The city of Mysore has always been an important part of India’s history and heritage. Also called the City of Palaces, it is steeped in stories of power, prestige, and grandeur, which still reflects in its edifices and culture. Home to ancient royal families and historical legends, the city invites all kinds of visitors to discover its legacy and make their travel experience a class apart.
Table of Contents
- Things to do in Mysore
- How to Plan a trip to Mysore
- Places to stay
Mysore is not only steeped in history and heritage, but it also has some of the most majestic monuments, palaces, and iconic structures, which makes the City of Palaces one of the crown jewels of Karnataka. Home to the legendary royal families, emperors, and sultans; Mysore is certainly a treasure trove of art, culture, and grandeur in the truest sense of the term.
Located at 145 km southwest of the state capital, Bangalore, the city sits at an altitude of 2526 ft. at the foothills of the Chamundi Hills and spreads across an area of 155 sq. km. It is the southernmost major city of Karnataka and serves as the administrative headquarters of Mysore District and Mysore Division. It is bordered by Kerala and Tamil Nadu on the south and surrounded by Mercara, Mandya, and Chamarajanagar.
Mysore produces the exclusive Mysore Silk variant and is the largest silk contributor for the state.
[Also Read: Experience Mysore like a local]
The name of the city is an anglicized version of the Sanskrit name Mahisuru, a derivation of the mythological demon – Mahisasura, who was defeated and killed by the Goddess Chamundeshwari, whose temple sits atop the hill overlooking the city.
The history of Mysore is long-standing which is showcased in the majestic monuments, iconic structures, gorgeous palaces, and other historical places. The city served as the capital for the Kingdom of Mysore for six centuries, between the 1300s until 1956. This period saw the kingdom change many hands of rulers and kings, from the Wadiyar Dynasty, Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan. During the reigns of Tipu Sultan and Hyder Ali, the first mulberry trees were planted in here, thus introducing silk production which added to the region’s industrial growth. Even to this day, the city’s silk quality is recognized as the finest, at both home and abroad.
Things to do in Mysore
Besides visiting all the famous places in Mysore, you can also engage in different activities to get the real flavour of the city.
- Explore the local wildlife at the Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, 16KM outside Mysore. Bordered by the Cauvery River, the bird sanctuary is lined with dense mangroves and form the home to one of the largest bird sanctuaries of the state. You can visit for birding tours in the winter months and spot painted storks, pelicans, terns, ibis, swallows, egrets, kingfishers, herons, and other migratory species from Siberia, South America, and the Himalayas.
- Walk the Mysore Food Trail. The city’s multicultural history has led to the evolution of speciality foods and various cuisines, which you can explore across different parts of the city. Organized by professional tour groups, the food trail starts in the morning and ends late evening, covering all four meals at different iconic eateries. You can also plan your food trail and visit some of the legendary places like Poojaari’s Fish Land, Vinayak Mylari, Anima Madhva Bhavan, and Guru Sweets.
- Tour the silk industry. Besides sandalwood and sweets, silk production is Mysore’s biggest feature. And you can’t go back without shopping for quality silk fabrics. Visit the Government Silk Weaving Factory to see the production process of various types of silk and shop for sarees and other textiles at reasonable prices.
- Celebrate Dussehra at the Mysore Palace. The palace ground hosts the largest Dasara festival and it makes for an unforgettable sight. With gorgeous lighting, fairs, and parades, it is an extravagant affair that you can’t miss. The celebrations are free for everyone and bring the city to life.
[Also Read: How I Celebrated Dussehra in Mysore]
Places to visit in Mysore
A treasure trove of history, art, architecture, and culture, there are endless options for sightseeing. For any tourist, these are some of the best places to visit.
- Mysore Palace – The official residence of the Wadiyars, this UNESCO World Heritage site is a work of marvel. The history of Mysore Palace dates back to 1912. An overwhelming blend of Indo-Saracenic, neoclassical, Indo-Islamic and Gothic architecture, the palace boasts delicate works of mirrors, stained glass, mosaic and more. Visit on Sundays to see the dazzling light play of 100000 bulbs covering the façade and premise. The palace is also famous for hosting the grandest Dasara festival. You can learn more about the Mysore Palace from the gallery on the premise.
- Lalitha Palace – Another heritage building, the two-storied Lalitha Mahal sits on a ridge at the foothills of the Chamundi Hills. The palace was transformed into a luxury hotel and offers stay options.
- Jaganmohan Palace – Another prominent establishment, this palace showcases stunning architecture with intricate work. Since 1915, it has been the royal art gallery, housing paintings of the royal family, art by Raja Ravi Varma, and other rare and antique musical instruments.
- The Folklore Museum – One of the most visited in the city, this museum exhibits folk art and crafts from all over the state of Karnataka and houses more than 6500 artefacts including toys, models, and figurines.
- Railway Museum- An outdoor exhibit of vintage locomotives, the Railway Museum showcases archaic steam engines, the Maharani’s saloon, and other railway souvenirs. You can also visit the gallery of photographs and paintings depicting the history of Indian railways. Don’t miss the battery-operated mini-train ride on the premise.
- Crawford Hall- Built-in 1947, this is a must-visit historic structure in Mysore. The royal hall is now known as the Mysore University but still renders a rich heritage to its ambience.
- Mysore Sand Sculpture Museum – Opened in 2014, it is the first sand sculpture museum in India. It houses more than 150 sand sculptures showcasing Mysore’s cultural heritage, wildlife and religion.
Places to visit near Mysore
Apart from the popular tourist places, you can also visit other scenic locales nearby. On your trip, explore these tourist places near Mysore –
- Srirangapatna, 18KM – The ancient town of Seringapattinam, was the capital of the Kingdom of Mysore under Tipu Sultan. It sits on the Cauvery River surrounded by abundant nature, making it a scenic locale. Visit the historical monuments like Tipu Sultan Gumbaz (mausoleum), and the Daria Daulat Bagh (emperor’s summer palace), or the Ranganathaswamy Temple, a major pilgrimage destination.
- Bandipur National Park, 80KM – Spreading across 874 sq. km, Bandipur is one of the most famous national parks and an important tiger reserve of India. Bandipur houses some of the rarest species of wildlife, including 70 tigers and over 3000 Asian elephants, as well as other animals like leopards, dhole, gaur, sloth bears, and a variety of avifauna.
- Shravanabelagola, 85KM – A sacred and popular pilgrimage Jain site, Shravanabelagola is famous for the 57 feet high Bahubali statue. Ranked as the first of the ‘Seven Wonders of India’, this idol is worshipped every 12 years for 12 days, by pilgrims and devotees, commemorating the enlightenment and spiritual liberation of Bahubali.
Best Places to eat in Mysore
You’ll find everything from local diners and street food to upscale dining and artsy cafes. Here are some of the best restaurants to try on your trip –
- By The Way Restaurant
- Mezzaluna Indian & Continental Restaurant
- Oyster Bay
- Mahesh Prasad
- Gufha Restaurant
- Poojari’s Fish Land
- Tiger Trail
How to Plan a Trip to Mysore
How to reach Mysore
Mysore railway station has three lines that connect the city to Bangalore, Mangalore, and Chamarajanagar, among other towns and cities in Karnataka. There are frequent trains from these terminals to Mysore.
Mysore is well-connected to the rest of the state and neighbouring states by road. Conveniently located on the southern edge of Karnataka, the city is easily accessible by highways NH212, SH17, and Mysore Road. There are several state-run and private buses that ply between Mysore and other neighbouring cities and towns like Bangalore, Hosur, Chamarajanagar, Ooty, Kannur etc. The best way to reach Mysore is to book a cab or rent a private car from any of these places and drive. You can also directly book a cab from Bangalore to Mysore to reach your destination.
[Also Read: Bangalore to Mysore – Useful Travel Information]
The nearest airport in Mysore is the domestic Mysore Airport (MYQ) at Mandakalli, 10KM from the city centre. There are regular flights from all metros and other major cities across India like Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai.
The nearest international airport is at Kannur International Airport, 168KM from Mysore.
Best time to Visit Mysore
Mysore experiences a tropical wet and dry climate, which makes it warm and humid for most parts of the year. The winters are dry and cooler. The monsoon period is also pleasant with ample showers. So, the best time to visit is either in the winter, between December and February, when the weather is comfortable enough to explore, or right after the monsoon between September to November, when the temperature is much lesser than the previous months.
Best hotels and resorts in Mysore
Check out some of the best places to stay on your trip –
- Lalitha Mahal Palace
- Sepoy Grande Hotel
- Laika Heritage Stay
- The Windflower Resort & Spa
- Indus Valley Ayurvedic Center
- Fortune JP Palace