The city of Mysore is known as the ‘City Of Palaces’. The city of Mysore is said to have derived its name from the demon king Mahishasura. There are number of buildings built by the Royal family and are exquisite examples of Dravidian architecture and display grandeur and lavish life lead by the Emperors while they ruled the state. Apart from the Palaces there are number of other tourists attractions that one can visit in Mysore.
- Brindavan Gardens
Located about 19kms from the heart of Mysore these beautiful gardens are laid out below the Krishnaraja Sagar dam built across the river Cauvery. These gardens are famous for the illuminated dancing fountains that come to life after sunset. The Krishnaraja Sagar Dam (KRS) itself is a superb example of excellent engineering and itself is a tourist attraction in Mysore. Sir M. Vishveswariah, one of India’s finest engineers, built it in 1924.
- Chamundi Hills
The Chamundi Hills on the outskirts of Mysore city is another famous landmark of the city. A visitor can see these hills from a distance of about 8 to 10kms while driving to this city of Palaces from any direction. The Chamundi Hills is about 3km from the city. It is at a height of 1065 meters above sea leave and about 800 feet above Mysore city. On the top of the hill is the Chamundeshwari temple that dates back to the 11th century. Goddess Chamundeshwari is an incarnation of Goddess Parvathi who took this form to destroy the demon king Mahishasura. The statue is 4.8 meters high. There is a temple tank called the Devikola that is used during festivals.
- Lakes in Mysore
Though Mysore has developed into a modern city, the city still moves at a gentle, unhurried and leisurely pace. The city has a good green cover and has a few lakes that add to the beauty and calmness of the city. These lakes are popular picnic spots and are frequented by nature lovers as they attract a number of migratory birds. The area around these lakes is lush green and therefore a good place to relax and rest after a hectic day’s work.
Karanji Lake :
This lake is located at the bottom of the Chamundi hills and is close to the center of the city. This lake is spread over 90 acres and is home to more than 90 species of resident and migratory birds. The lake also has India’s largest walkthrough aviary. On the banks of the Karanji lake is the Regional Museum of Natural History.
This lake is in the middle of Manasagangothri, the Mysore University campus. This beautiful and placid lake is visited by a variety of migratory birds during winter. During the winters this lake attracts a lot of bird watchers, who come observe and enjoy the birds.
Lingabudi Lake :
This lake is in Sriramapura and is about 8km from the center of the city. This picturesque lake also attracts numerous types of migratory birds. The lake has a beautiful lush green park beside it and the entire sight that is presented is one that sooths the mind and soul.
- Mysore Zoo
The Mysore zoo is over a century old and has an interesting history of its own. The zoological gardens in Mysore were set up by Maharaja Chamaraja Wodeyar who is acclaimed as one of the architects of modern Mysore. The Maharaja was a nature buff and set up a number of gardens and parks in Mysore. The Bandipur Wildlife Sanctuary was established during the reign of the Maharaja to entertain important visitors to Mysore and give them the opportunity to observe the animals in their natural habitat.
- St. Philomena’s Church
The St. Philomena’s Church in Mysore is one of the oldest churches in India. It is over 200 years old. Initially over 250 years ago there was a small church in its place. When the capital of Mysore state was move from Srirangapatnam to Mysore city in 1799, many British officers and soldiers came and settled down in Mysore. Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar III realized the need for a Christian church for these people. So Maharaja gave them a small plot of land on the Mysore-Bangalore Road and a little church came up there. As the city expanded and the Christian population of the city increased there was a need for a larger church.
- Mysore Palace
Mysore is a city of palaces, but the most magnificent of them all is the Mysore Palace sometimes known as the Main Palace as well. One of the most unforgettable images of the city is the image of the illuminated Mysore Palace against the dark black sky. It takes ninety seven thousand light bulbs to produce this enchanting image of the Palace. The Palace is situated in the middle of the city and is a reminder of the grandeur of a bygone era and is today an invaluable national treasure.
- Folk Arts Museum
Another interesting unique museum that adds to the character of Mysore city is the Folk Arts Museum. The museum is located in the magnificent Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion, which is on the Mysore University campus at Manasagangotri. The Folklore Museum has a remarkable collection of folk culture. The museum has 6500 folk art and folklore articles on display and the museum is celebrated as one of the largest of its kind in Asia. The Folklore museum has one of the most important ethnographic collections of South Indian toys, puppets and household objects.
The exhibits include an excellent collection of carved wooden figures from the different villages of Karnataka, rural costumes, utensils, ornaments, metal artifacts, implements and tools used in different rural professions. The museum also houses models of temples, houses decorative masks, and ceremonial headwear and has a section that displays leather shadow puppets. The museum is famous for the two wooden chariots that it has as part of its collection. The museum is close to the Kukkarahalli Lake that is part of the University campus. Many people who have visited the museum feel that a visit to the museum is incomplete without a stroll on the Lake Bund.
- Railway Museum
Today there are number of Railway Museums in different parts of the country. But the first one was set up 1979 in Mysore. The museum is situated opposite the CFT Research Institute on Krishnaraja Sagar Road. The museum has a good collection of photographs and objects related to the development of the railways. As the museum was the first one to be established it set a good pattern for regional display of objects related to the railways. A striking feature of the museum is the Chamundi Gallery that showcases a distinctive and interesting collection of photographs and paintings portraying the growth of the railways.
Another unique feature of the museum is the Sri Ranga Pavilion that houses two royal coaches. These coaches belonged to the Maharaja of Mysore and give you an idea about the grand fashion in which the royalty traveled. Another interesting exhibit in the Rail Museum is the Maharani’s saloon carriage that has a kitchen, dinning car unit and royal toilet dating back to 1899. Most of the exhibits in the museum were once housed in Mysore Palace. The first steam engine that was built is exhibited here and has been preserved very well. Among the other things exhibited here are steam engines, signals etc. The museum also has a battery-operated mini-train that takes you on a ride around the grounds of the museum. This toy train is the main attraction for small children.
Mysore is in South India and like all the other states in this part of the country, most of the food is rice based. There is more to Mysore cuisine that the famous dosa and idli that is well known all over the world as the food of the South. Though idli and dosa form an important part of the cuisine of Mysore but the different types of dosas and idlis and chutneys to accompany them will take one by surprise. Traditional Mysore breakfast is simple, wholesome and delicious. Most of them are rice based and are normally served with chutney.
Though the all time favourite is dosa with potato filling eaten with sambar and coconut chutney and onion chutney. There are other types of dosas like set-dosa, rava or semolina dosa. Another type of idli that is commonly eaten is ‘thatte idlis’ (flat idlis). The other popular breakfast is ‘uppittu’ (roasted semolina laced with chillies, coriander leaves, mustard and cumin seeds). The other dishes that are common eaten as breakfast are puri palya, uthapam, vada sambar and kesari bath (a sweet made of semolina and sugar laced with saffron).
A traditional lunch of Mysore is a splendid spread that includes a number of essential dishes. These includes a cereal salads like kosambri, palyas (vegetable salads made of parboiled vegetable chopped finely and tossed with grated fresh coconut, green chillies, curry leaves and mustard seasoning), gojju(a vegetable cooked in tamarind juice with chilli powder), tovve (cooked dal without much seasoning), huli or saaru (a thick broth of lentils and vegetables cooked together with ground coconut, spices, tamarind and chilli powder) and pappad.
There is a range of rice-based dishes as well that include chitranna (rice with lime juice, green chilli turmeric powder sprinkled with fried groundnuts and coriander leaves), vangibath (spiced rice with egg plant) and pulliyoigrae (rice falvoured with tamarind juice and garnished with groundnuts) are part of the traditional food of Mysore. The most distinctive Mysore dish is the famous bisibelebath a sumptuous combination of rice, lentils, tamarind, dried coconut, chilli powder and spices. In rural Mysore like in the other parts of Karnataka ragi muddae (steam-cooked finger millet powder rolled into large balls) eaten with soppina huli or saaru(thick broth made with edible green leaves and lentils) or mutton curry.
Desserts: To complete your delicious meal, indulge in some of the unique sweets of Mysore like chiroti (a light flaky pastry made of flour, sprinkled with powdered sugar and soaked in almond milk), Mysore Pak (gram flour fudge), obbattu or holige (a flat, wafer-thin chappati filled with a mixture of jaggery, dried coconut and fried gently on a skillet) and shavige payasa (made of milk, vermicelli, sugar, dried fruits and cardamom pods).
Mysore Silks, Mysore Jasmine (Mysore Mallige), Mysore Sandalwood (Mysore Srigandha) and Mysore Eggplant (Mysore Badane) are the things that the city is famous for. For centuries now the city of Mysore has been famous for these things and this tradition continues to this day. The craftsmen of Mysore are equally famous. The city has some of the most beautiful and intricately carved temples in Karnataka. This tradition exists to this day, though the craftsmen use sandalwood and rosewood to carve on and make exquisite artifacts.
Mysore is known all over the world for its silks. The women in India and especially in South India have used silk sarees for a very long time. Silk sarees are worn especially on religious and auspicious occasions. The cost of a silk saree depends on the amount of ‘zari’ or gold it contains. Most sarees have gold lace on both edges of the saree and on it’s pallu-the part of the saree that is wrapped over the shoulder. There are private weavers in Mysore and there is the Government Silk Weaving Factory that produces beautiful silk sarees, silk fabric and ties. This factory has its showroom on Manandavadi Road and also in the shopping area around KR Circle in Mysore. There are numerous Private showrooms that sell Mysore silks. Mysore crepe silk sarees are the most sought after ones.
Mysore is famous for its handicrafts as well. Most of the work is wood based. The artifacts are made out of sandalwood, rosewood and teakwood. In the olden days Mysore was known for its ivory handicrafts and inlay work. With the ban on ivory this craft has disappeared. Mysore is best known for its sandalwood artifacts and sandalwood products. Craftsmen produce figures of Gods, Goddesses, jewel boxes, small gift items etc. Sandalwood powder and sandalwood oil is also available. Inlay work on rosewood is also popular. Things like teapoys, coffee tables and other items of furniture are made. The best place to buy these things is the Cauvery Handicrafts Emporium of the Karnataka Handicrafts Development Corporation.
Besides these items Mysore is also famous for Agarbathies or incense sticks. A large variety of incense sticks are manufactured by small and large manufactures. It is manufactured here using locally available perfumes like sandalwood and jasmine and the exported for Mysore and Bangalore to the rest of the world. Mysore is famous for its stone carvings and paintings as well. Oil based and water based paintings are famous. A branch of the traditional Mysore painting known as Ganjifa paintings that flourished under the patronage of Krishnaraja Wodeyar III has been revived. These paintings are of Hindu gods and goddesses. The best place to get all these items is the Government Handicrafts emporium in Mysore.
The old world charm of Mysore city along with its well-manicured gardens, heritage mansions and shady avenues leaves an everlasting memory in the minds of its visitors. According to a nationwide exercise conducted by the Union Urban Development Authority in the year 2010, Mysore was declared the ‘second cleanest city’ in India and first in Karnataka.
The aroma of sandalwood, rose and other fragrances that lingers in the atmosphere of Mysore has earned Mysore the title of being the Sandalwood City. The city is also known as the ‘Ivory city’ and the ‘City of Palaces’ among the masses. Mysore, often termed as the ‘City of Yoga’, is one of the most visited Yoga centres in India.
- Hinal Shah