The Mesmerising Topkapi Palace


So the first thing we did was we climbed up the path and up ahead of the Archaeological Museum. And then when we went up and saw the whole Imperial Courtyard lined with army men!!!! In Turkey, every young man Has to join the army for atleast a year. The logic is that this will make the Men a Little (=Read LOTS) smarter and sensitive (=:P) and also develop patriotic feelings. As well as get everyone to compulsorily do community service.

And just then we saw…!!!!???

What did we see?? That remains to be seen in another Story, Stay Tuned.

Now Continued!!!

The Topkapi Palace gate was large and imposing. I looked back on the crumbling palaces I’d seen in my travels and wished we would care about our history as much as we cared about money. India would have a lot more visitors then for we’ve got a cultural heritage worth the envy of any country.

The gate led us to the main courtyard where we looked at the huge grounds split up into a star. We walked into a room which in Indian Palaces is commonly known as Diwan-E-Khaas (or the room where the Sultan held meetings with the priests and noblemen). In Turkey though it was called the Imperial Council.

And as we entered..whoosh!! The ceiling stunned us. Such beautiful gilded paintings and maintained so well!! Plus there were spots demarcated as to where the Sultan sat and where the Council sat. We were 4 of us sharing one audio guide and so we had to pause for a while to catch on to all the information we were being told.

The council hall has multiple entrances both from inside the palace and from the courtyard. The porch consists of multiple marble and porphyry pillars, with an ornate green and white-coloured wooden ceiling decorated with gold. The floor is covered in marble. The entrances into the hall from outside are in the rococo style, with gilded grills to admit natural light. While the pillars are earlier Ottoman style, the wall paintings and decorations are from the later rococo period. Inside, the Imperial Council building consists of three adjoining main rooms. Two of the three domed chambers of this building open into the porch and the courtyard.

We do not have many photos from what we saw in other parts of Topkapi. The reason being, we passed the Imperial Treasury, The Jewellery Room, The Ancient Relic Room.

All these rooms had items precious to the National Heritage of Turkey which is why we were not allowed to click photographs.

The Imperial Treasury contained relics from the Byzantine Age. Also there were articles of daily use by the Ottoman Sultans. The collection we see now consist of gifts of ambassadors, enthronement gifts, and purchases of the Sultans themselves.

There were shields and armours encrusted with pearls and precious stones. There were fragrance holders and goblets made of gold with rubies and emeralds. Queens would be proud of their jewellery boxes so carefully preserved.

Even the Peacock Throne of Emperor Jehangir which was stolen by Nadir Shah and lost in time, was preserved. I don’t want to be biased to India but amongst the other jewels, our Indian throne shone through. The pearls were set so carefully and evenly. It was a delight to look at it. Of course i was happy it was preserved in Turkey and not in India.

 

This website was one that gave excellent descriptions of the Treasury Room relics.

http://www.ee.bilkent.edu.tr/~history/topkapi.html

 

There is a huge line getting into this exhibit. It is a hugely popular exhibit. At the entrance of the exhibit is the Ottoman Symbol for prosperity and money.

the huge rush for getting into the Treasury Exhibit

I’ve yet got the Room of Ancient Relics and other points to do. But that remains yet another part of the journey!!

Stay Tuned

Topkapı Palace: Back to the Ottoman Times


Day 4: 13th April

  

This was the day when we finally visited the Topkapı sarayı. This Palace is a spectacular example of the Ottoman exuberance as well as the passion the Turks have to conserve their wealth and monuments.

As soon as you enter the Topkapi, there are two paths, one which is called “Valentines Path” which is a path that leads a little into the grounds where couples can generally practice some PDA and an uphill road leading to the palace.

 

A note about Istanbul: This is a city that has a lot of walking involved..lot of uphil walking and climbing. To check the museums and especially to feel that you got your money’s worth, you’ll no doubt check every tourist attraction thoroughly which means considerable walking. If there are any plans  of visiting Istanbul soon then work on your fitness…you will need to!!!!

Back to the Sarayi.. (=Palace in Turkish). We had to climb on a cobbled road that had some marble columns at the side on the grass. Cars could be driven inside though. On the way to the Palace, the Istanbul Architechtural Museum presents itself.

The Istanbul Archaeological Museum is something that presents itself in 3 chapters (=Trilogy ishtyle)

1.Archaeological Museum (=arkelogi müzesi)

2.Museum of Ancient Orient

3.Museum of Islamic Arts

 

Beyond the gate, the road continues still forward to a large ground with paths and gardens. There you can see the gates of Topkapi Sarayi

Now In Our Professional Opinion (=Oops oh crap copied the wrong stuff out of an Office Doc!!!)

Back to the point..what i was saying is this place merits a full day. They charge TL 35 to get in and it doesnt make any sense to rush it. There is So much to see!!!

 

Now i know keeping up with the typical Indian Itenerary (=I know we tend to Run, Daud and Race…oops someone’s movie list spilled over!! I mean we Indians tend to run across a country in 2 days and be proud of that!!) , with a travel agent, this would be done in say 2 hours but believe me there is so much more to the Palace. Not only are you seeing an important part of Turkish history and tradition but also has a Stunning Treasure Room.

 

Topkapi Palace was not only the residence of the Ottoman sultans, but also the administrative and educational center of the state. Initially constructed between 1460 and 1478 by Sultan Mehmed II, the conqueror of Constantinople, and expanded upon and altered many times throughout its long history, the palace served as the home of the Ottoman sultans and their court until the middle of the 19th century.The Holy Relics of the Prophet Muhammad, and the imperial archives continue to be preserved at Topkapi.

 

Following the abolishment of the Ottoman monarchy in 1922, Topkapi Palace was converted into a museum on 3 April 1924, on the order of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

 

 

Alrite for me to give you the coup on Topkapi Sarayi I’ll have to split it up into

1. What we could Photograph

2. What was Hidden from the Camera

 

As per the Literature that the Topkapi Sarayi Muzesi gave us, it was divided into

1. Main Palace (=TL 20)

2. Harem (=TL 15)

 

But we didnt end up going to the Harem 😦 we indeed were running on a tight schedule. After Topkapi we had to go to the Bosphorus for our cruise which meant we were having a pick up from the Hotel.

 

Like all other Turkish Monuments there was a full closet of information here. Which will be decoded and presented (=Sigh some disadvantages of working!! It does affect the language!!)

 

So the first thing we did was we climbed up the path and up ahead of the Archaeological Museum. And then when we went up and saw the whole Imperial Courtyard lined with army men!!!! In Turkey, every young man Has to join the army for atleast a year. The logic is that this will make the Men a Little (=Read LOTS) smarter and sensitive (=:P) and also develop patriotic feelings. As well as get everyone to compulsorily do community service.

 

And just then we saw…!!!!???

 

What did we see?? That remains to be seen in another Story, Stay Tuned.

An overview from Miniaturk

 

Istanbul Archaeological Museum

 

The Army

 

Whats Up

 

The Ceiling Lol

 

The Sleeping Chambers

 

Ottoman Splendour

 

A sign of good luck

 

Entrance to the Treasure Room

 

Tulips around

 

Sea of Marmara

 

 

Tulips outside the Topkapi

Exploring Mysore-The Mysore Palace


18th April 2010, Mysore, Karnataka, India
We decided to explore the famous Mysore Palace that day after our lunch with Swaroop. There was some festival going on that day because we saw ladies wearing their best and carrying pots and flowers on their head. That took up traffic for a while. But much to our chagrin, there was a huge line waiting to get into the Mysore Palace, it being a huge attraction for people pouring into Mysore. Papa went and stood in the line while mum tried to get a ticket from the counter and surprisingly, the man at the counter gave her tickets without asking her why she was cutting into the line. I guess people who sell tickets are so used to people cutting in the line that they don’t bother with asking. Also one advantage of the crowd was that many people were getting into the palace without buying tickets which meant that that guards at the entrance weren’t doing their job properly. So we mentioned that to the guards who seemed embarrassed and started checking tickets after we passed. Photography in the Mysore Palace is not allowed so the camera had to be kept in a special locker. But we carried it with us nonetheless and asked the guards special permission to keep it with us promising not to click photos inside. People are not allowed to wear shoes into the Palace. This would make it easier to clean it.
Also there are audio tapes in 20 languages here. We’d seen audio tapes in Palaces abroad like Hampton Court which was the summer residence of King Henry VIII. Its a nice way to make people aware of the history behind all the paintings and what each room is and its significance. It also explained about the times when kings used to stay in the Palace describing the various festivals, marriage and the routine of the king. It also shed light on the ways of living and elaborately spoke on the crest of the dynasty. In this case, the crest/coat of arms of the Wodeyar Dynasty which has ruled Mysore for many years.
A little bit about the Wadiyars and how they came to rule, (from the Official Virtual Tour Website of the Mysore Palace, http://www.mysorepalace.gov.in)

As the story goes, two young men, Vijaya and Krishna of the Yadu dynasty hailing from Dwaraka in Gujarat came to Mysore, after visiting Melkote on their pilgrimage. The two royal princes took shelter at the Kodi Bhyraveswara Temple, which was close to the Doddakere, from where people of then small city of Mysore fetched water for drinking and daily chore. At dawn, they heard some women, while washing closes discussing the distress situation of the young Princess Devajammanni. The death of her father, Chamaraja, the local ruler, had landed her and her mother, the queen, in trouble. Taking advantage of the situation, the neighbouring Chief of Karugahalli, Maranayaka, began demanding the kingdom and the princess in marriage. Taking the help of a Jangama Odeya, a Shaivite religious man, the two chivalrous brothers came to the rescue of the distressed Maharani and the Princess. Mobilising troops, they killed the Karugahalli Chief and his men and saved the Mysore royal family and their kingdom. A happy princess married the elder brother, Vijaya, and he became the first ruler of the Yadu dynasty. He assumed the name Yaduraya. Thus the traditional founding of the Wadiyar dynasty took place in 1399 with Yaduraya. Since then, 24 rulers have succeeded in the dynasty, the last being Jayachamaraja Wadiyar. It is during his period, India won freedom and later monarchy was abolished. With that ended the reign of the Mysore Maharajas.


The audio tape was the best part of the trip because it was so informative. But i would have to add its a rich man’s tool, because one audio tape comes for Rs. 200/- which the common man would not be bothered with.
The Palace was beautifully maintained and the paintings were beautifully kept. The rooms were exquisite and were beautifully detailed in the audio tapes. I mused on the Palaces i’d seen in Rajasthan and this and the difference was there for all to see. There were no spit markings here, no broken glass, no people treating the Palace like a park. The people were fascinated with the Palace and it still had its aura.


The Palaces of the West were in disrepair and the people there needed serious training in how to manage it. Also the history about the Palaces was not documented properly and guides were only out to make money they weren’t people who were genuinely interested in the history of the place. The difference in attitudes was the reason the Mysore Palace looked the way it did. Plus the paintings by Raja Ravi Varma made history come alive.
After going through all the rooms including the King’s conference chamber, the Diwaan-e-Aam(=courtyard where the king could address all the commoners) and through other chambers, we came out. There we had to give up the audio tapes and we could buy photos of the Mysore Palace (=authorised people selling the photos) and books on the Palace. These funds would be used for the upkeep of the palace. The way the Palace was maintained made me happy that somewhere efforts were being taken to preserve our monuments. After getting our shoes, we left for the hotel. We had some sugarcane juice. Outside the Palace, there were many sellers selling stuff like incense sticks(=agqarbatti) and carpets, curios. We got pictures of the West Gate in the setting sun.

After that we visited Swaroop’s place and then visited the Palace to see the illumination.


Nothing and i mean Nothing prepared us for the sight we were to see. The Palace looked so brilliant lit up that we couldn’t imagine looking at it in any other way. Stunning is what i can say. We had no words to express it. We could only stare. There were many people who came to see the palace illuminated. There were a lot of travellers and foreigners who came along with big backpacks. I dont have much to say except you must go and see the Palace once atleast. Pick up your bags and go!!!

Coming Up Next:Goodbye Mysore, Journey to Bangalore
The Illuminated Palace at nightThe Western Gate to the palace in the setting sunthe festive ladiesThe illuminated PalaceWow

Exploring Mysore-A trip in the colonial times.


18th April 2010, Mysore, Karnataka, India
Today we decided to explore Mysore. Our first stop was breakfast at the hotel where we were staying. Like always the breakfast menu was the same (=Sada dose, Set dosa, Masala dosa and the like). After that,we went off to the Chamundeshwari temple which was on top of a hill. We had to navigate a bit and ask people for directions but we ultimately made it alright there.There was a welcome gate like all other dwars we had seen all along our journey. There were signs at corners which told us to enjoy the views of Mysore seen from above the hill.

When we did reaCH the temple, we had another obstacle at hand, How to park the car. This parking lot was the most chaotic and disorganised lot i have ever seen. Cars and buses parked in any direction with little or no place for others to park, some which are parked so treacherously that the blocked the main approach road. It was a mess!!! Finally we did manage to find a decent parking space and we left for the temple. Also we noticed a large demon holding a snake and a large knife at the entrance, There were also a lot of stalls selling wooden items.( I must have forgotten but there were shops selling wooden items in the temple complex. I remember some of my playthings being from here when we had visited long time back.)
There were also a lot of monkeys on the trees with some mothers holding their babies. Although i find adult monkeys repulsive, the babies are rather cute and pink.
The Chamundeshwari temple was beautifully carved and had intricate work done. There were different levels with different idols of gods and goddesses. But much to our chagrin, there was a huge huge line encircling the temple. We certainly had picked a wrong day to come here, a Sunday. But have no fear, the temple authorities are here. There is a provision for people who want to see the temple quickly, of course you have to cough up money for that, 100 bucks a person. That goes to the temple for its upkeep(i hope) and the impatient devotees can see the temple fast. We did just that. As luck would have it, we were just in time for the Aarti. We got a quick darshan of the devi and then went to another small idol where the bhatmam handed us the most fragrant and sweet smelling kumkum i’ve ever smelt. Then after a round of the temple complex, we headed out. At the time we got the darshan, another bhatmam handed us a garland (=just our luck!!). Since we couldn’t keep it anywhere, we fed the leaves and flowers to one of the calves sitting outside. Its cute, when you hold it near their nose, they smell it, come close to you and then eat it. they might even lick you!! Its very sweet.
After having some tender coconut water and buying a beautiful picture of the goddess and a rubix cube (= we need something to do on the journey, mobile games are just not enough!!)

Then we made our way to Nandi hill. This is approachable if you take a separate turning while going to the Chamundeshwari temple. The Nandi hill has a huge Nandi who according to Hindu Mythology is Lord Shiva’s Escort. There was also a temple up the hill but it was a long way off. So we decided to skip that. There was a person selling small idols and we got 8 idols of Lord Ganesh which were very tiny and cute!!(=i guess God would faint if the word got out that i found idols cute!! lol)

Then we decided to head out to the Lalita Mahal Palace. The Lalita Mahal is the second largest palace in Mysore and is situated near the Chamundi hills (=wikipedia’d this bit). We decided to check the place out. And then we found out that we could explore the inside of the palace too but we had to buy entry tickets (=Rs 250 per head). This was a summer palace for the Queen and is now a hotel. Its a really good thing that most palaces are converted into hotels. Not only does it attract foreign tourists, but it also preserves the palace. The Lalita Mahal Palace is the only palace i know to be built entirely of WOOD. yes hard to believe but its true!! Its built of wood and done and preserved very well. Once we got the tickets, the guard at the palace led us into a corridor and served us tea.(=i had tea everyone else had coffee!!It was elaichi tea yummy!!) We spoke with one of the men who took care of the souvenir shop and he said that the current CM of Karnataka was doing a very good job. Every year it seems a sum of 1 crore (=yeah i know) was allocated to every village for the development and for celebration of festivals (=smart since festivals will spur the domestic economy and stimulate demand in the village for a lot of commodities). Also the BJP had a super big majority.
Anyway, we saw some people from the Orient coming(=either they are chinese o japanese i can’t appear prejudiced i just didnt know which country they came from).

Discovery:The lift at the Lalita Mahal Palace is one of the 2 oldest lifts in India and also its very well maintained. It looks very quaint. There is also a huge wooden elephant opposite the reception table. There is also a quaint horse carriage much like the victorian times.Once we went inside the first things we noticed or rather we were told to notice were the Raja Ravi Verma Paintings. The paintings are almost lifelike and these paintings seriously compete with the art in countries like Italy and France where Medieval Renaissance took the medium of Art and Paint. The ring and other accessories painted looked life like. There was also a banquet hall which had an air of the old times. You could actually imagine the old times when the queen held balls there and people were dancing on the floor.(=dreaming dreaming).
Also much to our delight, there was one person cleaning one of the rooms. We really wanted to see the rooms and how it would be to see a super deluxe suite. And we did get our wish. The beds looked so beautiful and the bathroom was so grand. I would really like to stay one night here in the room and play the role of a queen. We had to quickly see the room and leave else the worker would get into trouble. Near the staircase, there were 2 stuffed animals, one of a tiger and one of a lion. There was also a long grandfather clock. Imagine the old times when the queen must have roamed with her servants!!!When we were coming out, we were told that there was an ex-minister of Karnataka state who was coming and we saw him getting a ride in the Victorian Carriage. Luck man, be a minister and get to sit in carriages and rest on fancy beds!!

This was followed by lunch and a trip to the Mysore Palace. Which continues in the next note.

Next Episode: Mysore Palace, Cyberworld Meets Real World!!!

one of the carvings

the temple.Nandi HillLalita Mahal Palace.the Victorian Carriage