Mysore, now officially known as Mysuru, is a small city tucked in the foothills of the western ghats in the Indian state of Karnataka. It is a city of royal heritage and rich culture as it served as the capital of the Mysore Kingdom for almost 6 centuries under the Wodeyar Dynasty. It still maintains a royal feel and atmosphere and is ideal for a getaway especially from Bengaluru, one of the busiest jam-packed cities in the south. Contrasting to Bangalore, Mysore is an epitome of peace, great weather, and humble people. The primary language spoken here is Kannada but most people also speak Hindi and English. The city is small and can be easily covered in 2 days the outskirts are also as mesmerizing and great for road trips.
The best time to visit Mysore is throughout the year but September to January is perfect for sightseeing. The weather is pleasant throughout the year except for three months of summer from February to April when the temperatures soar up to 29-30 degree Celsius. The nearest airport is in Bangalore, from there direct buses ply to Mysore. You can also drive down from Banglore or take the train to reach Mysore within 3 hours.
WHAT TO SEE IN MYSORE?
SRI CHAMUNDESHWARI TEMPLE
It is a Hindu temple dedicated to Goddess Durga, overlooking the city of Mysore situated at an elevation of about 900 feet from sea level. It is the main temple of Karnataka called the Naada Devathe ( State Goddess). Among the many festivals celebrated here, Navratri or Mysore Dasara is the most grandly celebrated festival in the month of September-October by decorating the goddess in 9 ways to depict the 9 different aspects of the Goddess. It’s one of the oldest temples in Mysore and one among the 18 Maha Shakti Peethas. During Dasara, the whole city lights up and twinkles like a crown jewel. Food Melas, exhibitions and the royal procession of the idol of the Goddess in a Gold Mantapa consorted by the majestic elephants and horses on the streets of Mysore are the main attractions during the festival. Nearby you can also see the Lakshminarayana Temple and Jwalamuki Thirupurasundari Temple.
THE MYSORE PALACE
It is located in the center of the city facing the Chamundi Hill. It’s a historical heritage and the seat of the royal kingdom of Mysore. It is a three-story stone structure with Marble domes. Its unique architecture is what attracts the tourists to this Palace. During the day tourists are allowed to enter a part of the Palace and the gardens. At night the whole Palace and its three gateways light up for about an hour making it the most beautiful sight in Mysore.
THE MYSORE ZOO
The Mysore zoo is a 4 km walk and a nice place to spend a day with kids. It has various animals and birds most fascinating of them being the White Peacock, the Royal Bengal tiger, Ostriches, and Owls. It’s a plastic-free zone with a small eatery inside. Best time to visit is early in the morning as soon as it opens at 8:30 am. It is closed on Tuesdays!
Just beside the zoo is a small lake surrounded by lush greenery called the Karanji Lake. Boating is allowed in the lake and there is a walk-through aviary where you can see birds of various kinds and a butterfly park. The lush green nature park with a lake view makes it an ideal location to spend the day relaxing in natures lap.
RANGANATHITTU BIRD SANCTUARY
This bird sanctuary is located 16 km from Mysore in the Mandya district. It comprises of islets on the banks of the Kaveri river. You can enjoy a variety of flora and fauna here. Roughly 170 species of birds are found here including the painted stork,black-headed ibis, spoonbill, pelican, egret, Asian open bill stork, etc. Boating is available throughout the day where you can spot, up close, crocodiles basking in the sun on the rocks or swimming beside you. Best time to visit is June to November.
Situated on the KRS dam road, this is the second most famous place in Mysore after the Palace. This garden lies adjoining the Krishnarajasagara Dam across the river Kaveri. This terraced garden was built in 1927 – 1932 spread across 60 acres speckled with trees, fountains and colorful ornamentation. The main attraction is the light and sound show which starts at 7 pm.
ST PHILOMENA’S CATHEDRAL
It is a beautiful Catholic church constructed in 1936 inspired by the Cologne Cathedral in Germany. It is Asia’s second largest church with twin spires of about 175 feet. It has stained glass windows depicting scenes from the bible and can seat p to 800 people in the main hall.
MYSURU SAND SCULPTURE MUSEUM
It is a small museum showcasing intricate sand art and several sculptures. there are about 150 sculptures in this museum in 16 different themes. It is open on all days from 8 30 in the morning to 6 30 in the evening.
FOOD AND SHOPPING
Mysore cuisine is similar to Udupi cuisine. Sweet and sour sambar, Mysore Pak, Chintranna, Bissibelebath are some of the famous dishes you will find in local restaurants here. A must visit is GTR, located at Chaumdipuram Circle whose breakfast is a leisurely meal enjoyed in the city after you come back from a trek up the Chamundi Hills. Here you will find hot Idlis, Vadas and various styles of Dosas served with steaming hot sambar and fresh coconut chutney or a potato dish called Sagu. You may also prefer to try out the more unique Kara Bath, Upeetu, Shavige, Chitanna or Kesari bath instead. Whatever you choose you will end up having a sumptuous unforgettable breakfast.
For shopping, Mysore is famous for its silk and sandal. You can shop for the authentic Mysore silk sarees at government silk factory or KSIC ( a govt. owned shop), wooden handicrafts and sandalwood products from Cauvery Emporium. Incense sticks, coffee powder, and Mysore paintings are also famous here. Don’t forget to pack some mouth-watering sweets!
Mysore is a must visit place in India to experience true royalty. Don’t miss it!