Mysore Palace complex houses two museums. The first one is inside the main place. As a visitor to the interior of the palace, your tour will pass through this museum spanning around the two floors of the palace.
The second museum, often called as the Private Residential Museum or simply the Residential Museum, is located right behind the main palace. Private, because it is owned by Srikanta Datta Narasimharaja Wodeyar, the scion of the Mysore royal family.
While the main palace is a lot grandeur and colourful, the Residential Museum is modest in scale. It looks a lot like a traditional home, albeit a royal one. In fact when the palace was destroyed in a fire in 1897, this residential portion was saved. Later when the new palace was built in 1912, the residential portion was kept intact (this old portion of the palace called Karikal Thotti).
To that extend the Residential Museum gives a glimpse of the old palace.
Like mentioned earlier, this part of the palace is owned by the Srikanta Datta Narasimharaja Wodeyar. He has set up the museum inside the residential portion with the private collections of the royal family artefacts.
As you come out of the main palace tour, there would be the guards standing outside directing you to the residential palace. That's because the residential palace sits hidden behind the main palace. On the way you will pass the Prasanna Krishnaswamy temple on the left and the showroom of 'The Royal House of Mysore' ( a fashion house owned by Narasimharaja Wodeyar ).
Near the showroom is the ticket counter for the Residential Museum ( Rs20 , 10AM to 5.30 PM, opens all days).
You are barefooted, that is if you have not already picked up your footwear deposited at the kiosk before entering the main palace. Before entering the residential museum you'll walk through some hard granite pavements. This can turn really hot for a barefoot walk, despite those coir mats. Once you enter the museum, the ambient is cool even during a hot mid noon.
The residential palace is a two storied structure with sloping terracotta tiled roof with many balconies. You'll first enter an open quadrangle with a verandah running all around.
A large number of vintage photographs adorns the walls of this quadrangle. A number of them portrays the erstwhile maharajas of Mysore and the royal folks. The special relations the Mysore royal family had with the colonial regime is evident from the beeline of European elites of the times from those group photos.
A number of state ceremonials of the too are documented through the photography collections.
There are a few photos of the European guests and the royals with their hunting trophies. Those days it was a favorite sport of the Europeans elites and the Indian princess too embraced the sport with fanfare.
And also seen is the erstwhile maharajas' passion for the Rolls-Royce motor cars. See 'Doing a Mysore' for the connection between Rolls-Royce and the Maharajas of Mysore.
At the further end of the wall on display are some traditional paintings and sketches related to Yoga and mysticism. Many are quite complicate to understand themes.
The area also displays large number of toys like tiny palanquin and a cart pulled by goat! In fact its these toys you will see first than the photographs on the walls.
Further inside, you will go through relatively narrower corridors, all with a large number of traditional godly paintings. The spacious central courtyard exhibits a costumes, musical instruments , kitchen utensils, palanquins that used to carry jewelry, saddles etc.
Further a wooden stair takes you the upper floor. Here you will find a good number of period furniture, glassware and a hall with an impressive collection of hunting trophies. At the far end in a room is the low profile silver throne , seats and other artefacts used during rituals. At some point you would cross a lift that was probably operated with mechanical means.
The last section of the residential museum displays the armories. The spiral stairs takes you to the very rear part of the palace building. As you come out of it, you'll pass a row of curios and snacks shops.
At this part of the palace compound there are two temple. Lakshmiramana Swamy Temple with an imposing Chola style gopura (tower) and the smaller Kille Venkatramana Swamy Temple.
The open ground between the temples and the residential museum is used for short fun safari. The two camels and an elephant is ever ready waiting for the visitors!
Way to the Residential Museum. View from the Mysore Palace side. In the left is the Prasanna Krishna Swamy Temple. On the right are the ticket counter (for residential museum), 'The Royal House of Mysore' showroom, and the entrance to the residential museum (not seen in the picture). The tower at the end of the path is of the Lakshmiramana Swamy Temple.