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 Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion, Mysore

   Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion: The century-old Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion, one of the five famous royal mansions was built by the Maharaja Chamaraja Wodeyar for his eldest daughter in Mysore. It was built in 1905 and was renovated in2005. The mansion originally built at Rs. 7 lakhs has been restored at a cost of Rs. 1.17 crores. The restoration work began on April 21, 2000 and was completed in about 18 months. The mansion will now be a museum and a research centre of the Mysore University, which has the building in its possession, after the establishment of the post-graduate centre, Manasa Gangotri. Rare exhibits from folklore, archaeology and geology, collected from various parts of India, will be on display.

The salient architectural features of this imposing three-wing building include a series of twin Corinthian and Ionic columns, regal pediments on the first floor, above the north and east porches, pilastered window-sets in variegated ensembles of flat arches, pediments and oval ventilators, all richly moulded. The interior decorations are of purely Indian style. Some important portions of the three-wing structure, south and north portions connected by a small over-bridge, is the dancing hall, Kalyana Mantap, richly decorated residential rooms. The 40x25 feet dancing hall has a wooden floor with a viewers' gallery and first floor. The roof of the central portion, about 40 feet high, is decorated with painted glasses providing ventilation. The Kalyana Mantap with 40x40 feet hall has a 12-pillar square. The eight-petal shaped dome has glass windows and on top the gold-plated 'Kalasha' or tower. Kalyana Mantap is the most beautiful portion of the mansion.

The main pediment in the high-bracketed European classical building in invariably embellished with matching motifs of Greeco-Roman design containing motifs from Indian religious tradition. The north side pediment of the mansion contains a sculpture of Goddess Lakshmi, whereas to the South there is Goddess Bhuvaneswari under a domed canopy. The different wings of the building are connected by arched colonnades. There is a small courtyard with a foundation at the main building. The interior reveals rich carvings and mouldings both in masonry and wood and are excellent specimen of the ancient Indian design.

The front of the quadrangle is carved over, providing a fine reception hall nearly 40 feet high, while the back portion, known as the Bhuvaneswari, is simply covered and surmounted by a dome with a gilt finial on top. In the Bhuvaneswari, there are some fine carvings to be seen. The doors, windows, almirahs and pillars supporting the dome are all highly filigreed. The mansion is chiefly built of brick and mortar, timber and iron; stone having been dispensed with on account of the great delay in construction which it would have involved. There are separated drainages for rain water and used water.

The finest views of the mansion are obtained at the eastern and western sides which, graced with ornamental pediments, extend to a length of nearly 400 feet. The total area of the mansion is 1.20 lakh square feet. Originally called the First Rajkumari Mansion, or the Palace of the first princess Jayalakshmi Devi, or the Kebbekatte Bungalow it is about three kms from Mysore City Bus Stand at an elevated place, opposite the Kukkarahalli Tank.

Close to the Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion was the old Race Course, where horse racing was conducted during the British days. This Race Course premises has now become the campus of Jayachamarajendra College of Engineering. Besides Jayalakshmivilas Mansion, the other famous mansions in Mysore are the second Rajkumari Mansion in Nazarbad, the third Rajkumari Mansion in V.V. Mohalla with the name 'Cheluvamba Mansion', the Maharaja's Summer Palace called the 'Lokaranjan Mahal', adjacent the Zoo Gardens in Ittigegud and Lalitha Mahal, which now houses the ITDC Hotel.

Maharaja Chamaraja Wodeyar (1863-1894) had three daughters and two sons. While the two sons, Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV and Narasimharaja Wodeyar continued to live in the Main Palace, three mansions were constructed for the three daughters. All the three bungalows were constructed in three different corners of the city in excellent locations atop small mounds, offering a beautiful view of Mysore. The bungalows were given the names of the respective princess - Jayalakshmammanni, Krishnajammanni and Cheluvajammanni. Their marriages took place in 1896-97 and 1900.

The first princess, Jayalakshmi was married in 1897 to Sirdar M. Kantharaj Urs, who later became the Dewan of Mysore. Kantharaj Urs was the Princess' maternal uncle. He was the younger brother of her mother, Vanivilasa Sannidhana, who was the Regent of Mysore, till Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV came of age to assume charge as the ruler. Kantharaj Urs had a beautiful house in the Fort of the Palace called "Gunamba House" after his mother. But, it was considered inadequate for him and the Princess after their marriage. So, befitting the Princess' status, a new Mansion was built by acquiring about 800 acres in "Vijaya Sripura", to the west of Mysore City. It was called the Jayalakshmivilas Mansion.

It was during this marriage between Kantharaj Urs and Jayalakshammanni that an accidental fire broke out in the Palace, causing much havoc. The frontage of the old Palace, built hurriedly soon after the fall of Srirangapatna in 1799 to accommodate the royal family, was fully gutted. It was rebuilt as it exists now, with polished granite obtained from the nearby Chamundi Hills. However, the royal throne and other valuables were saved with great difficulty.

The second princess marriage with Colonel Desaraj Urs was held in 1896 also in the old palace. The third princess married Sirdar M. Lakshmikantharaj Urs in 1900. It was held along with the marriage of Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV, who married Lakshmivilas Sannidhana Prathapa Kumari Bai, Princess of Vana in Kathiawar State.


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