That royal feeling...

12:28 PM

Have I ever wished to get away from the daily hustle of my life and escape for a day to some luxurious hotel in my city? Oh, how many times have I done that! Here's an account of one such longing.

Palaces never fail to fascinate us. And in my city, the royal city of Mysore, there are palaces everywhere. It might be difficult to imagine Ambavilas, the "main" palace of Mysore from a tourism angle, as a residence, but there are many other buildings in town that housed the royalty for a long long duration.

How would it feel to stay in one of those places for a day? It is hard to imagine.
Some of those buildings might seem outdated now and there are definitely newer buildings that are grander, but staying in a heritage building that was once home to the royalty should definitely be a different experience.

So how does one get a chance to experience this? It might be a bit easy in places like Rajasthan where pretty much every palace has been converted to a hotel. But in Mysore, the choices are limited.

There are many reasons for this. Most royal buildings in Mysore now house offices, are home to educational institutions, or simply out of reach - take example of Ambavilas palace, which under the Government, has become a major tourist attraction - or - the Rajendra Vilas palace on Chamundi hill, which, as a private property, is out of reach for public.

So what do you do if you still want to stay in a palace?

Lalitha Mahal (Image: Cleartrip)
The Lalitha Mahal Palace is the number one choice for people coming to Mysore with an intent to feel the royal luxury. Built in 1921 during the rule of Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV, this hotel is run as Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel by Ashok Elite Hotels. This building retains much of its elegance from its royal past, and visiting the place itself is an experience in itself. Even though I have had a buffet lunch there once, staying has not yet been possible (why? read till the end for reasons!).

The Green Hotel (Image: Cleartrip)
Chittaranjan Mahal is another palace in Mysore, smaller in both size and popularity. However, this is open to visitors as a hotel. Called The Green Hotel, it is really a nice little charming hotel. The fact that Green Hotel has been set up as a model of sustainable tourism by the Charities Advisory Trust (a UK charity) makes it all the more special. All profits from this hotel are distributed to charitable and environmental projects in India. Being a lot like a normal residence - away from the grandeur and luxury of larger palaces - I feel this is the kind of place one should stay to experience the royal lifestyle. This place has a restaurant too, that I have visited previously - but stay, oops, not yet!

Metropole (Image: Cleartrip)
Even though it is technically not a royal residence, Hotel Metropole is no lesser than a palace. This majestic building, built as a guest house by the royal family of Mysore in the 1920s, is currently being run as Royal Orchid Metropole. Like the other two places mentioned above, Metropole too retains its royal charm and is a nice place to visit. My score so far? Visits - Many, and stay - right guess, zero!

Mysoreans rarely go to watch the world famous Dasara procession. Adjusted to our ways, I guess we cannot take all the crowd and all the noise on that day. Do we visit the Amba vilas palace? Yeah, once in a while. Being locals, we have a lot of other things to do and can hardly make time to be a tourist at our own city. Having this as the case, can we go to hotel and stay in Mysore? You just try it and all your relatives staying across Mysore pounce on you asking why you did not stay at their place. Whether I want to stay at a palace or not, it does not matter :)

But still, I want to be a tourist at my own city, and do what a tourist does. Stay in a hotel. A royal hotel. Something that lets me experience something very special. Some day. Some day!

Photos courtesy of Cleartrip. Check out hotels from Mysore on Cleartrip's Hotel Directory HERE.

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