Mysore (or Mysuru) is a city situated in the southern part of the state of Karnataka and happens to be the cultural capital as well as one of Karnataka’s most famous tourist destinations. Located on the foothills of Chamundi Hills, about 150 kilometres southwest of Bangalore, the city is easily accessible no matter which mode of transport you prefer.
Mysore also happened to be the capital city of the Kingdom of Mysore from 1399 to 1956 and was ruled by the Wadiyar Dynasty, with Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan coming into power for a brief period in the 1760s and 70s. Since the Wadiyars were patrons of art and culture, their cultural achievements actually led to Mysore becoming the cultural capital. Interestingly, Mysore lends its name to a lot of things the area is famous for. Some of these are Mysore Masala Dosa, Mysore Pak, Mysore Ink, Mysore Silk Sarees, Mysore Peta (a traditional turban), Mysore Paintings and Mysore Dasara. So if you’re intrigued and can’t wait to visit this city and lose yourself in its history, here are some things you must do in Mysore. Bookmark this list for later.
Located in the centre of the city of Mysore, the palace is the official residence of the Wadiyar dynasty and the seat of the Kingdom of Mysore. The palace is one of the most famous tourist attractions in the country, attracting over five lakh visitors each day.
Another palace built by the Wadiyar dynasty, its completion was completed in 1861 when the original home, the Mysore Palace, was under construction due to a fire accident. Now the palace has been converted into an art gallery as well as a function hall.
With over six thousand unique folklore items ranging from dance, art, music, literature, and drama, the folklore museum is one its kind and is located in the Karnataka State Open University. Established in 1968 in Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion, the museum has different wings, each displaying objects from different walks of life like masks, puppets, crowns, and figurines.
The second-largest palace in Mysore, Lalitha Mahal Palace was constructed in 1921 on the orders of His Highness Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV for the stay of the Viceroy of India at the time. In 1974, it was converted into a heritage hotel. However, a part of the original palace is maintained to date.
Right on the top of Chamundi Hills is Sri Chamundeshwari Temple. Considered the tutelary deity of the Mysore Maharajas, Goddess Durga or Chamundeshwari is worshipped inside the temple. Even if you’re not religious, you must visit the temple for its architecture and the way the fierce form of the goddess is depicted.
If you’re looking to escape the noise of the city for some time, you can escape to this Gothic architectural masterpiece that was built in 1956. It also happens to be one of the largest churches in India.
Somnathpura Temple is situated on the banks of the river Kaveri. One of the finest monuments of Hoysala architectures, the famous Prasanna Chennakesava Temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna. It is the beauty of this temple that attracts tourists from far away lands even though it is not used to worship because of the broken idols.
Right outside the Mysore Fort is an exemplary example of the architecture of the Dravidian times. Devotees used to flock to the temple to worship Trinesvara or the three-eyed Shiva. However, the temple was destroyed in the 18th century but the allure of this magnificent architecture still attracts travellers.
Mainly there are two main Melukote Temples – the Tirunarayana Temple, located on the foothills of Yadavgiri Hills, and Yoga Narasimha, located on the peak of the same hills. These temples are known for the sense of calmness and tranquillity that they provide to the devotees. People have talked about feeling lighter and relaxed once they leave the temples.
Named after Goddess Chamundi, the majestic hills are perfect for all nature-loving travellers. Visible from every part of the Mysore city, you’ll find the statue of Nandi Bull and Lord Shiva here. Standing on the hills, you’ll get a perfect view of the city, Mysore Palace and the Karanji lake from here.
If you’re travelling with children, spending a day at the famous Mysore zoo that is home to a wide range of species is a good idea. From elephants, giraffes, lions, tigers and zebras… the kids are going to have an amazing time here.
Right next to the zoo, is the Karanji lake which serves as the perfect getaway for anyone seeking moments of peace. You can choose to go boating or take a leisurely stroll around it to fully absorb in the beauty of this place.
The Krishna Raja Sagar dam is one of India’s civil engineering wonders as it was among the first in the world to use automatic sluice gates. It also happens to be surrounded by beautiful gardens, musical fountains and tranquil water bodies.
Once the hunting grounds for the Maharajas of Mysore, Bandipur National Park is now a reserve since it is rich in wildlife and natural beauty. It is now a part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve as well as Project Elephant and Project Tiger because of the significant population of the two animals.
Attached to the KRS Dam is the beautiful Brindavan Garden where you can take your kids to play freely as you walk in the beautiful park that has some of the best fountain shows.
Two waterfalls emerge out of the Shivasamudram waterfalls – the Gaganachukki and Bharachukki. While the western branch leads to the Gaganachukki falls, the eastern one forms Bharachukki, both just a kilometre away from each other. There is also a watchtower nearby that has a spectacular view of the falls.
One of the biggest and most popular amusement parks in the city is GRS Fantasy Park that will give you the perfect way to spend a day with your family in the city. With a water park, thrilling rides and multiple playgrounds, you’ll have the time of your life here.
The Mysore silk sarees are something that the city has always been famous for. While you will find enough places to shop from in the city, it is the Government Silk Weaving Factory where you should eventually buy sarees from because of the wide variety of sarees available as well as the reasonable prices they are sold at.
Established in 1916 by the Mysore King Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar and Diwan Sir M. Visvesvaraya, the Government Sandalwood Oil Factory was set with the aim to produce the best natural sandalwood oil. The products you buy from here will not only be organically produced and manufactured, but they’ll also make for amazing gifts for your friends back home.
The objective of this emporium is to preserve and promote handicrafts. Karanataka, and Mysore, are richly endowed with crafts including sandalwood carvings, Mysore traditional paintings, bidriware, kinhal toys, stone carvings, other wood carvings, traditional jewellery, and other such items which will make for perfect gifts for friends back home.
The Devaraja Market is perfect for shopping for literally anything you might want. A century-old market, here you’ll find items for your day to day needs as well as things you might want to buy as souvenirs. The whole vibe of the market is so warm and welcoming and the shopkeepers are extremely friendly.
One of my personal favourite dishes, Mysore masala dosa is a mouth-watering wonder. With bright red chutney made of garlic smeared inside the dosa that has a potato filling, you’ll want to keep eating it for the whole duration of your trip.
Pro Tip: Try the dosa at the Gayatri Tiffin Room or Hotel Ramya in Chamarajapuram. Thank us later!
Probably the sweet dish native to the city, Mysore Pak is a delectable melt-in-your-mouth dessert made of gram flour, sugar and ghee. It is supposed to have originated during the rule of Krishna Raja Wadiyar IV, first made by his royal cook Kakasura Madappa. That is why the best place to have this sweet today in the city is Guru Sweet Mart, owned by the descendants of Kakasura Madappa himself.
People of Mysore believe that coffee time is the time to meet up and chit-chat which is why there is a unique concept of ‘by-two’ in the city. The coffee is frothy, aromatic and heady, leaving you wishing for more and more.
There seems to be a tradition of adding a little twist to classic dishes and then naming them after the city itself. Mysore has its own version of idli which are named after the mallige or jasmine flower. Here the idlis are so white and soft, you almost might not want to eat them.
While you may find churmuri going by other names all around the country, it is Mysore which boasts of one of the best flavours. Made similar to how bhelpuri is, it is without any liquid additives. You’ll find sellers on the street selling the most delicious churmuri you might have ever had.
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