By B.C. Thimmaiah
Every individual has at least once in lifetime thought about living like a royal. No matter where we live, what income we have and where we travel, we all have an inherent desire to experience the royal life in its full splendour — and one can in our Royal city at least for a day or two. One such p(a)lace is the Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel. Built by Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar Bahadur IV at the foot of Chamundi Hill to host British guests including the Viceroy of India, the Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel was commissioned on Nov. 18, 1921 and is now run by Ashok Group of Indian Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC).
The ITDC took over the hotel in 1974, added another 32 rooms to the existing 22. Its heritage value has brought many high-profile guests from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Prince Charles.
Among the rooms at the hotel, the ones with princely proportions are ‘Heritage Classic Suite’, ‘Duplex Suite’, ‘Vicerine Suite’ and the ‘Viceroy Suite’. All of them have high-ceiling with plenty of natural light, period furniture, four poster beds, deep velvet covered arm chairs and gilt-framed Belgian Mirrors. The huge and inspiring bathrooms of all the suites are equipped with original Shanks of Scotland (now Armitage) plumbing fixtures.
The ‘Viceroy Suite’ (for the King) and ‘Vicerine Suite’ (for the Queen) is where the royal family members stayed whenever they chose to stay at the Lalitha Mahal. While the ‘Viceroy Suite’ has exquisite carpets on the floor, the ‘Vicerine Suite’ is the one where the exotic original Italian Marble floors are exposed. Both the suites have original inlay mirrors and the ‘Vicerine Suite’ has an exquisite ‘Jewel Box’ where the Queen used to keep her gold, rubies and diamonds. They have customised wooden coat and walking stick hangers.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi stayed overnight in the ‘Viceroy Suite’ when he was in Mysuru on January 2 last year. The show-piece interiors with immaculately polished floors, priceless carpets and ornate furniture are princely to the last detail.
The ‘Heritage Classic Suite’ once played host to M.G. Ramachandran who was very particular about room numbers (that matched his lucky number). J. Jayalalithaa also used to stay in the same suite whenever she came to visit the Chamundeshwari Temple. Complete with vintage rosewood furniture, the ‘Heritage Classic Suite’ is connected to one more bedroom in case the guests want more space. The furniture in the suites still carry the royal insignia (Gandaberunda — the royal insignia of the Wadiyars) made with ivory and embossed with ‘mother of pearls’ (a smooth shining iridescent substance before the pearl is formed, used in ornamentation. It also makes up the outer coating of pearls).
The second best suite is the ‘Duplex Suite’ and the hotel has two of these. It has plush interiors complete with rosewood furniture, original beds with the original flooring exposed. Enter the suite, it is an altogether different world, offering royalty at every nook and corner and every wall and separation. The Belgian Mirrors are spotless even after importing it 95 years ago. The suite has myriad touches of regal embellishment.
These royal suites are specially maintained every day by architect and designer Timothy Sudhir, who takes care of every minute detail, keeping them ready to welcome a VVIP even if the guest arrives unannounced.
Lalitha Mahal is not a Hotel but a Palace and we maintain the standards day in and day out. All the suites are designed in such a way that they are airy through cross-ventilation. Now we have fixed air-conditioners in such a way that they are not visible to the guests. Even the doors have ‘louvers’ and when it is operated manually, wind blows in. The hotel stands in the direction of wind movement (west to east) in Mysuru.
Every corner here is wrapped in royal regalia and the rooms have played host to some of the well-known world personalities in pre-independence and post-independence India. The hotel’s time-tested royal appeal lures a guest to come back again and again.
– Joseph Mathias, General Manager