Mysore is a city in the state of Karnataka in Southern India. It was the erstwhile capital of the Wodeyar dynasty and is considered the cultural capital of the state.
The city has recorded history dating back a thousand years and a mythical history which explains the origin of the name - apparently, this was the place where the demon Mahishasura was slain by the Goddess Chamundi. You will find a statue of the demon on Chamundi hill which commemorates this event.
In recorded times, the city rose to prominence when it became the capital of a breakaway feudatory of the Vijayanagara empire named Chamaraja Wodeyar in 1584. In 1610, he shifted the capital to nearby Srirangapatna. Hyder Ali who was a commander in the army usurped power in the late 18th century. Hyder Ali was succeeded by his son Tipu Sultan, who fought and lost a war with the British, dying in battle in 1799.
The British restored the Wodeyars as their puppet rulers and shifted the capital back to Mysore. The Wodeyars had substantial internal autonomy and the princely state of Mysore (which comprised a large portion of present-day Karnataka) was probably the best administered in India. After independence, the state was merged back to the Indian Union and the capital of Mysore state was shifted to nearby Bangalore where the British maintained their army. The name of the state too was eventually changed to the more accurate "Karnataka" in 1973.
The dynasty is still well-loved and the people of Mysore are still nostalgic for the grandeur of the earlier times. The palaces built by the Wodeyars and the yearly celebration of Dusshera are a holdover of that period.
Mysore has evolved from being a quiet and sleepy city, to a city that is touted to being the most important one in the state after Bangalore. With apartment complexes, supermarkets, a couple of proposed malls, new and improved roads, the advent of IT and BPO firms and a growing young and dynamic workforce , this regal city is trying to strike a balance between the good old days while trying to keep up pace with the changes affecting it.
A city that is old, yet new. A modern-day paradox in the making, anyone who lives in Mysore for long enough can't help falling in love with this place.
The nearest domestic and international airport is Bangalore airport (130km from Mysore) .
Mysore Airport (MYQ) is currently non-operational. However, it was recently announced that it would be reopened and expanded to accommodate small 50-seater aircraft.
The fastest and possibly the most comfortable way to travel between Mysore and Bangalore and Mysore and Chennai is on the Mysore-Chennai (via Bangalore) Shatabdi Express, which covers the Mysore-Bangalore leg of the journey in 2 hours and the Mysore-Chennai section in 7 hours. Although slightly more expensive than other trains, all the Shatabdi's coaches are air-conditioned and meals, snacks and a bottle of mineral water are included in the cost of the fare.
A one way ticket from Mysore to Bangalore on Shatabdi would cost about 305 Indian Rupees. A round trip sleeper class seat/bed from Chennai to Mysore costs about 430 Indian Rupees.
A one way ticket from Mysore to Bangalore on other express train would cost about 46 Indian Rupees. There are many trains available from Mysore to Bangalore and vice versa. Tippu Express being the famous one which covers the distance of 140Kms in about 2.5 hours.Tippu express leaves Mysore at 11 A.M and reaches bangalore by 1.30 PM and leaves Bangalore by 2.20PM and reaches Mysore within 4.55PM
Buses run every 5 minutes on the Bangalore route, and there is a choice of both A/C and non-A/C vehicles. During the weekends, these buses are often full, so it is advisable to reserve a seat in advance. The KSRTC (Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation) buses are very comfortable, especially the Volvo (Luxury) buses. A one-way ticket from Bangalore to Mysore costs 160 Indian Rupees.
Mysore has two major bus stands. All KSRTC buses arrive and depart from the Central bus stand (aka sub-urb bus stand), while local buses use the City bus stand.
It takes about 2.5 hours to reach Mysore from Bangalore by Volvo (Luxury) buses.
Mysore and Bangalore have a direct road connection, but be warned about driving in India, which is especially dangerous at night because of speeding trucks. The 4 lane expressway between Bangalore and Mysore is now complete, and allows the 140 km journey to be covered in about 2.5 hours.
Getting around in Mysore is cheaper than most Indian cities.
Auto Rickshaws - Usually go by the meter, but drivers politely refuse to down the meters especially at Railway Stations, Bus Stations etc. The more your attire and luggage announce that you are a tourist the less the chances of drivers going by the meter. Price is 6.00 Rs per KM, with a minimum fare of 12.00 Rs
Tourist Cabs - Are the best choice in case you want to tour the city all day or visit nearby places like SriRangaPattanam etc. Costs about 5.00 Rs per KM.
Jhutka Gaadi - Jhutka Gaadis(Horse drawn carriages) are very much in use in Mysore even today. One of the few remaining vestiges of the old pre-independance Mysore. A Jhutka stand exists in the railway station. Though a cheap mode of transport, it is advisable to negotiate the fare with the driver.
Most Car rentals in India come with a driver which is possibly the best way to go.
In Mysore look up:
Kaveri Travels in Kuvempunagar.
Mysore Palace - Entry is through the south side. Shoes and Cameras must be left at the cloak room. Intricately carved rosewood doors and ceilings some with inlaid ivory work, marble figurines, collections of caskets, paintings of the members of the royal family and other objects of personal use exhibit such opulence, though age as worn them out a bit with slight discolouration. On Sundays and National Holidays between 7:00 and 8:00 pm the palace is illuminated by close to 100,000 bulbs - a sight so magnificent that it leaves you gasping for breath.
Brindavan Gardens and Musical Fountain at the Krishna Raja Sagar Dam. Nice garden full of fountains, in the neighbourhood of Mysore. At 7:00 p.m., the "musical fountain" light and music show begins.
Chamundi Hills has a temple of Goddess Chamundeshwari.The huge Nandi statue on the mountain is also well known. The view of the city from the hill top is worth seeing.
Jagmohan Palace and Art Gallery - A former palace that has been converted into a wonderful art gallery featuring famous works by various Indian artists.
Lalit Mahal Palace- Also a former palace but now a five star hotel, visitors should go around afternoon tea time as they serve a great British high tea.
St. Philomenas Church - A beautiful Cathedral, reminiscent of medieval architectural style,is one of the largest churches in the country. Built in the gothic style,the Church is an imposing structure with stained glass windows and lofty towers
Datta Peetham - Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Avadhoota Datta Peetham is a remarkable place in the quiet city of Mysore. Upon arrival you are led into a serene and pure atmosphere, pervaded with Vedic chantings, the resonance of which speaks to your heart. This atmosphere makes all the difference, your heart sinks deeper into peaceful states, you feel relaxed. Above all, a spiritual calm and, the bottom line, a peaceful mind for a few important moments enters your life. Come and join in for a guided tour through the ashram.
Bonsai Garden @ Datta Peetham - The Gardens in the Ashrama have developed over the past three decades. When the Ashrama began in 1966, one of the first horticultural activities was the planting of hundreds of non-hybridized coconut trees on its western boundary. These trees are still yielding coconuts today that are used for Puja and cooking. This was followed by the cultivation of roses, jasmine and other varieties of seasonal flowers for Puja use. Herbal plants were also started in different areas as time went on. In the early 80’s, the beautiful, tall and robust palm trees which now line the Ashrama’s main entrance road were planted.
Mysore Zoo - is one of the city’s most popular attractions. It was established under royal patronage in 1892, making it one of the oldest zoos in the world, and since then millions of people have enjoyed its wonderful animals and spectacular grounds. The zoo has a very successful breeding program and houses animals from more than 40 different countries and there are many native Indian animals as well, including Royal Bengal tigers, white tigers, elephants, giraffe, fallow deer, Himalayan black bear, Guar (Indian bison), white peafowl and Indian rhino. The zoo is also home to many other exotic creatures from around the world like Branary sheep, giraffe, hippos and gorillas. The zoo also encompasses Karanji Lake, which attracts several species of migratory birds during the breeding season including painted storks, pelicans and darters. Other attractions include the Zoological Garden with 35 species of exotic ornamental plants and 85 species of trees from India and abroad. Mysore Zoo is open on all days except Tuesdays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The entrance fees are Rs. 20 for adults and Rs. 5 for children. (Below 5 years is free)
Karanji Kere-is a small lake inside the city. You can go for a small trip of boating.The lake is sorrounded by green trees and you can also see various variety of birds inside a small park next to Karanji kere
Folk Art Museum- founded in 1968 and located in the university of Mysore campus, the museum has over 6500 folk art and folklore articles on display and exhibits arts and crafts from all over the state of Karnataka.
Rail Museum - exhibits vintage locomotives as they were in use. The second of such museum set up after the Rail museum in Delhi.
Oriental Research Institute- Formerly known as the oriental library is was started in 1891 and contains over 33000 palm leaf manuscripts.
The festival season of Dusshera (September/October) is celebrated in grand style in Mysore. On the last day, of the 10 day festival, a procession of the state's guards lead the Goddess Chamundi seated on a golden howdah mounted on an elephant. The procession is followed by various tableaux, a visual treat rarely seen anywhere else in the world.
Climb up Chamundi Hills via the steps, starting early in the morning to get a good view of the city as it rises from slumber while getting good exercise at the same time.
For those with a penchant for authentic South Indian vegetarian food, specially light snacks such as dosa and idly with coffee and the like could try eating at the Mylari hotels (located at Ittigegud and Kuvempunagar) or at Gayathri Tiffin Room (GTR, Chamundipuram).
Those spending a long time in this city can also take nice early morning or late evening strolls at either Kukkarahalli lake or Karanji lake, though the latter is recommended, since the entrance has a fee and thus will reduce any potential nuisance in the form of beggars or vendors that might come and disturb your stroll. Karanji lake also has a butterfly park worth checking out.
Mysore is famous for silk sarees (Mysore Silk), sandalwood carvings and the many varities of perfumed incense sticks. Mysore's market places can be a good place to start, like Ashoka Road, Sayyaji Rao Road and for a mix of Western and Indian traditional shopping head to Devaraj Urs Road. To experience one of India's best markets head to Devaraja Market where tourists and locals alike shop for daily fruit and vegetables as well as the rows and rows of flowers and various spices. Devaraja market is on Dhanwanthri Road.
Cauvery Arts and Crafts Emporium, Sayaji Road - Sandal wood figurines and caskets
Chenapatna Dolls and Wooden Toys
Traditional Deck of playing cards
Mysore is famous for its Idlis, Sambars, Masala Dosas and of course the perennial favorite Mysore Pak. Mysore Pak is a traditional sweet dish generally cut into rectangular pieces (available in almost all sweet shops) and is made out of Gram Flour, Sugar (or Jaggery) and lots of Ghee (clarified butter).
Tourists should also sample some of the more unique signature dishes of Karnataka, including:
Bisibele Baath - Made of Rice and Lintils with a lot of local spices. You should be able to get Bisibele Baath at most restaurants
Raagi and Akki Rotis - They are similar to tortillas but made of Raagi (English: Coracan, Finger Millet) or Rice flour along with Black Cumin, Asafoetida, fresh Coriander, Green chillies and finely chopped onions.
Raagi Mudde – It is a staple food in some South Indian households (especially the labor class). It is basically made by cooking Raagi Flour in water and later rolling it into thick-consistency balls. Raagi Mudde is swallowed and not chewed after dipping it into Ghee and Sambar.
The Ritz Hotel, a small hotel with a garden located near the main bus station, offers excellent South Indian cuisine at very reasonable prices.
Dasaprakash near the city bus-stand.
Hotel Siddhartha. Offers good variety of South and North Indian Vegetarian food.
Hotel Sandesh Prince. It is a Two Star Hotel and offers good variety of food..
Mysore is part of Karnataka state where the liquor laws are one of the most liberal in the sub continent. Most international brands are readily available. The city is lined with bars and other restaurants serving liquor, though there aren't many pubs in the city. Some of the recommended places include:
Pelican Pub (Hunsur Road, near St.Joseph's state school)
Bopy's Pub (Hunsur Road, behind Infant Jesus church)
Lobo's (Kuvempunagar Double Road, opposite Bake Point, Saraswathipuram)
Hotel Maurya - 9/5 Hanumantha Rao St, Tel:2426677 - well-kept rooms in a convenient and pleasant location - single 140Rs / double 260Rs / triple 370Rs per night.
Hotel Bombay Tiffanys, #313 Sayyahi Rao Road Cross (Opposite Main Bata), +91 821-2435255/6/7 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax +91 821 2433105). Small, clean rooms. Those near the stairwell are subject to surprisingly loud noise echoing up from the lobby well all through the night.
The Green Hotel, Chittaranjan Palace, 2270 Vinoba Road, Jayalakshmipuram. Tel:+91 821 425-5000 E-mail: email@example.com . A palace converted into a hotel. Has a spacious lawn for outdoor drinks and a meals.
The area code for Mysore is 0821. When calling from overseas, dial +91 821 XXX XXXX
Mysore is known to be a reasonably safe city. But, if you are planning to take a late night stroll, it is recommended that you keep watch, since a few incidents of Chain/Purse snatchings are reported every month. It is also not safe to take an Auto-Rickshaw during late evenings.
The police are generally friendly especially towards foreigners. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. You can reach the police control room by dialing 100 from landline telephone booth or by dialing 112 if you have access to a cell phone.
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