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Places to visit in Mysore

Discussion in 'Karnataka' started by Chetainya, Mar 9, 2017.

  1. Chetainya

    Chetainya New Member

    I am going to be staying in Bangalore with my wife for some business purposes. We have a stay there for five days after which we would like to travel to Mysore as it is only a 3-hour distance from Bangalore.

    So we know how many days we would be staying in Mysore we would like to know about the places to visit in Mysore.
    My wife has a keen interest in the historical places like temples and museums, and I have an interest in all kinds of things. Please do only mention the important or famous places.
     


  2. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hello, @Chetainya, welcome to the forum!


    Overview

    The royal city of Mysore still exudes that regal charm from the bygone era. From its awe-inspiring palaces, up to its spiritual religious sites, Mysore has no shortage of attractions for the busy tourists. The city is also known as the Cultural Capital of Karnataka, as it has preserved many of its rich traditions and arts. That's not all though, the city has been named as one of the cleanest in India and has a number of natural attractions like lakes and gardens as well. The pleasant climate, the slower pace of life and the delicious foods are added features of the city which makes it a popular tourist destination amongst others. In this guide, we would highlight the best tourist attractions in Mysore that you can visit in your five days of visit.

    Places to Visit in Mysore

    Historical
    • Mysore Palace - The original home of the Wodeyar dynasty rulers is the Mysore Palace, also known as the Amba Vilas or Maharaja's Palace. This is also Mysore's most popular attraction. It boasts of a unique blend of Hindu, Gothic, Islamic and Neo Classical styles of architecture. Originally, the palace was built by King Yaduraya Wodeyar during the 14th century. Back then, the palace was just made of wood but was already situated in the Old Fort area of the city. When the old palace was destroyed in a fire, the then ruler, King Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV, commissioned for the building of a newer palace, around the early 19th century. From the outside, the palace has a creamy white facade, due to the use of marble. Certain features like the domes and arched entrances balance the Victorian-era overall aesthetics. Outside the main building, there are various temples that one can also visit. The well-manicured lawns provide one with a contrasting view from the palace. As soon as you enter the palace premises, the lavish lifestyle of the royals would enamour you. From the intricately carved halls, to the regal furnitures, even to the ancient palanquins, everything gives you a glimpse of the past. Don't miss the grand lit view of the palace during special holidays and Sundays.
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    Mysore Palace Entrance (Image from Spiros Vathis)
    • Jaganmohan Palace - Before the Mysore Palace was constructed, the Wodeyar rulers settled into the Jaganmohan Palace. This palace was built around the middle of the 18th century by King Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV. In contrast to the previous palace, the Jaganmohan Palace was built using the traditional Hindu style of architecture. The palace has a pure white facade and the doorway has intricate carvings. Inside the palace, the walls are covered with various murals depicting Hindu scenes and even has one wall tracing the lineage of the dynasty of the Wodeyars. After the royal family settled in the Mysore Palace, the Jaganmohan Palace was converted into an assembly hall where the needs of the locals were discussed with the rulers. There's a separate pavilion or auditorium as well, where art, cultural and musical performances were held. Now though, the Jaganmohan Palace has an area converted into an art gallery, known as the Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery. Various art works of renowned artists like Raja Ravi Varma, Nikolai Roerich and Radindranath Tagore are displayed in this gallery.
    • Jayalakshmi Vilas Complex - One of the seven main palaces of Mysore is the Jayalakshmi Vilas Complex but it remains under the limelight. The Jayalakshmi Vilas Complex was built during the early 19th century, during the reign of King Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV. For a long time though, after the rule of the Wodeyars, the palace was left in neglect. It was only in 2002 when the palace was renovated and it was later annexed as a part of the University of Mysore. It has a largely Hindu architectural style, with a creamy yellowish facade. It has now been converted into a museum, with a folklore section, archeology section and general section. Perhaps the most stunning is the general section, where you can view the royal artefacts used by the Wodeyars, like costumes, utensils and furnitures. It is believed that this section has over 120 rooms, all of which have intricately carved doors that stun the tourist.
    • Lalitha Mahal - The Lalitha Mahal is now a heritage property owned by the Ashok Group of Hotels. It was built in the year 1921 though by the same King Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV, specifically for the visit of the British Viceroy to the Kingdom of Mysore. The palace has a pure white facade enveloped by lush greenery in the lawns. The architectural style is mainly Baroque, characterised by a central projection and flanked by domes. The interiors are equally ravishing, with the use of Italian marbles and other exquisite materials. The rooms are reminiscent of the bygone era, with their four-post beds and elegant furnitures. While you can only visit the property from the inside if you're a staying guest, you can also photograph it from the outside if you don't intend to stay here.
    Religious
    • Somnathpur Temple - Somnathpur Temple is located on the outskirts of Mysore, about 40 kilometres away from the city centre. The temple is known by other names like Keshava Temple or the Chennakeshava Temple. It was built around the 12th century during the rule of King Narasimha II of the Hoysala dynasty. Unlike other temples, the Somnathpur Temple has three main sanctums dedicated to three avatars of Vishnu, namely: Kesava, Janardhana and Venugopala. Unfortunately, due to looting, the image of the Keshava statue is missing from its sanctum. The Somnathpur Temple is comparable to other Hoysala dynasty temples in Halebidu and Belur. Each sanctum has intricate carvings in its pillars and ceilings that depict mythological creatures and more. The exterior walls are not spared as each one has three-layered carvings of various depictions. The first layer are characters from the Ramayana and Mahabharata. The second layer has depictions of various deities like Vishnu and Lakshmi. The third layer has various depictions of royal warriors and their hunting animals. The sad part is that the temple is non functional anymore, but at least, this way, the carvings are preserved.
    • Sri Chamundeshwari Temple - This temple is dedicated to fierce and destructive form of Goddess Durga, Chamundeshwari. The temple is located amidst a hillock known as the Chamundi Hills. The temple was built in the 12th century under the rule of the Hoysala dynasty, who are avid worshippers of Goddess Durga. The approach to the temple can be by road or by foot, though with the latter, you need to climb about a thousand steps to reach the top. The temple has a golden gopuram lined with various carvings. From the outside, there's a huge statue of Mahishasura, who, according to mythology, is one of the demons Chamundeshwari defeated in this hill. There are also various statues of Nandi, the vehicle of Lord Shiva, along with a large one at the peak. This is one of Mysore's most popular temple though so make sure you plan ahead when visiting this attraction.
    • Namdroling Nyingmapa Monastery - Located to the far west of Mysore, en route to Madikeri, is the Namdroling Nyingmapa Monastery. It is around an hour or two away from the city centre. Established in the middle of the 19th century by Kyabje Drubwang Padma Norbu Rinpoche, this is one of the largest Tibetan settlements in the region. The monastery belongs to the Nyingmapa sector of Tibetan Buddhism, specifically the Palyul lineage. Just like other Buddhist temples, it has a colourful facade that attracts the onlookers. You enter through two large red doors that are gilded with gold and other precious metals. As soon as you enter, the sanctum with the huge golden Buddha statues would greet you. This is why the monastery is also sometimes referred to as the Golden Temple. This is a living community as well, where you can find a hospital, schools and various shops, as well as over 5,000 Tibetan refugees who have made the monastery premises their home already.
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    Namdroling Nyingmapa Monastery (Image from Ramesh NG)
    • St. Philomena's Church - This church was built in 1936 although there was already an older church in the location prior to this year, which was believed to have been built by King Krishnaraja Wodeyar III. It was under the rule of King Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV that the present structure was built. The architectural design of the church is largely Gothic, with its pointed spires and simple stone facade. The church was built on a massive expanse of land. The interiors are not as grand but boasts of stained glass windows depicting scenes from the bible. The altar has statues of St. Joseph and St. Philomena. You can also visit the underground walkway, the catacombs, where the relics of the patron saint are buried.
    Museums
    • Mysore Railway Museum - Though a fairly small museum, the Mysore Railway Museum has collections of old trains used by the Indian Railways. It is located just close to the Mysore Railway Station. The museum gives an insight of how train travel was back then, with its collection of steam locomotives and old carriages. From this museum, you would have an understanding of the development of the Indian Railways over the year. The exhibits are spread indoors and outdoors. The most interesting exhibit is that of the Maharani's Saloon, an early 19th century carriage made for the royal queen. It has separate areas for dining, a kitchen, several rooms and bathroom.
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    Mysore Railway Museum (Image from Nagesh)
    • Mysore Sand Sculpture Museum - This museum is unique in that it features sand sculptures right at the heart of the city. The museum is housed in just a tented space and the art works were made purely from sand, with the aid of water and glue. The themes of the museum sculptures vary, from Hindu deities, to characters from the Mahabharata, to Disney characters and even ancient civilisations. The intricacy of every sand sculpture is sure to win the art lover's heart. It also unites in one place various religions, culture and heritage all for the price of just Rs. 40 per person.
    • Melody World Wax Museum - Last for this section is the Melody World Wax Museum. This is not your usual wax museum, where you'd find faces of famous personalities in. This is a one-of-a-kind wax museum showcasing the rich artistry and musical development both in India and in the west. The name Melody is truly apt, as the museum showcases the different instruments from various past era to the present. It also features unique tribal instruments in its premises. The wax museum was established by Shreeji Bhaskaran, who was also the founder of the other wax museums in Ooty and Goa. There is also a Horror Museum within the premises that you can visit, if you're up for some thrills.
    Water Bodies
    • Karanji Lake - A favourite amongst locals and tourists alike is the Karanji Lake. The lake is open for boating activities which families with small children certainly enjoy. Just beside the lake is an Aviary, which is considered as one of the largest aviaries in Asia. In the enclosure, you would find bird species such as peacocks, pheasants, parakeets and sarus cranes. Kites, pelicans, storks, egrets, herons and many more species of birds can be found flying freely amidst the lake as well. You can also visit the nearby Butterfly Garden, where you can get closer to the fluttering wings of these beautiful insects. Activities that children can enjoy in and around the lake are cycling, paddle boating, row boating and even picnicking.
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    Karanji Lake Butterfly Garden (Image from Alende Devasia)
    • Kukkarahalli Lake - Another peaceful attraction right at the city is the Kukkarahalli Lake. It is known for a hotspot for bird watching, especially during migratory season. Unlike the former though, this one's lesser known to the tourists and mostly, you would find locals flocking to the lake. Boating facilities are not available here though strolling around the lengths of the lake is a wonderful activity still. During December to March, you would find rare species of birds like spot-billed pelicans, cranes, painted storks and oriental darters.
    Wildlife
    • Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens - Established in the year 1892, the Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens is one of India's oldest zoos. It also goes by the name of Mysore Zoo. Originally, the zoo has had various owners like Gustav Hermann Krumbiegel and Chamaraja Wodeyar X. It was only in 1902 when the zoo was opened to the public and it was only in 1948 when it was officially owned by the government. Though mainly an enclosure, the zoo has a wide variety of animals, ranging from rhinoceroses, giraffes, gorillas, chimpanzees, zebras, elephants, black panther, lions, tigers and wolves. The best part is that the zoo is relatively well-maintained while the animals are very healthy as well. You can tour the zoo by foot or you can also rent an electric vehicle as the premises you have to cover is around three kilometres long.
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    Mysore Zoo Leopard (Image from Aniketan)
    • Avadhoota Datta Peetham - The Avadhoota Datta Peetham is mainly an ashram, established by Sri Ganapathi Sachchidananda Swamiji. It is an underrated attraction which showcases the amazing philosophy of the guru who was able to preserve an extensive flora and fauna in line with nature. We can divide the wildlife area of this ashram into two, namely: the Sukhavna Birds Park and the Bonsai Park. The Sukhavna Birds Park has a large assortment of various species of birds like parrots, kingfishers, macaws, cockatoos and many more. Some bird species come from faraway regions like Brazil, Australia and Japan. The Bonsai Park has over 400 bonsai species that would surely be enjoyed by the whole family. You can also visit the shrine of Hanuman in the ashram premises.
    Park
    • Brindavan Garden - This garden is about 20 kilometres away from Mysore. It lies on the eastern banks of the Cauvery River. It was Sir Mirza Muhammad Ismail, the Diwan of Mysore, who initiated for the building of the huge gardens. There's a central lake with boating facilities that one can enjoy here. Around the lake, various gardens with shaped shrubs, trees and plants can also be found. Before the night comes, a musical fountain show gives light to the garden as well. This is perhaps the best attraction to end your journey in Mysore in. It has that historical vibe to it yet also has elements of modernity, just the perfect depiction of Mysore.
    Conclusion

    This guide can help you in planning your trip to Mysore. It highlights the very best of all the attractions in the city. From heritage sites, to religious sites, to museums, water bodies, wildlife areas and park, you have all types of attractions in the City of Palaces. Do enjoy your trip to Mysore and bring home lots of memories with you. Have fun!

    :)