The district administration is planning year-long programmes to mark the centenary celebrations in 2012. However, if the archival records are to be believed, the details reveal that the Palace has already crossed its centenary year.
According to the Palace records, the Amba Vilas Palace is a fusion of Hoysala and Greek styles of architecture, designed by H Irwin, an architect from England. The construction of the palace began in October 1897 and completed in 1912.
The three-storey palace has a a five-storey tower at the centre. As per the details on page 16 of the ‘Palace Administration Report’ (1886 to 1918), the ‘Grihapravesha’ was performed in May 1907 and the royal family moved into the palace immediately after.
Going by the ‘Grihapravesha’ dates, the Palace has crossed its centenary year, in 2007. According to Hindu rituals, Grihapravesha or the house-warming ceremony, marks the occupation of a building. It is also a fact that the construction work on the Palace continued till 1912.
Apart from this, page 17 mentions that the ‘Upanayana’ (thread ceremony) of Yuvaraja Kanteerava Narasimharaja Wadiyar was held at the new palace on June 16, 1910, before his marriage at the Jaganmohan Palace on June 17, 1910. Other details on page 17 also mention that the ‘Simhasana’ was brought into the Sajje Hall or the Durbar Hall, on the eastern side of the new Palace on October 4, 1910, the first day of Dasara. The Dasara durbar was held there that day.
The Amba Vilas Palace is the third version of the erstwhile structures in its place, which were demolished twice.
Records reveal that prior to the present structure, there existed a palace for the royal family, not as big as the present one. The existence of the royal house can be traced to the early 17th century, when a court poet of the then ruler, Kanteerava Narasaraja Wadiyar, describes it in his work ‘Kantheerava Narasaraja Vijaya’ in 1634.
After the shifting of the capital from Mysore to Srirangapatna and the subsequent Anglo-Mysore wars, the palace was neglected and was in a dilapidated condition.
Tipu Sultan pulled down the structure to ensure that there were no remnants of the Wadiyar era. After Tipu’s demise in the fourth Mysore war in 1799, the capital was shifted back to Mysore, and a new palace was built for the then Maharaja Krishnaraja Wadiyar III, under the supervision of Maharani Lakshmi Ammani Devi. He had to be coronated at the Lakshmiramana Swamy temple in Mysore, as the royal family did not have a palace then.
The newly constructed palace, the second version of the royal building in the place of the dilapidated structure - housed an armoury, library, office rooms, dining and meeting halls, with a huge entrance arch - primarily built of wood and mud, with elaborate paintings in thick wax colours.
The palace also had two major halls, the Amba Vilas and the Rama Vilas. Major portions of the palace, including the two halls were destroyed in a fire accident in 1897, during the wedding of princess Jayalakshmammani with M Kantharaja Urs. It is said an oil lamp which fell down triggered fire. The palace staff tried to douse the fire, but in vain. However, they shifted the valuables to a safer place.
After this, the foundation stone for the third version, that is the present palace was laid in October 1897. Impressed by the Shimla Viceroy Bungalow, Kempananjamannani, the regent to Maharaja Chamaraja Wadiyar IX, who was a minor then, invited Irwin to design and supervise the construction of the palace.
The palace, an architectural wonder, was built over a period of 15 years, from 1897 to 1912 at a cost of Rs 41,47,970. Changes were brought to the central view of the palace, and also the elevation of the dome was changed as per Vaastu Shastra in 1932. The name of the one of the halls of the erstwhile palace was retained and the palace was named Amba Vilas.