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The rare and the regal

R. KRISHNA KUMAR

This is no ordinary gallery. It houses exhibits from weapons of war and musical instruments to ancient coins...



Jatayu Vadha... A Ravi Varma masterpiece

Interested in a trip back in time to savour a slice of the past that has enriched the present ? Want a glimpse of the regal and the rare that forms a part of our priceless heritage in the current ?

If so, then a visit to Sri Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery housed in Jaganmohan Palace in Mysore is a must. For the exquisite collections range from works of art to weapons of war; from musical instruments to coins and currencies of yore... the list is endless and the collection of artifacts encompasses the ancient, the medieval and the modern period.

Reckoned to be a treasure trove with the largest collection of artifacts in South India — surpassing the repertoire at the celebrated Salarjung Museum of Hyderabad — Sri Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery is also famous for its collection of rare paintings. The Gallery has over 2000 paintings rendered by various artists belonging to the Mysore School, the Mughal School, the Company School, the Shantiniketan School, works of outstanding Russian artists like Nikolay Roerich among others.

But the most celebrated works are the masterpieces rendered by Raja Ravi Verma. In all, 16 original works were rendered by the master artist specially for the Wodeyars of Mysore and these include memorable scenes from Ramayana and Mahabharatha

The western selection showcases collections by a British army officer Col. Scot who saw the action against Tipu Sultan in the Anglo-Mysore war. As a result scenes depicting the Mysore wars are believed to be the only contemporary visual representation of a bygone era is preserved in the art gallery.

Another painting by eminent artist, S.L.Haldenkar of Maharasthra, is a classic that leaves an indelible impression on the minds of the visitors. The artist has rendered it in such a manner that the light from the lamp reflects on the face of the subject and is visible even in total darkness.

The earliest visual documentation of Mysore Dasara is preserved by artists in the form of painting and the works on Dasara procession seem to reflect the glory of the festivities.

But there is more to the Jaganmohan Palace than paintings and artifacts. This was also the venue for the coronation of Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV held in 1902 in the presence of Lord Curzon, the Governor General of India. The Representative Assembly, a democratic institution debating the affairs of the State thought to be the first of its kind in India, used to meet here.

As a major tourist attraction in modern times, the art gallery is now set for expansion to showcase other vintage collections in due course.

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