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Karnataka - Mysore Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Priceless souvenirs of Mysore Dasara

By R. Krishna Kumar

`Lady with a lamp', a masterpiece of Haldenkar adorning the Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery in Mysore.

MYSORE, OCT. 10. Take home a slice of Mysore's rich heritage this Dasara and get to know the kings who bequeathed a legacy that has given the city a royal hue. Reinforce the images of opulence and extravagance the kind of which is found in the travelogues of yore.

Pictorial calendar

Jaganmohan Palace will bring out a pictorial calendar rich and lavish in its production to mark the Dasara celebrations in a few days from now.

A unique effort to promote Mysore and its legacy, the pictures selected include the three kings of the Wadiyar dynasty were responsible for the great collection of priceless antiques and artefacts.

M.G. Narasimha, Superintendent of Sri Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery at Jaganmohan Palace, said: "The calendar will be released during Dasara and will include 12 large pictures of Mummudi Krishnaraja Wadiyar who was responsible for the construction of the Jaganmohan Palace in 1861, Nalwudi Krishnaraja Wadiyar, who started the museum and Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar who converted the Jaganmohan Palace into a trust and threw it open to the public.

It was Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar who donated the Raja Ravi Varma classics to the art gallery. These 16 paintings earlier adorned the main palace and were shifted to the Jaganmohan Palace at the insistence of the former."


The other nine posters or pictures to adorn the colourful calendar will be drawn from a repertoire of artefacts and paintings from the Jaganmohan Palace collections. This includes the famous "Lady with the lamp" painted by artist Haldenkar but mistaken to be a work of Raja Ravi Varma. One of the outstanding works that leaves a lasting impression on the viewers, the painting adorns a medium-sized room and is the only exhibit there. The room is deliberately kept dark and the glow of the lamp seems to illuminate the face of the woman.

Ravi Varma's works

Similarly, three works of Raja Ravi Varma will adorn the calendar while the remaining posters include the famous French Clock and works depicting the Mysore school of painting. The life-sized painting depicting the durbar hall scene and rendered by Rama Narasaiah and the wedding scene of Nalvudi Krishnaraja Wadiyar painted by the British artist Wexler may be omitted as these are too well known.

Incidentally, these works depict the actual setting and is reckoned to be a perfect documentation of the events when photography was yet to be invented. And what is more, the innumerable characters depicted on the canvas were people who served in the palace or held responsible positions in society. The frame of every main calendar poster will be dotted with smaller pictures and will be a mini-illustrated guide to the rich collections at the art gallery. Nearly, 1,000 such calendars will be published and released in due course and will serve as a memento for tourists visiting Jaganmohan Palace.

Meanwhile, the Regional Conservation Centre has come forward to restore the murals adorning the art gallery on the third floor. These murals are as old as the Jaganmohan Palace and were rendered on the walls as soon as the structure was completed in 1861. The mural paintings depict the Dasara scene in all its grandeur and the size is mind-boggling. For the canvas depicting the sequence of the Jumbo Savari stretches across three walls.

Salient feature

The salient feature of the Jumbo Savari of the 1850s and 1860s is the king seated on an intricately designed chariot drawn by six elephants in pairs of two and followed by the ministers, diwans, palace soldiers, attendants, courtiers, and those representing the nobility. These murals are typical of the Mysore School of Painting and have been rendered using vegetable dyes without the use of gold leaves for ornamentation. This is reckoned to be the earliest documentation of the Mysore Dasara. These paintings are beginning to flake and are in bad shape. The Regional Conservation Laboratory will take approximately 18 months to complete the restoration work, according to Mr. Narasimha.

The other notable works include the family tree of the Wadiyars rendered on the wall tracing the lineage of each of the maharajas and an entire section devoted to heads of various departments who served in the palace office.

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