Our visit to Mysore included hiking the 1000 steps up Chamundi Hills, a visit to the Rail Museum, and two visits to the Mysore Palace. Why two, you ask? Well, the afternoon we arrived in Mysore was the last day of Ramadan (or Ramzan), so the lights were on that night. If we didn’t go that Monday, we’d have missed it completely.
Mysore Palace at Night
There are over 97 000 bulbs lighting the palace and grounds! ( from 7 – 7:45 PM every Sunday or public holiday) They cover the front of the palace, the massive main gate, and the temples on either side of the palace. It really is spectacular from the moment you get out of the rickshaw.
There’s the usual contingent of touts and gadget sellers outside the gate, many with light-up LED toys that you can use to irritate other palace visitors. Thankfully, they are not allowed into the palace grounds so once you’re in, there’s relative peace.
If you’re travelling with young kids, the lights will amaze them for about five minutes. After that, at least there’s lots of space for them to run around in the near-dark. Hmm, maybe an LED toy would be useful to keep track of them.
Once the lights go out, the police arrive pretty quickly to drive everybody out. There will be plenty of rickshaws, taxis, and horse-drawn carriages waiting for transport or princess fairy-tale rides.
Mysore Palace in the Daylight
The palace by day is a much more crowded, intense experience. Going early in the morning would probably help but if you’re travelling with young kids, early in the morning is tricky.
Make sure to hit the toilets before you go into the palace, the shuffle through the various palatial (haha) rooms is far too long for tiny bladders. Once you’re past the ticket gate (Adults INR40, kids 10-18 INR20, kids 0-10 FREE – no exorbitant foreigner price!!), no shoes or cameras allowed.
No cameras allowed is a rule that has mystified me here in India. I understand for religious sites, or places where flashes could damage older artifacts or paintings over time. Palaces where tours are only allowed during the day and flash is not necessary? I don’t get it.
That said, it does provide a welcome relief from the near-continual “selfie-storm” outside. The number of selfies being taken, and selfie requests we receive as foreigners with young kids is overwhelming. Often, a pleasant-looking young man will approach and say, pleasantly, “Excuse me, one photo please?”. When you smile and say yes, his eight friends will appear from behind a shrub. Each one will want an identical picture with his own phone.
The inside of the palace is spectacular, and the whistles of the guards is entertain as people disregard the rules and take pictures anyway. Not a good idea, since the guards can fine you up to INR 500 and even confiscate your camera.
Around the Back
In behind the main wing of the palace there’s the residential wing (we didn’t have time to see it) and a small courtyard where elephant and camel rides are possible. We don’t agree with riding elephants, and camels are a grey area, so we skipped it.
The Mysore Palace is well worth your time to visit and if you can fit both day and night into your schedule, do it!