Updated: Jul 15
The Lalitha Mahal Palace was built in the year 1921 by the erstwhile Wodeyar of Mysore. Second in size to the Amba Vilas Palace, it is a beautiful piece of Royal architecture that stands out for its style and substance. This is one of the rare few places in South India that you can rent out to live like a King for a day! It is so filled with materials and artefacts only Royal Family of Mysore state that it is near impossible to replace certain elements present within it with present day substitutes which can only be sub-par. This can be anything from the marble staircase that is breathtakingly beautiful, to the Raja Ravi Verma Originals, or the intricate rose and teak wood furniture.
One of my all time favourite bikes is the Yamaha RD 350. RD stands for Race Derived. The roar of this particular v twin engine is so distinctive that I can identify it anywhere I here it. My Dad had a similar bike, the Rajdoot 175. It is exactly half the engine of the RD 350. Both the bikes mentioned are really hard to find in good condition. And if found, it is really hard to keep it that way. This is because they no longer make these bikes, and therefore the spares for such out of production models are hard to come by. Most times I see RD 350 owners cannibalize a Rajdoot 175 for parts. This may not be ideal, but is way cheaper than getting components machined exclusively for the bike. This makes it a really expensive affair to even just own a vintage or even long since out of production bike.
This is the reason why the Lalitha Mahal Palace is always hit by reviews of poor maintenance. There are certain elements of a heritage building that is simply impossible or at least highly improbable to maintain or restore.
The Original Otis passenger lift in the palace is a prime example of the same. The passenger lift remains in great working condition. It is even better than the newest Otis model at my workplace – No creaks, groans or misalignments, and really, really smooth. There is also a Service Lift that is defunct because the maintenance failed.
Coming to the room I stayed at- the Turret room. The dark wood stairs leading to it, and the narrow space between the walls made me expect a pigeon hole of a room. And then I was showed in. It was clean and spotless. Had a nice Victorian charm of an era gone by. The bed and pillows were memory foam and really comfortable. All the furniture inside was either team or rosewood. And the foyer to the room was marble flooring with wood panel flooring for the rest of the room. The lighting fixtures had wood outlays as well with comfortable and warm diffused lighting. The bathroom had marble flooring and was spacious with a decent bathtub. The only thing off was that the bathroom windows didn't have curtains, although the bathtub did. The split AC was functional and was silent with a working remote.
The marble staircase at the epicentre of the palace was just so beautiful. One of the lights at the edge of the stairs even had it's original vintage metal switch. This leads up to a hall which would literally define the word ambience.
It is from places like the palaces of the Mysore King that most hotels of today throughout the country take inspiration from.
There are also priceless pieces of art placed on the first floor hallway, painted by the royal artisan Raja Ravi Verma. Even though they are beautiful to behold, a glass panel in the frame wouldn't hurt to preserve such treasures. The banquet hall I could only get a glimpse of in the dark. It was expectedly exquisite and beautiful in every detail, albeit with a Phantom of the Opera vibe.
The area on the right wing of the palace had a bar which I discovered only after a long and interesting buffet dinner. The bar had a games section with an Olympic sized pool table and great furniture littered around the room. The swimming pool had probably seen better days. But otherwise the walkways, pathways and corridors were all immaculately clean and spotless. All in all it was a great trip into what was, and most probably never be again.