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Mysore Magic


Sarojini wearing a Khadi cotton Kurta in tiger print (part of our shahanshah collection) at Mysore Palace.
Sarojini at Mysore Palace

I’m writing this blog from a quaint boutique hotel in Mysore, while sipping a tender coconut (I do so love ‘tender’ as an adjective). I find myself surprised to admit, perhaps because work and creativity and family has taken up so much of my time recently (how lovely it is to be blessed with this luxury), that I did not take the time to properly research this little jaunt. I’m quite used to planning every aspect of our trips, or at least, doing enough research to put together a rather detailed (and if I do say so myself, offbeat and interesting) itinerary. This trip —our first since covid struck two years ago, has been rather, last-minute, and under-researched — and perhaps for this reason, quite liberating. It is and always has been a wonderful and special adventure to travel with Sarojini, and perhaps I should not be surprised that this visit to Mysore has been charming and delightful, to say the least.


Before we set out, Sarojini had one request — A tunic inspired by Tipu’s Tigers that she could wear for as we explored this cultural city. It was unfair that the Shahanshah Collection was designed only for men, Sarojini argued — and she’s right. The Shahanshah Collection is one my favourites (I know I shouldn’t have favourites, but every artist does). It’s playful, regal, and inspired by animal motifs — horses, and elephants, and tigers, oh my! And why should it be gender specific? The collection, and particularly our tigers represent resilience, power, and grace — something made all the more special given that this is the Year of the Tiger in the Chinese Horoscope. So while this blog post is a celebration of our excursion — it is also an announcement : I am expanding the Shahanshah collection and its prints, and making custom kurtas, shirts and blouses (by request), and pocket squares, scarves and stoles.


A panel of three images. The two images on either side are inlaid wall art at Tip Sultan's Summer Palace in Mysore. The image in the centre is a portrait of Tipu Sultan,
Wall paintings, and a portrait of Tip Sultan, at his Summer Palace and Museum, Srirangapatna

We caught an early morning flight from Delhi to Bangalore, and drove through Tipu Sultan’s summer palace in Srirangapatna (Mysore), and so Sarojini didn’t get to debut her shirt here among Tipu’s tigers — but she did the next day as we explored this gorgeous hamlet.


Offering of lotus, rose, marigold, and coconut at the Temple
Offering of lotus, rose, marigold, and coconut at the Temple

We started our day with an early morning Darshan to the Chamundeshwari Temple, dedicated to Chamundi, a local deity, and manifestation of Durga / Shakti —slayer of demons, ‘Chanda’ and ‘Munda’ and also “mahishasura’, the buffalo-headed monster. She is considered to be tutelary deity of the Mysore Maharajas, and the the presiding deity of Mysuru. The temple visit was followed by a stop at the local handicrafts emporium to explore the gorgeous Mysore silk! We always make a point to explore and appreciate and educate ourselves about the local textiles — and Mysore provided a fertile environment for these explorations.


Jaganmohan Palace and Art Gallery
Jaganmohan Palace and Art Gallery
Jaganmohan Palace and Art Gallery, interiors
Jaganmohan Palace and Art Gallery, interiors

Our next stop was to the Jaganmohan art gallery and palace — a seemingly forgotten museum (we were the only ones there) housing the most beautiful collection of Raja Ravi Verma paintings, among other gorgeous works, including a Rembrandt self-portrait! It felt, almost as though we were being made privy to a secret — an enchanting secret, and one that left us a little spellbound.


From left to right: Rembrandt self portrait ; Raja Ravi Verma's 'Lady in Moonlight' ; Chaitanyadev Chatterji -- Portrait
From left to right: Rembrandt self portrait ; Raja Ravi Verma's 'Lady in Moonlight' ; Chaitanyadev Chatterji -- Portrait

After a brief lunch break (South Indian Thalis, of course) we visited the Mysore Palace. I was struck by the opulence and the grandeur of the interiors — the walls, the columns, and the ceilings — all of it. The palace was designed by the English architect Henry Irwin, and was constructed between 1897 -1912. The interiors were resplendent in lavish shades of aqua, tan, and turquoise. The softness of these shades (and I’m tempted to say the European influence of these colours) seemed to me, to be in contrast with the stark and vibrant colour palette of the silk sarees we were seeing on the streets — resplendent shades of magenta, pinks, mustards, oranges, purple, and yellow.

Blues from inside the Mysore Palace
Blues from inside the Mysore Palace

We then stopped by RK Narayan’s house — the author perhaps best known for ‘Malgudi Days’. The simplicity of his art-deco home was a stark juxtaposition to the opulence we had just explored in the palace. There were no guards here, only one simple guest book — a small reminder of the few that make their way here. The house was simple, containing few memorabilia of his life and work — degree certificates from his University, his coat, his glasses, and a personal book collection. Our day concluded with a visit to St Philomena’s Church — a grand Neo-gothic church, which we later found out, is one of the largest (and tallest) in Asia.

Left: Narayan's watch and glasses ; Right: a set of his books
Left: Narayan's watch and glasses ; Right: a set of his books

Sarojini standing at the front of RK Narayan's home
Sarojini standing at the front of RK Narayan's home

Tomorrow we head to Chikmagalur, but before we do, I wanted to take a moment to appreciate Mysore — a beautiful and charming heritage city, one that I have most enjoyed exploring.


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