Things to do in Mysore
Mysore is my most favourite city in Karnataka state. Not as fast paced as Bangalore, the city of Mysore has a beautiful and warmth vibe to it. In this post, I have tried to provide as much information on all the things to do in Mysore.
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Located on the foothills of Chamundi hills, Mysore, also called Mysuru, is a city in the southern part of Karnataka state in India. Mysore is noted for many of the famous things in South India. Mysore palace, Mysore Dasara festival, the sweet dish Mysore pak, Mysore masala dosa and Mysore sandal soap are some of them that the city has lent its name to.
The best time to visit Mysore is during the monsoon and winter season (between the months of July and February). Summers in Mysore is very hot and it is not pleasant to explore and travel around the city during the hot weather.
According to legend, the name Mysore (an anglicised name given by the British) is derived from the mythological character Mahishasura. Mahishasura is a mythical daemon show could take form of a human or a buffalo. He was eventually killed by the goddess Chamundi and Mysore is located on the foothills of the Chamundi hills.
Mahisha in Sanskrit means buffalo.
Mysore has gone through a series of changes in the rulers and has had a huge history. The Kingdom of Mysore was initially ruled by the Wodeyar family of the Vijayanagara Empire till the 16th century. After the decline of Vijayanagara Empire, the Kingdom saw independence and became a sovereign state. Srirangapatnam (formerly known as Seringapatnam) was the capital of the Kingdom. By 17th century, the Kingdom saw the expansion and had become a powerful state in the Deccan Plateau. The Kingdom under the reign of rulers Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan reached the height of military power and domination in the 18th century.
After Tipu’s death in the 18th century, the kingdom was distributed by the British to its allies in the Fourth Anglo Mysore war. By the end of 18th century, the control was given to Maharaja Chamaraja Wadiyar X with a British officer and a Diwan to handle the administration. After Indian Independence, Mysore city remained part of Karnataka.
In 1831, Mysore lost its administrative status and the capital was moved to Bangalore.
How to get to Mysore?
Mysore has a domestic airport that serves 7 domestic flights into the city. The airport, known as Mandakalli airport, is around 10 kilometres from the city in a village called Mandakalli. The flight journey from Bangalore airport to Mandakalli airport is around one hour. One of the flight operators is Air India.
The nearest international airport is at Bangalore. The Kempegowda International airport in Bangalore is the main hub for all the flights from various cities within and outside of India.
The road distance between Bangalore and Mysore is around 150 kilometres and the journey by car takes a little over 3 hours. The highway to take is the Mysore road. Note, the Mysore Road is notoriously very crowded and has huge traffic jams especially near the Rajarajeshwari nagar area and BHEL in Bangalore.
There are two main ways to get to Mysore via public transportaion.
- Trains – There are frequent trains (Basava Express or Mysuru Shatabdi Express) from Krantivira Sangolli Rayanna railway station (also known as Bangalore city railway station) in Bangalore and Mysore junction railway station in Mysore. The train journey is just over 2 hours. Up-to-date information on train timings and for bookings, visit IRCTC website.
- Buses – There are plenty of buses (private and government owned) buses between Bangalore and Mysore. KSRTC website is the best to see the information on buses. The bus journey is around 2 hours and 45 minutes and the fare is as low as INR 300.
Things to see in Mysore
- The best way to travel in Mysore is either by public transport or by an auto rickshaw (tuk-tuk).
- Haggle with the auto drivers as they usually demand high fare.
The Mysore Palace is the historical monument and is the seat for the Wodeyar Maharajas of Mysore. The palace is now a museum with all the royal items that were once owned by the Wodeyar Maharajas. It is the centre of Mysore and faces the Chamundi hills. The architecture style of the Mysore palace is a mixture of Hindu, Mughal, Rajput, and Gothic styles and the architectural mixture is known as Indo-Saracenic style.
Did you know that Mysore is also known as City of Palaces as it has seven palaces including the Mysore Palace?
Timings and cost for visiting
One can surely visit the Mysore palace and get a glimpse of how the royals lived. There are three entrances (Varaha, Amba Villas and Jayarama Balarama) where the tickets can be purchased to enter the palace. The palace is open for visitors between 10 AM and 5:30 PM and the entrance ticket is INR 70 per adult and INR 30 per child (from 10 to 18 years).
Mysore Dasara festival
Started by the Kings of Vijayanagara Empire in 1610, Mysore Dasara festival is a 10 days festival during September/ October, starting from the first day of Navratri. It is a celebration to mark the victory over evil as it was the day when Goddess Chamundi (Chamundeshwari) killed the daemon Mahishasura. The celebration includes many processions including the procession on Goddess Chamundeshwari in her golden mantapa on top of a decorated elephant.
Cost and bookings
The entry into Mysore Dasara has different levels of passes. From a INR 500 to the gold pass, it has many different packages. The gold ticket passes to Mysore Dasara are arranged by calling the Mysore Dasara Committee. My general category tickets, when I visited many years ago, had costed only INR 500 per adult.
- There have been controversies over how the elephants are trained and broken over the years for these processions. I visited the Mysore Dasara festival a very long time ago and if given a chance, I will not visit it again because of these controversies and the way elephants are said to be treated by their mahots.
- The Mysore Dasara is a state festival and draws a large crowd from the entire nation.
- Arrive early if you want to visit the festival.
- Ensure to check your entrance gate before arriving.
- It is best to take a public transport or an auto rickshaw as it is very crowded and parking may be an issue.
Brindavan Gardens and KRS Dam
Located adjoining to the Krishnarajasagara (KRS) Dam, Brindavan gardens is a beautiful garden started in the year 1927. The gardens are one of the must visit landmarks in Mysore and was built by Sir M. Vishweshwaraih. The complex has a fountain and it is open between 6 AM and 8 PM. There is an entrance fee of INR 15 per adult and INR 5 per child (5 to 10 years).
- The Brindavan gardens is located 22 kilometres from Mysore city and takes around 45 minutes to reach by road.
One of the oldest and popular zoos in India is the Mysore zoo, officially known as Sri Chamarajendra Zoological gardens. Opened in the year 1892, Mysore zoo is home to a large exhibit of animal species. The zoo was initially created as a private exhibition for Maharaja Sri Chamaraja Wodeyar.
The distance between Mysore city and the zoo is around 4 kilometres. It is open between 8:30 AM and 5:30 PM everyday except Tuesday (closed on Tuesdays). There is an entrance fee of about INR 50 per adult and INR 20 per child (5 to 12 years). One needs at least 3 hours to explore the Mysore zoo.
St Philomena’s cathedral
Opened in 1936 and designed by a French architect Daly, St Philomena’s cathedral is a catholic church. The architecture of the church is in Neo Gothic style. It is dedicated to a Grecian princess, St Philomena who was martyred in the 4th century. The structure has two twin spires with a height of 52.50 metres.
The church is open between 8 AM and 8 PM every day and has no entrance fee. It is around 5 kilometres from Mysore city.
Things to eat when in Mysore
The softest dose that is available is the Mylari dose. It is a dose (similar to pancakes) topped with white butter and is served at a restaurant Hotel Vinayaka Mylari. The restaurant is open in the morning between 6:30 AM and 1:30 PM and in the afternoon between 3 PM and 9 PM.
The pulav or the biryani at Hotel Hanumanthu Original (located in Mandimohalla) is a must eat when visiting Mysore. It is a small place that is one of the oldest that serves chicken and mutton biryani. This place (open between 7 AM and 10 PM) is definitely for the people, like me, who love biryani.
The sweet Mysore pak was first prepared during the regime of Krishna Raja Wadiyar IV in the kitchen of the Mysore palace and hence the name Mysore pak. “Pak” is derived from the Kannada word paka which means the concoction. The dish is soaked in ghee and is one of the best sweet dishes of India. The best place to try the Mysore pak in Mysore is at Sri Krishna sweets shop (open between 7 AM and 11 PM).
Things to see around Mysore
Mysore is surrounded by plenty of beautiful places and hills. There are waterfalls, hills and historical places that are so reachable and can be easily done as one day trips from Mysore.
The Chamundi betta is a hill located 13 kilometres from Mysore city with an elevation of 800 feet. Named after the Chamundeshwari temple on the peak and the temple is dedicated to Goddess Chamundeshwari. There are around 1008 steps to get to the peak from the base. The peak has the temple, and the statues of Mahishasura Mardini, and Nandi.
Chamundi betta is a no plastic zone and visitors cannot carry plastic bags. The temple is open in three time slots every day, 7:30 AM to 2 PM, 3:30 PM to 6 PM and 7:30 PM to 9 PM and has no entrance fee. Local private or KSRTC buses run between Mysore city and the base of the hill.
Ranganatittu bird sanctuary
Ranganatittu bird sanctuary is the largest bird sanctuary in Karnataka state of India. Located in Mandya district, the sanctuary comprises of 40 acres of land and six islets on the banks of River Cauveri. The sanctuary is only 20 kilometres from Mysore. And the nearest town is Srirangapattana.
Read 5 birds to spot in Ranganatittu bird sanctuary.
Famous for its 1400 year old Srirangapatna temple, the town of Srirangapatna is a scenic and one of the seven Taluks of Mandya district. The town is situated around 15 kilometres from Mysore city, the town has plenty of historical monuments such as Daria Daulat Bagh (summer palace), Tipu Sultan Gumbaz (tombs), Nimishamba temple, and Srirangapatna Fort.
Srirangapatna is very easily accessible and there are plenty of private and public buses. The trains stop at Srirangapatna too.
The Balmuri waterfalls is a man made small waterfalls along the small dam. It is a great place to have a picnic by the waterfalls and enjoy the scenic views by the side of water. This is the area where River Cauveri flows over a rocky bed.
The Balmuri waterfalls is around 16 kilometres from Mysore city and it is open 24 hours. There are local buses between Mysore city and the waterfalls. Be careful before getting into the water as some of the spots are deep.
Chennakeshava temple at Somnathapura
The Chennakesava temple at Somnathapura was built in the 13th century and is one of the marvellous examples of Hoysala architecture. The temple was built by Somanatha Dandanayaka, a general of Hoysala King.
Hoysala architecture is known for its beautiful carvings and sculptures.
The temple is around 35 kilometres from Mysore city and there are local buses between the two places. The temple is open between 9 AM and 5:30 PM everyday and there is an entrance fee of INR 5 for Indian nationals and INR 100 for foreign nationals. It takes around 3 hours to explore the temple.
One can only take photographs and videos of the exterior of the temple. Taking pictures of videos inside the temple is not allowed.
One day itinerary in Mysore
Before I proceed any further, please do note that one day is definitely not sufficient to see and explore this amazing city of Mysore.
- Start your day by eating the Mylari dose at Hotel Original Vinayaka Mylari.
- After breakfast, head straight to the Mysore zoo. Mysore zoo is big and has many exhibits and needs at least 2 to 3 hours.
- If you are a chicken or mutton eater, then have your lunch by indulging in the Hanumanthu pulav/ biryani.
- If you are a vegetarian, then have your lunch at one of the darshinis (local fast food chains).
- After lunch, head to the KRS dam and Brindavan gardens.
- Do not forget to have filter coffee at one of the darshinis.
- Head over to the Mysore Palace to see the palace lit up in beautiful lights. Note, the museum at Mysore Palace closes at around 5:30 PM.
Safety for solo female travelers
Mysore is a relatively safe city and is apt for solo female travelers. But with a lot of crowd flocking and moving into Mysore, there have been a bit of nonsensical issues. I would definitely suggest to be cautious and being aware of your surroundings when visiting Mysore.
Mysore is surely worth visiting and spending some time. I highly recommend at least having 3 days to spare in the city to see everything that the city has to offer.
Have you visited Mysore? Do you have more things that are not mentioned above? Let me know in the comments below!
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