A wonderful atmosphere and a simply magnificent display of lightbulbs...
India seems to have more than its fair share of palaces. They are grand and easy to visit and they offer a peek into a (mostly) bygone age. But no other palace in India (or the world?) has quite the trick up its sleeve that Mysore Palace has.
Imagine putting lightbulbs on the outside of your house. I don't mean just one or two lightbulbs and I don't mean just a smattering of Christmas lights. I mean COVERING your entire home in lightbulbs. That's Mysore Palace's trick.
I'd love to know who came up with the idea, and how they came up with it. And how did they manage to persuade those with the money and power to make it happen that it was a good idea?
The inside of Mysore palace is as grand as you'd expect. Beautiful rooms, beautifully laid out. Red carpets. Imported stone columns. Opulence, ornaments, pictures, portraits. Light and airy. High ceilings and huge chandeliers. Lots and lots of space. It's all very palace-like.
But visit the palace at night and a different kind of wonder awaits. Lights on! Instant magic! Mysore Palace looks amazing. There's a real buzz about the place - as though something as mundane as the switching on of lightbulbs (albeit tens of thousands of them) is a major event, something special to behold. Well, even in this modern age of digitally controlled laser displays and hi tech lightshows, it is special, and it all happens quite regularly (every Sunday, as well as public holidays and other special days).
The thing I loved most of all - even more than the lights - was the atmosphere. There were many, many local family groups, picnicing and chatting, enjoying themselves, enjoying the spectacle, laughing, grinning. It's a real community event, a bit like public firework displays in England (except it's not bitterly cold and your breath doesn't freeze!). Everyone's there to enjoy themselves, looking forward to seeing something a bit out of the ordinary.
Isn't it all just a little bit cheesy, though? Well, yes, perhaps it is. But it's cheesy with a real sense of fun, an uplifting-sort-of-cheesy. The military band who bash out a few jolly tunes only enhance the cheese. It's hard not to smile.
Why Visit? Well, it's obvious really. Who would want to miss the fantastic lightbulb display? Who would want to miss the atmosphere? If you've already spent some days looking inside palaces in India, this is one you want to make sure you visit in the evening and see the outside of.
Have you visited Mysore Palace? Did you see the illuminations? What did you think of them? What do you tell others about them?
Rob has visited more than 50 countries. He's travelled with organised groups and independently. His travel photos have appeared in many publications and on many websites. He likes apricot jam. And apricots. And jam.