deponti (deponti) wrote,
deponti
deponti

The Bangalore Palace

Recently, I read in the newspaper that the Bangalore Palace had been thrown open for public viewing.

However, even a month later, when I made enquiries at the KSTDC (Karnataka Tourism Discouragement Corporation) counter at Bangalore airport, I was told that there was no information about it.

I persevered, and a friend of mine, Jayashree Thiagarajan, spoke directly to one of the ladies of the Wodeyar clan, Urmila Devi.

So off we went, on Monday (2nd of April) to see the Palace. Here's what the Palace looked like, as we approached:

Bangalore Palace from outside...

It was an incredible experience to see and experience...both for good and for bad.

The good part is the beauty of the Palace itself, the expansiveness of the old-world construction, where materials were available aplenty and craftsmanship was honoured and utilized....

Here are some stained glass panels to illustrate the good:

Bangalore Palace Original Stained Glass Panels


The bad part was, the way things have gone to rack and ruin. There was a HUGE round carpet, obviously Axminster, made to order, which was nothing but rot and mould now; here's a picture of the ceiling in one of the rooms:

Bangalore Palace The condition of the wood panelling on the ceiling (see the muted colours)

And what we found even more amazing was the way some exquisite pieces co-existed peacefully with some utter junk, or some awful work lay behind something of beauty. An example: here's an incredible piece of craftsmanship, a child's cradle in teakwood, and the awful plastic wiring behind it on the wall:

Bangalore Palace Chld's Cradle...and horrible wiring on the wall behind. Notice the filigree quality of the wrought iron railing seen through the  door

Or this wonderful dressing table with a totally crappy sofa next to it:


Bangalore Palace Exquisite dressing table...and junk sofa next to it



Well...I have tooooo many pictures of the Palace, and if you would like to see them all, do go and visit my Flickr site at

http://www.flickr.com/photos/7593633@N04/

and go through them...I have added descriptions, too.

We paid our one hundred rupees per head admission, which was pretty reasonable for what we saw...but were then told that the brochures "got over" (had run out) and we wouldn't get any. With a helpful smile, the lady at the counter said, "You can go and try in the main office madam. They also won't have them." ;-))

The camera charges were....Rs.500. Why on earth?? I don't know. How were they going to prevent someone from not paying, and then going in and discreetly using a mobile phone or even one of those powerful little matchobox cameras that are so great nowadays?

A "guide" was assigned to us. He was a guide in inverted commas, because he kept giving us wrong information. He first pointed to a painting and said it was by Raja Ravi Varma. NO such thing, I assure you! If we pointed at someone in one of the photographs and asked who it was, sometimes we got a reply and sometimes a response, "Athu ellaa halaya raja" (all those are the old rajahs)...oh, like we couldn't figure THAT out! I think he was there more to keep an eye on us (suppose we walked away with one of the 6feet by 8 feet Belgian mirrors?)




Exquisite: the floor, dado,ceiling and balcony tiles, especially the fine mosaic ones.

The carved wood everywhere and the fine furniture.

The graceful Indo-Saracenic arches.

The light-as-air wrought iron work.

The ceiling panels.

The beautiful wooden tiles of the Glass Conservatory.

The lovely Mughal-style paintings.

The passion for photography that at least one of the Wodeyars show, in the collection of excellent record shots and portraits.

The crockery (including some crescent-shaped dishes that I have never seen anywhere else, and teacups that might do as a swimming pool!)

The mini-car and the collection of scale-model bicycles.

The superb stained glass panels, the doors and windows, even the old-fashioned ground-glass panelled doors.

The charming proportions of the courtyard, with the Palace Tower looming up above.

The castlements and the stonework on the walls.

The wonderful, majestic trees that one can see from upstairs. Stately and beautiful. A shikra landed on the topmost branches of a huge raintree as I watched.

And so much more....

Tacky:

Some of the utter JUNK that has been collected and displayed along with the beautiful pieces. Someone in the Palace has had a real obsession with nudes; there are good, bad and awful paintings of nudes everywhere. There are sculptures which, I kid you not, are boobs with a human figure just about attached to them.

The unrestorably ruined parts of the Palace...stained wallpaper, ceiling and floor panels with gaping holes and peeling strips, broken artefacts and spoilt tiles.

Awful furniture (the worst of Art Deco and Solid Ugly-Modern)....

Even more tacky:

The restoration is being done without taste or imagination (or, as Jayashree remarked, too much imagination.)
Ceiling tiles picked out in garish, loud colours;

Rafters being completely destroyed and re-done in a kind of Disney re-creation;

Tube-lights stuck in awful fashion to the incredible work on the ceiling of the Durbar Hall;

Rooms devoted to the prepartion of food for the present residents (Srikanta Datta Wodeyar and his family), an office room, all incredibly shabby; one room, inexplicably, given to some artisans to do very garish embroidery on very garish sarees; one hall devoted to the Wodeyar's venture of clothes, also pretty bad and overpriced just because of the name....

A terrible, HUGE monstrosity of a corrugated-tin roofed shed that has been put up behind the Palace to accomodate public functions.Oh, there is no other word for it, it is AWFUL.




Other impressions....No directions to any toilets that the visitors could use. No drinking water anywhere that we could see. No guide or information that was good, accurate, helpful or worth it.



But still, what's lovely about the Bangalore Palace is SO lovely that it is well worth a visit! Or two!

For details about timings, contact phone nos, etc, see my Metroblog post at

http://bangalore.metblogs.com/archives/2007/04/the_bangalore_palace.phtml

If you live in, or are visiting, Bangalore...do visit the Palace. You will come away happy and sad, proud and ashamed, satisfied and frustrated, all at the same time....
Tags: bangalore palace, conducted tour, landmarks, metblogs
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