MYSORE TOURISM GUIDE:
Map: Mysore Tourism, Karnataka, India
Location: South-West Karnataka.
Altitude: 770m Above Sea Level.
Famous For: Sandalwood, Silk.
Attractions: Dassara, Mysore Palace, Vrindavan Gardens
MYSORE TRAVEL GUIDE:
Located 770m above sea level and 140 Kms from Bangalore, Mysore, the imperial city, was the erstwhile capital of the Wodeyars. Also known as the city of Palaces, Mysore has never failed to mesmerise the tourists with its quaint charm, rich heritage, magnificent palaces, beautifully laid-out gardens, imposing buildings, broad shady avenues and sacred temples.
Mysore is the erstwhile capital of Wodeyars, the rulers of Mysore State. The Wodeyar family ruled Mysore since 14th century except for a short period of 40 years when Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan were the rulers. Today Mysore is one of the major cities of Karnataka. Mysore has emerged as a thriving market for exotic sandalwood & incense, the Mysore silk sarees and stone-carved sculptures.
Mysore is certainly a charming, old-fashioned and undaunting town dominated by the spectacular Maharaja’s Palace, around which the boulevards of the city radiate. Nearby is the city centre with the colourful and frenetic Devaraja Market is inviting a stroll.
On the outskirts of Mysore, Srirangapatnam still harbours architectural gems from the days of the great Indian hero, Tipu Sultan, and the magnificent Hoysala temple of Somnathpur lies little more than an hour’s drive away.
In the tenth century Mysore was known as “Mahishur”, the town where the buffalo-demon Mahishashur was slain by the goddess Durga. The word Mysore expands to “Mahishasurana Ooru”, which means the town of Mahishasura. It is believed that during one of the wars between devils and demons on the one hand and gods and goddesses on the other, the demon Mahishasur (Mahishur) overpowered the gods.
The goddess on seeing this, incarnated as the fireceful Chamundi or Chamundeshwari and consequently, Mahishasura was killed by Her atop the Chamundi Hill near Mysore. Ever since, the Mysore royal family has worshipped Chamundeshwari as the palace deity. Hills dedicated to Her stand at the eastern end of Mysore town to this day.
Mysore abounds with history. The prehistory of Mysore is lost in legends that concern the struggle that took place in southern India between invading Aryan people and the original inhabitants. The subsequent history of the region deals mainly with the princely state of Mysore as it was before 1953, for no dynasty succeeded in ruling the whole region occupied by the Kannada -speaking people. Until independence, Mysore was the seat of the maharajas of Mysore, a princely state covering about a third of present day Karnataka. The maharajas’ walled Indo-Saracenic palace is a major attraction.
The history of Mysore starts with the activities of prehistoric man traced on the banks of the river Cauvery and its tributaries. Traces of neolithic and megalithic ages have been found there. Many inscriptions replete with the history of various dynasties have been found in Mysore. Many places in the district are associated with mythological stories as well.
Many dynasties have ruled Mysore and neighbouring places. Some of the important ones are the Gangas, who ruled the longest period from 4th to 10th century. The Cholas ruled from 10th century onwards and the Hoysalas from 10th century to the 15th century. Later the Vijayanagar ruled from 14th century followed by the Mysore Wodeyar or Yadu dynasty. From 1399 AD, the Wodeyar family ruled Mysore until India became independent in 1947 except for 38 years in the 18th century when Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan seized power.
Mysore was very prosperous during the reign of Chikkadevaraya, which did not invite the animosity of Mughals, Marathas and the Nizams. After Chikkadevaraya, the Wodeyar rulers became weak and Hyder Ali couped the power. During the 38 years that followed, Mysore prospered very well. With the headquarters at Srirangapatna, they built beautiful palaces in Mysore and Bangalore , laid out a dream botanical garden at Lal Bagh and fought valiantly to oust the British from their native soil.
After the death of Tipu Sultan in 1799 AD the power was restored to the Wodeyars. In 1831 AD, the British took over the administration of Mysore. In the early 20th century, nationalist fervour swept the country and people of Mysore were involved actively in the freedom movement. After independence, Mysore was acceded to the Union of India. In 1956 Mysore State was enlarged and on 1st Nov. 1973 renamed Karnataka
MYSORE TOURIST ATTRACTIONS:
Mysore Palace: The residence of the Wodeyars, this structure is one of the largest of its kind in India. Built in 1912 in the Indo-Saracenic style, this palace exudes a grandeur that is unmatched. The Golden Royal Throne, the Darbar Hall, the Kalyana Mantapa, the Gallery and the Amba Vilas are the main attractions here.
Sri Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery: Housed in the Jaganmohan Palace, this gallery has a collection of exquisite paintings dating back to 1875. The collection includes paintings by Raja Ravi Varma, the Russian Svetoslav Roerich and the traditional Mysore gold life style of painting.
St. Philomena’s Church: Built in the Gothic style, is one of the largest churches in the country and has beautiful stained glass windows. The original St. Joseph’s church built in 1840 AD was reconstructed and renamed as St. Philomena’s Cathedral in 1933 AD. It is an imposing structure of architectural grandeur
Mysore Zoo: The zoo houses some rare animals bred in captivity, and exotic species of plants. The Zoological Gardens has various species of ornamental plants and trees from India and abroad. About 85 species of trees and 35 species of ornamental plants are present, which beautifies the landscape of the Zoo and provides the best environment to the captive wild animals.
Chamundi Hills: 13 kms from Mysore is the temple of patron Goddess of Wodeyars, Chamundeshwari. Located on a hill 335 m high, the temple can be approached by 1000 steps built by the Maharaja of Mysore in the 17th century. Towering over the city, these hills are 13 Kms away from Mysore. Halfway up is the Nandi Bull, a 4.8-m monolith. Right on top is the 2000-year-old Chamundeshwari temple, dedicated to the patron goddess of the royal family.
Half way towards the temple is the giant monolith Nandi Bull. This 4.8 metre high monolith was originally grey in colour but the application of coconut oil by the devotees has turned it black. Close to the Chamundi temple is the giant and colourful statue of the demon Mahishasura. From the hill summit one can have a panoramic view of the Mysore City.
Vrindavan Gardens: These gardens are laid on the banks of Krishnarajasagar Dam. Spread over an area of one acre, the terraced lawns and fountains make these gardens one of the best in South India. The swirling fountains are illuminated on weekends and have been the backdrop to many movies in recent times. The Dancing fountains are a major attraction among the tourists.
FORTS IN MYSORE:
It is here that Tipu charged at the British soldiers with his legendary sword. An obelisk in the fort marks the place where he fell – betrayed by his own men. The fort holds within it, a mosque and the Ranganath Swamy Temple. Outside the fort is Tipu’s tomb ‘Gumbaz’, with splendid ebony doors inlaid with ivory. Sangam is 3 Kms south of Srirangapatna where the two branches of river Cauvery reunite in joyful exuberance.
Gopalaswamy Hills: It is a popular hill resort and a trekker’s delight as well. It is situated in the verdant Western Ghats of Mysore district. The temple here is dedicated to Lord Venugopalaswamy.
SIGHTSEEING AND EXCURSIONS IN MYSORE:
Shivasamudra: 85 Kms from Mysore, river Cauvery gushes down to a 75-metres deep gorge in the form of two picturesque waterfalls. These falls are at their best during the monsoons; nevertheless their beauty mesmerises tourists throughout the year. Around 1.5 Kms away is Asia’s first hydroelectric project set up in 1902 AD.
Talakad: Located 48 kms from Mysore, this ancient town is totally buried under sand dunes and only the Dravidian style Vaidyeshwara temple is visible. It is situated on the banks of the river Cauvery. Its temples are opened for ceremonial worship on a special occasion called “Pancha Linga Darshana “, once in twelve years.
Bandipur National Park: 80 kms from Mysore is Bandipur National Park, which is one of the most beautiful wild life centres. Rare species of animals and birds can be seen in this natural habitat. Bandipur has also been chosen as a Centre for the project Tiger Scheme launched in 1973 by the World Wildlife Fund to save the tiger. Bandipur, lying in the shadow of the Western Ghats, is one of the finest habitats of the Asian elephant. Drained by the Moyar River, its open forest makes it easy for visitors to see the elephant and gaur in natural surroundings.
Nagarhole National Park: About 90 kms from Mysore, the Nagarhole National Park with thick deciduous forests is home to Tiger, Elephant, Gaur, Sambar, Chital, Pangolin and about 250 species of birds. There are excellent facilities for visitors to stay at the Kabini River Lodge and for viewing wildlife.
Srirangapatna (Mandya district): Srirangapatna located picturesquely on the banks of river Cauvery 14 Kms northeast, of the Bangalore-Mysore Highway comprises the ruins of the capital city of Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan. This island fortress, once the capital of the Warrior King Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan, has magnificent monuments that are well worth a visit.
Deriving its name from Lord Ranganatha, the town has a 1,000 years old temple dedicated to Ranganatha proclaiming the historical background of the city. Besides the mythological association of the town, the town has assumed significance for the heroism of Hyder Ali Khan and Tipu Sultan in fighting the British in association with the French.
Dariya Daulat Bagh: Dariya Daulat Bagh, Tipu’s summer palace built in 1784 AD was his favourite retreat. Made of teak, this Indo-Saracenic structure has ornate frescoes and beautiful, gilded interiors. It is now a museum and speaks eloquently of Tipu’s valour and his battle against the British. Close to the river is located the mausoleum of Tipu, called ‘Gumbaz’.
Ranganathittu (Mandya district): 4 Kms from Srirangapatna and 18 Kms from Mysore is a bird sanctuary that houses exotic birds. Birds from as far away as Siberia and even North America make their home here. It is very common to see crocodiles basking in the sun. Best season is from May to September/October.
Nanjanagud: Located 23 Kms south of Mysore, Nanjanagud is an important pilgrim centre and is famous for its Srikanteswara temple. Built in the Dravidian style, the temple is one of the biggest of its kind in Karnataka.
Somnathpura: Famous for its 13th century Hoysala Temple, Somnathpura is 35 Kms east of Mysore. The temple is in excellent condition, has frescoed exteriors depicting episodes from the epics.
Melkote: 50 Kms north, is a sacred Vaishnava pilgrim Centre, known for its Vairmudi festival in March-April. More than a lakh devotees congregate here for the festival. Melkote is also known for its handlooms.
Cauvery Fishing Camp: 82 Kms from Mysore, Bhimeshwari is a paradise for anglers. Mahasheer, the finest game fish is found here. This camp is also accessible from Bangalore (100 Kms).
B. R. Hills: This picturesque hill range, at a height of 5091 ft is 120 Kms from Mysore and is home to a rich variety of flora and fauna. The temple on the hill, dedicated to Biligiri Rangaswamy attracts devotees round the year.
Mahadeshwar Hill: About 142 Kms from Mysore, is a popular pilgrim centre perched on the Mahadeshwar Hill. Atop the hill is a temple dedicated to the Lord Mahadeshwara, which is in the form of a Linga.
FESTIVALS IN MYSORE:
Mysore Dassara: Every October, Mysore gets ready for the Dassara Festival when the streets are lavishly decorated and the whole city wears a festive look. The main area of festivity during the festival is the palace, which is illuminated with thousands of tiny, shimmering bulbs.
The 10-day-long Dassara festivities in Mysore bring back the glory and grandeur of a bygone era. For full nine days, prayers are offered to the deities of learning, power and wealth, the nine sacred incarnations of Goddess Shakti. Music concerts dance programmes, sports competitions and other cultural events are held. On Vijaydashami, the 10th day of the festival, a colourful procession featuring caparisoned elephants winding through the gaily-decorated streets of the city, mark the occasion.
The Dassara Exhibition is another popular event. People still follow the tradition of ‘Bombe Habba’, where children display their colourful and attractive dolls and invite friends over. Students worship Saraswathi, the Goddess of Learning.
Ayudha Pooja: It is a part of the Dassara celebrations. All vehicles and implements are worshipped on this day. The nine-day celebrations culminate in the grand Dassara procession on Vijayadashami, the day of victory. The Dassara procession begins at the Palace with uniformed soldiers, horses, caparisoned elephants, dancers and floats accompanied by brass hands playing evocative Indian melodies. The Palace Guard and Mysore Lancers march past as graceful folk-dancers twirl and swirl between the floats. A majestic elephant adorned by golden anklets, bell and chains carries the city’s patron goddess, Chamundeshwari in a ‘howdah’. This extravagant celebration comes to an end with a torchlight parade by the State Police, as fireworks light up the night sky.
SHOPPING IN MYSORE (SHOPPING IN THE SANDAL WOOD CITY):
Mysore is a shopper’s paradise. It is surrounded by sandalwood and rosewood forests. Thus, most of the tourists coming to Mysore look for items made from sandalwood or rosewood. Though a bit expensive, these pieces make excellent gift as well as decorative items.
Aromatic incense sticks, the famous Mysore Silks renowned for their excellent quality and everlasting lustre, delightful Mysore wooden toys or an incredible assortment of sandalwood, rosewood, teakwood and ivory arts and crafts – there’s so much to shop for, in Mysore.
At the Government Sandalwood Oil Factory, you can buy sandal powder, sandal oil and scented incense sticks. The sandalwood oil might be a bit expensive but is an essential commodity to be bought in Mysore.
Mysore silk sarees are very popular and coveted by the ladies. At the Government Silk Factory one can see the master weavers at work and buy the best quality, shimmering silks straight off the looms.
Apart from the sandalwood items and silk, Mysore is also famous for the stone-carved statues. The best place to shop is the Cauvery Arts & Crafts Emporium on Sayyaji Rao Road, which is the main shopping area. There are also many other craft shops on Dhanvantri Road. One can go shopping in the little back streets and by lanes that offer some exciting bargains.
HOW TO REACH MYSORE
Rail: Mysore is connected to all major cities via Bangalore . The Shatabdi Express is a quick and convenient way to get to Mysore from Bangalore or Chennai. Direct trains operate to Mysore from Bangalore, New Delhi, Chennai, Thanjavur, Tirupathi, Mumbai and several other destinations. Trains also operate between Mysore-Nanjangud, Arsikere and Chamarajanagar.
Road: There are private and KSRTC bus services to all major cities.
Local Transport: Private taxis, auto rickshaws and local bus services. KSRTC operates large number of services to several destinations, both in the State and outside. City buses also operate covering tourist spots. Private taxies are also available. KSTDC conducts tours to important places.
ACCOMODATIONS IN MYSORE:
Mysore has a large number of hotels to suit all budgets and preferences.
Top End Accommodation Mysore:
Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel, Mysore.
Best Western Ramanshree, L-43/A, Hardinge Circle.
Middle Budget Accommodation Mysore:
Hotel Metropole, Jhansi Lakshmibai Road, Mysore.
Paradise Hotel 104, Vivekananda Road, Yadavgiri.
Kings Kourt Hotel, Jhansi Lakshmi Bai Road.
Quality Inn Southern Star, Vinoba Road.
Hotel Dasaprakash Paradise, Vivekanand Road.
Mayura Yathri Nivas, Mysore.
Hotel Dasaprakash, Near Gandhi Square.
Bottom-End Accommodation Mysore:
Rajendra Vilas Palace, Chamundi Hills.
Hotel Siddharta, 73/1 Guest House, Nazarbad.
New Gayathri Bhawan, Dhanvantri Road.
INFORMATIONS ON MYSORE:
Tourist Information Centres:
KSTDC Transport Wing, C/o Mayura Yatri Nivas, No. 2, Jhansi Lakshmi Bai Road.
Information Counter at the Railway Station.
Information Counter at the Central Bus Terminal.
Ashokpuram Police Station.
Jayalakshmipuram Police Station.
Lashkar Police Station.
Post & Telegraph:
Mysore Head Post Office, Dhanvantri Road.
Saraswathipuram Head Post Office, Saraswathipuram.
Senior Superintendent of Post Office, Udayagiri.
Basappa Memorial Hospital, Vinoba Road.
Gopalagowda Shantavari Memorial Hospital, T.N. Pura Road.
Rudrappa Hospital and Research Centre, Vivekananda Road.
Canara Bank, Guest House Road.
State Bank of India, New Sayyaji Rao Road.
State Bank of Mysore, Sayyaji Rao Road.
State Bank of Mysore, Ashoka Road.
Indian Overseas Bank, Old Mysore Bank Road.
MYSORE GENERAL INFORMATION:
North Latitude: 11o 30′ and 12o 50′.
East Longitude: 75o 45′ and 77o 45′.
Area: 6269 Sq.Kms.
Population: One Million.
Main River: Cauvery.
Hottest Month: April.
Coldest Month: December.
Literacy Rate: 50.9%.
Gross Domestic Product: 0.426.