Located in the foothills of the Chamundi Hills, Mysore offers a laid back vibe, Malgudi dreams and occasional outbreaks of royal pomp. There are temples and palaces, mithai, and masala dosas, and plenty of festivities during the Dasara festival, which is a great time to visit.
Need To Know
The best time to visit Mysore is between October and March when the temperatures range between 28 to 32º C.
Auto-rickshaws are Mysore’s most efficient mode of transport. Private taxis can be hired through car rental agencies for day tours. Some parts of the city have tongas (horse driven carriages) that you can hire.
The food in Mysore has strong Udupi influences, and a typical meal consists of idli, dosa, or rice preparations such as bisibele bhaat, vaangi bhaat, and shavige bhaat.
Things To Do
For History Buffs
Mysore Palace was the seat of the Wodeyar Dynasty that ruled over the Mysore province for over 500 years. The original palace was destroyed in a fire in 1897; the current structure, designed in the Indo Saracenic style, was commissioned by the Queen Regent and was completed in 1912. Every Sunday and national holiday, the palace is illuminated with 100,000 light bulbs that make the already stunning palace seem more resplendent.
The 150-year-old Jaganmohan Palace served as the residence of the Wodeyar family between 1897 to 1912 while the original palace was being reconstructed. Built to serve as the royal auditorium, it was converted into the Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery. It houses paintings by renowned artists like Raja Ravi Varma, Rembrandt, and Rabindranath Tagore, as well as local gold leaf paintings, sandalwood carvings, and antiques that belonged to the family.
Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion, housed inside the Mysore University campus, was built as the residence for Maharaja Chamaraja Wodeyar’s eldest daughter after her marriage. In 2006, the building was acquired by the university, restored, and converted into a museum divided into three sections: Archaeology Museum, Folklore Museum, and General Museum.
For Nature Lovers
Atop Chamundi Hills lies the Sri Chamundeshwari Temple. Though most tourists take the bus/car route, you can take the foot trail that comprises a 1000-plus steps hike to the top for a scenic walk. On the way, you will encounter a 5-metre statue of Nandi carved out of rock and various viewpoints from where you can see the city.
Karanji Lake is spread over 90 hectares and is home to close to 147 species of birds including sandpipers, egrets, red-whiskered bulbuls, booted warblers, black drongos, and more. The area also has a walkthrough aviary and a butterfly park with over 45 species of butterflies as well as the Regional Museum of Natural History.
Brindavan Gardens are ornamental gardens spread across an area of 60 acres that house rose gardens, illuminated dancing fountains, bougainvillaea and allamanda plants, and topiary.
What To Eat & Where
Vinayaka Mylari (Tel: 094486 08710) is Mysore’s most famous and beloved restaurant. The dosas here are said to be the best in all of Mysore and come served on a traditional banana leaf with a side of coconut chutney.
Hotel RRR (Tel: 0821 2442878) is a decades-old institution that is always packed. They have a small menu that caters to meat eaters and are famous for their biryani.
Anima Madhva Bhavan (Tel: 099007 35002) is a restaurant that prides itself in avoiding commercial additives such as baking soda in their food. Their menu is extensive, so make sure you go with a big appetite.
Mahesh Prasad (Tel: 0821 2330820) serves vegetarian thali and traditional dishes like vangi bhaat, and pongal. It is perfect for a quick meal finished off with a mug of coffee.
What To Buy
Devaraja Market is Mysore’s oldest marketplace dating back to the reign of Tipu Sultan. It is an open-air market with vendors crammed into every inch of space selling flower garlands, bangles, fruits and vegetables, and spices. This is the place to go to buy the famous Mysore Pak to take back home. The tastiest of it is available at Guru Sweet Mart, said to be run by the descendants of the royal cook who accidentally created this much loved sweet.
Karnataka Silk Industries Corporation (Tel: 0821 2420713) is your go-to place for Mysore Silk sarees that have a distinctive sheen because of the fine gold thread used to embroider the sarees.
Cauvery Handicrafts Emporium (Tel: 098458 54526) is where you will find traditional handicrafts made of rosewood and sandalwood as well as bidri work jewellery, Mysore paintings, and other souvenirs.