Mysore, locally known as Mysuru was the prominent city of Karnataka prior to Bangalore. This mystical and mythological city derives its name from the buffalo headed demon Mahishasur who is known to have been slain atop the Chamundi Hills by Goddess Chamundeshwari, an avatar of Parvati. The 10 day dussehra festival is organized every year to celebrate this victory of the good over the evil. The city can boast of its rich past given to it generously by the dynasty of the Wodeyars, which has created such an appealing charm about the city that it can enthrall tourists even to this day.
History of Mysore
The history of Mysore dates back to the inscription found on Chamundi Hills which dates back to 950 AD, to the reign of Gangas. The city has been ruled first by Ganga Dynasty, followed by the Cholas, Chalukyas, Hoysalas, Vijayanagar Empire and the Yadu Dynasty. The Hoysalas are responsible for either building or expanding most of the beautiful temples built in the city, including the famous Chamundi temple on Chamundi Hills.
Later the famous king known as Bettada Chamaraja Wodeyar, reigned as the King of Mysore and it was he who renovated the fort to make Mysore his capital. He gave the city the name Mahishasuranagara which later got changed to Mahishur, Mysuru and finally Mysore. During the rule of Raja Wodeyar, Mysore lost some of its glory when the capital of the state was shifted to Srirangapatna. It was only after the death of Tipu Sultan could Mysore regained its status and glory once again.
The city which was held in the bosom of the fort, expanded beyond the boundaries under the rule of Krishnaraja Wodeyar III. Though the city has had contributions from many rulers, its owes a lot to Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV, the 24th ruler of the Wodeyar dynasty, whose excellent planning with one of greatest engineers of India, Sir M. Visveswaraya and Sir Mirza Ismail, saw the coming up of roads, canals, and the very famous Krishnarajasagara dam and Brindavan gardens. He also promoted industry, art, agriculture and education to bring the city to the forefront of progress. No wonder his era is known as the ‘Golden Age of Mysore’.
Places to visit in Mysore
Though modernity has had its influence on city, Mysore has managed to retain its old heritage, tradition and charm which has made tourism to be one of the most striving industry in the city. The city maintains its traditions, its rich heritage, glorious palaces, amazing gardens and magnificent temples; all of which oozes of a unique charm that attracts visitors to Mysore.
• Palaces: The city of Mysore is known as “City of Palaces”, therefore the palaces have to be an attraction for tourist. Apart from the famous Mysore palace, which is also known as Ambavilasa Palace, the city boasts of Jaganmohan Palace, Jayalakshmi Vilasa, and Lalitha Mahal. In addition there are three famous mansions Karanji Mansion, Jayalakshmivilas Mansion and Cheluvamba Mansion which serve various purposes today. All the mansions and palaces of Mysore are surrounded by beautiful sprawling gardens with fountains.
• Chamundi Hills: The Chamundi Temple atop the hill is famous not only as a pilgrimage centre but also of tourist attraction. The temple can be either accessed by the road or 1008 steps that lead up to it. There is a huge statue of bull Nandi after the climb of 700 steps, and, the statue of Mahishasura, and goddess Chamundeshwari atop the hill. The hill provides a great panoramic view of the city of Mysore.
• Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens: Commonly known as Mysore Zoo, attracts a large number of visitors with its wide variety of flora and fauna. It is one of the oldest zoos in India. The zoo is rich in natural vegetation and fortunately the animals here are free to move about in their spacious enclosures. It has a good aquarium too.
• Brindavan Gardens: The Brindavan gardens are considered to be among the best of the terrace gardens of the world. Laid on the site of the KRS dam, the garden are famous for its symmetric plan, musical fountains, cascading water channels, just to name a few. As the sun goes down, the fountains are illuminated and they dance to the tune which is amazing sight. A tourist can enjoy a good boat ride in the garden.
• Krishna Raja Sagara Dam: The KRS Dam which is built close to convergence of three rivers Cauvery, Hemavathi and Lakshmana Teertha, is the most important dam in southern parts of India. It was designed by the great engineer Sir M. Visvesraya and constructed in 1932. The dam which supplies water to most of the surrounding areas through its marvelous canals is a beautiful sight to behold when the water is let out.
• St. Philomena’s Church: The massive church of neo-Gothic style is one of the biggest and most majestic churches of India. The amazing floor plan of the church resembles a cross. The 175 feet high twin spires of the church are visible from miles around. The glass stained windows of this church portray scenes of the events in the life of Jesus Christ like his birth, last supper, crucifixion and resurrection.
• Rail Museum: This is one of the two rail museums established in India with the other being in Delhi. It has recorded journey of progress the Indian railways has through in the past through the photographs, book and exhibits of locomotive engines and rail carriages.
Apart from the above mentioned tourist attractions, the list of other tourist places in Mysore are
• Nearly 200 parks and playgrounds strewn around the city
• The folklore museum
• The oriental research institute
• The happy man park
• Wax-Museum of Melody World
• Karanji Lake
• GRS fantasy park
• Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery
• Planet X amusement park
For people who have time on their hand and want to look around Mysore, there are lots of places of interest to visit
• Srinrangapatna, the de-facto capital under the rule of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan is one the most important pilgrimage center for Vaishnavites for its famous Ranganathaswamy temple. The place is surrounded by river Cauvery, the island town is famous for Tipu’s summer palace, Jumma Masjid and Daria Daulat Gardens
• Talakad, situated 45 kms from Mysore, the ancient cursed city which is covered under the sands. The one time great flourishing town is now a tourist attraction for its scenic beauty and as a pilgrimage center.
• The famous Nanjudeshwara temple of Nanjangud, also known as Kashi of south situated 23 kms from Mysore.
• Ranganatittu bird Sanctuary situated close of Srirangapatna is compromised of 8 tiny islets formed when the Dam was built across river Cauvery. The islets formed a favourable nesting ground for birds of various species after which it was declared a safe sanctuary for birds in 1940.
For those interested in more places to visit the places of interest nearby to Mysore are
• Bandipur wildlife sanctuary situated at a distance of 80 kms from Mysore is one of the India’s best known sanctuaries, and an important Project Tiger reserve
• A dense hill range known as BR hills with wide range of species found in the BRT Wildlife Sanctuary
• Melkote situated 53 kms from Mysore which is famous for its Yoganarasimha swamy temple.
• The ruins of Halebid, the once capital city of Hoysalas
Accommodation – Mysore Hotels
Other than the time during the famous Mysore dussehra, accommodation is no problem in Mysore as it boasts of great 5, 4 and 3 star hotels with excellent service. Here in Mysore, you’ll find hotels of all rankings and prices. Some of the well known luxury hotels and resorts of Mysore are Silent Shores Resort, Grand Maurya, Golden Landmark, White Orchid Resorts, Indus Valley, Young Island, Royal Orchid, The Kings Sanctuary, Fortune JP Palace, Silent Shores Resort and Spa, Hotel Regaalis, Chitravana Resorts and many more. There are also various wildlife resorts in Bandipur, Karapur and Nagarahole near Mysore. The truth is that there are plenty of hotels in Mysore to choose from.
What to Buy
Mysore is famous for its special silk saris known as Mysore silk which is sought after by Indian women especially for special occasions like weddings and festivals. The town is famous for its sandalwood and carved wood artefacts made out of rosewood, sandalwood and teak.
Other things one can buy from Mysore include;
• The unique fragrant Incense sticks
• The exclusive paintings created by the local artists depicting the past of Mysore
• Crafts carved out of stone
• Mysore peta which is a stylized turban now available all ready
• Mysore Pak and special sweet
The best way to get to Mysore is from Bangalore which is situated just 150 kms and connected to Mysore by Air, Rail and Road. The Mysore airport also known as Mandakalli airport has been functional since 2010, after being unused for few years.
Travelling around the city is quite easy as rental vehicles are available on very easy terms who like to drive around. Also there are buses, taxis, autos and tongas which will take the tourists around the Mysore city.
7 Wonders of India: Mysore Palace