Mysore lies about 146 kms southwest of Bangalore. It is the second largest city of Karnataka state of India. Located at the base of the Chamundi Hills, Mysore city is spread across an area of 128.42 sq.km. The city gets its name from ‘Mahishuru’ meaning adobe of ‘Mahisha’ which stands for Mahishasura, a demon killed by Goddess Durga.
Mysore lends its name to the Mysore Mallige (a variety of jasmine flower), the Mysore Paintings, the sweet dish Mysore Pak, the Mysore Peta (a traditional silk turban which bears relics of the rich traditional heritage and royal ancestry of the region) and the garment called Mysore silk saree (a traditional Indian wear).
The summer season in Mysore is from March to June when the temperature is moderately hot in the range of 20-35°C , followed by the monsoon season from July to November. The winter season is from December to February which can be somewhat chilly with intermittent rains and the temperature is generally in the range of 12-30°C.
Mysore is known as the cultural capital of Karnataka. It is famous for the Dasara celebrations. The festival is celebrated in the month of October/November. Also called Vijayadashmi, it is celebrated on the 10th day of ‘Navratri’ festivities. It is celebrated as a symbol of victory of good over evil. The traditional Dasara procession is held on the streets with the image of Goddess Chamundeshwari being placed on the golden mantapa which is kept on the back of a highly decorated elephant.
Mysore is very famous for its paintings. Mysore paintings use thinner gold leaves. These paintings need a lot of hard work and involves various steps like preparation of a preliminary sketch on a wooden base, giving a raised effect of carving to the parts that need embellishments, pasting of gold foil and then the finishing which comprises several steps. Hindu Gods & Goddesses and scenes from Hindu mythology are the most popular themes for Mysore paintings.
How to reach Mysore
Mysore is connected by Air, Rail and Road. Mysore airport, also known as Mandakalli Airport, is located around 12 km south of Mysore city. It is a small airport and has limited number of flights for Bangalore. Bangalore has an international airport which is connected to major part of the world.
The main railway station in Mysore is Mysore Junction. A few trains pass via Mysore Junction and the trains till Mysore terminate at the Mysore Junction. The main route is from Bangalore side. The station is located in the city centre. One can get local transport to reach other places in the city.
A network of roads connects Mysore to Bangalore and other neighbouring states. The State Government and private operators run luxury, semi-luxury and ordinary buses for various cities. Buses for Bangalore leaves at regular intervals and take about three hours to reach. One can even hire private taxis for travel to different cities and for local transport.
Best places to visit in Mysore
Mysore Palace, located in the heart of the city, is one of the most visited monuments in India. Also known as Amba Vilas Palace, it is one of the largest palaces in the country. It was the residence of the Wodeyar Maharajas of the Mysore state. It has intricate architecture and splendid carvings. The palace has now been converted into a museum which has paintings, jewellery, royal costumes and various other items possessed by the Wodeyars. Every part of the palace has been decorated tastefully with carved ceilings, white marble floors and luxurious rooms.
Located at a distance of 13 km from Mysore, at the top of Chamundi Hill, about 3489 ft. above sea level, is the temple of Chamundeshwari, the deity of the Mysore Royal family. The deity is also called Mahishasur Mardini for having killed the demon Mahishasura. There is a beautiful idol of the goddess wearing skulls in the temple. It is one of the very popular religious places of Hindus and is visited by thousands of devotees every year.
Built in 1956, St. Philomena’s Church is one of the largest and oldest churches of India. The church, designed by the Reverend Rene Feuge, is built in neo-gothic style of architecture. The twin spires of the Cathedral which can be seen from miles, are 175 feet high. The main hall of the Cathedral, which has ornately crafted exterior with stained glass windows, can seat up to 800 people. When the church is illuminated in the evening, it is a magnificent site to watch.
Other tourist attractions of Mysore
Other popular tourist spots of Mysore are The Mysore Zoo and the Karanji and Kukkarahalli lakes. Regional Museum of Natural History, the Folk Lore Museum and the Railway Museum are also very popular among tourists.
Mysore is very famous for health tourism. People from all over the world visit Mysore for yoga and spa treatments for health, relaxation and rejuvenation. The city has a Wax Museum “Melody World”, established in October 2010, which is based on Musical instruments. It exhibits over 100 life-size wax statues and over 300 musical instruments set in different stages and bands settings. The musical instruments displayed range from Stone Age to Modern Age and the bands displayed are of different regions and countries.
Close to Mysore are Srirangapatna, Somanathapura and Talakad which are places of historic and religious importance. Around 13 km from Mysore, Srirangapatna is famous for Sri Ranganathaswamy temple, Tippu’s fort, Gumbaz, Jumma Masjid, Dariya Daulat Palace and Dungeon. The famous hill stations near Mysore are Ooty, Sultan Bathery and Madikeri. For wildlife enthusiasts there are Bandipur National Park and Nagarhole National Park, bird sanctuaries at Ranganathittu and Kokrebellur and the wildlife sanctuaries at Melkote and Biligiri Ranga Hills.