobilising troops, they killed the Karugahalli Chief and his men and saved the Mysore royal family and their kingdom. A happy princess married the elder brother, Vijaya, and he became the first ruler of the Yadu dynasty. He assumed the name Yaduraya. Thus the traditional founding of the Wadiyar dynasty took place in 1399 with Yaduraya. Since then, 24 rulers have succeeded in the dynasty, the last being Jayachamaraja Wadiyar. It is during his period, India won freedom and later monarchy was abolished. With that ended the reign of the Mysore Maharajas. Yaduraya ruled from 1399 to 1423. Hiriya Bettada Chamaraja Wadiyar (1423-1459), Thimmaraja Wadiyar (1459-1478) and Hiriya Chamaraja Wadiyar (1478-1513) succeeded him. Hiriya Bettada Chamaraja Wadiyar II (1513-1553) became the fifth ruler. Thimmaraja Wadiyar (1553-1572) succeeded him and he defeated some neighbouring chieftains and expanded his boundary. The next ruler, Bola Chamaraja Wadiyar (1572-1576) was called 'Bola' or 'Bald' because while he was visiting the Chamundi Hills to worship the Goddess, a lightning struck and he lost all his hairs. After him, Bettada Chamaraja Wadiyar III (1576-1578) ruled for a brief period of about two years.
The next ruler, Raja Wadiyar (1578-1617), emerges as the first powerful ruler in the Mysore royal family. Till his emergence, Mysore was a small feudatory kingdom under the Vijayanagar Kingdom. The Mysore chieftains owed allegiance to the Vijayanagar kings and the Vijayanagar representative at Srirangapatna. Taking advantage of the fall of Vijayanagar kingdom in 1565 A.D., Raja Wadiyar defeated the Vijayanagar representative in a battle at Kesare near Mysore, shifted his capital from Mysore to Srirangapatna in 1610 and acquire the famous throne and ascended it. However, he continued the traditions of Vijayanagar and revived the famous Dasara festival, celebrating it for the first time in Srirangapatna with pomp and grandeur. After Chamaraja Wadiyar (1617-1637) and Raja Wadiyar II (1637-1638), the next powerful ruler to ascend the throne of Mysore was Ranadhira Kantirava Narasaraja Wadiyar (1638-1659). A courageous ruler, he successfully fought back the efforts of Bijapur Badsha to acquire Srirangapanta twice, fortified the Srirangapatna and Mysore forts with arms and weapons, and began minting coins with his seals. Dodda Devaraja Wadiyar (1659-1673), who ruled next, further expanded the kingdom by acquiring areas of Keladi Shivappa Naika and Palegars of Madurai and Thiruchinapalli.
Chikka Devaraja Wadiyar (1673-1704) emerges as the next celebrated ruler. Besides further expanding the kingdom and strengthening the forts, he introduced modern administration with a lot of reforms in his vastly expanded kingdom. He appointed staff for specific jobs, fixed wages for different works, built several canals to provide water for irrigation, introduced weights and measures and also postal system, imposed taxes to improve revenue, constructed storehouses to store produces, and set up 18 departments (Chavadis) in the administration. During his 31 years of reign, Mysore saw peak of its glory. Kannada literature flourished under him, the Maharaja himself making significant contribution. Kantirava Narasaraja Wadiyar (1704-1714), Dodda Krishnaraja Wadiyar (1714-1732) and Chamaraja Wadiyar (1732-1734) succeeded Chikka Devaraja. It was during the reign of Krishnaraja Wadiyar II (1734-1766), Hyder Ali Khan and his celebrated son Tipu Sultan became the virtual rulers of Mysore. They were in total command till 1799 when the British Army killed Tipu in the 4th Mysore War in Srirangapatna. Nanjaraja Wadiyar (1766-1770), Bettada Chamaraja Wadiyar (1770-1776) and Khasa Chamaraja Wadiyar (1776-1796) continued as rulers in the Mysore dynasty during the interregnum. With the death of Tipu, the capital was shifted back to Mysore. Five-year-old Prince Krishnaraja Wadiyar III was installed on the throne of Mysore in 1799. He ruled till 1868. He revived the Dasara celebrations on a grand scale in Mysore. The old Mysore Palace was rebuilt. During his period, steps began to be initiated for developing Mysore into a modern township. New Agraharas and temples were built outside the Palace Fort. Kannada literature saw a new dimension.
Krishnaraja Wadiyar was the longest ruler and Chamaraja Wadiyar, during whose period Mysore saw further progress on modern lines, succeeded him. Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV became the 24th ruler of Mysore in 1895. His mother, Maharani Kempananjammanni of Vanivilasa Sanndihana was Regent during his minority from1895-1902.
The 38-year rule of the Maharaja saw an all-round progress in his State, including Mysore. Ably assisted by two Dewans, Sir M.Visvesvaraya and Sir Mirza Ismail, Mysore emerged as a modern city and State. It earned the encomium 'Ramarajya'. After his death in 1940, Jayachamaraja Wadiyar became the 25th and the last ruler of the Mysore royal family.
Every autumn, the Palace is the venue for the famous Mysore Dasara festival, during which leading artists perform on a stage set up in the palace grounds. On the tenth day of the festival Vijaya Dashami, a parade with caparisoned elephants and other floats originate from the palace grounds.
Dasara is the most extravagant festival of Mysore. The Dasara festival is celebrated in the months of September and October of each year.
The festival celebrates and commemorates the victory of the great goddess Durga, after she slew the demon, Mahishasura, and thereby, symbolizing the triumph of good over evil according to Hindu mythology. Some call her Chamundeshwari.
This festival has been celebrated by the Wadiyars at Srirangapatna from 1610 and in Mysore with great pomp from 1799 and the tradition still is carried on although the scale of the celebrations has diminished. The Dasara festivities have become an integral part of the culture and life in Mysore.
To celebrate this festival the Palace of Mysore is illuminated with more than 96,000 lights during that two month period.
Public Durbar Hall
Visitors will first see imported French lamp stands in the corner representing Egyptian figurines, just before entering the Durbar Hall there is a life size statue of Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV. This plaster of Paris sculpture is the creation of B.Basavaiah, Palace artist, near him is the cut-out photograph of his favorite servant, Jamedar Peer Bait.
King would host major ceremonial gatherings in this hall. Cool marble floor, through colonnades of cusped arches supported by intricate and elaborately painted columns. Row upon row, creating an illusion of infinite corridors. Paintings decorate the walls on the right. There are images of gods, portraits of royal family and scenes form the great epic the Ramayana each painting has its own uniquely carved frame, each one perfectly created to suite its own niche. Large mirrors on the far walls offer multiple reflections of whatever scene is unfolding amidst the never-ending columns, paintings, gods, temples and city skyline.
Private Durbar or Ambavilasa Palace
This was used by the king for private audience and is one of the most spectacular rooms. Entry to this opulent hall is through an elegantly carved rosewood doorway inlaid with ivory that opens into a shrine to Ganesha. The central nave of the hall has ornately gilded columns, stained glass ceilings, decorative steel grills, and chandeliers with fine floral motifs, mirrored in the pietra dura mosaic floor embellished with semi-precious stones.
Gombe Thotti (Doll’s Pavilion)
Entry to the palace is through the Gombe Thotti or the Doll’s Pavilion, a gallery of traditional dolls from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The pavilion also houses a fine collection of Indian and European sculpture and ceremonial objects like a wooden elephant howdah (frame to carry passengers) decorated with 84 kilograms of gold.
Octagonal shaped hall where all royal weddings, birthdays and ceremonial functions were celebrated. Dome supported by clusters of pillars are of cast iron. There are 26 paintings which depict Dasara procession. There also four other subjects such as the birthday procession of Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV, Durga Pooja or Ayudha Pooja on the south wall of the Kalyanamantapa, the car festival of Goddess Chamundeshwari and the celebration of Krishna Janmastami on the western corridor. The painting representing Dasara festivities are based on actual photographs and executed during the years between 1934 and 1945.
The stained-glass ceiling soars heavenward – a rich tapestry of peacock motifs and floral mandalas held in place by metal beams. The design of the glass and framework was created by the artists of Mysore and manufactured by famous walter McFarlance Saracen Foundry in Glasgow, Scotland. Majestic chandelier, hangs low from the centre of the tall dome, the peacock design is reflected in the mosaic tiles on the floor.
Outside columns carvings with scenes from the Mahabharata and the Ramayana the two great Hindu epics of Ancient India. Electricity came to Mysore in 1906. Palace was completed in 1912. There’s been electricity since the first day the royal family moved in.
Many valuable paintings as well as the Photographs of the Royal Family are exhibited in the portrait gallery on the southern part of the Kalyana Mantapa. Wadiyar dynasty paintings and photographs are on display. Portrait of Krishnaraja Wadiyar the fourth, was a king with great vision and an extraordinarily generous patron of arts. Also the first Wadiyar ruler to live in this palace. Portrait of black and white image of Jayacharamajra Wadiyar’s wedding to a Jaipur princess. The nuptials took place in the Marriage hall with the bountiful wedding feast lavishly laid out on the tables in the foreground. Painting of Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV just one year old, sits on pram with his two older sisters. The portrait gallery is proud to exhibit two works of the famous Royal Artist Raja Ravivarma dated in 1885.
When the Mysore kings visit various parts of the state, their subjects received them with the greatest respect. They often had many requests, these would be formally submitted in small silver and sweet-smelling sandalwood caskets. Additionally they would present the kings with mementoes of their visit in these boxes.
Sandalwood is one of the earliest items of trade, and its oil has been used in perfumes for over 4000 years. Sandalwood is believed to be scented by the gods. Its sacred properties mean its traditionally used to carve images of deities and create prayer beads. Seventy per cent of Indian sandalwood comes from the tropical forests of Karnataka and a diminishing resource.
Temples inside Mysore Palace Fort
Kodi Bharravasvami Temple – dedicated to Shiva in the form of Bhairava derives its name because of its location in the past.
Sri Lakshmiramana Swami Temple – Oldest temple in the city. Located towards the western part of the fort, inside the Palace. An inscription found in Cole’s Gardens (present day Bannimantap) registers a Grant for God Lakshmiramana in 1499 AD. According to the annals of the Mysore Royal Family, a half blind Brahim was cured his blindness around the year 1599 at the interposition of Raja Wadiyar. The temple is also important as all the religious ceremonies in connection with coronation of child Raja Krishnaraja Wadiyar III were held in this temple on June 30, 1799.
Sri Shweta Varahaswamy Temple - located beside the south gate. It’s constructed in the famous style of the great Hoysala Empire, which controlled most of Karnataka from the tenth until the fourteenth centuries.
Sri Trinayaneshvara Swami Temple – Ancient temple which existed even before the time of Raja Wadiyar, located outside the Original Mysore fort, on the bank of Devaraya Sagar (Doddakere). It was during the time of Kanthirava Narasaraja Wadiyar and his successor Dodda Devaraja Wadiyar that the fort was enlarged and the Trinayaneshvara temple came within the fort.
Sri Prasanna Krishanswami temple – The Mysore dynasty claims its descent from Yadu Vamsa (Yadu Race) founded by Sri Krishna of Mahabharata. Therefore, Krishnaraja Wadiyar III felt sad that there was no temple dedicated to Krishna. To fulfil this lacuna, he started the construction of Sri Prasanna Krishna Temple in 1825 and according to inscription, it was completed in 1829.
Kille Venkatramana Swamy Temple – During the time of Tipu, the Mysore family was still in Srirangapatna. Queen Lakshmammanni, wife of Krishnaraja Wadiyar II was deeply worried about the dynasty and its future. Then lord Venkataramana is said to have appeared in her dream, and directed her that his statue which is in Balamuri should be consecrated in Mysore. By this pious act, her dynasty would get salvation. She therefore, proceeded to Balamuri without the knowledge of the Sultan and brought the image of Venkataramana, consecrated it in the temple, and offered continuous worship. This is said to have helped the family and after the fall of Tippu, the Kingdom was restored to the Wadiyar dynasty.
Sri Bhuvaneshwari Temple – located on northern side of the Palace Fort corresponding to the Varahaswamy temple in the south, thus providing a symmetrical structure in the fort complex. Constructed by Sri Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar in the year 1951. One of the important objects in the temple is a copper Surya Mandala which is said to have been transferred from the Palace to this temple by His Highness Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar.
Sri Gayatri Temple – located in the south-east corner of the fort directly corresponding to the Trinayaneshara swamy temple constructed by Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar in 1953. Three shrines dedicated to Savithri, Gayathri and Saraswathi.
The Wadiyar dynasty (also spelt Wadiyar by the British) was an Indian royal dynasty that ruled the Kingdom of Mysore from 1399 to 1947, until the independence of India from British rule and the subsequent unification of Indian dominion and princely states into the Republic of India.
The spelling Wodeyar / Wadiyar is found in most records and is used by the royal family members themselves. The spelling by modern transliteration rules from Kannada is Odeyar the word Wadiyar is a surname of a community in South India who are from the Potters community. Now also you can see the six feet Potters wheel, stick, etc., which is fully made of the pure Gold, in the Mysore palace. The word is pronounced to start with a vowel sound and not with the consonant as present in the English spelling. Odeyar in Kannada means the king or the owner.
The dynasty was established by Vijaya, Vijaya took on the name and ruled Mysore, then a small town, from 1399 CE to 1423 CE. The Wadiyars of Vijaya's dynasty belong to the ArasuWadiyar community of Karnataka, which includes many of the noble clans of the region.
The Mysore kingdom was ruled by a succession of Wadiyar rulers for the next couple of centuries. However, the kingdom remained fairly small during this early period and was a part of the Vijayanagara Empire. Later, after the fall of the Vijayanagara Empire in 1565, the Kingdom of Mysore became independent and remained so until 1799. The Kingdom of Mysore came under the British during the reign of King Krishnaraja Wadiyar III (1799-1868). His successors changed the English spelling of their royal name to Wadiyar, and took the title of Bahadur. The last two monarchs also accepted the British decoration G.B.E
The Vijayanagara Empire disintegrated in 1565. The power vacuum created soon after was utilized by Raja Wadiyar, who ruled Mysore from 1578 to 1617. He expanded the borders of the Mysore kingdom and also shifted the capital from the city of Mysore in 1610 to Srirangapatna, a rare island formed by the river Cauvery , which provided natural protection against military attacks.
Subsequent famous rulers of the dynasty include Kanthirava Narasaraja I (ruled 1638-1659) who expanded the frontiers of the Mysore Kingdom to Trichy in Tamil Nadu. The dynasty reached its peak under Chikka Devaraja (ruled 1673-1704), who widely reformed the administration of the empire by dividing it into 18 departments (called Chavadis) and also introduced a coherent system of taxation.
Wadiyar Rulers of Mysore
Adi Yaduraya (1399–1423)
Hiriya Bettada Chamaraja Wadiyar I (1423–1459)
Thimma Raja Wadiyar I (1459–1478)
Hiriya Chamarajarasa Wadiyar II (1478–1513)
Hiriya bettada Chamaraja Wadiyar III (1513–1553)
Thimma Raja Wadiyar II (1553–1572)
Boala Chamaraja Wadiyar IV (1572–1576)
Bettada Chamaraja Wadiyar V (1576–1578)
Raja Wadiyar I (1578–1617)
Chamarajarasa Wadiyar VI (1617–1637)
Raja Wadiyar II (1637–1638)
Ranadheera Kanteerava Narasaraja Wadiyar I (1638–1659)
Dodda Devaraja Wadiyar (1659–1673)
Chikka Devaraja Wadiyar (1613–1704)
Kanteerava Majaraja Wadiyar (1704–1714)
Dodda Krishnaraja Wadiyar I (1714–1732)
Chamaraja Wadiyar VII (1732–1734)
(Immadi) Krishnaraja Wadiyar II (1734–1766)
Nanaja Raja Wadiyar (1766–1770)
Bettada Chamaraja Wadiyar VIII (1770–1776)
Khasa Chamaraja Wadiyar IX (1766–1796)
(Mummudi) Krishnaraja Wadiyar III (1799–1868)
Chamaraja Wadiyar X (1868–1894)
Vani Vilas Sannidhana, queen of Chamaraja Wadiyar X, was Regent from 1894–1902.
(Nalvadi) Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV (1902–1940)
Sri Jaya Chamaraja Wadiyar XI (1940 - 1947)
Rajpramukh of Mysore state, (1950–1956)
Governor of Mysore state (present-day Karnataka), (1956–1964)
Governor of Madras State (present-day Tamil Nadu), (1964–1966)
De-recognized as Maharaja of Mysore by the 26Th Amendment to the constitution in 1971. Died on 23-9-1974.
Srikanta Datta Narsimharaja Wadiyar, (b-1953, ascended the throne in 1974- though a private affair)
Chief Minister of Karanataka
King of Vijayanagara-
Raja Krishnadev Raya