Bangalore may be the capital of Karnataka but the state’s true treasures are hidden within the streets of Mysore. Great musicians and composers have all, at one time or another, called Mysore, home. Even great philosophers and writers have found inspiration within the mists of the valley and a muse in the scenic beauty of this little town. Mysore’s aura is enough to transport anyone to a place of inner peace and absolute clarity, where all you really need are the people that you love.
The Maharajahs have left their imprint on this royal city with palaces and mansion adorning the streets. The buildings and gardens are fit for kings while still making you feel humble with their grandeur. Whether you go with just your beloved or your whole family, there’s always something to do that everyone is bound to enjoy!
- Currency: Indian Rupees
- Type of Location: Semi-arid
- Neighboring cities: Bangalore is the closest metropolitan city at a distance of 150kms. Other tourist locations close to the town are Sritangapatna, Talakadu and Melkote. They’re located at a distance of 14kms, 45kms and 51kms respectively.
Climate conditions and the best time to plan your trip
The cooler months of the year are the optimal for a little trip to Mysore. September through March allow you to make the most out of your trip. This is especially true because during Dusshera, a festival which celebrates the triumph of the forces of good over evil and the worship of Devi Chamundeswari, is glorified with illustrious performances and numerous attractions.
Aside from the monsoons seasons of June to August, anytime of year is optimal for a visit to Mysore provided you pack a jacket along. The temperatures are always moderate, not too cold and not too hot, making for an extremely pleasant trip.
Top Spots to Visit
Karnataka’s former capital is an ancient city filled with many wonderful attractions that are bound to take your breath in their glory. More than just palaces, lakes and gardens, you just make time to visit some of the temples in the area like Chamundeshwari Temple or Lakshmi Ramana Swamy Temple to have a complete experience.
- Amba Vilas Palace (Maharajah’s Palace) – Right in the middle of the city, the Mysore Palace is one of the most popular monuments in all of India and it’s also one of the largest palaces within the country as well. It goes by many names but all one needs to know is that it was once home to Wodeyar Maharajah. Unfortunately the original palace that was build from wood burnt down during the wedding of his eldest daughter in 1897 but in 1912, they rebuilt the magnificent structure at the cost of Rs.42 Lacs. This monument is a priceless treasure and now a museum commemorating the Wodeyars.
◦ Opening Hours: 10.00am to 05.30am, all days of the week.
◦ Entry Cost: Children below the age of 10 can enter for free, children from 10-18 years of age are charged Rs.20 and adults have to pay Rs.40. Foreign nationals are charged Rs.200 inclusive of an audio to help them navigate around the huge palace.
◦ Light and Sound Show: The ticket is Rs.200 for foreigners, Rs.40 for Indians, Rs.25 for children aged 7-12 years.
◦ Palace Illumination: 7.00pm to 9.00pm
◦ Time Required: An hour for the show and one to two hours to browse through the palace.
- Brindavan Gardens – These gardens are famous globally for their exceptional symmetry. The sprawling lawns and adorned with fountains and colorful lighting adding to their natural beauty. After a relaxing stroll, one can always go boating in the pond in the middle of the garden. The main attraction for most visitors is the musical and dancing fountain. Light and music are synchronized with the water pumps to create something of a water ballet. The gardens themselves are divided into four separate sectors, each having their own theme and own grandeur.
- Opening Hours: 06.00am to 08.00pm on the weekdays and 06.00am to 9.00pm on the weekends.
- Musical Fountain Show Time: 06.30am to 07.30pm on the weekdays and 06.30am to 08.30pm on the weekends.
- Entry Cost: Rs.15 for adults and Rs.5 for children of the age of 5-12 years.
- Time Required: Two to three hours.
- Karanji Lake – With Chamundi Hills in the backdrop and a the Zoo just close by it’s the perfect place to spend the evening after a tiring day of sightseeing. The lake itself is around a century old when the King of Mysore built it for his subjects as a percolation tank after which the Mysore Zoo took over in 1976. The lake even houses a butterfly park which is home to a huge variety of plant species cultivated specifically to attract butterflies. If your children won’t be enticed with just the zoo and the butterfly park, you can always take them boating or to game center in the children’s corner. If you’re feeling a little adventurous you could even climb up to the observation tower where you can see all of Mysore lying at your feet.
◦ Opening Hours: 08.30am to 05.30pm, except for Tuesdays.
◦ Entry Cost: Rs.10 for adults and Rs.5 for senior citizens and children between the ages of 5 and 15 years. Taking a still camera along costs Rs.10 and taking a video camera costs Rs.25.
◦ Boating Cost: Rs.25 for adults and Rs.15 for children.
Most of the cuisine in Mysore is south Indian. From idlis to dosas and uppittu to vadas, traditional south Indian dishes are law of the land. The most favorite of them all is aloo dosa, which is dosa filled with a special potato filled accompanied with sambar and coconut chutney.
While idilis and dosa are popular during breakfast, when having lunch, the locals prefer kosambri, palyas, gojju and tovve. Normally pappad is given alongside the spread to refresh your taste palette. Tourists normally like to try some of the more exotic options like chitranna and vangibath. Mind you though, some of these dishes are very spicy.
Mysore itself is very popular for bisibelebath. This dish is a combination of dried coconut, chilli powder, tamarind, rice, lentils, and spices!
Why Mysore is Amazing!
The attractions found in Mysore can’t be found elsewhere. You might not think that there’s anything special of just another palace or just another lake, but Mysore has much more to offer. The folk art of Mysore like Bessu, Kamsal, Somanakunitha and Yasksghagana are extremely popular and only available within the city.
Also, Gold Leaf paintings that are found in the Maharajah’s Palace are one of a kind. Many museums showcase their own collection, but this where the art originated and anyone who appreciates art should miss such an opportunity.
Last but definitely not the least, Dusshera is one of the most festive times of the year to visit Mysore. It’s like the city suddenly awakens from a long slumber and bursts forth in color and joy. The festivities last ten whole days and nobody celebrates like the people of Mysore. It’s an experience that one can only get in this city.
As amazing as the festivities during Dusshera are, it’s important to stay vigilant. Pickpocketing is something occurs when you surrounded in crowded place so make sure you don’t carry around anything bulky and valuable. Use the safety boxes in your hotels to store bulk cash and important documents.
Some of the spots in Mysore are a little dangerous since it’s a rural area but the government has put up danger signs. Though most people heed the warnings, some still throw caution to the wind and put themselves in difficult situations that they come to regret later. Please don’t break the law. More than just getting in trouble, why put yourself in harms way?
Planning Your Budget
Hotels are a dime a dozen and it’s incredibly easy to find something on the spot when you’re visiting Mysore lest it’s during Dusshera. If you want to comfortably attend the festivities, you should make your reservations in advance and make sure your hotel is located in the prime location of the celebrations.
Shopping in Mysore mostly consists of picking up silk scarfs. There’s a variety of options in quality when you go shopping, but you should probably take a decent amount of money with you if you plan on picking up a scarf that’s durable.
Traveling around Mysore can be done on roof but if you ever want to take a taxi or auto rickshaw, make sure you negotiate the prices in advance rather than get into an argument later. Don’t get into any taxi or vehicle without checking it’s condition first to verify that it won’t fall apart half through the day. The most reliable way to get transport is to arrange it from your hotel’s concierge, but that method is a little more expensive.
Mysore is a lovely ancient city that will make you feel like you’ve been zapped into another generation. It’s place to fall in love and make memories. Have fun your trip, and remember, always better to safe than sorry.