Adoration 4 Adventure’s local guide for visitors to Mysore, India by A4A guest writer, Vyjay Rao.
Local guide posts provide recommendations for destinations from locals who are currently living or have lived in that particular place. Including information on the top places to eat, drink, stay and how to get around with an emphasis on saving money.
Overview of Mysore
Mysore is situated in Karnataka, a southern state of India, and is about 145 kilometers from the state capital of Bangalore. Officially the city has been renamed “Mysuru” however it is still widely referred to as “Mysore”.
Mysore is steeped in rich history and culture, well-known for its palaces and the iconic festivities that take place during the festival of Dasara. The festivities are marked by royal splendour and color with brightly decorated elephants taking part in a grand procession. The main Palace of Mysore is brightly illuminated and shines like a resplendent jewel during the festivities.
Top 5 places to visit
5. Chamundi Hills
This is a hill located about 13 kilometers from the city and has an average elevation of about 3,300 ft. One can take a bus up to the summit which has a temple dedicated to the Hindu Goddess called Chamundi, after whom the Hills are named. But it is more exciting and interesting to walk up the hill through an ancient stone stairway that has about 1008 steps.
On the way to the summit, one comes across a giant statue of a bull, which is 7.6 metres long and 4.9 metres tall. The bull is called Nandi and is said to be the vehicle used by the popular Hindu god Shiva. Once you reach the summit you are treated to a panoramic view of the city. In the vicinity of the temple there is a statue of a demon with a sword in one hand and a snake in the other. Legend has it that this demon named Mahishasura, symbolizing evil, was vanquished by the goddess Chamundi, symbolizing good, at this very spot.
There is no entry fee here and can be visited at anytime. However if you want to visit the temple, it is open from 7.30am to 2pm, 3.30pm to 6pm and 7.30pm to 9pm.
4. St. Philomena’s Church
This Catholic church is one of the landmarks of Mysore. The church was built in 1936 and the architecture of the church was inspired by the Cologne Cathedral in Germany. Once you are inside, you will see that it is built in the shape of a cross, with the long part of the cross being the congregation hall.
The patron saint of the church, Saint Philomena, was a Latin Catholic saint who was martyred. She was a girl, not more than 14 years old, and her remains were discovered in 1802 in Rome.
There is no entrance fee and the church is open from 5am to 6pm everyday.
3. Brindavan Gardens
These gardens are located near a dam built across the river Kaveri. The dam, known as Krishna Raja Sagara, is the primary source of water for both the cities of Mysore and Bangalore and was built in 1924. The gardens were completed in the year 1932 and is spread over 60 acres of land.
The garden has been landscaped in the form of three terraces and is dotted with fountains, trees, flowers and foliage of different species. The main attraction of the park is the Musical Fountains, which come to life every evening as the sun goes down. The fountains sway to the music in a kaleidoscopic display of colors.
The gardens are open from 6am to 8pm on all days. The musical fountains are operational between 6.30pm to 7.30pm on weekdays and 6.30pm to 8.30pm on Saturdays and Sundays. There is an entrance fee of 15 INR for adults and 5 INR for children between 5 to 10 years.
2. Mysore Zoo
The official name of the zoo is Sri Chamrajendra Zoological gardens and today extends over 157 acres of land. This is one of the oldest zoos in India. The original zoo was created way back in 1892 on 10 acres of land by a German horticulturist named G.H. Krumbeigal. The zoo houses more than 164 species of animals including elephants, giraffes, lions, tigers, white rhinoceros, etc.
The zoo is a fun place for a family picnic, especially for children. There is an entrance ticket of 50 INR per person on weekdays and 60 INR on weekends and public holidays. Entry for children below 5 years is free. There is a separate charge for cameras of 20 INR. The zoo is open between 8.30am to 5.30pm on all days except Wednesday when it is closed to the public.
1. Mysore Palace
With several palaces in its fold, Mysore is also known as the city of palaces. The main palace, which historically has been the seat of power and the residence of the Wodeyars-The Maharajahs of Mysore, lies close to the city centre. The palace still houses the descendants of the royal family in a section which is closed to the public.
The palace is a blend of Hindu, Muslim, Rajput and Gothic styles of architecture and is a magnificent work both from the outside and the inside. It is a three story structure of gray granite with marble domes and embellished with beautifully carved and placed arches and pillars.
Mysore Palace houses two gigantic halls where the King held court and is a fascinating collection of courtyards, gardens and buildings. It takes a couple of hours to tour the palace, which has on display fascinating paintings, thrones, weapons etc., and gives a glimpse into the grand lifestyle of the Royalty of Mysore.
There is an entrance fee of 200 INR for foreigners and is open from 10am to 5.30pm everyday. Photography inside the palace is prohibited, but you can use your camera in the palace grounds. The palace is illuminated on Sundays and Public holidays between 7pm and 7.30pm.
Eating and drinking
While in Mysore, you should not miss eating and drinking at ‘The Old House’. This place is a little oasis in Mysore. You will love the food and teas here. It is famous for wood fire, pizzas and coffee.
The ambiance is great. People flock here to chat and have pizzas and pastas, fresh salads, home baked cookies, coffee, fresh juices and smoothies. A bonus is that it is right next to Maya boutique, a lovely shop with herbal soaps and hair products, cotton clothes and yoga gear.
If you wish to experience a royal dining then head to the Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel which is in a sprawling beautiful hall in royal, traditional style. The restaurant has a soaring 30 foot ceiling with stained glass domed skylights. Order the Royal Mysore Silver Thali, which serves various vegetables, breads and sweets on an assortment of lavish brassware. A perfect place for a fancy dining experience with the family.
Auto rickshaws (tuk tuks) can be hired on a regular or prepaid basis. Privately owned taxis and auto rickshaws are the fastest way of commuting inside the city. Though a trip to Mysore is incomplete til you take a ride in a tonga (horse carriage) here.
Renting a car or taking a cab is convenient, easy and also comfortable to roam around, although it may cost a few bucks more than an auto rickshaw.
All these forms of transport are available at the railway station as well at the bus terminus.
Mysore has many budget hotels with the main ones being Hotel Ginger, Hotel Paradise and Quality Inn Southern Star.
The number of luxury hotels is also quite impressive including the magnificent Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel. It is one of the best heritage palace hotels in South India.
Coorg is about 120 kilometers from Mysore. One can hire a private taxi and visit Golden Temple, Cauvery Nisarga Dhama, Abbi Falls, Elephant camp and Raja Seat in Coorg.
2. Talakadu, Somanathpur Temple, Shivanasamudra Falls
Within a radius of 50 to 80 kilometers is Talakadu, Somanathpur Temple, and Shivanasamudra Falls. It is advisable to take this trip either during monsoon or winter seasons. Between March through May, the temperature soars to high heat. Walking in Talakadu might be tiring and even Shivanasamudra Falls will not have water gushing down.
1. Shravanabelagola, Belur, Halebeedu
If you are a lover of art, architecture and sculpture, then do not miss a day trip to Shravanabelagola, Bellur, and Halebeedu. One can hire a private taxi.
Vyjay is a Management professional who is passionate about traveling and writing. Together with his partner Sandy, he travels the world. They love exploring world cultures, seas, mountains, nature, food, art, history and urban places. They set up ‘Voyager’ blog as a place to share their stories and experiences of amazing travel journeys and aim to inspire other travel lovers to see what this amazing world has to offer through their stories, videos and photos.
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All photos in this article are the property of A4A guest writer Vyjay Rao.
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