Famously known as The City of Palaces, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that Mysore, currently Mysuru, is one of the most important places in the country regarding ancient reigns. It is replete with the history of its dazzling royal heritage, intricate architecture, its famed silk sarees, yoga, and sandalwood, to name just a few. Located in the foothills of the Chamundi Hills, Mysore is the third most populated city in Karnataka, and its rich heritage draws millions of tourists all year round. The highlight is the majestic Mysore Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is a must-visit.
Mysore was one of the three largest Princely States in the erstwhile British Empire of India. To this day, the Mysore Palace stands tall as one of the most spectacular palaces in India. A very famous tourist spot that sees thousands of visitors milling in and around it every day, the Mysore Palace is a mesmerizing example of Indo-Saracenic architecture, every inch of the palace drips with opulence and intricate details, and every room that you visit stands out in terms of its elaborate architecture, beautiful paintings, rich colours and stained-glass windows. On every Sunday, and during the Dussehra celebrations, the palace is spectacularly lit up once dusk falls.
Another popular element in Mysore is the Ashtanga School of Yoga. This draws visitors and practitioners from around the world to participate in this style of yoga that originated in Mysore.
Places to Visit
An incredibly breathtaking example of Indo – Saracenic style of architecture, the Mysore Palace is a magnificent edifice located in Mysore in the state of Karnataka. Also known as the Amba Vilas Palace, it is the former palace of the royal family of Mysore and is still their official residence. Mysore Palace was built in the year 1912 for the 24th Ruler of the Wodeyar Dynasty and is counted amongst one of the biggest palaces in the country.
The construction of the Mysore Palace was orchestrated by the Maharaja Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV referred as “Rajarishi” (saintly king) by Mahatma Gandhi. It was then further expanded by his son and the last Maharaja of Mysore, Maharaja Jayachamaraja Wadiyar. The facade of the palace is a harmonious blend of Hindu, Muslim, Rajput and Gothic styles which imparts it a regal quality. With the Chamundi Hills towards its eastern side, the spectacle of the Mysore Palace is an enchanting sight to behold. Needless to say, it is the second most visited historical monument visited by both local and foreign tourists after the Taj Mahal. Presently located inside the Old Fort, Mysore Palace is renowned for its light & sound show and vibrant Dussehra celebrations.
The Brindavan Gardens, spread over 60 acres, is located at a distance of 21 km away from Mysore. Built across the notable river of India, Cauvery, it took around five years to complete the project. The well-synchronised fountain show with music, boating and well-manicured grass with flower beds are some of the top experiences of Brindavan Garden.
Constructed in 1932 by the Diwan of Mysore, Sir Mirza Ismail, Brindavan Garden is visited by millions of tourists every year. Divided into two parts, north and south, a boating facility offered by the Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation which connects the two parts along with a walkway bridge.
On the banks of Holy river Kaveri is a tiny tranquil town of Somanathapura. Here stands the finest and most exemplary monument of Hoysala architecture known as the famous Prasanna Chennakesava Temple or simply the Kesava Temple. Consecrated in the year 1258 CE, it is a Vaishnav Hindu Temple dedicated to the might and beauty of Lord Krishna (Chenna= Beautiful and Kesava= Krishna). Tourists from near and far come to visit the temple to get a view of the beautiful place. The Chennakesava temple is one of the 1500 Temples built by the Hoysala Empire kings in different parts of their kingdom, and is said to be the climax development in Hoysala temple style and yet is unique in many other ways.
A classic example of the famous Hoysala architecture, and is one of the three temples of the kind to be nominated in the Unesco World Heritage list. Unfortunately, this temple is no longer used as a place of worship because the idols have been broken and desecrated by the invading Muslim armies. However, the beauty of the temple still charms thousands of visitors who visit the site to witness the magnificent artistic and engineering achievements of the era, to seek the Lord’s blessing and admire the delicate carvings and sculptures, whose beauty is unequal and as unique as the God that it houses.
Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens, also known as the Mysore Zoo is one of the best zoological gardens in India. Maharaja Chamaraja Wodeyar established this Zoo in the year 1892 for the Royals. Furthermore, after the attainment of freedom, it was handed over to the Department of Parks and Gardens of the State Govt. The Zoo’s meticulous planning is responsible for making it a special zoological garden. It tends to create a natural habitat for the animals in it. From Big to small cats, Aquatic to terrestrial birds, and Primates to reptiles, one Hundred and Sixty-Eight species find their place in this zoo. The world’s first cesarean section delivery performed on an elephant in Mysore zoo gave it global fame and recognition.
Located near the palace in Mysore, The Zoological Garden covers an area of 157 acres. It is one of the oldest and most famous zoos in India. It plays the role of an orphanage to the abandoned animals. Various exhibitions are regularly held here with an insect exhibition stealing the show. Following this, the Zoo carries forward certain Education Programmes such as Youth Club activities, Literary Competitions, and Summer Camp activities. The Karanji Lake was put under Zoo jurisdiction in 1976 and since has been a calm and serene place for boating.
The Chamundeshwari Temple is a traditional Hindu temple located on the eastern edge of Mysore at the height of 1000ft on the Chamundi hills. Dedicated to and named after goddess Durga, the temple also has statues of Nandi and Mahishasura, the demon. Being one of the oldest temples in the palace city of Mysore, the temple is a must-visit attraction for the travellers. The Chamundeshwari Temple is considered as a Shakti Peetha and is one among the 18 Maha Shakti Peethas.
There are two options for the visitors to reach the Chamundeshwari temple, either by steps or by driving through the interwoven valley road. The temple showcases the fierce form of Shakti, a tutelary deity that was held in reverence for centuries by the Maharajas of Mysore; hence deriving its name from goddess Durga. The idol of goddess Durga here is adorned every day and worshipped by a number of priests. The deity is offered a variety of fruits, coconuts and flowers to show respect and reverence.
Located atop the Chamundi hills, the temple is usually not too crowded. The Chamundeshwari temple also has statues of the demon Mahishasura; you can even see the enormous statues from the way driving up to the temple. The temple also has a Nandi statue, which is that of a cow and holds great importance in the Hindu mythology. The view from the temple is stunning, as you can see many significant structures of the city including the Lalitha Mahal Palace. The temple has also been declared as the No Plastic Zone, thus making a huge contribution to the conservation of our environment by curbing the use of plastics and dumping of hazardous materials.
Home to over 2000 birds, the Shuka Vana in Mysore is a must visit for ornithophilic and nature lovers. With over 450 varied species, this striking 50m high aviary spanning an area of 1 acre currently holds the record for most bird species in an aviary in the Guinness Book of World Records. This unique park, commonly known as parrot park, is a part of the Avadhoota Datta Peetham in the Sri Ganapathi Sachidananda Ashram, and also serves as a rehabilitation centre for abused, injured and abandoned birds. One can find many rare species of parrots flying around this beautiful enclosure.
The revered seer of the ashram, Sri Ganapathi Sachidananda Swamiji believes that birds are vital to the existence of other species, and their diminishing numbers in recent years have been a cause for alarm and a call to action. Through this initiative, he hopes to inform, sensitise, and grow a sense of respect and friendliness amongst the general public towards the avian species. Parrots here have been assigned as per the zodiac signs they are connected with, and one can find a parrot that represents their birth date and planet as per Indian astrology. Parrots here can also be found to symbolise days and months of the year. It is quite impressive to observe a large number of these delightful creatures, considered vessels to invisible spirit dimensions.
One of the more unique attractions of the Royal Mysore, the Bonsai Garden of Mysore is home to over a 100 different varieties of Bonsai trees spread across this vast estate. It is a part of the Avadoota Datta Peetham of the Sri Ganapathi Sachidananda Ashrama. Initially a pet project by the fascinated Swamiji, the garden now hosts 450 miniature trees across an area of 4 acres, filled with these quirky dwarf trees. The beauty of the garden is accentuated by the stream that flows within, as well as the placement of Buddha statues and monkey statues around the area, representative of the zen culture from where the art of Bonsai was evolved. There is also a deer park to cater to the nature lovers who visit.
The garden and the exhibits have been divided into various zones within, representing different Indian traditions and beliefs as followed by the Swamiji. Thus, one can find plants with connections to the Indian zodiac system, Indian classical music, the representation of the 27 stars of traditional Indian astrology, the seven Indian sages or Saptarishi, and five plant gardens closely linked with the concept of the Mother Goddess. The garden is indeed a delight to walk through, and one can’t help but appreciate the fine art and effort required to shape a 100-year-old tree within a lovely terracotta pot.
This garden is also the venue for bonsai conventions held during December. These 3-day seminars see experts from different parts of the world conducting workshops on bonsai plants.
Karanji Lake, also known as the fountain lake, is a popular picnic spot. Visitors are allowed to bring packed food, and there is a coffee shop as well. It is a beautiful place to explore the different species of birds as the lake exhibits as many as 147 species including herons, Asian openbill storks, cormorant, grey pelican, etc.
The Karanji lake is said to possess the largest aviary in the country. Its set up cost was nearly 3.8 million, and it measures 20m in length, 50m in breadth and has a height of 60m. There is a waterfall too with two water bodies alongside. The lake also consists of a butterfly park which is home to more than 45 species of beautiful butterflies fluttering their wings and flying around in brilliant colours. Nectar, as well as host plants, have been planted in the park to help the butterflies sustain. The mesmerising lake also consists of a Regional Museum of natural history which is situated on the banks of the lake giving out information on the natural environment of South India and how to maintain it.
The enthralling lake was formerly a part of the Mysore Zoo and is under the control of Mysore Zoo Authority. The Karanji lake measures around 90 hectares (out of which 55 hectares is the water area, and 35 hectares is the foreshore area) and due to its popularity earns revenue of about INR 50,000 per day. It was initially constructed by the king of Mysore as a percolation tank and became a property of Mysore Zoo Authority in 1976. The area is adorned with lush greenery and abundance of fauna, making it a top-rated tourist attraction.
GRS Fantasy Park
Located just 15 minutes from Mysore, GRS Fantasy Park is an amusement and water park that serves as a quick weekend outing for the people of Mysore and surrounding towns. Set amidst lush green landscapes on the Mysore-Bangalore highway, the park has served for over 13 years. It offers some fun rides and activities making it a perfect spot for friends and families to hang out.
GRS Fantasy Park offers numerous thrilling fun rides and a multipurpose play system for kids and adults. Water games and a kid’s pool are the main attraction of the park. There are many inbuilt games at Amazonia which is an interactive river. The park has facilities such as lockers, changing rooms, restaurants, gift shop, amphitheatre and a gift shop.
Recognized as the second tallest church of Asia, St. Philomena’s Church was constructed to pay tribute to the Catholic Saint and martyr of Roman Catholic Church, Saint Philomena. It is one of the most important historical sites in Mysore and is frequently visited by tourists from all over the country. Being one of the most distinctive landmarks of the city, it looks even more beautiful in the evening sky and is given religious importance having a Neo-Gothic style of architecture which makes it all the more famous amongst masses.
The foundation for the church was laid in 1933 by the then king of Mysore, Sri Krishnarajendra Wodeyar Bahadur IV for the European residents in the city. After the construction went on for about eight years, the church started functioning in 1941. The remains of Saint Philomena have been preserved here and are present even today.
Saint Philomena was the daughter of the monarch of Greece and had always been a devotee of God and believed in him. She was taken to meet the Emperor when she was 13 years old, after which, the Emperor on seeing her beauty offered to marry her. However, she refused and the emperor ordered her to have her executed. The church stands as a symbol of the secular viewpoint and the religious accord of Mysore.
Must Try Food in Mysore
1. Poojaris Fish Land
2. Gufha Restaurant
3. Le Olive Garden
4. Mezzaluna Indian & Continental Restaurant
5. By The Way Restaurant
6. Mahesh Prasad
7. Oyster Bay
8. Empire Restaurant
9. Gayatri Tiffin Room
10. Hotel Original Vinayaka Mylari
How To Get Here
Mysore is one of the more well-connected cities in Karnataka and is accessible through road, rail and air. Although Mysore has its own airport, it is not fully functional and doesn’t connect to all major cities. So tourists can access Mysore through the Bangalore airport (170km). Getting on a train to the Mysore railway station is a very convenient way of travel as daily trains ply here. Bus services are also regularly running and finding a seat is never a problem.
The closest International Airport from Mysore is the Bangalore airport for those who want to visit the city by air across the border. There is a domestic airport within the city itself that schedules flights to and from the major cities like Chennai, Mumbai, Bangalore, New Delhi and Kolkata
Nearest Airport: Coimbatore Airport (CJB) – 147 kms from Mysore
Mysore is 139 km toward the south-west of Bangalore. The state highway that connects these two cities is extremely well maintained. Heading out from Bangalore to Mysore by road is a wonderful experience and will take around 3hrs. The Karnataka Road Transport Corporation has a brilliant transport administration to Mysore.
The Mysore Railway Station that is located in the heart of the city connects the city with every major city in India. Mysore railway station has three lines that connect the city to Bangalore, Hassan and Chamarajanagar.