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art & Culture, Mysore

 
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Known as the cultural capital of Karnataka, Mysore is well known for the festivities that take place during the period of Dasara, the state festival of Karnataka. The Dasara festivities, which are celebrated over a ten-day period, were first introduced by King Raja Wodeyar I in 1610. On the ninth day of Dasara, called Mahanavami, the royal sword is worshipped and is taken on a procession comprising decorated elephants, camels and horses. On the tenth day, called Vijayadashami, the traditional Dasara procession (locally known as Jumboo Savari) is held on the streets of Mysore city. An image of the Goddess Chamundeshwari is placed on a golden mantapa on the back of a decorated elephant and taken on a procession, accompanied by tableaux, dance groups, music bands, decorated elephants, horses and camels. The procession starts from the Mysore Palace and culminates at a place called Bannimantapa where the banni tree (Prosopis spicigera) is worshipped. The Dasara festivities culminate on the night of Vijayadashami with a torchlight parade (locally known as Panjina Kavayatthu).

Mysore is called the City of Palaces because of the number of palaces situated in the city, including Amba Vilas popularly known as Mysore Palace, Jaganmohana Palace which has now been converted into an art gallery, Rajendra Vilas also known as the summer palace, situated in the Chamundi Hills, Lalitha Mahal which has now been converted into a hotel and Jayalakshmi Vilas, which is now on the University of Mysore premises. The main palace of Mysore burned down in 1897, and the present-day structure was built on the same site. Externally, Amba Vilas palace exhibits an Indo-Saracenic architecture style though the interior is distinctly Hoysala style of architecture in nature. Even though the Government of Karnataka now maintains the Mysore palace, a small portion of the palace has been allocated for the erstwhile Royal family to live in. The Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion was constructed by Sri Chamaraja Wodeyar for his daughter Jayalakshammanni. It is now a museum dedicated to folk culture. A new gallery is being added for artifacts and collections of the Wodeyars of Mysore.

The Mysore painting style is an offshoot of the Vijayanagar school of painting. King Raja Wodeyar (1578–1617 CE) is credited with having been the patron for this style of painting. The distinctive feature of these paintings is the gesso work in which gold foils are pasted appropriately on the painting.

Mysore is the location of the International Ganjifa Research Centre, which is involved in the research of the ancient card game Ganjifa and the art associated with it. Mysore is known for rosewood inlay work, with an estimated 4,000 craftsmen involved in this art. The city lends its name to the Mysore silk saree, a ladies' garment, made with pure silk and gold zari. Mysore has institutes such as the Chamarajendra Academy of Visual Arts (CAVA), which offers education in visual art forms like painting, graphics, sculpture, applied art, photography, photo-journalism and art history. The theatre repertory Rangayana conducts plays and offers certificate courses on subjects related to theatre. Notable Kannada littérateurs Kuvempu, Gopalakrishna Adiga and U. R. Ananthamurthy have had a long association with Mysore, partly because they had their education there and also served as professors at the Mysore University. The famous English novelist and creator of Malgudi, R. K. Narayan and his brother and cartoonist R. K. Laxman spent much of their life in Mysore.

 
 
List of Mysore hotels