R. Krishna Kumar
MYSORE: When the mellifluous rendering of Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia’s flute concluded and the soothing voice of ghazal exponent Jagjit Singh wafted across the Mysore Palace courtyards as part of Dasara festivities, it was only a reiteration of Mysore’s reputation as a cultural centre.
Held in the backdrop of the illuminated palace, which was awash with the golden hue produced by one hundred thousand bulbs, the palace concerts have emerged as the mainstay during Mysore Dasara over the years. Though the concerts were a confluence of Hindustani and Carnatic genre of music, a dash of rhythm by way of classical dance has been introduced in recent years.
Icons in the field of classical music have held the audience enthralled in a setting considered to be the largest open air classical music venue in the country.
But the artistes tryst with Mysore during Dasara is not a new phenomenon. The credit for patronising the fine arts must, to a large extent, go to the Wadiyars of Mysore, who were instrumental in propelling Mysore as a cultural centre by extending invitations to renowned performers and honouring them in their court.
Even during the period of the Vijayanagar empire, fine arts and culture received royal patronage and the legacy was passed on to the Wadiyars who continued the tradition. It did not break during the reign of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan, both of who continued to patronise the arts at Srirangapatana. After the fall of Tipu Sultan, the shifting of the capital to Mysore only helped continue the tradition. Historical documents and the Mysore Gazette indicate that Mysore region was a thriving centre for fine arts, including handicrafts, painting, dance and music for centuries. The 19th century saw the emergence of what art critics describe as “Mysore school of painting”.
There was a burst of creative energy during the regime of Krishnaraja III, who was inclined towards temple art and architecture as is evident in the construction of Chamarajeshwara temple in Chamarajanagar. Though there were other kings who patronised classical music and dance, it is the regime of Nalwudi Krishnaraja Wadiyar which is known as the golden age of classical arts. During his regime, a galaxy of musicians flourished and received royal patronage and Mysore Palace emerged as a major centre for art and music.