Art and Culture

Referred to 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 of 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 which usually falls in the month of September or October.. the Idol of the Goddess Chamundeshwari is placed on a golden mantapa on the back of a decorated elephant and taken on a procession, accompanied by tabla, 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, known locally as Panjina Kavayatthu.

Mysore is called the City of Palaces because of several ornate examples in the city. Among the most notable are Amba Vilas, popularly known as Mysore Palace; Jaganmohana Palace, which also serves as an art gallery; Rajendra Vilas, also known as the summer palace; Lalitha Mahal, which has been converted into a hotel; and Jayalakshmi Vilas. The main palace of Mysore was burned down in 1897, and the present-day structure was built on the same site. Amba Vilas palace exhibits an Indo-Saracenic style of architecture on the outside, but a distinctly Hoysala style in the interior. Even though the Government of Karnataka maintains the Mysore palace, a small portion 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 and artifacts of the royal family.

Mysuru silk saree
The Mysore painting style is an offshoot of the Vijayanagar school of painting, and King Raja Wodeyar (1578–1617 CE) is credited with having been its patron. The distinctive feature of these paintings is the gesso work, to which gold foil is applied. Mysore is known for rosewood inlay work; around 4,000 craftsmen were estimated to be involved in this art in 2002. The city lends its name to the Mysore silk saree, a women’s garment made with pure silk and gold zari (thread). Mysore Peta, the traditional indigenous turban worn by the erstwhile rulers of Mysore, is worn by men in some traditional ceremonies. A notable local dessert that traces its history to the kitchen in the Mysore palace is Mysore pak.

Mysore is the location of the International Ganjifa Research Centre, which researches the ancient card game Ganjifa and the art associated with it. The Chamarajendra Academy of Visual Arts (CAVA) offers education in visual art forms such as painting, graphics, sculpture, applied art, photography, photojournalism and art history. The Rangayana repertory company performs plays and offers certificate courses in subjects related to theatre. Kannada writers Kuvempu, Gopalakrishna Adiga and U. R. Ananthamurthy were educated in Mysuru and served as professors at the Mysore University. R. K. Narayan, a popular English-language novelist and creator of the fictional town of Malgudi, and his cartoonist brother R. K. Laxman spent much of their life in Mysore.

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