Saturday 22 December 2012

The throne of the Pandavas

Ranked among the most popular tourist destination in India, Mysore has several well kept secrets. While many of the sights such as the Amba Vilas Palace, Jaganmohan Palace, Chamundi Hills, Zoological gardens are well-known, there are a few others that people are not aware of.
One of the most important artifact in Mysore  and perhaps the most priceless of all is exhibited every year only during Dassara. This is  the most valuable and mythologically well-known artifact whose history goes back to the times of the Mahabharata.
It is also kept away form public view almost throughout the year except for the ten days of Dassara. This is the golden throne, perhaps the only one in India that gees back to antiquity.
The throne belongs to the royal family of Wodeyars. So while the tourists make a beeline for the Palace, not many know that the golden throne in the palace is on view for the public only a limited period.  
The golden throne has an interesting history that lends an element of mystique to it. Popular legend has it that this throne belonged to the Pandavas and it was used by them when they ruled from Hastinapur. 
After the Pandava dynasty came to an end, the throne disappeared from history and was later believed to have been in the possession of the Guptas and then the legendary Vikramaditya and Bhoja Raja.
After Bhoja, the throne once again disappeared from history only to reappear during the time of  the Vijayanagar Emperors.    
Kampilaraya, is credited with excavating the throne from Hastinapura and bringing it  to Penukonda in Andhra Pradesh. It was once again buried in Penukonda till Vidyaranya, the Raj Guru  of the Vijayanagar Emperors, including its founders Hukka and Bukka, helped retrieve it in 1336 AD.
Locals in Penukonda even today point to the spot where Vidyaranya discovered the throne and directed Harihara I to take it and rule from the royal seat.
The throne then came to be places in the royal palace at Anegundi where the Vijayanagar kings used it. Krishna Deve Raya is believed to have used the throne during the Dassara celebrations in Vijayanagar.
The throne was supposedly gifted to the Viceroy of Srirangapatna by the Vijayanagar Emperors in the 16th century. Sometime in 1609, the throne came into the possession of Raja Wodeyar who was one of the first rulers of the Wodeyars.
It was from his time that the throne came to be used during the Dassara celebrations. Raja Wodeyar wanted all his successors to follow him in this practice and this continues even today.
When the capital was shifted from Srirangapatna to Mysore, the throne to wended its way to Mysore. There is an interesting anecdote about the throne when Tipu had made Srirangapatna his capital.
Tipu happened to see the throne and he was desirous of ascending it. When this was brought to the notice of  Purnaiah, the Revenue Minister if Tipu, he tried to dissuade Tipu from ascending the throne. When Tipu remained firm in his decision, Purnaiah warned him that if anyone but a Hindu ascended the throne he would be burnt to cinders.
When Tipu dismissed this remark, Purnaiah got a handful of  “ bhatta” and gently put it on the throne. It immediately caught fire, leaving Tipu dumbfounded. Since then, Tipu did not dare to claim the throne, which continued to remain with the family of Wodeyars.
There is another story of the golden throne but this is not all that romantic. It says the throne belonged to the Mughals and that the last great Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb, gifted it to Chikkadevara Raja Wodeyar in 1700 AD. However, this is doubtful as there is epigraphic evidence to prove that the golden throne was in the possession of the Wodeyars in 1699.
Yet another story about the throne is that it was found in the palace of Tipu and it was handed back to the Wodeyars after Tipu died in 1799. The throne was then repaired and from then on used on ceremonial occasions.
Unlike other thrones, the Mysore throne is dismantled every year after Dassara. It is mainly made up of three parts. The first is a series of steps that lead to the throne. The second part is the seat and the third is the golden umbrella which protects those seated on the throne.    
The throne is adorned with gold, silver, gems and other precious stones. The umbrella has shlokas engraved on them. There are 24 slokas in Anusthup metre.
The four sides of the throne are decorated with creepers. There are elephants on the east, horses on the south, soldiers on the west and chariots on the north. In the corners of the throne are Vijaya and four lions, two of the mythical Shardulas, two horse and swans in the four corners.
The throne has a tortoise seat (Kurmasana). The four sides of the throne are decorated with Vyalas and creepers. Elephants on the east, horse on the south, soldiers on the west and chariots on the north decorate the royal seat. Gods too are engraved on the throe with Brahma on the south, Maheshwara on the north and Vishnu in the centre.
The throne is further adorned with Naganymphs and Asthadikpalakas or the guardians of the eight quarters
During Dassara, the royal scion-Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wodeyar- ascends the throne in a private durbar ceremony which is called Khasa darbar. After this, it is open for public display in the rosewood room. 
The assembling of the golden throne itself is an elaborate and laborious process.
Be sure to visit Mysore during the Dassara to view the throne. It is a once in a lifetime view.


  1. Good Job !
    Correct some obvious mistakes where Tipu has become Tiu etc.

    Throne was gilded in gold by Maharaja Krishna Raja Wadiyar III in 1812. Even the flight of steps and Umbrella were added by him.

    It was made into solid Gold by Maharaja Krishna Raja Wadiyar IV around 1917. In this process it also was modified in some respects . It does not posses a tortoise seat any more!

    when Maharaja Jaya Chamaraja Wadiyar ascended the throne on 8-9-1940, he got a Silver Plate with brief description of its history affixed underneath the seat.

    It was also slightly enlarged and number of steps was increased to seven around 1945.

    1. Thank you Mr. Raja for you input. The correction in the name has been carried out. Thanks again for the rest of the inputs. They are a good source of information for us.

    2. Agree with Mr.Raja, but a few clarifications,
      1. The throne DID consist of the steps (only five of them) and the umbrella before the period of Shri Krishnaraja Wadiyar III, the only addition was the inscription of 24 shlokas in honor of the King on the stalk of the umbrella.

      2. The throne was originally made of fig wood, with decorations in ivory. Shri Krishnaraja Wadiyar III got the throne covered with sheets of silver, with gold foil on them (1812-13) only to replace them with solid gold sheets, later in 1816.

      3. Two more steps were added during the reign of Shri Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV, (and not during the reign of Shri Jayachamaraja Wadiyar) as well as the seat was widened, the backrest modified, and the throne embellished with more gold and precious jewels, converting it into what we see as of today (this was done after the burning down of the old Palace).